Sisters and Missionaries create role in peace, justice and ecology ministry

kammer-colleen-002Colleen Kammer is settling into her new position as coordinator of peace, justice and ecology ministry for both the Sisters of the Precious Blood and the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. She’s meeting people in both Congregations, traveling to ministry sites and talking with the CPPS sisters, priests and brothers about their dreams for a better world.

“I love brainstorming with people — the possibilities are endless,” she said. “I don’t come in with a certain agenda. I want to understand what people’s interests are, collaborate with the members, and let it all be guided by the Holy Spirit.”

Kammer is the first to hold the position, which the Sisters and the Missionaries created earlier this year. She will help both Congregations further realize their commitment to social justice through Catholic social teaching.

The Sisters welcome her as a helpmate in a stance they have long held, said Sister Joyce Lehman, President of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. “The Sisters of the Precious Blood have a long history of commitment to and involvement in justice efforts, especially those that effect systemic change,” she said. “As the issues and needs continue to grow in our country, the necessity of engaging someone with a similar passion for justice to collaborate with us became evident.”

For the Missionaries, too, working with and ministering to people at the margins of society is a priority, said Father Larry Hemmelgarn, Provincial Director of the Cincinnati Province. “We hope that having Colleen working with us will bring a sharper focus to the charism of our Community, which is to bring all people near through the Blood of Christ,” he said. “Sometimes people feel left out or left behind in the modern world. Colleen will help us be on the lookout for those who need our attention.”

Prior to accepting the new position, which began in October, Kammer worked at nonprofits including the Marianist Mission (Society of Mary), where she was patron relations manager. She had direct contact with both donors and the Marianists she served, and loved to bring them together through events, written communications and other opportunities.

Before that, she worked 11 years for private corporations in the field of environmental health and safety. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Dayton.

She has been active in peace and justice initiatives for many years, including as a 20-year volunteer for Cooperative for Education, an organization that advances literacy and education in Guatemala. She is also a member of Weavers of Justice, a Catholic collaborative of social justice organizations and parishes in Dayton; she also founded an annual prayer service and tree-planting in memory of Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN.

A Dayton native whose home parish was Our Lady of the Rosary in Old North Dayton, Kammer grew up in a neighborhood with families of different nationalities connected to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

She was outdoors as much as possible and later earned her Gold Award as a Girl Scout (the equivalent to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout rank) developing a nature preserve.

Kammer is now a parishioner at Incarnation Church in Dayton and is a member of St. Francis of Assisi’s Precious Planet ministry. She enjoys spending time with friends and her family, which includes her parents, brother, sister and their families; being active in the out-of-doors; traveling; birdwatching; and the theater.

She divides her working days between the Missionaries’ provincial office in downtown Dayton and the Sisters’ administrative office near Salem Heights. “Because of their shared history and spirituality, there are avenues for collaborating” between the two Congregations, she said. “Along with that will come collaboration with other groups and orders and organizations that are also doing this work. Together, we can accomplish more than we can do individually.”

With help from both Congregations, she’s feeling her way into the new position, she said. “I hope to work within their Spirituality to bring greater awareness of Catholic social teaching into people’s consciousness. Concentrating on the priests, brothers and sisters, and the Companions (the Missionaries’ lay associates), it’s an educational position. The other half will be advocacy and action, to really advance peace and justice in our world through the lens of Precious Blood Spirituality, and to bring that into people’s daily lives. I hope to build upon all the good work that Precious Blood people are doing, and have done historically.”

– Story and photo by Jean Giesige

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