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On July 24, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth were among the more than 300 faith-based organizations represented by a letter delivered to President Barack Obama and members of Congress urging protection, care and legal counsel for the thousands of Central American children who have fled escalating violence, conflict and exploitation in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Forty national faith organizations alongside 269 regional and local groups from 42 states wrote:

“We strongly object to proposals to detain families with children and any move to roll back the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) in order to effect expeditious deportations. Forcibly and hurriedly returning people in need of international protection back to the dangerous situations they fled without adequate due process would undermine our obligations under international law and our position as a global humanitarian leader and would be a moral disgrace.”

The letter articulates clear policy recommendations for Congress and the Administration and calls for:

· Strengthening the humanitarian response in the United States.

· Legal counsel for all unaccompanied children.

· No roll backs to the provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 relating to unaccompanied children.

· Cost-effective community-based alternatives to detention.

· Adequate services for children, refugees and all groups under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

In addition, the faith groups urge that the U.S. government must also address the root causes of the crisis faced by children in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The letter calls for increased regional programs to reduce poverty, lack of opportunity and violence so that children and families can live free from fear in their home countries.

This letter follows a petition on unaccompanied children now signed by more than 4,400 people of faith that was hand-delivered to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
- From Therese Horvat, communications director, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth

Gun and drug charges were filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in connection with an incident in Bonner Springs.

Dacco Shane Muth, 27, Leavenworth, Kan., is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm following a felony conviction, one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of a sawed off shotgun. The crimes are alleged to have occurred March 15, 2014, in Bonner Springs, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the firearms charges and a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $1 million on the drug charge.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Bonner Springs Police Department investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Tomasic is prosecuting.

Golden Jubilarians of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, seated, left to right, Sisters Renée Washut, Jean Marian Rilinger, Phyllis Stowell; standing, left to right, Sisters Susan Rieke, Maureen Kehoe, Jean Lockett, Mary Ann Theisen and Margaret Finch. (SCL photo)

Eight Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth marked their golden jubilees with a combined celebration at the SCL Mother House, Leavenworth, Kan., on Sunday, June 22.

Renewing their vows during a Mass of Thanksgiving in Annunciation Chapel were Sisters Margaret Finch, Maureen Kehoe, Jean Lockett, Susan Rieke, Jean Marian Rilinger, Phyllis Stowell, Mary Ann Theisen and Renée Washut. A reception followed for family and friends.

· Sister Margaret Finch has ministered in elementary education, clinics for the uninsured and social services, including Mother-to-Mother Ministry and Alliance Against Family Violence in Leavenworth. She currently is an administrator at the SCL Mother House.

· Sister Maureen Kehoe has served in schools, libraries, a nursing home, senior housing, small trade school management and the former post office at the University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth. Today, she applies her pastoral, liturgical, musical and Spanish talents as a volunteer at Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver.

· Sister Jean Lockett served as a physical therapist in hospitals, at the SCL Mother House and in home health. She then earned a master’s degree in social work and began offering counseling services in Topeka, a ministry she continues today as a military and family life counselor at Fort Riley, Kan.

· Sister Susan Rieke has taught at high schools in Falls City, Neb., Helena, Mont., and Kansas City, Kan. For the past several years, she has been a professor of English at University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, where she currently holds the McGilley Chair for Liberal Studies.

· Sister Jean Marian Rilinger spent 32 years of service at Mount Saint Vincent, Denver, where she was an office manager, secretary and bookkeeper. She opened a unit for girls at the residential treatment center and eventually became assistant director and therapist at MSV. In her current ministry, Sister Jean Marian is secretary to the SCL Community treasurer.

· Sister Phyllis Stowell realized her desire to be a teacher, enjoying service in schools in Kansas, Missouri and Montana. She spent the next 20 plus years in New Mexico first as an educator and principal who opened Santo Nino Regional Catholic School, Santa Fe. She then became spiritual director and director of adult faith formation for the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe. She currently ministers at St. Francis de Sales Parish, Lansing, Kan.

· Sister Mary Ann Theisen taught 10 years in schools in Missouri and Colorado. She transitioned to become a school secretary at high schools and elementary schools in Kansas, Missouri and Montana. Her current role is office assistant at the SCL Community leadership offices in Cantwell Hall, Leavenworth.

· Sister Renée Washut was a teacher and assistant administrator for 23 years. Her other ministries have included roles with Denver’s Archdiocesan Housing and Catholic Charities of Wyoming and Cheyenne Interfaith Hospitality. Since 2006, she has volunteered with the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, Denver.

Founded in 1858, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth serve in the United States, Peru and South Sudan. For more information, visit www.scls.org.

- from Therese Horvat, communications director, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth