Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation – Franciscan Values in Action

Social justice and peace issues have always been part of the Wheaton Franciscan spirit. This commitment to peace, justice, and care of creation has been demonstrated through the ministries of housing, health care, and social services. It has also been demonstrated through decisions and actions that impact systemic sources of injustice.

The Contributions of Sister Marion Cronk

In 1980, a Social Concerns Team was created to coordinate education and action. Sr. Marion Cronk, OSF, served as the chair of the team for more than twenty years. The team’s focus included issues relevant to the times including peace and justice issues in Latin America, world hunger, nuclear disarmament, women’s issues, and care of the Earth. Direction and guidance were provided by initiatives generated from Community chapters.

Sr. Marion’s unassuming yet tenacious disposition allowed her to steadily advocate for social concerns her entire life. Sr. Marion’s deep faith life enabled her to put things into a calm perspective for the sake of a more just and peaceful world. In 2002, Sr. Marion received the Pax Joliet award for her lifetime commitment to creating a better world.

In the early 1990s, the newly named “Peace and Justice Committee” consisted of four Sisters with Sr. Marion continuing to lead the group.   In 1993 the team adopted the name HCD (Human and Community Development) Network, and the Motherhouse Administrator joined the team’s efforts to raise the consciousness of all living and working on the Wheaton Franciscan campus. The committee focused on implementing a recycling program at Our Lady of the Angels and passed the information on to Wheaton Franciscan Services Inc. Care of children and AIDS ministries were areas of major concentration in the mid-1990s, as prioritized by the Sisters in the Province Chapter.

Sister Sheila Kinsey Joins the Wheaton Franciscans

Sr. Sheila Kinsey came to the Wheaton Franciscans in 1996 with a firm and active commitment to peace and social justice issues. She became involved in the Peace and Justice Committee and began to educate the Sisters and employees at OLA on nonviolence.

In 2000, Sr. Sheila became the chair of the Peace and Justice Network, and in 2001 the office was renamed to reflect the internationally accepted name for the social justice activities of the Catholic Church: Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office. Sr. Sheila developed a global approach to the JPIC Office through her involvement in Franciscans International, Catholic Relief Services, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the status of women and the promotion of human rights. The JPIC office coordinated the Wheaton Franciscan social justices concerns through the Franciscan Spirit of contemplation and action. The areas of focus include advocacy, communication, and community involvement.

In the fall of 2002, Bono of U2, stopped at Wheaton College for an evening appearance during the Heart of America Tour, which was designed to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. This event was part of a collaboration with Wheaton College that led to the formation of DuPage Global AIDS Action Network (DGAAN).

Sr. Sheila was elected to the General Council in 2009 to lead and strengthen the Congregation’s participation in peace and justice efforts internationally. She served in this role for six years. Since 2015, she has served as Executive Co-Secretary of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Union of Superiors General and of the International Union of Superiors General representing international religious congregations of men and women worldwide.

The JPIC Continues to Grow

In October 2009, Sr. Glenna Czachor was appointed to serve as the Coordinator Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. She continued the traditions of those who proceeded her while also upgrading the office and its communication practices into the 21st century. Sr. Glenna was instrumental in bringing the Awakening the Dreamer program to the Wheaton Franciscans and served as a facilitator of the program.

Sr. Beatrice Hernandez brought her passion for justice and peace to the JPIC office in 2013. She continues to serve in this role assisting the Wheaton Franciscans and friends in addressing the social issue of our times, promoting the dignity of all people, and fostering the stewardship of all of God’s creation.

Below is a sample of the events/programs offered by the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office. For more information on Care of Creation visit our Laudato Si’ Action Platform page.

Earth Summit

October 11, 2008

Hosted by WFS JPIC Office

Wheaton Franciscan campus was one of 100 sites worldwide celebrating green endeavors underway in and around DuPage County IL. This event was a collaboration with the UN Earth Charter Committee and the focus was on addressing climate change and promoting and showcasing local innovative ideas for green living. The event included a concert by Earth Mama, as well as a pet blessing.

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JPIC Dinner and Dialogue

2002 – 2010

Recognizing an interest and desire to explore the social justice challenges of the times, the JPIC Office hosted quarterly Dinner and Dialogue sessions with the Wheaton Franciscans. The opportunity to explore and engage with important issues began in 2002 and continued through 2010. The dialogue began with the sharing of a simple meal, followed by prayer, engaging presentations, and table discussions. The presenters were Wheaton Franciscans and guests dedicated to making connections between Franciscan Spirituality and the current issues and problems facing our society during that time.

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Awakening the Dreamer

Awakening the Dreamer: Changing the Dream Symposium

2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

This workshop provided the opportunity for a profound inquiry into creating a new dream for humanity and planet earth by bringing forth environmental sustainability and working toward social justice by nurturing spiritual fulfillment.

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