May: Migration

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How can we show compassion without borders and love without boundaries? What does it take to navigate legal systems to become a citizen of a different country? What are the root causes of inequity for those who migrate? Join migration experts Lesly Gonzalez-Barragan, Sister Denise LaRock, DC and Sister JoAnn Mark, ASC, for our “Exploring Intersections: Catholic Sisters on Racism, Migration, and Climate” discussion. Registration is free and open to the public as we provide a forum for constructive conversation on these important issues.

Panelists: Lesly Gonzalez-Barragan, Denise LaRock, DC, Joann Mark, ASC – Learn more about our panelists below.
Host: Charish Badzinski

  1. Seek out ways to support those who migrate.
  2. Find local new immigrants through parishes and Catholic Charities and support those in need.
  3. Welcome migrants at your comfort and capability. There are always services to donate to: non-profits, law offices, consulates, or your own profession etc. Migrants don’t stop being migrants after entering the country. View the neighbors at your own parishes with the eyes of Christ.

American Immigration Council
The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring.

Casa Marianella
Casa Marianella welcomes displaced immigrants and promotes self-sufficiency by providing shelter and support services.Their ultimate vision is that all immigrants arriving in Austin will have safe housing and access to the services they need to be successful.

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., has been on the cutting edge of training nonprofit immigration legal service providers to provide affordable, quality legal representation to immigrants since its founding in 1988. Today the network includes more than 380 nonprofit organizations in 49 states.

Justice for Immigrants
In 2004, the Catholic bishops of the United States committed to immigration reform as a priority of the U.S. Catholic Church, and to creating a culture of welcome in which all migrants are treated with respect and dignity. A diverse group of Catholic organizations with national networks joined the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign (JFI) in an effort to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic institutions, individuals, and other persons of goodwill in support of immigration reform.

La Posada Providencia
La Posada Providencia strives to satisfy the basic subsistence needs of poor immigrants, asylees and asylum seekers in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and to promote their successful integration into U. S. society.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
For 80 years, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has offered welcome and hope to more than half a million refugees. Since 1939, LIRS has transformed lives, with the support of people like you, to welcome the most vulnerable to the United States — from sea to shining sea. Together we have supported, equipped and empowered these new Americans, while advocating for policy that protects all of God’s children.

Witness at the Border
The Witness project began in Tornillo TX in 2018. Then Homestead FL in 2019. Our 65-day long vigil in Brownsville TX in 2020 was suspended due to Covid-19. We track ICE Air flights, which began with watching at the Brownsville airport. See our posts detailing expulsions, deportations, and prisoner transfers in Death Flights. Follow other witnessing activity in Bearing Witness, as we continue the “subversive act of seeing.”

USCCB Immigrant & Refugee Foster Care Program
The USCCB/MRS Foster Care team is fortunate to work with foster care programs across the nation who are dedicated to finding foster families who can provide a safe environment and a loving home to youth in need.

Meet Our Panelists

Lesly Gonzalez-Barragan
Activist, Advocate
National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry

Lesly Gonzalez-Barragan is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and theology from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. 

Born and raised in an immigrant community, she has encountered the effects of migration firsthand among loved ones and community members. Her background and experiences have influenced her interest in faith-based social justice work, particularly working with migrant and marginalized communities—especially youth and young adults.

Lesly has worked at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. All her experiences involve work with Latino communities and the marginalized, where migration is a constant topic and issue. She currently works in the Diversity and Inclusion Department of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Washington, D.C. 

Denise LaRock, DC
Sister, Teacher
Daughters of Charity

Sister Denise LaRock, currently a member of the Daughters of Charity leadership team, most recently served in San Antonio, Texas, where her ministry was to make newcomers who arrived from the border feel welcomed.

 A Baltimore native, Sister Denise spent a year improving her Spanish while living in Miami, Florida, with Daughters from the Caribbean Province. Once in San Antonio and equipped with Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) clearance, she began her ministry as part of the Interfaith Coalition Commission, greeting weary–and fearful–asylum seekers from Central America. During her daily presence at the city’s bus station, she assisted with interpretation, bus schedules and tickets while handing out backpacks filled with essentials and providing assurance that the asylum seekers were now in good hands.

