2022 Assembly


RENATE Member, Sister Klara Marie Stráníková, Gives an Interview to TÝDEN


In a recent interview with Mr. Lukáš Seidl, Journalist with  cz, RENATE member, Sister Klara Marie Stráníková, of the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross, talks about her experiences in working with women in prostitution in Prague, the Czech Republic.

Sr. Klara Marie Stráníková, SCSC
Sr. Klara Marie Stráníková, SCSC

It is no surprise to meet a Sister on the streets of Prague, but most people would raise an eyebrow at meeting Sisters walking the streets of the city late at night. Sister Klara Marie Stráníková, of the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross knows the harsh realities of the sex trade, stating “a night on the street will change your life.”
Prayer is an important part of the Sisters’ ministry, “We even have special prayers dedicated to women in prostitution,” says Sister Klara Marie. On an average night in Wenceslas Square, she is joined in prayer by a number of women who are prostituted on the streets of Prague. Discretely dressed, they talk, then join hands and pray together, an unusual sight in the heart of a popular tourist city.
“It is a special atmosphere and many participate in prayer. Often, as Sisters, we stand out and many people approach us and ask to join in prayer,” says Sister Klara Marie, who came to Prague four years ago from a monastery in Kroměříž, to assist women in prostitution.
Today, the Sisters live in a smaller community, and together with several other Sisters, spend every Friday night ministering to those who have no choice but to work in the dark corners of the city. In addition to prayers and the distribution of small religious objects, the Sisters provide contact details where the women can access free legal and social assistance, in addition to testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
Click here to read more: Interview with Sr. Klara Marie Stráníková, SCSC
Original text in Czech available here: TÝDEN
Translated and adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Pastoral Care of Women & Girls Working or Living on the Streets at CSW in NYC


Amongst the CSW 60 events at the UN (13th – 24th March, 2016), Lynda Dearlove, RSM, (RENATE member) presented at the CSW 60 this past week (21st March) and it has been televised on UN WebTv, as follows:
CSW 16 UN NYC Lynda Dearlove presents on The Care of Women and Girls on the Street
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Shine a Light on Modern Slavery, Dedicate Time to Human Trafficking


As Justice & Peace co-ordinator for my congregation, I sent a letter to all our communities , inviting the sisters to dedicate the next two weeks to Human Trafficking, under the title “Shine a light on Modern Slavery”.
Sisters from all over the world, were invited to reflect and get to know this reality better, to come closer to it, to pray for the victims and the traffickers, to open their eyes to discover the “slaves” that are near us and to get in touch with organisations that work with them, and if possible, to bring a ray of hope to those who are the victims of modern slavery.
Begoña Iñarra, currently in Rome, participated at the vigil organised by USMI – Conference of Major Superiors of Italy – on Saturday evening, 6th February. This vigil was followed by Mass on Sunday, the 7th of February, where prayers were said for the victims of human trafficking.
Afterwards, we all went to St. Peter’s Square, to hear the Pope pray the Angelus. Two young Africans carried a large photo of St. Bakhita, to St. Peter’s Square. It was a very special occasion for everyone present, as we prayed together in solidarity with all those who are victims of Human Trafficking and Exploitation.
Sr. Begoña Iñarra, Fundacion Amaranta, Spain
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Press Conference in Croatia for the World Day of Consecrated Life, 2 February 2016


