woman in pink

February/March 2012 

GranteeGrantee Highlights    


Building Businesses - ESPERA in Nicaragua  

 by Pat Rogucki, Mary's Pence Board of Directors 



From Nicaragua, Municipality of Nindiri.    


Tusa in Ninduri group
ESPERA Group in Ninduri

It was not long before my comfortable air conditioned flight was exchanged for the heat, humidity, and reality of Managua, Nicaragua. I walked along the highway carrying my luggage to a shady tree in the distance. That was the bus stop for the rickety vehicle that would take us to the blue bare-bones taxi that would bring us to the 3-wheeled, surry-like moto-taxi. We had driven on dirt roads, ridden through streams, and finally reached latrine territory where the clip clop of horses bearing riders or pulling wagons, and the whirring of bicycles wheels were more the reality than air flight.

Gilda Larios (from Mary's Pence), Luz Marina (from the Nicaraguan Network), and I arrived at a recently built bright green (liturgical color of hope) store/office that serviced the women in the corn husk craft group, the natural medicine effort, and the vegetable garden in Nindiri. The eye-catching color on the outside was a sure indication of what awaited us on the inside. The fabric of the lives of the ESPERA Women meeting here today was already woven with harsh threads of inequality, poverty, war, and migration.  During the meeting, we sensed  brilliant threads  of self-esteem, dignity, initiative, creativity, and hope. With heads held high, big smiles, and much enthusiasm, the women participated in discussing common problems and possible solutions. They took pride in being able to make their loan payments on time and were happy to work at home and care for their children. Some spoke about the joy of marketing and selling their products in Managua and Masaya. 

Tusa from Ninduri
Note cards decorated with corn husks.

The six women in the corn husk (tusa) collective had come carrying nondescript bags from which vivid colors of the rainbow began spilling onto the table in the form of flowers, creches, angels, wreaths, and cards with verdant landscapes, baby chicks, vases of flowers, etc., all fashioned from dried and painted corn husks - tusa. These quality products came from the homes, hearts, and hands of these working women. They are successful in contributing to the family income.

I had an impressive visit last year, but this one was over the top. My luggage was even heavier on the way back.  


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IssuesIssues of Justice


Your Voice in the Role of Government  


Government may not always do the right thing, or what we want it to, but government does have a legitimate role according to Catholic Social Teaching.  Last night I participated in my local party caucus. Besides voting, going to your caucus is one of the most grassroots things you can do to participate and shape government.


According to Catholic Social Teaching the role of government is to assist citizens in fulfilling their responsibility to others in society.  Because this is a large and complex society government can and should support the common good in ways that we as individuals cannot enact.


During the caucus last night I saw politics in action.  My favorite part were the resolutions. I heard open discussion on Ranked Choice Voting, Voter ID which I know the Sisters of St. Joseph here in St. Paul advocated against (thank you sisters!), and diverting spending to the common good rather than military. There was even discussion on a resolution expanding urban farming. Resolutions like these shape government's role.  


There are many ways to influence the role of government - voting, visiting your legislator, staying informed on issues and sharing discussion with friends and family.  Each of us finds our own path.


Being new to my neighborhood, attending the caucus also provided an occasion to meet neighbors, and feel more of a sense of place and connection. 


In each of the eNewsletters over the last year we have highlighted one of the key principles of Catholic Social Teaching.  Visit Catholic Social Teaching to learn more.    



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ActionsMary's Pence News


Mary's Pence Solidarity Opportunities for Lent  

This Lent, we invite friends of Mary's Pence to stand in solidarity with women of Latin America by incorporating Mary's Pence into your Lenten prayer gatherings. We offer two ways for you to do this:  

  • Making the women of Latin America a focus for a Lenten Soup Supper
  • Asking your church to share a collection during Lent with Mary's Pence, supporting women across the Americas. 



25th Anniversary Celebration in Chicago - April 28  

We will be gathering in Chicago on April 28th for a simple celebration of Mary's Pence women and our collective work. It's sure to be a good time, and we hope you will join us. 


Maureen Gallagher, the founding staff person of Mary's Pence will be there, as will many other founders and former board and staff. Edwina Gateley will speak about women's role in changing the world, and Still Point Theater Collective, a former Mary's Pence grantee, will perform Strong Women about the lives of women coming out of prison.

You'll receive more information soon, so save the date - April 28th in Chicago. We'd love to hear if you are expecting to come, or if you would like to help with planning or on-the-ground logistics in Chicago. Please contact Katherine at 651-788-9869 or katherine@maryspence.org. 

Community Around the Table - Mary's Pence Blog 


Major milestones have a way of making us look back in wonder.   Who can resist the natural impulse to retrace in the small steps that lead to a momentous occasion? As Mary's Pence begins to celebrate its 25th year, we look back in awe and gratitude for the many simple acts which have coalesced into a movement.  


On our blog we will share the stories which have shaped that movement. With help from former staffers, Karen Flotte and Sheila Daly, who have teamed up to coordinate our efforts, Mary's Pence is digging into the archives, reconnecting with our earliest roots, collecting the stories never told, and sharing them all with you.
Because, of course, you are a part of our story.

You are cordially invited to join us on our blog and add your comments and memories. Feel free to send us photographs, memorabilia, news clippings, or just words of encouragement.  


Let's celebrate, together!




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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

ESPERA in Nicaragua

Your Voice in the Role of Government

Mary's Pence News








The Sun Never Says



all this time
the sun never says to the earth,


"You owe me."



what happens
with a love like that--

it lights the whole

Hafiz, 14th Century Persian poet and mystic 

Photo: Justine Cudel  

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Mary's Pence  

275 East 4th Street #707

St. Paul, MN 55101 

 Contact us: (651) 788-9869