Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of March, 2017
March 8—International Women’s Day
The theme for 2017 International Women’s Day (IWD) is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This day also challenges us to continue working vigorously for the equality of women throughout the world. While much progress has been made, the rate of this progress has slowed in recent years. The United Nations (UN) Sustainability Goals specifically recognize that global sustainable development requires equal participation by women, placing gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Measures that are key to ensuring women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work must include equal pay for equal work; recognizing women’s unpaid care and domestic work and addressing the gender deficit in care work; addressing the gender gaps in leadership, entrepreneurship and access to social protection; and ensuring gender-responsive economic policies for job creation, poverty reduction and sustainable, inclusive growth:
It also includes protecting women from violence in the workplace which creates a more productive workplace for everyone. For more information about IWD go to:
Oh Holy One, our hearts are strengthened and opened in new ways when we encounter your love and dedication revealed in women around the world. As we work for a future of justice and caring, may we respect and empower women and girls to live fully, without fear, filled with hope and determination. May each of us live up to our full potential, embracing all of creation as a revelation of your divine love.
March 21—Week of Solidarity Against Racism and Racial Discrimination
March 21st begins the UN week of solidarity against racism and racial discrimination. On March 21, 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid "pass laws" in Sharpeville, South Africa. Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. Ethnic and racial discrimination occur around the world, hindering the development of millions of people. Racism fractures communities and has fueled personal violence and instances of genocide. Racism often unpins anti-indigenous and anti-immigrant sentiments. In 2001, the World Conference against Racism produced the most authoritative and comprehensive program for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance: the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. In April 2009, the Durban Review Conference examined global progress made in overcoming racism and concluded that much remained to be achieved. The greatest accomplishment of the conference was the renewed international commitment to the anti-racism agenda. http://www.un.org/en/events/racialdiscriminationday/index.shtml
This week we pray in a special way for a change of heart for all people of the world. May we come to know deep within ourselves that we are all one, brothers and sisters to each other and children of a loving creator. May we come to appreciate the blessing of the diversity of our human family, with each race, culture and ethnicity revealing the divine in a unique way. May God help us all to respect, treasure and nurture our common humanity.
March 22—World Water Day
This Day was established in 1993 by the UN to raise awareness among all people of the need to protect and conserve the precious gift of water. Due to global climate change, the world’s underground water reservoirs are running low. Surface fresh water supplies are also dwindling, with lakes and rivers in many parts of the world at all time low levels. These decreases are easily seen and alarming to everyone. But the depletion of below the surface aquifers is not visible. These sources of fresh water are being used at alarming rates, far beyond what nature is able to replenish. Both protection from pollution and conservation in utilization are needed.
God, we praise you for sister Water. She sustains life on our planet, quenching our thirst, watering our crops and soothing our weary bodies and spirits. Help us to be grateful for this precious gift. Help us to realize that access to water is a human right shared by all of us. May we care lovingly for the sources of water on which we depend and may we use water wisely.
March 25—International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
The 2017 theme is: "Remember Slavery: Recognizing the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent." This UN day of remembrance has been held annually since 2008. Over 17 million Africans were transported to the Americas during 16th to the mid-19th centuries, with many millions more dying in route. This day is a special day for remembering—remembering all those who were sold into slavery; those who died during the treacherous Atlantic crossing; those who lived, sometimes for generations, as slaves; and those who suffer today because of the racism that still exists in many parts of the world as an inheritance of the slave trade. This day is also a time to remind ourselves of the dangers of racism and prejudice that make enslavement of other human beings possible. This year’s theme calls us to remember how enslaved people and their ancestors helped shape our countries, cultures and customs. We honor their contributions to science, medicine, government, music, food, dance, architecture and literally every aspect of life.
God, we ask forgiveness for the great sin of racism and seeing “the other” as “less than”. Help each of us to love and cherish one another as members of one human family. Give us the courage to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters whenever anyone is threatened, attacked or coerced. Make us peacemakers. Even when our own lives could be at risk, give us the grace to step forward and protect one another in love. May we all work to end all forms of human slavery.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of February, 2017
February 8—International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General has designated February 8th as an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking. February 8th is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once Josephine was freed, she became a Canossian nun and dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. She was declared a Saint in 2000. On this day around the world Catholics are asked to pray in a special way for victims of human trafficking and to act to end this practice wherever we encounter it. For more information about human trafficking go to http://www.usccb.org/about/anti-trafficking-program/index.cfm
O God, when we hear of children and adults deceived and taken to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour, and organ ‘harvesting’, our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies, and force. We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery, and pray with Saint Bakhita for it to end. Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits have been so wounded, so that together we may make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good. Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be converted from this wickedness, and help us all to claim the freedom that is your gift to your children. (Taken from a prayer of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Canada.)
February 11—World Day of the Sick
February 11th, the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes, marks the 25th annual World Day of the Sick. It is a day to remember those who suffer illness, those relatives, friends and caregivers who minister to them and all healthcare professionals whose lives are dedicated to caring for the sick. It is especially a time for each of us to dedicate ourselves to the cause of universal healthcare as a right for all human beings. No one who is ill should be alone or suffer without loving care. For Pope Francis’ 2017 statement of the World Day of the Sick, go to:
We pray for the needs of the sick and of all those who suffer — the poor, the infirm, the outcast, the marginalized. May they be recognized for their innate and inalienable dignity, and may they bring out in others the love and compassion that are part of every created human heart…. We pray for those who provide care and assist the sick—family members, health workers and volunteers—that they may accompany the infirm and show them the love of God made manifest in human hands and hearts. We pray for those in different roles of service and in health care institutions throughout the world, that they will be strengthened in their professionalism and dedication to the sick and the suffering. (Taken from a Prayer for World Day of the Sick from the US Catholic Health Care Association)
February 20—World Day of Social Justice
Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability. For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of its global mission to promote development and human dignity. The General Assembly proclaimed February 20th as World Day of Social Justice in 2007, inviting Member States to devote the day to support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.
God of justice and mercy, we ask your blessing upon those trapped by the world's sin
For those who live in the terror of war …
Place peace in the hearts of those carrying out violence
For those who live shackled and trafficked …
Grow mercy in the hearts of those who hold them captive or benefit from their suffering
For those who bear the weight of poverty …
Create generosity in the hearts of those who can help bear the weight
For those whose life and livelihood are affected by our changing climate …
Place prudence in the hearts of those in positions of power
For those who continue to be pushed to the margins of society – the elderly, immigrants, addicted …
Grow compassion in the hearts of those who might welcome them into its center
And for all of us, grant the strength to continue working for justice in this world and the faith to believe that we can create the world we wish for.
(taken from the 2016 US Catholic Health Association Prayer for World Day of Social Justice)
February 24—International Stand Up To Bullying Day
This day, the last Friday of February, is an annual event in which everyone is encouraged to wear a pink shirt to take a visible, public stand against bullying. Wearing this shirt identifies a peer based support structure to victims and their bullies in a non-confrontational way. The color of the shirts is based on a campaign started by Travis Price and David Shepherd, two students who took a stand for a fellow student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.
God, we thank you for creating each person as a unique expression of your love. We pray for all those who have been victims of bullying, that they may come to know that they are special gifts to our world. May we always treat each other with respect, honor and love. May we have the courage to support others when they experience bullying and to intervene to stop it. May we never condone bullying by our silence.