Social Justice

Social Justice

June 10, 2022

The American Province of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ calls for common sense gun laws in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, TX on May 24, 2022 as well as the other multiple mass shootings. The Uvalde mass shooting was the twenty-second school shooting this year.

We weep at the loss of young, innocent lives of children in our schools as well as staff members who leave behind spouses and children. Students and adults face daily fears and worries about the numerous shootings all too often in our country. So many lives have been lost by gun violence. It is time for common sense gun safety laws before more lives are lost in such tragedies.

We call on members of Congress to take immediate action, to enact legislation banning access to semi-automatic assault weapons with high capacity ammunition magazines, to require stringent background checks for all gun purchases, to restrict concealed weapons in or around schools and other public places, to support red flag laws and to restrict the ownership or use of guns and other weapons by persons with mental illness. We also call on Congress to bolster mental health services across our country.

We pray for grieving families, school personnel, and all suffering from these tragic school shootings and loss of life. Every child should have the freedom to attend school without the fear of being shot while trying to learn. Every person should be able to go to work, to their place of worship, or to a store without fear of becoming a victim of a shooting.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Mt. 5:4)

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ are members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. We endorse and support the LCWR Statement on Racism and Gun Violence in Buffalo, New York. We invite you to use this statement in your own prayer and reflection, outreach and action in ways that are helpful to you.

May God’s peace comfort and sustain all those whose lives are torn by racism and violence. May our lives give witness to the Gospel vision of love and compassion.

Violence and White Supremacy Cannot Stand

May 18, 2022

Our hearts are breaking as we once again come face to face with the racial hatred and gun violence that infect our land. The members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious extend their condolences to the Buffalo community and all who lost loved ones, friends, and neighbors and we say once more violence and white supremacy cannot stand. And we know that is not enough!

Racism is a virus, every bit as deadly as COVID-19, that has infected our nation since its inception and until we address it, people of color will continue to die, and our nation will continue to bleed. Racism, whether the institutional racism which privileges some at the expense of others or the daily acts of hate and discrimination, diminishes us all. It denies that most profound truth, that all of us are created in God’s image and each of us is entitled to lives of dignity and respect.

As women religious in a predominantly white organization, we recognize how we have been privileged. We lament our silence in the face of white supremacist ideology, and we acknowledge our complicity in institutional racism. We ask forgiveness of our sisters and brothers of color, and we pray for our nation’s healing. And we know that is not enough! It is time for bold, decisive action. We pledge to raise our voices and to act to end the violence and white supremacy which has cost us dearly. In the wake of the horror of Buffalo, we rededicate ourselves to LCWR’s commitment to dismantle systemic racism and white privilege and effect transformative change in our hearts, our organization, and our society and we pledge anew to build God’s beloved community. We will not permit that violence and white supremacy to stand!

LCWR is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has nearly 1300 members, who represent more than 38,800 women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.

Resolutions to Action - LCWR Global Concerns Committee

July 14, 2021

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ support the latest LCWR Resolution regarding our relationship with Native communities and Native American boarding schools, in particular. Please note at the end of the Resolution there are six actions listed that we can do to work toward a right relationship with Indigenous communities.

Click here to read the resolution.


July 1, 2021

Senator Mike Braun
374 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Dear Senator Braun:
The Leadership Team of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ is writing you to raise up the op-ed written by Christopher Harris, Marilyn Moran-Townsend, and Ranjan Rohatgi and published in the South Bend Tribune on June 29, 2021 (linked here).

As a person of Catholic faith, we invite you to consider the moral call to recognize the importance of creating a democratic system that takes seriously the voices of each person – and the voice of the Spirit that speaks through the collective voices of the people. If we silence any those voices, we silence part of the message that the Spirit is leading us to.

As members of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, Harris, Moran-Townsend, and Rohatgi speak specifically to gerrymandering. Gerrymandering mutes the value of certain voices and raises up the value of other voices, muting God’s voice. We would like to add for your consideration a few other provisions of the For the People Act.

