woman in pink

May/June 2015

Grantee Highlight
Why Teach Yoga to Prisoners? 
by Kathleen Bond, Mary's Pence Grant Recipient


Kathleen Bond, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, originally received a Mary's Pence Grant for her work in Paraiba, Brazil where she trained black women leaders in the areas of health, sexuality, human rights, and spirituality. Now, she is working in Sao Paulo, Brazil in the largest female penitentiary in Latin America, as part of a prison ministry. Ninety-eight percent of the women in this prison were charged with carrying drugs over international borders. Many of them did so on orders of men they were in relationships with. These women are eager to strengthen their mental, spiritual, and physical health, and want to prepare for healthy re-entry into society. Here Kathleen explains how yoga helps them accomplish these goals.


Săo Paulo's Santana Prison is the largest female penitentiary in Latin America with over 2,500 inmates. This is where Rosa Nascimento landed last November after being swept up in a sting operation for credit card fraud. The adjustment was tough. Rosa had gone from spending most of her days entirely outside, working as a street cleaner, to sitting in a cell for endless hours. She found herself becoming increasingly depressed until finally one day she didn't even want to get out of bed.


Rosa's cellmate suggested volunteering in the garden project, and slowly her spirits began to lift. On one of the transits from her cell to the garden, through the sprawling prison complex, Rosa saw a sign for my yoga class. Now she is a veteran in the classes that I have shared with 10 women over the last 3 years. "Yoga has been good for me. I feel at peace going back to my cell," she shared recently during an open space moment at the end of the weekly, 90-minute practice on a foggy morning. "Yoga changed my life in this place as it brought happiness to me."


I am often asked "Why yoga for prisoners?" Initially my response focused on the 

prison school director's request for yoga classes to help with concentration and self-discipline...



Like us and Win! 


Like Mary's Pence on Facebook during the next week and you'll be entered to win this beautiful indigo scarf, hand-dyed by the Pajaro Flor cooperative, which is part of the ESPERA group Concertacion de Mujeres in Suchitoto, El Salvador. 


All you have to do to enter is like the Mary's Pence Facebook page within the next week! 


If you have already liked our page, you can still participate by liking this same photo on our page. 


The winner will be selected on Friday, June 12!  



JusticeIssue of Justice   

Humanizing Mothers & Daughters of Incarceration 

By Michelle Dahlenburg, Artistic Director of Conspire Theatre, a Mary's Pence Grant Recipient 


"The night before I go to prison, my children ask, 'Mommy, when will you come home?' The only way I can explain it is, 'Tonight it's going to get dark outside, and you are going to go to sleep. And when you wake up, the Sun will be out. And this will happen a lot of times, and then, I'll be home.'" -Lauren Johnson, performer, Mothers & Daughters

Marianna shows love. Photo by Daniel Cavazos.
Marianna shows love. Photo by Daniel Cavazos. 


As of 2010, there were over 113,000 women incarcerated in United States state and federal facilities. Approximately 7 in 10 women under correctional sanction had children under the age of 18. (Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/)


Pregnant women who are incarcerated often face stigma from officers, lack of prenatal healthcare, forced inductions, shackling, making decisions about adoption or foster care, and being quickly separated from their babies after birth. Incarcerated mothers cope with separation from their children and challenges with reuniting their families after release. After incarceration, "a formerly incarcerated woman may be treated poorly by others, denied access to housing or employment because of her criminal history, or internalize feelings of worthlessness because of the lowered expectations of those around her." (Juliana Van Olphen, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685368/ )


During incarceration and after, all women need safe, supportive spaces to heal from trauma, and connect positively with communities to support one another... 



Continue reading about mothers and daughters of incarceration here.

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Mary's Pence News


Meet our Newest Mary's Pence Grants Recipients!  


Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera/Austin So Close to the Border
Women & Fair Trade Festival-2015

Austin, Texas, USA


Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
VOW Delegate Trip to United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

New York City, New York, USA


Conspire Theatre 
Performing Possibilities

Austin, Texas, USA


Genesis Freedom Riders

Oakland, CA, USA


We Are One Family/Somos La Misma Familia
Immigration Project/Projecto de Immigracion

Cochise County, AZ, USA/Sonoro Mexico


Asociación Empoderamiento (ASOEMPO)
Casita Copan
Girls' Program "Abriendo Oportunidades"

Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala


Casita Copán
Casita Copán Women's Well-Being Program

Copán Ruinas, Copán, Honduras


San Benito Health Program
Cervical Cancer Screening project
San Benito, Petén, Guatemala


Read about the programs we are helping fund on our website.  


Help us Expand Our Impact! 


What organizations are you passionate about? Mary's Pence grants to small organizations in the U.S. and Canada that are working for systemic change that improves the status of women. We want to work with organizations that increase economic security and amplify women's voices in their communities. If these qualities reflect an organization you love, tell them to apply for a Mary's Pence Grant! They can find more information and the application online here. And don't forget to let us know who you shared this with! Call the office at 651-788-986 651-788-9869 or e-mail grace@maryspence.org


Mark Your Calendars to Meet Mary's Pence!


Mark your calendars now and visit with Mary's Pence during these summer events!  

June 26-28
Intentional Eucharistic Communities Gathering - St. Paul, MN  
Mary's Pence will be tabling there!
June 29-July2
Assembly of U.S. Catholic Priests - St. Louis, MO
We are especially excited to listen to and meet Simone Campbell from NETWORK and Father Greg Boyle from Homeboy Industries! Visit the Mary's Pence table!

July 31-August 2  Creating a Culture of Peace - St. Paul, MN 
Mary's Pence and St. Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) are collaborating on this workshop/retreat about active non-violence. Deadline to sign up is July 15.

August 11-15
Meet Katherine - the Executive Director of Mary's Pence, and Gilda - our ESPERA Facilitator, at a wine a cheese reception. Email Katherine for details katherine@maryspence.org.  

To see the year-long calendar of events, visit our website.

Do you love to spread the word about Mary's Pence? We love to have our supporters table with us at events. Contact grace@maryspence.org if you are interested.  




We envision a world where empowered women and their communities flourish in solidarity and justice. Mary's Pence invests in women across the Americas by funding community initiatives and fostering collaborations to create social change.

Imaginamos un mundo en el cual, las mujeres empoderadas y sus comunidades, florezcan en solidaridad y justicia. Mary's Pence invierte en iniciativas comunitarias de mujeres en las Américas y fomenta la colaboración para crear cambio social.


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In This Issue






Click the video to listen. 

I am my mother's savage daughter,
the one who runs barefoot cursing sharp stones.
I am my mother's savage daughter,
I will not cut my hair, I will not lower my voice.

My mother's child is a savage.
She looks for her omens in the colors of stones,
in the faces of cats, and the fall of feathers,
in the dancing of fire and the curve of old bones.

My mother's child dances in darkness
and sings heathen songs by the light of the moon
and watches the stars and renames the planets
and dreams she can reach them with a song and a broom.

Now my mother's child curses too loud and too often.
My mother's child laughs too hard and too long,
and howls at the moon and sleeps in ditches
and clumsily raises her voice in this song

Now we are brought forth out of darkness and water,
brought into this world through blood and through pain,
and deep in our bones, the old songs are waking
so sing them with voices of thunder and rain!

We are our mothers' savage daughters--
the ones who run barefoot, cursing sharp stones.
We are our mothers' savage daughters.
We will not cut our hair. We will not lower our voice.

-Karen Unrein Kahan


Mary's Pence

 Contact us: (651) 788-9869