"My dream is to make it possible for displaced women and girls in Southern Sudan to dream their own dreams and develop their talents and build better lives for their own children.” -Sister Marilyn Lacey
Connecticut's first Catholic college preparatory school for girls, joined with Catholic high schools across the country and participated in Global Solidarity Week. The week was part of the Global Solidarity Initiative, an innovative program developed by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to educate and engage young people to learn more about pressing global issues and to take faith-filled action on behalf of people who are poor and vulnerable. CRS works in more than 100 countries, providing lifesaving relief in the wake of natural and man-made disasters as well as helping people out of poverty. Lauralton Hall is one of a select group of Catholic high schools in the United States that has partnered with CRS. The week included curriculum based activities and presentations by guest speakers including CRS Education Outreach Program Officer Dennis Fisher.
Lauralton Hall President Antoinette (Toni) Iadarola, Ph.D., asserts “Globally young women face acute challenges daily including lack of clean water, basic healthcare and economic resources. Many systematically face discrimination simply because they are female: they are forbidden to attend school and are victims of physical and sexual violence. For over 100 years the Sponsors of Lauralton Hall, the Sisters of Mercy, have empowered its young women to step up as leaders in their school, their communities and in the world to confront these challenges. CRS has helped our students to understand the global challenges young women face today."
Dean of Student Development Jennifer Casceillo agrees, “Global Solidarity Week is so important because it makes one of our core Mercy values, Global Vision and Responsibility, come to life on our campus. This week brings home what is happening in other parts of the world; it helps us remember how fortunate we are to be able to have an all-girls education program, and it inspires our young women to be a part of the solution in their future endeavors.”
One of the highlights of Global Solidarity week was an assembly presentation by Sister Marilyn Lacey, R.S.M. who spoke about her experiences working with women in South Sudan and being personally honored by the Dalai Lama. Sr. Lacey is co-founder and executive director of Mercy BeyondBorders, a non-profit organization which partners with displaced women and children overseas to alleviate their extreme poverty through education, funding entrepreneurial projects and promoting maternal and child health.
For twenty-five years Sr. Lacey has worked with refugees in the U.S., Africa, and Southeast Asia and Haiti, dedicating her life to making the world a more welcoming place for persons forced to leave their homelands because of war or persecution, including the resettlement of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
Students, staff and faculty were so moved by her presentation, that the following day was designated a Lauralton Hall “Good Cause Dress Down Day” with all funds raised going to support Mercy Beyond Borders. Sr. Marilyn visited several classes including Intro to Business where she spoke about the incredible impact a small micro finance loan can have on women and their families. She told stories of how a loan of $100 helped a woman expand her bakery and another was able to buy peanuts to make peanut butter. In a country where the average wage is 25 cents a day, these women are now able to send their children to school, pay for healthcare and build homes.
Sr. Marilyn also met with a Global Studies class and the Lauralton Hall Student Ambassadors. "Global Solidarity brings awareness to the problems of the world and what we can do to help,” said Lauralton Student Ambassador Safirah Fequiere, ‘14. “Sr. Marilyn's presentation helped me realize that I should never take my education for granted. It made me feel proud to attend such a great school like Lauralton Hall, but most importantly it made me want to go out of my way to aid my fellow sisters in Sudan & Haiti."
Megan Fickes, ’14, was also inspired by the presentation. “Listening to Sister Marilyn’s stories helped me realize that it’s time to look at the world in a different light—to look for opportunities for prosperity rather than warfare and division. One person’s voice can resonate loudly; one good action can cause a ripple effect and change many lives. The time for excuses, for sitting idly by, has ended. We see the problems in our world, so it is up to us to unite and take action.”
In her final message to Lauralton Community, Sister Marilyn emphasized how even a small financial donation can have a have a tremendous impact on a community devastated by poverty. “$100 can send a girl in South Sudan to school for a year and $50 can provide a goat to improve a family’s nutrition. We recently established a program Birthdays Beyond Borders. Instead of purchasing a material gift, your friends and family can help make the dream of education come true for a girl in Sudan.”
For more information on Global Solidarity Week please contact: Jennifer Casceillo at 203-877-2786, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.