The For the People Act creates a national baseline for voting that all citizens can count on. It does this by standardizing a minimum level of access to early and absentee voting, providing for automatic voter registration, and prohibiting common voter suppression tactics. Elections are meant to be won by winning over voters with good policy, not by excluding voters from expressing their views.

The For the People Act also provides for updating and modernizing our election system to ensure transparency throughout the voting process. We must restore faith in our elections process through transparency not through restrictive and punitive practices that either target or disproportionately impact communities of color.

Catholic Social Teaching calls for people to participate in their society. Voting is just one way to follow that call, but it is a critically important one. Our elected officials – like you – have the responsibility to ensure that all people have equal access to fulfilling that responsibility.

The provisions in the For the People Act (H.R.1/S.1) are not partisan. The American people broadly support these provisions. More importantly, our faith compels us to act in such a way that recognizes and honors the dignity of each individual. In a democracy, this means enacting reasonable provisions to ensure the participation of each and every member of the society. The For the People Act does just that. We urge you to support the passage of the For the People Act.

Provincial Leadership of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ

March 22, 2021

At the World Congress Against the Death Penalty on February 27, 2021, Pope Francis declared the death penalty to be a “grave violation of human right to life and never justified.” He stated that the right to life is “the source of all gifts and of all other rights” that must be protected.

The Pontiff further stated, “The dignity of the person is not lost even when he or she has committed the worst of crimes.” To that end, Pope Francis ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says that “the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,’ and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ of the American Province affirm this teaching and stand in support of the aforementioned statements made by Pope Francis. With Dignity and Respect for All as a central core value, we believe life is sacred throughout all stages of existence from conception to natural death. We invite all our partners in the work of the Spirit to defend the right to life of every individual.

In 2019, Justice William Barr reinstated the death penalty. Therefore, this Poor Handmaid stance is especially crucial at this time.

We continue to pray with and for those sentenced to death, that they may know the loving mercy of God.

Approved by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ American Province.

Signed by Provincial Leadership of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.

March 21, 2021

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ call for an end to hate and violence against our Asian American and Pacific Islander sisters and brothers and for the enactment of strong legislation against all hate crimes.

We Sisters ask for immediate action by Congress to protect the dignity, rights and safety of all US citizens.

We pray for a profound conversion of heart to root out racism and hate that causes such injury, loss of life, and erodes the moral fabric of our country.

We call upon all people of faith to pray for Christ, the Great Healer, to heal the wounds of racism throughout our land.

Provincial Leadership of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ

February 22, 2021

The Indiana Senate has passed Senate Bill 389 (SB 389), a piece of detrimental legislation to repeal regulated wetland laws that will endanger sensitive habitats. The Provincial Leadership Team of The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ have dedicated themselves to protecting creation through ecological restoration and preservation, which is why we are imploring Indiana Legislators to oppose SB 389 as it moves to the Indiana House. Wetlands filter pollutants to purify drinking water, support wildlife, reduce flood risk, and much more. The largest protections for our wetlands are state regulated. SB 389 would leave our wetlands vulnerable to be destroyed without oversight or discernment. Such legislation, if passed, places our wetlands at great risk of irrevocable damage.

According the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana has already lost 85% of the wetlands it once had, and this legislation puts 85% of the remaining wetlands at risk if we do not take action to protect them.

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ ask you to join them in opposition to SB 389 which could lead to the destruction of wetlands that are essential to our environment and our clean water. By working together, we can protect our remaining wetlands and bring about impactful environmental change.

Provincial Leadership of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ

January 7, 2021

As members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ stand with the other more than 1300 leaders of Catholic sisters nationwide as we make this statement:

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) joins with the world in praying for peace after witnessing the violence and lawlessness yesterday in our nation’s capital. We are deeply concerned about the state of our country and the future of our democracy. Our hearts ached as we watched these despicable actions that threaten not only to destroy the seat of our government but to rend the bonds that unite us. We commend and thank the members of Congress who courageously continued their service to the nation last night even amid the chaos.