Photo 1In honour of the World Day for Consecrated Life, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Croatia, held a Press Conference where the continuing refugee crisis and the importance of pastoral care of the Roma people was discussed.
Inspired by the evangelical values of Community Spirit; Acceptance and Solidarity, the JRS has been involved in providing help to asylum seekers, displaced people, migrants and refugees on the transit routes through Europe.
To date, more than 700,000 refugees have journeyed through Croatia since 2015.
Ms Jelena Firić, responsible for the JRS Legal affairs, delivered a presentation on the significant role and contributions of the JRS, which range from advocacy in public debates, the provision of legal assistance through to all forms of direct support in the camps and reception and detention centres for refugees and asylum seekers. The provision of several square metres of space specifically for the JRS within the camps has been especially helpful in providing a tranquil space in the midst of the chaos of the camps.
Photo 2Mrs Martina Prokl Predragović, JRS Communications Person, read two powerful testimonies from male and female refugees, who spoke about their exile, concerns and hope for better life in the future. Mrs. Predragović stressed the importance of social media giving adequate space to these issues. This would greatly assist in awareness-raising and the finding of humane solutions to the crisis, in direct contrast to the repression of the situation which is occurring in the Near East.
Sr. Stanka Oršolić, volunteer with the JRS, spoke about her experiences volunteering in the refugee camps. She explained the connection between the refugee crisis and human trafficking, citing the shocking fact of the disappearance of 10,000 children along the migrant routes. As has been evident at bus and train stations in Italy, Budapest and elsewhere, many minors have been left alone, having lost family or friends along the routes. These minors are particularly vulnerable to human traffickers and smugglers. Sr. Stanka highlighted the problem of the vulnerability of migrants and refugees to human smugglers, who have vast networks amongst themselves and exact enormous amounts of money from the migrants and refugees. Furthermore, Sr. Stanka explained the challenges faced by the relevant institutions in trying to identify the victims. It becomes more difficult because of the transitory nature of the migrants and refugees, who are retained only briefly in any camp.
Photo 3Sr. Karolina Miljak also spoke of her 40 years’ experience working with the Roma population in Croatia, who too are marginalised. She provides pastoral care and assists in their integration into Croatian society.
Sr. Miroslava Bradica, Vice President of the Croatian Conference of the Major Male and Female Religious Superiors, spoke about the activities of the female and male religious in Croatia during the Year of Consecrated Life.
Sr. Bradica concluded the conference by expressing her gratitude and support to the speakers for all their work. She thanked the journalists and all those who attended the conference.
Sr. Stanka Oršolić
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Reflection from a Refugee Camp in Dobova, Slovenia


Over the Christmas period of 2015, RENATE member, Bohdana Bezáková, CJ, worked as a volunteer, helping refugees on the Croatian-Slovenian border at the railway station in Dobova town. Because most people preferred to spend Christmas with their families, there was a shortage of people willing to help refugees. Bohdana shares her thoughts and experiences in the following article, where she writes about the challenge as a religious sister, to live a ‘real’ Christmas and assist the ‘fleeing Holy Family’.
Reflection from a Refugee Camp in Dobova, Slovenia by Sr. Andrea Bezáková
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Christmas on the Croatian-Slovenian Border, at one of the Camps for Refugees


Andrea Bezáková (Bohdana) RENATE member, spent her Christmas volunteering with others at the refugee camp in Dobova, on the Croatian-Slovenian border, approximately 18 km from the town of Zaprešić, Croatia. She sent the following account of her experiences, from the 23rd to the 30th of December, 2015.
“It is very powerful here! Everynight, two thousand refugees arrive by train, mainly children and pregnant women. All are exhausted from travelling. Without access to life’s necessities, it has been a month or more since some of them had a shower. At the camp, everything is well organised, with good use being made of the funding allocated by Germany to assist the refugees in camps.
At night it was freezing. People had to queue for three hours twice; once to register at the police station and twice, to register in the camp. People are disciplined. The majority are coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Many are well educated and include professional doctors, pharmacists, economists, electrical engineers and architects. The younger ones can speak English. Although the camp is just provisional and not the most comfortable, the refugees get what they need.
Many organisations work together here. It is necessary to pray for them. It is a very hard situation, knowing what the refugees had to go through. Some of them need medical help, especially the children.
I am glad to be here at the camp, especially at Christmas time as for me, this is a very authentic witness of Christmas and is an emotionally very strong experience. We are preparing food packets to help build up people’s strength and we distribute blankets, as most are not accustomed to the frost and freezing temperatures.
It has been a blessed Christmas!
Adapted and amended by Anne Kelleher, Communications Person

New Legislation in Lithuania for Identification of Victims of HT


In Lithuania, new legislation comprising the Identification of Victims of Human-Trafficking, Recommendations for the Pre-trial Investigation and Inter-institutional Collaboration was signed into law at the General Prosecutor’s Department of the Lithuanian Republic (LR) on the 12th of December, 2015.
Natalja Kurcinskaja, Director of the Missing Persons’ Families Support Centre, in Vilnius, Lithuania shares her report on the introduction of recent legislation in Lithuania which is intended to combat human trafficking and support victims.
News from Lithuania delivered by Mrs. Natalja Kurcinskaja, MPFSC
Adapted and amended by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