 A Daughter of Charity for 30 years, Sister Denise has ministered as a grade-school teacher; in a tutoring program for Hispanic and at-risk students in Macon, Georgia; and as the community’s vocation director.

Joann Mark, ASC
Sister, Advocate
Adorers of the Blood of Christ

Sister JoAnn Mark, a Nebraska native, spent most of her ministry in higher education, primarily at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, and Brescia College in Owensboro, Kentucky. She taught college math and science and served as academic dean and vice president. She has been to 12 countries, and taught English in Bucharest, Romania, and Tanzania, East Africa, and was active in her congregation’s leadership locally and as a delegate to Rome.

Her experiences inspired a keen interest in social justice, especially with minorities and asylum seekers. In 2015, she left Wichita to direct Partnership for Global Justice, a nonprofit in New York City, which took her to the United Nations. In 2018, she initiated a program in her community to open a vacant wing in the Adorers’ convent to families of asylum seekers, primarily from the Congo. She prepared their legal papers for asylum applications and work permits, accompanied them to immigration court, and tutored and taught their children.

April: Care of Creation

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Care of Creation will examine the massive environmental challenges we face and our responsibilities to address them. What exactly does it mean to care for creation? How do the impacts of climate change affect the most vulnerable? And what are some of the steps we can make to be wise stewards of the earth’s resources, and create a sustainable future for humankind?

Panelists: Leah Clyburn, Catherine McComas-Bussa, Christin Tomy, OP – Learn more about our panelists below.
Host: Charish Badzinski

  1. Shift toward a plant-based diet.
  2. Have a mindful conversation with a child about Earth.
  3. Get involved in community environmental organizations.

How This Activist Farmer Fights Racism Through Food
Determined to end racism and injustice in the modern food system, Leah Penniman co-founded Soul Fire Farm, a community farm dedicated to training people of color. Through education and advocacy, Penniman has dedicated her life to mentoring the next generation of activist farmers.

Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University School of Law
Environmental Racism in St. Louis
This report was prepared by the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University School of Law to assist the following organizations in educating the St. Louis community about environmental injustices that disproportionately endanger public health for people of color and low-income individuals in St. Louis, and in advocating for systemic changes to remedy these injustices and enhance public health.

What is the Climate Impact of Eating Meat and Dairy?
In this interactive Q&A, Carbon Brief explores how greenhouse gas emissions from meat, dairy and other diets compare, as well as whether changes to the production and transportation of meat could help to stem its climate impact.

What’s Your Diet’s Carbon Footprint?
Switching to a plant-based diet can help fight climate change. But what is the difference between beef and chicken? Does a bowl of rice produce more climate warming greenhouse gases than a plate of chips? Is wine more environmentally friendly than beer?

What is a Plant-Based Diet and Why Should You Try It?
Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.

Simply in Season Cookbook
Simply in Season serves up more than three hundred recipes organized by season, along with a popular and expanded fruit and vegetable guide.

The Dirty Truth About Utility Climate Pledges
The next decade is critical to averting the worst impacts of the climate crisis and transforming our economy to run entirely on clean energy. Science shows that unless utilities retire all their coal plants by 2030, abandon all plans to build gas plants, and aggressively build out renewable energy resources, we risk destabilizing our livable climate. Despite this pressing deadline, utilities are either not moving fast enough toward these goals, or not moving at all. Dozens of utilities may have pledged to become “carbon neutral” by 2050 — but research conducted by the Sierra Club shows that all but a handful of utilities in the United States aren’t moving toward clean energy in the time frame needed to avoid the worst of the climate crisis.

Exposure to Air Pollution and COVID-19 Mortality in the United States
United States government scientists estimate that COVID-19 may kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. The majority of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death for COVID-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution. We investigate whether long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increases the risk of COVID-19 deaths in the United States.