In our increasingly divided nation, we renew our commitment to the common good and pledge to take up the challenge to use our energy to repair our democracy and contribute to the work of building a more perfect union. We invite all people of good will to join us and we call on our elected leaders to point the way.

The statement is on the LCWR website and on the LCWR Facebook page.

United in our prayer for the world,
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

September 25, 2020

In the wake of the verdict of no indictment in Ms. Taylor’s death, we the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ are committed to respecting, valuing, and holding the life of every person sacred. We grieve with Breonna’s family and the people of Louisville who like other minority groups across the nation continue to live with injustice in the face of division, racism and hate that has ravaged and threatened our democracy.

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ stand in solidarity with our black sisters and brothers as we work and pray for an end to abuse of power, racism, and injustices toward the poor, minorities and marginalized of our society.

We pledge our continued efforts to combat indifference and injustices as we “act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8)

The American Province of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ
September 23, 2020

Community Voice and Stance Pathway

September 1, 2020

Blessings of God on you and your families.

You may recall that following the murder of George Floyd, the PHJCs as a member of the Coalition on Corporate Responsibility of Indiana-Michigan (CCRIM) a public Statement was signed along with 128 institutions and other Women Religious Congregations, committing to eliminating systemic racism. The statement with the full list of 128 current endorsements is now publicly available online at (Scroll to see PHJC Logo) and also placed on our PHJC Website.

Provincial Leadership of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ

June 8, 2020

We are living at a moment when society is discovering the vast breadth and depth of both the richness and the challenges inherent in the diversity that exists within the human family. That diversity entails a rich mix of differences and encompasses all the dimensions that make each person unique including: ethnicity, race, age, gender and gender identity, beliefs, sexual orientation, and more.

As the world community grapples to understand diversity, we, the members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, wholeheartedly join in this exploration. We recognize that this is a difficult journey that requires enormous capacity to transcend ideas that may have shaped our thinking over the course of decades, if not millennia. We acknowledge our need to continuously educate ourselves to understand differences – informed by science as well as theology, to patiently listen in a non-judgmental way to people who suffer because of who they are, and to commit to an unceasing reconsideration of our own ethical judgments in light of new understandings. Furthermore, we recognize that we must grow in our capacity and willingness to experience the pain and struggle of people who have been excluded or subjected to violence by others because of who they are. We know that the more we can see life from the perspective of others, the greater will be our capacity to grasp what they experience and learn from it.

As we work to understand the differences among us, we also pledge ourselves to work towards both inclusion and equity. We believe that all people need to feel valued and connected, and that they belong. All people thrive in environments where their inherent worth is respected, and where they are safe to express their authentic selves. Inclusion helps us all know that we belong to something bigger – the reign of God, in our view as religious. At the same time, we will work to guarantee a society marked by fairness, equal access and opportunity, and justice for all people.

As we continue this lifelong work of non-judgmentally walking along side persons whose ways of being may differ from our own, we anticipate that at times we will fail. We ask for forgiveness when we close our hearts, unconsciously exclude, or speak or act in ways that disrespect another. Like many in society, we know that we do not yet fully understand the diversity among us and that we have much work ahead of us. We believe, however, that the work to comprehend and appreciate what it means to be human in all our glorious diversity -- each one made in the image of God -- may be one of the most important contributions we can make at this critical moment of evolutionary change and growth for the entire global community. As women of faith, we are committed to it.


Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM -- LCWR Director of Communications
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

June 2, 2020

The following is a joint statement issued by The National Black Sisters’ Conference (NBSC) and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in response to the conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

We, the National Black Sisters’ Conference and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, stand together in our commitment to the sacred dignity of each human person as emphasized in Catholic Social Teaching.

