Embracing Faith Through Advocacy – International Justice Leader Visits Blauvelt

By Katie Beckmann, Communications Manager

This week’s “Embracing Faith” article will focus on Embracing Faith through Advocacy.

Last week, the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York, welcomed Sister Cecilia Espenilla, the International Promoter of Justice and Peace for Dominican Sisters International (DSI) to Blauvelt.

Sisters Ceil Lavan. Lauria Fitzgerald, Cecilia Espenilla, Mary Doris, and Cely Byrnes at Siena House

Sister Cecilia, a member of the Congregation of Saint Catherine of Siena in the Philippines, is a former DSI Continental Coordinator and International Promoter for Justice and Peace for Asia Pacific.

Her advocacy efforts and focus on ending human trafficking are well known throughout religious communities around the world.

In 2013 and 2014, Sister Cecilia represented DSI Asia Pacific at sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57 and CSW58) at the United Nations. (1)

Sisters Cecilia Espenilla. Cely Byrnes, and Ceil Lavan at Siena House

“It was very delightful to meet Sister Cecilia. Her commitment to justice is evident in our conversations,” shared Sister Ceil Lavan, Blauvelt Justice Coordinator.

Before arriving at the Blauvelt Motherhouse, Sister Cecilia spent time in the Bronx at Siena House, where Sisters Cely Byrnes, Mary Doris, and Lauria Fitzgerald presently minister.

Sister Ceil shared, “she was a natural with the women and the babies. It was quite remarkable how the women gravitated towards her.”

After touring the Siena House and meeting residents, Sister Cecilia traveled to Saint Dominic Convent, where she toured the Motherhouse grounds and spent time with Sister Michaela Connolly, Blauvelt Prioress.

Sisters Michaela Connolly and Cecilia Espenilla at Saint Dominic Convent

Before returning to the Philippines, Sister Cecilia will spend the next few weeks traveling throughout the United States, visiting other motherhouses and ministry sites.

After meeting Sister Cecilia, Sister Ceil and the Blauvelt Social Justice Committee look forward to partnering with her on future justice initiatives on an international and national level.

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