Native Land Digital
We strive to map Indigenous lands in a way that changes, challenges, and improves the way people see the history of their countries and peoples. We hope to strengthen the spiritual bonds that people have with the land, its people, and its meaning.

Recipe for a Green Life: A Holistic Sustainable Living Handbook & Recipe Book
Download this guide book and recipe book for more sustainable living by CS Sherin for FREE. You will get 433 pages with photography and copious endnotes. It includes a holistic, inclusive approach to the green living movement, tons of recipes (green cleaning, hygiene and meals), and helpful information on a wide variety of topics related to sustainability, health, the environment, communities and the challenges we all face.

Meet Our Panelists

Leah Clyburn
Activist, Organizer

Leah Clyburn is an activist and organizer in St. Louis, Missouri, who advocates for the advancement of underrepresented constituents, fighting for social, economic, educational and environmental justice for all through a spiritual lens. Her focus includes community base- building, education and leadership training.

Ms. Clyburn’s personal and professional experiences have enabled her to effectively advocate for families from all demographics and to be a leading advocate for Missouri to raise the minimum wage and for democratic reform during the 2018 election year. Currently, Leah is the senior organizing representative with Missouri Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal  national campaign and co-founder of Community First Plus. In these roles, she partners with community leaders and local organizations throughout Missouri in addressing environmental justice concerns in relation to our daily lives.

Catherine McComas-Bussa
Student, Advocate
Northland College

Catherine McComas-Bussais a sophomore at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where she is student body president and is designing a major focused on climate justice. Raised in Shakopee, Minnesota, and surrounded by the state’s natural beauty, Ms. McComas-Bussa’s Catholic parents instilled in her the need to prioritize justice and to find the sanctity of the feminine divine, especially in creation. Her love of nature has led to work experiences at a YMCA family camp on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) and in community at a Catholic Worker farm in Lake City, Minnesota. 

Ms. McComas-Bussa is committed to seeking food justice, water protection and youth advocacy; a commitment demonstrated by her work with the state legislature and like-minded young people in bringing about a time when no decision is made about youth without youth.

Her list of seasonal outdoor favorites includes camping, canoeing, pruning tomatoes, eating crisp apples, and taking in the beauty of Lake Superior.

Sister Christin Tomy, OP
Sister, Farmer, Student
Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa

Sister Christin Tomy, OP, has spent the past several years working on sustainable agriculture and food justice in the rural Midwest. Although she hails from the heart of farm country (Iowa), her passion for farming and gardening came later.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree in Spanish and peace and conflict studies, Sister Christin volunteered with a local nonprofit that served Central American immigrants, many of whom had been farm workers. Upon graduating, she became a social worker with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Belize. When she returned to the United States, she coordinated a food pantry. This combination of experiences opened her eyes to the intersections between environmental degradation and various forms of oppression, with a focus on food and agriculture.

Since joining the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa eight years ago, Sister Christin has volunteered at an organic produce farm, interned at an eco-justice center, and coordinated a summer farming program for high school students. She spent the past five years at her community’s motherhouse farm in rural Wisconsin, where she ran a collaborative farming program to train and support beginning farmers, facilitated retreats and educational experiences, and grew fresh produce for sisters, guests and area food pantries.

Now living in Chicago, Sister Christin is working on a Master of Divinity degree at Catholic Theological Union and looking forward to getting involved in the Windy City’s urban garden scene.

March: Gender Equity

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Gender equity or the equal access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender is a fundamental human right and essential to achieve full human potential and sustainable societal development. This webinar discusses how gender equality is interconnected with issues of racism, migration and climate change.

Gender discrimination can be shaped by someone’s race or ethnicity. Racism and gender oppression both use stereotypes to rationalize the subordination and domination of minorities. For migrant women, the discriminatory social institutions they seek to escape, many times social institutions that do not allow women to receive the same level of education as men, may not prepare women for a successful migration. Women are also more likely than men to live in poverty therefore are more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change.