ANDANTE Summer School in Vienna, Bioethical Issues Facing People Today


Andante Summer School, 12 – 16 August, 2015


I attended the Andante Summer School in August as a RENATE member. It was a great privilege to be there at the Don Bosco house in Vienna, Austria where the event took place in a picturesque part of Vienna close to the famous Wienerwald (the Vienna Woods). The theme: “Why bioethics? – Bioethical issues facing people today.”
Andante (The European Alliance of Catholic women`s organisations) proposed this topic at the request of several members from different countries in Europe who face Bioethical issues related to their work or to their personal life.

ANDANTE Summer School on Bioethics, Vienna, 12-16 August 2015
ANDANTE Summer School, Vienna, 12-16 August 2015

We were 54 people in total, from different European countries, with diverse backgrounds and different ways of answering or dealing with difficult questions and decisions regarding Bioethics.

As an Alliance of Catholic Women, Andante meetings had its focus on the Christian aspects of the discussions, underpinned all the while by consideration for the dignity of the human person, which cannot be reduced to the outward appearance of the body, but is a holistic complex of body and soul.

Dr. Sigrid Sterckx from Belgium, gave an introduction to ethics on the first day. She is Professor of Ethics and Political and Social Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy and Moral sciences at Ghent University. In her introduction, her central point was the question: What should I do? We were given explanations on several approaches to normative ethics like: utilitarism, deontology and virtue ethics, with particular attention to the (in)/compatibilities between them, illustrated with several examples. All of which challenged the way we react in critical situations.
After this amazing way of putting us in front of the reality some people live in daily life, we discussed the ethical aspects of various medical end-of-life practices such as pain and symptom alleviation, continuous sedation at the end of life, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia and the differences and similarities between them.
Dr. Myriam Wijlens from the Netherlands, Professor of Canon Law and Ecumenism at the Erfurt University in Germany spoke on Ethics and Canon Law. She payed particular attention to the issue of abortion and the question of when the penalty of an automatic excommunication on Canon Law is indeed occurred, or if it ever occurred.
She said, “Development in the area of medicine requires not only ethical reflections but also leads  to questions that touch on actions and reactions within the realm of pastoral ministry. It is not uncommon that a tension arises between the doctrine and the teaching on the one side and pastoral care with regard to an individual specific person on the other side.”
Dr. Regula Ott, Professor of Ethics at University of Zurich, Switzerland, gave a talk on Ethical Issues for prospective parents.
In her presentation she addressed aspects related to biomedical ethics for parents, explained closely the terms of artificial insemination, prenatal diagnosis that employs a variety of techniques to determine the health and condition of an unborn fetus, about Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which is a reproductive technology that can be used for diagnosis of a genetic disease in early embryos prior to implantation and pregnancy. In addition, this technology can be utilised in the field of assisted reproduction for aneuploidy screening and diagnosis of unbalanced inheritance of chromosome abnormalities, such as translocations or inversions, all these from the perspective of biomedical ethics.
Dr. Sigrid Müller, Germany, talked about the relationship between Ethics, Culture and Faith/Spirituality, emphasising the pluralism and the decreasing influence the Churches or religions face in Europe today. She is Dean at the Catholic Theological Faculty of Vienna. World views are increasingly dominated by paradigms used in the field of technology, technique and neutral sciences, in a context where arguments traditionally offered by the churches are often no longer accepted, she said.

All meetings started with a prayer and the song Laudato Si, prayer of Saint Francis. The entire meeting was underpinned by the influence of the Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter Laudato Si’  – care for our common home.
I am very grateful for such an enriching experience both from the speakers and from participants.
I would like to finish with part of the second prayer at the end of the Encyclical, where we, Christians, ask for inspiration to take up the commitment to creation set before us by the Gospel of Jesus.

O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!

Sr. Adina Balan, CJ – Bucharest

Andante Summer School Summary 2015_English

Andante Summer School Summary 2015_French

Andante Summer School Summary 2015_German