Touchy Topic Tuesdays

Pope Francis in Washington, D.C.

Touchy Topic Tuesday: Papal Visit

Pope Francis in Washington, D.C.By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

For a lot of people, last week was all pope, all the time. An abundance of TV coverage, live Twitter feeds, commentaries, criticisms, and analyses was almost too much to absorb. The pomp, ceremony, parades and processions were worthy of British pageantry.

Aside from the glaring absence of women at some of the functions, despite the civic and ecclesiastical politics and posturing probably hidden in the background, what’s the take-away message for individuals, the church, and the country? When it’s back to business and life as usual,

Homelessness and Matthew 25

By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

Steve wears a long, heavy winter coat in the middle of a scorching St. Louis summer. Sally hasn’t been sober in months. Both are chronically mentally ill and homeless.

As a long-time parishioner and part-time staff member of St. Vincent De Paul Parish in St. Louis, I join with staff, parishioners, and volunteers in relating to the homeless daily.

It’s often a thankless, frustrating, and seemingly hopeless encounter. But is it?

from freeimages.comThe homeless, probably some of the most forgotten and neglected members of society,

Touchy Topic Tuesday: Fixing Our Broken Systems

By Sr. Regina Siegfried, ASC

You’ve probably heard the old cliché, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But how do we fix systems that are not working for the common good? Consider the broken systems of political parties, government, health care, education, police and courts, church. The list is endless. Add your own.

We are trapped in and surrounded by systems that often provide more disservice than service. When organizations get blindsided and neglect the very people they were created to serve, their systems break. We can feel powerless in the face of such mega-structures.

Monarchs and the Gardener

By Sr. Regina Siegfried, ASC

Gardens are quickly phasing into fall. During the last weeks of August and early September, I quietly and carefully watched the monarch butterflies flit in the butterfly bush and the milkweed plants.

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Plump green-and-black-striped monarch caterpillars soon nibbled and munched their ways through the milkweed leaves, stripping several of them to thin, nubby stalks. I didn’t find any chrysalis but I assume those caterpillars know enough to find a safe place to metamorphose into the next generation of monarchs on their annual flight to Mexico.

image from freeimages.com

Immigration: A Festival of Nations

image from freeimages.comby Sr. Regina Siegfried, ASC

Tower Grove Park, a city gem of a Victorian walking park, hosts the International Institute’s Festival of Nations every year at the end of August.  The park’s gracefully curving roads are crowded tent-to-tent with food and craft booths from more nations than you can count.  Open grassy areas sprout stages for ethnic dances, drums, and storytelling.  Thousands of people visit to sample excellent food, beautiful arts, and lively music.  Cars constantly troll the neighborhood streets surrounding the park looking for that elusive parking spot while residents’ autos hunker down in that cherished location,

Thank a Teacher

la-habana-6-1450639-1599x2404by Sr. Regina Siegfried, ASC

Cicadas rasp their hymns to the waning days of summer. The big yellow buses rumble on their routes through crowded city streets and winding rural roads to collect students who wonder how the summer days evaporated.

Last week I walked through St. Louis University’s campus before attending part of student orientation at Aquinas Institute where I teach a class to a group of intercommunity novices. It was an adrenaline rush, a deep feeling of being at home, a profound understanding of why I love teaching.

I also recently attended a benefit concert/reunion of a high-school band;

Atomic Bombs and Police Shootings: An Anniversary

By Sr. Regina Siegfried, ASC

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Three events — distant, distinct, and yet somehow related — have converged since Aug. 6, the Catholic feast of the Transfiguration and the 70th anniversary of the day the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Aug. 9 marked the one-year anniversary of the police shooting death of Michael Brown, which led to protests, riots, marches and disturbances that rocked Ferguson and the nation.

Except for a violent eruption the night of Aug. 9, the day in Ferguson and St. Louis was more peaceful and reflective than the violence that marred last year.

Touchy Topic Tuesday: ‘The Imperfect is Our Paradise’

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By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

At this point in the gardening season, I often stand in the backyard to ponder what happened. Was it supposed to evolve this way? Where are the perfect and flawless plants I had envisioned in May? Some milkweed plants have aphids, and rabbits have nibbled the tops off others, along with the orange cosmos stems that they love to munch on. And the butternut squash has dead leaves and fallen-off blossoms; and the squirrels broke off and absconded with all the sunflower heads; and one pot of petunias drowned from all the rain;

Pope Francis: Are You Listening? Women Can Give You an Earful

By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

In October 1979, in another lifetime and two popes ago, Mercy Sister Theresa Kane publicly addressed Pope John Paul II at the National Shrine in Washington with these powerful and poignant words:

“I urge you to be mindful of the intense suffering and pain which is part of the life of many women in these United States. I call upon you to listen with compassion and to hear the call of women who comprise half of humankind.”

Pope Francis will visit the U.S. in September.

Touchy Topic Tuesday: Women Working Around Unfair Systems

By Sr. Regina Siegfried, ASC

At a recent neighborhood gathering, a young African-American research scientist who works for a pharmaceutical company spoke about needing to adapt a persona when she’s working with her white colleagues so that she can appear to be as good as they are. She can’t relax and be her true self. The other black women in the group spoke passionately about being told by their parents that they’d have to try harder, do more, and be more to make it in white society. We discussed how unfair this is and that white women also often feel we need to try harder to prove ourselves in male-dominated professions.