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"Go to the poorest first. Always have preference for them."
This was one of the mottos of Father John Joseph Sigstein, founder of my congregation, Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters. We are a religious community of women located in Huntington, Indiana, dedicated to being the presence of God as we serve those living in poverty and oppression, and on the margins of society.
On this Giving Tuesday, I write to urge you to support Catholic Climate Covenant, an organization for which we have already given so they can expand their work.
Our religious community ministers to those most in need wherever they are: from inner-city neighborhoods to rural populations. In the early 1900s this started with families living in deep poverty in the American Southwest, providing religious education, social services, health care, and leadership development.
Over the years the shape of our ministry has been determined by the needs of the time. Today that focus is on the dehumanizing effects of poverty and unemployment, the challenges faced by immigrants, and the horrors of human trafficking. As we proclaim the Gospel in solidarity with all people, we see poverty unites many of the most difficult issues we work on.
There is no greater threat to communities experiencing poverty – around the world and in the U.S. – than climate change. The people affected first and most by climate change are the poorest. Please DONATE now.
As we read the signs of the times, our community is aware of the threat climate change poses to God’s creation, and especially to those who are most vulnerable that we seek to serve. We see the effects of climate change today, wherever we work and live. In my home state of Oregon, we just had one of the most destructive fire seasons on record.
We find no other organization doing more in the Catholic community to both raise the moral consequences of climate change and provide effective resources and advocacy opportunities to confront this challenge than Catholic Climate Covenant. The Covenant reminds us that we are called to live in right relationship with all of creation to protect our Common Home, and to walk in solidarity to walk with people struggling for a better life.
Caring for the environment is a continuation of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters’ fight for justice for the poor and marginalized. In fact, women religious have always been on the front lines of these efforts, and we work together and in cooperation with other organizations and coalitions to do so.
For nearly 15 years, Catholic Climate Covenant has been urging all U.S. Catholics—from institutions to individuals—to find a common voice and work in common action to protect our Common Home, especially the poor who are most affected by a warming climate.
As we come to the end of this unprecedented year, we face the new year with hope, but also with the knowledge we are in for the fight of our future. It will be a long road ahead, and it starts now.
I urge you to join me in supporting the Covenant’s work. We can’t afford to not get involved.
Please DONATE now.
Mary Jo Nelson, OLVM
President, Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters