Assisi, Italy — October 3, 2020: Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the tomb of St. Francis inside Assisi’s Basilica of St. Francis, and then signed his new encyclical Fratelli Tutti. Vatican Media/CNA

From the Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation

The following is from the Spring 2021 issue of VISION.

By Bill Hurley, Associate

Pope Francis published the third encyclical of his papacy on October 3, 2020. It was not a coincidence that we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on this date. Fratelli Tutti were the words of St. Francis when he proposed to his brothers and sisters a way of life marked by the Gospel. Wherever Francis of Assisi went, he sought peace and dignity for those to whom he ministered: the poor, the abandoned, the infirm and the outcast.

In his encyclical, Pope Francis asks us to treat each human being with dignity, and he asks us all to dream together of a world of peace and friendship. Our Pope uses the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of the choices we face to live life as followers of Jesus. He tells us, “the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.” We are them, and they are us.

At Assembly 2019, the Congregation re-claimed as a ministry the working and praying for peace, justice and the integrity of creation. Little did we know then that Pope Francis would soon be asking all citizens of the world to live these values by action and prayers in these troubled times.

In our own Ministry of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation, we find a partnership of sisters, associates, companions and volunteers who are educating, advocating, and praying for systemic change. They work to cultivate change in the attitudes and habits of countries in the areas of immigration, climate change, treatment of the poor, racial injustice, white privilege, voter rights and pandemics. Through this ministry, we simply seek dignity for all.

Working hand in hand to affect system change, sisters, associates, companions and volunteers strive to directly impact the lives of the poor and vulnerable. Within the SC Seton Ministries, the Elizabeth Seton Women’s Center provides educational opportunities and discussion groups to help women live the dignity Pope Francis tells us we each deserve.

Life Experience and Faith Sharing Associates (LEFSA) truly assist their neighbors and those who fall along the roadside. This group of formerly homeless individuals works tirelessly to lift their homeless sisters’ and brothers’ spirits. Their dedication and understanding provide those they serve with a sense of trust they often do not feel elsewhere.

The leadership and staff of our Sisters Hill Farm dedicate themselves to sustainably grow healthy, nutritious vegetables and to teach others how to do the same. Their distribution of vegetables has been a blessing to the increasing numbers of people who have lost their jobs and seen their lifestyle change so drastically because of our nation’s health crisis.

Casa de Esperanza, the Sisters of Charity Multiservice Center, operates in Southwest Yonkers. Many newly arrived in America learn English, receive vocational training, family care education, and individual services, providing hope and dignity for today and their future.

To ignore the message of Fratelli Tutti would be to deny our Mission. The Pope’s message brings expanded life to Charity Rising. As Pope Francis’s words are words for today, our commitment continues to provide ministries for today. Our ministries of prayer and service allow us and those with whom we journey to dream together of a world of peace and friendship.