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February 17, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – The General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement in defense of Catholic Charities USA and its humanitarian, Gospel-based ministry with immigrants at the Southern border.
We are deeply troubled by the vitriolic attacks on Catholic Charities USA and its Rio Grande Valley agency in Brownsville, Texas, renowned for their outstanding humanitarian work in fidelity to the Gospel, supporting migrants and refugees as well as Americans in need. The attacks, coming through hateful phone calls and vicious commentary, have been spurred by false media reports that Catholic Charities is aiding illegal immigration and engaged in human smuggling and profit-making.
Nothing could be further from the truth – nor more hurtful.
Catholic Charities aids 15 million people each year suffering from poverty, homelessness, natural disasters, mental illness, as well as migrants and asylum seekers. Among those subjected to harsh attacks are our Adrian Dominican Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, and Missionaries of Jesus Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and its Humanitarian Respite Center.
We are honored to stand in solidarity with our Sisters Donna and Norma and all the people with whom and to whom they minister with such compassionate care out of faithfulness to our Catholic faith and Judeo-Christian tradition. We pray for an end to the mean spiritedness that seems to have gripped so many in our nation and for a softening of hearts that will permit us all to enter into honest encounters, as sisters and brothers created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27), seeking understanding and respectful engagement with one another.
Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council are Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; and Patricia Harvat, OP, and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilors.
October 13, 2021, Morris Plains, New Jersey – For the sixth year, Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, has been named one of the Top 50 Power and Influence executives of nonprofit organizations by The NonProfit Times (NPT). The 50 were chosen from among 300 top executives and were recognized as initiators, innovators, and leaders who worked as “day-in, day-out executives,” according to The NonProfit Times.
The 50 honorees were feted recently at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., at the Annual NPT Power and Influence Gala.
Sister Donna, the first woman to serve as President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), was recognized for her commitment to immigrants. She is “one of the few nonprofit CEOs who went to the border on more than a photo-op tour,” according to Paul Cholery, Vice President and Editorial Director of NPT. “She and her network are showing how to care for detained immigrants.”
Immigration Advocacy and Refugee Services is one of the top priorities of CCUSA. Catholic Charities agencies around the country provide critical assistance to immigrants and refugees, as well as citizenship education and other services.
In April, Sister Donna traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border at El Centro, California, to get a sense of the situation at the border and to give her support to Catholic Charities workers struggling to meet the needs of the immigrants. Local Catholic Charities agencies set up shelters with food and clean clothes for immigrants coming out of detention and helped them get transportation to their friends or relatives in the United States.
“There’s no way you can look at that degree of human suffering and not be affected by it,” Sister Donna said. “My hat is off to the people in Catholic Charities who are doing this all the time, every day. Each one of them is a walking saint. They reach out in compassion and respect.”
Feature photo: Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, left, takes time to chat with William and his daughter, Julia, who came to the United States from Brazil during her recent visit to Catholic Charities shelters at the U.S.-Mexico border.