In the aftermath of the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, we recommit to working for real and sustained systemic change in the struggle to end institutional racism in every aspect of our society.

Sadly, we know that the trend of fatal police shootings has only escalated in this country over the last four years. The rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans is much higher than that of any other ethnic group. Starting with the savage beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991 up to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the trend of abuse at the hands of law enforcement has alarmingly increased.

In 2020 there were 1,021 fatal police shootings, and in the first three months of this year 213 people have been shot by the police; 30 of whom were African Americans. Police brutality is only one of the many manifestations of systemic racism; but it is one that too often ends in the death of too many young African Americans.

We believe that we are at a crucial moment in race relations in this country. We must acknowledge and work to eradicate the sin of White Privilege that seeks to affirm the false superiority of Anglo-Saxon culture and way of life.

We must as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. admonished us “learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or perish together as fools.” Therefore, we call upon all people of good will and especially people of faith to join us in working for real and sustainable solutions to the racial divide in our country.

We will not rest and our work will not be done until the belief that all people are created equal and entitled to the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is a lived reality for every American citizen.

LCWR is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. It has more than 1300 members, representing approximately 80 percent of more than 40,000 women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.

December 9, 2019

June 11, 2018

An Open Letter of Concern:

We Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ are a group of Catholic Sisters who for the past 150 years have served the needs of people in the United States of America. Our first Sisters emigrated from Germany and our first ministry was to immigrants who came to this country in search of justice, freedom of religion, improved economies, peace – not unlike the wishes of today’s immigrants. We continue our ministry among those on the margins, particularly women and children.

We Sisters take the gospel seriously and seek to follow Jesus’ example. Jesus cared especially for those whom society often forgets. We have a history of ministries in education, child care, health care and social work and others. We sponsor a home for children medically compromised; we help women who are homeless and in need of job skills and social supports; we work with families in crisis; we support moms and babies needing basic health services; we help the elderly needing transportation to medical providers, and other ways of assistance. We do this through established institutions and through our individual personal works.

We Sisters are appalled and ashamed at the treatment that families at the Mexican border are experiencing from representatives of the USA. In particular, the separating of children from their parents represents action that is cruel; it is unchristian and un-American. We are better than this and should be able to find a way to protect our borders that avoids the punishment of children, potentially scarring them for life.

We call for an immediate change in policy and procedures so that families can stay together during the review process of asylum seekers and immigrants into our country. We ask that the US Department of Homeland Security, state and national agencies for children’s protection, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, along with other federal agencies act in ways that adhere to international law to respect, protect and fulfill human rights of children and adults.

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ stand in unity with our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters.  We agree with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious’ (LCWR) concerns and with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades’ statement on the recent Executive Orders halting refugee admissions. These concerns are addressed in the statements below.

LCWR Expresses Deep Concern about Executive Orders

January 30, 2017 

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is deeply disturbed by many of President Trump’s recent executive orders. His misplaced priorities and denigration of the values that form the bedrock of this nation, threaten us all.

We are deeply concerned about the administration’s executive orders on immigration and refugee resettlement which serve only to threaten border communities, force our immigrant community members further into the shadows, and endanger those fleeing violence. These misguided executive orders do nothing to make anyone more secure and may well have the opposite effect.

Spending billions of dollars on an unnecessary and ineffective wall and further militarizing the border will divert funding from health, education, and social programs and will not make America safe again. In fact, such action threatens the health and well-being of border communities, the environment, and those seeking refuge in our country. President Trump’s orders, if enacted, will tear families apart, challenge our already stressed immigration courts, and deny those fleeing persecution and violence their right to asylum; all at enormous cost to our treasure and our souls.

The president’s attempt to enhance public safety in the interior by cutting federal funding to sanctuary cities and counties will have the opposite effect. It challenges local authority and threatens to destroy the hard won trust of the immigrant community. The order eviscerates prosecutorial discretion and places every undocumented person in the country in danger of immediate deportation.