Panelists: Beth Allen, Ga’Nea Jones and Joan Mitchell, CSJ – Learn more about our panelists below.
Host: Charish Badzinski

  1. Raise your voice against gender stereotypes in the entertainment media industry.
  2. Learn about the goals and journeys of women around you and find ways to support them.
  3. Reclaim the strength, power and leadership roles of women of the Bible and church history.
RESOURCES Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
The Geena Davis Institute has multiple research studies available to share at, including the intersections of gender, race, and LGBTQ+ in on-screen representation. With kids and teens engaging in media more than seven hours a day on average, media is one of the most important factors influencing our values in the 21st century.

Tyler Clementi Foundation
God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth
U.S. Catholic Bishops joins the Tyler Clementi Foundation in standing up for at-risk LGBT youth in our country who have considerably higher suicide attempts than their straight counterparts, and are the target of violent acts at alarming rates. Read their statement, “God is on Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth.”

Meet Our Panelists

Director of Affiliation
Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

Beth Allen has served as the director of affiliation for the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wisconsin, since 2018 and has been an affiliate in the community for 15 years. Her education includes master’s degrees in counselor education and pastoral ministries. She is also a certified chaplain through the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. 

Ms. Allen is passionate about gender equity and resists gender discrimination in all forms. Her published guidebook, “The Way in the 21st Century,” conveys the lifting up of the beautiful language found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that emphasizes this truth: ‘God is the first origin of everything … is goodness and loving … transcends the human distinction between the sexes. … is neither man nor woman … transcends human fatherhood and motherhood.’ She believes to truly embrace the Gospel message is to join the effort that not only promotes gender equity but human dignity for all in social, religious and political arenas.

Missouri State University

Ga’Nea Jones is a senior majoring in social work at Missouri State University. Currently interning at a local school district, Ms. Jones is also applying to graduate school for her master’s in social work. She plans on becoming a licensed clinical social worker within a health care or school system, and she would like to start a nonprofit that supports minorities in education, health and mental health.  

Ms. Jones grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, attended Marian Middle School and graduated from Incarnate Word Academy. Throughout her school years, she volunteered at Saint Louis Children’s Hospital, which helped her to realize her passion for helping young children and families in a hospital setting. 

In addition to her educational and work experience, Ms. Jones has been enriched by her membership in a local sorority, which afforded her the opportunity to work with incredibly strong women. This sense of belonging has fueled her passion for advocating for women’s rights and the impact and voice they can have within their communities and states.

Teacher, Writer, Editor
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

Sister Joan Mitchell, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has created religious education programs for over 35 years; as an editor for Winston Press and as general editor for Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. With Sister Therese Sherlock, CSJ, she created and produced five levels of the Gospel Weeklies (preschool through eighth grade). In 1988, Sister Joan set up Good Ground Press to publish similar programs for teens and adults.

Her passion for exploring gender equity began after taking Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s course, “Gospel Women and Discovered Feminist Scripture Study.” For 26 years, Sister Joan has joined in the work of reclaiming women’s significance in scripture and Church history, richly populating the programs with women.

Sister Joan earned a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Catherine University, a master’s degree in American literature from the University of Iowa, a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a doctorate in New Testament from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.


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Meet Our Host: Charish Badzinski

Charish Badzinski is a writer, public relations consultant and founder of Rollerbag Goddess Global Communications, a small business committed to powerful storytelling. Badzinski has an extensive background in television, radio and print journalism, as well as marketing and communications. She credits her past position in communications with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration as the most transformative role of her career, as it helped forge her personal and professional values. 

Badzinski strives to better understand our world and the complex issues humankind faces through her work and her travels, which have taken her to 49 countries and six continents. She is passionate about social justice, human rights, preservation of the planet, and the availability of potable water for all people. Badzinski holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She was born in Washington D.C., raised in the Upper Midwest, and now calls Tucson, Arizona home, where she lives with her husband of 25 years, Joel, and their dog, Brooklyn. 

Learn more about Charish at

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