This letter is written by the four Sisters of St. Joseph from Latin America who participated in the 57th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD), in February. Hear directly from the sisters of what this event meant to them:
It is with great joy that we share with you the experience we had during our participation in the 57th Commission for Social Development of the UN, February 11 -15, 2019, which had as a theme for this year: Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies.
Prior to the sessions, we had the opportunity to participate in a day with the sisters who play a very important role in the UN as representatives of the NGO – Congregations of Saint Joseph.
Sr. Bárbara Bozak – Chambéry
Sr. Suzanne Wilson – Canada
Sr. Marianne Sennick – Brentwood, NY
Sr. Joan Atkinson — Canada
Together we learned about the UN organization and its functioning, as well as the global work that our sisters carry out as NGOs at the United Nations.
We also shared something of the reality of each of our countries — Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina — together with the cries of our suffering people and how the political and economic decisions of our governments increase inequalities.
It was also noted that as the Congregations of Saint Joseph, we are part of the Justice Coalition of Religious (JCOR) composed of 18 congregations or groups of congregations which are recognized NGOs at the UN. JCoR aims to strengthen the advocacy and capacity of religious who are working at the grassroots and that have representation in the United Nations.
On this day of exchange, we were also accompanied by Sr. Dona Cicalese — (Philadelphia), who provided translation.
Our participation in the sessions of the Commission for Social Development, were very intense days where we listened to different countries present the work they do to face inequalities.
During the midday break we met as a group in the office of our NGO for conversation and to encourage one other in our participation. This space also allowed us to experience the importance of the work that each sister and each community carries out in their country, as a part of a whole, which has its implications also for the UN.
Currently, the Congregations of Saint Joseph are present in 46 countries on five continents.
We became more aware of how the influence of NGOs such as the Congregations of St. Joseph and other congregations have been advocating with our national political leaders and government delegates to the UN to promote the common good; to the point of influencing the agenda of the UN and having their suggestions become the theme of the next Commission.
On February 15, we actively participated in the Civil Society Forum, where in addition to listening to the different exponents of civil society, we participated in the Latin American and Caribbean group. There, together with persons from other countries, we presented the situations that generate inequality as well as what policy changes governments should make to favor the most vulnerable sectors of society (disabled, women, seniors, young people).
It was a day that allowed us to use our own voices to present the reality of our countries.
Deeply grateful for the opportunity to participate in this Assembly, we invite each sister and each community to offer their contribution, since everything we do, even the smallest thing, has a significant impact for our work at the UN.
Each within her possibilities, be it prayer, solidarity or concrete actions, can help the transformation of the world.
We must be united and contribute, together with other organizations, to build the Kingdom of God through work towards the common good, to make real the words of Jesus “That all be One,” with no brother, no sister, left behind.
S. Nilva (Chambéry – Brazil), S. Heidi (Lyon – Mexico)
S. Rita (Buenos Aires – Argentina), S. Paulina (Cuneo – Argentina)