Finally, we are appalled by President Trump’s order which bans residents of seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, suspends refugee resettlement entirely for four months, and bars resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely. This is unconscionable in the face of the unprecedented global refugee crisis. More than 61 million people have been displaced from their homes, more than at any time since World War II. Some 21 million are refugees; most are children who have been forced from their homes by unthinkable violence. The Trump administration has forced all of us to turn our backs on families who are literally running for their lives.

This nation has a long history of welcoming immigrants and sheltering refugees. Women religious have been blessed to be able to accompany and serve immigrant and refugee communities across this country for a very long time. Catholic sisters remain committed to welcoming refugees who come to this country after passing through the U.S. government’s already rigorous screening processes. Halting or undermining the U.S. refugee resettlement program leaves vulnerable refugees, including women and children fleeing violence, in extreme danger and diminishes us all.

We strongly object to President Trump’s attempts to limit our ability to heed God’s call to welcome the stranger (Mt. 25:35) and to care for those most in need (Mt 25:40) and we are particularly concerned about rules and regulations that deny access to refugees because of their religion, race, or nationality. It is a violation of our faith and every norm of humanity.

We vow to continue to welcome refugees and minister to immigrants. LCWR and its members will continue to press for restoration of refugee resettlement, relief for families, an end to needless deportations, and the closure of all family detention centers. We will continue to advocate for compassionate, bipartisan legislation that fixes our broken immigration system. We will continue to stand in solidarity with families, regardless of immigration status, who labor daily to provide safety and security for their children.

LCWR is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has nearly 1300 members, who represent more than 38,800 women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.

Statement of Bishop Rhoades on Executive Order on Refugees

The Church stands firm in its commitment to the defense of the life and dignity of the human person and to the promotion of the common good.  Just last week, I joined over 1,000 young people from our diocese at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., where we publicly witnessed to the dignity of the unborn child.  It was a joy to bear witness to the Gospel of Life.

Our commitment to the Gospel of Life also includes the defense of the lives of so many innocent people who are victims of violence, war, religious persecution, and terrorism.  The number of refugees in the world today, persons who have had to flee their homes because their lives are in danger, is staggering.  The Church has been a leading agent in caring for and helping refugees, including resettling so many men, women, and children in our country.  I am proud of the excellent work of our own diocesan Catholic Charities in this area of service to these “least of our brothers and sisters.”  

I am saddened by the Executive Order of our president which suspends the entry of refugees into our country for 120 days, which indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees, and which bars people from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.  Many refugees are fleeing from ISIS and other extremists.  They are victims and are looking for safety.  Many are children.  I cannot imagine what it must be like for a father or mother to be in such desperate straits, only desiring the safety and wellbeing of their family.  

Clearly our government has a responsibility to protect the safety and security of the United States.  Certainly we must be vigilant lest terrorists infiltrate the refugee population.  But, as many attest, including our Church agencies involved in refugee settlement, “the U.S. is already using a thorough vetting process for refugees, especially for those from Syria and surrounding countries” (Sean Callahan, CRS President).  Fear should not lead us to forsake the innocent, of whatever nation or religion, whose lives are in danger.  

We must remember the criteria by which Jesus said we will be judged, including whether or not we welcomed the stranger among us. “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me,” Jesus said, in the parable of the last judgment, to those granted entry into His Kingdom.  “I was a stranger and you gave me no welcome,” Jesus said to those who were sent to eternal punishment.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind our responsibility to work for and promote the common good.  The common good is not only the good of our nation, but also the good of the human family, the universal common good.  Our brothers and sisters in the human family who are refugees are crying out for our compassion and love.  Let us pray fervently for refugees, for their safety, and for a renewed openness in our country to welcoming these brothers and sisters in need.   

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades’ statement was published in the February 5, 2017 edition of the Today’s Catholic. Bishop Rhoades is the Bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese.

Graphic used with permission of the Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley