woman in pink

August 2011 

Grantee Grantee Highlights  

Changing Lives with Bicycles - Union de Femeninas

by Faith Goodwin


The Union de Femeninas in Peru has launched an inspiring project: changing women's lives with bicycles.


Located in the Ate-Vitarte district of Lima, Peru, the Union de Femeninas is one of seventeen women's shelters in the National Network of Shelter Houses which serves those affected by domestic or sexual abuse. Last year, more than 316 women were killed in the district as a result of this sort of violence. The Union provides an escape from this cycle of fear and violence by teaching women independence and life skills through leadership workshops, cultural activities, and practical trades.

  Women of different generations weave together.  


The program provides a space for women to share their experience their struggles, and their faith. In addition to providing practical economic alternatives for women, the program embodies the Union's mission of responsible living. "We seek to cement unity and peace between humans and our environment," says Lucia Yaranga Duenas, the organization's president, "providing economical transportation and alternatives for a cleaner environment." In addition, the effort strikes at the heart of cultural values, empowering women by giving them a place in a traditionally male-dominated activity. "Our vision is to build a society without violence and with equal participation without discrimination between men and women." The project will challenge cultural stereotypes that currently restrict women to domestic-oriented occupations, promoting equality and giving women a more active role in society.  


Now, with the support of Mary's Pence, the Union is expanding to offer workshops that will teach women to maintain, repair, and assemble bicycles and tricycles. The Union plans to train six groups of twenty women through an annual series of six workshops.   


The grant from Mary's Pence will provide supplies for training seminars, furnish basic equipment such as air pumps and tires for bicycles, and generate fliers to promote awareness of sexual violence. "This solidarity gives us encouragement and strengthens our actions in our Christian community," says Ms. Duenas. If successful, the Bicycle Workshops will be replicated in other areas beyond the Huaycan Ate-Vitarte district, and will become a model for empowering women in their communities.


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IssuesIssues of Justice


Option for the Poor and Vulnerable - Network's Mind the Gap Initiative 

 by Andrew Crichton


"If someone who has the riches of this world sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (1 Jn 3:17)


In many spiritual traditions, the treatment of those with lesser economic means serves as a measure of both religious devotion as well as a commitment to an enduring, robust society. In the Buddhist tradition, wandering monks rely on the generosity of townspeople to fill their food bowls each day. Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, means "that which purifies" and requires almsgiving to the less fortunate by all who have the means to do so. Caring for the poor and marginalized seems to be universal to the human experience wherever coherent societies form, and the Catholic community is no exception.


In Catholic Social Teaching, the option for the poor "arises from the radical command to love one's neighbor as one's self." A just, strong society does not

Pictures by Justine Cudel in NYC

ignore those at risk. Instead, it embraces its most vulnerable members by, "giving special attention to those with special needs, to those who are poor, and to those on the margins of society." Doing this requires in-depth evaluation of individuals' personal decisions and the government's public policies in terms of their effect on the poor. The right of all to the minimum necessities of nutrition, housing, education, and health care must be defended by all in order to promote a healthy, just society.


Of course, the economic and political elite do not always focus enough attention on promoting social justice. For this reason, NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby founded in 1971 by 47 Catholic Sisters, has launched a campaign called Mind the Gap, which aims to raise awareness of the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth in America. In the United States, the richest 1% of the population holds as much wealth as the bottom 90% combined. This massive disparity in resources translates into the political power needed to ensure the perpetuation of wealth for a select few while eroding the middle class and ensuring the continuing poverty of those at the margins of society. The rich and the politically connected in America too often ignore the common good in favor of the pursuit of personal gains. NETWORK draws on its Catholic faith and strong belief in social justice to educate the public and push for a government that works for the common good; one which ensures that people have their basic needs met.


For more information on NETWORK and to sign the Mind the Gap petition, you can visit the following website: http://www.networklobby.org/campaign/mind-the-gap 


For more information on Catholic Social Teaching, visit: http://osjspm.org/catholic_social_teaching.aspx


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Actions Mary's Pence News


Mary's Pence Seeking Grant Applications -  

October 1 Deadline


If you or someone you know has a project that is bettering the lives of women, consider applying for a Mary's Pence Ministry Grant. We fund projects that support women's well-being - physical, social and economic. We look for models that foster women working together, to enhance learning, mutual support and creativity. To learn more about the application process go to http://www.maryspence.org/grants-apply.html 


"God Bless Mary's Pence" says  

Bishop John McCarthy of Austin, Texas 


Bishop McCarthy highlighted Mary's Pence in his blog on June 27th. "While small in terms of Peter's Pence Mary's Pence is much more focused on one of the great worldwide problems - the oppression and subjugation of women, the lack of economic power in proportion to their numbers and their contributions to society. Mary's Pence is still small, but I feel very confident that before another 20 years has gone by we will see that Mary's Pence has grown into an important social vehicle contributing to a more just society." You can read this blog at http://www.bishopjohnmccarthy.com/2011/06/i-love-women/



Women Passionate about Social Justice join  

Mary's Pence Board


This year we had three wonderful women join our board.


Sr. Judy Diaz Molosky CSJ is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet who has worked extensively with the Spanish-speaking community in Los Angeles, coordinated missionary work in three countries, and taught intercultural communications. Currently Judy is the Development Director for St. Mary's Academy in Inglewood, CA.


Ashley Steele is a recent graduate of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN, who is currently working as a Legal Case Manager with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Hartford CT. A strong desire to lessen the disparities in opportunities between men and women motivated her to join the Mary's Pence Board.


Sr. Robbie Pentecost, OSF is a Sister of St. Francis, and lives in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky. She has worked for various non-profits across Appalachia over the past 16 years. She currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia and the Appalachian Ministeries Education Resource Center (AMERC).


"Mary's Pence is extremely proud to announce three new appointments to our board this year," says the Board President, Consilia Karli.  "Sr. Judy brings a great ability for networking and fundraising, along with a vast experience in working with diverse cultures. Sr. Robbie brings an extensive background, in ministry and non profit work along with experience in finance and fundraising.  Ashley brings her technical skills and fresh young ideas in the area of social media, along with her zeal for justice and empowerment of women in society.  We are fortunate to be blessed with each member's unique gifts and have already generated a strong sense that our mission will continue to grow strong and to impact the future of women in the Americas." 


If you or someone else is interested in becoming a board member please call us to learn more! 


Mary's Pence has Moved to Minnesota


After 14 years on the East Coast, Mary's Pence has returned to the Midwest, the region of its genesis almost 25 years ago. Being back in the Midwest enables us to benefit from the vibrant, progressive communities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Lower rent and cost of living also allow us to operate with less overhead costs.


The new office is on the 7th floor of the historic Northwestern Building in downtown St. Paul, looking out on the Mississippi River. The office was once occupied by James J. Hill, a local railroad magnate, whose walk-in safe still occupies the office. Painted on the inside of our supply closet door is the word WOMEN. Both of these remainders from previous occupants are appropriate to Mary's Pence's focus on women and the circulation of money.


Mary's Pence and its Executive Director, Katherine Wojtan, share Midwestern roots, and the move brings both back to those roots. In the 19 years she lived in the Twin Cities before moving to Staten Island to joing Mary's Pence, she was an active participant in the area's active social justice and peace groups. Of the move, Consilia Karli, Mary's Pence Board President says, "There are many peace and justice groups, numerous colleges and universities, parishes with active and committed laity, and a dynamic volunteer community that will support Mary's Pence well."


The Northwestern Building in St. Paul: new home of Mary's Pence

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Mary's Pence - Who Are We?


We are a small organization with a big vision.  We want women in the Americas living in poverty to have a say and a hand in how poverty can be alleviated and social equity achieved.  Therefore we invest in local women who are creating models to increase women's economic status and improve their status in their community.  We look for models that foster women working together, to learn from each other, support each other, and explore new ideas.  We fund women in North, Central and South America.


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In This Issue

 Changing Lives with Bicycles - Union de Femeninas


Option for the Poor and Vulnerable - NETWORK's Mind the Gap  Initiative 

Mary's Pence News 








Women of the Asociacion de Mujeres Sembradoras de Esperanza - Association of Women Sowers of Hope -  in Santa Cruz de Quiche in Guatemala - an ESPERA Fund group.

We who carry our cause in our hearts are the only ones ready to run every risk.



-Rigoberta Menchú



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