July 30, 2019, Washington, D.C. – “The threats of deportation and family separation are causing anxiety and fear within the vulnerable communities our agencies serve, endangering immigrant rights and safety.” Those are the words of Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. She is one of many faith leaders to speak out against raids in immigrant communities announced by the U.S. agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The raids by ICE, as well as the inhumane conditions of detention centers holding immigrant children, have brought public attention and concern to the border between the United States and Mexico. Read more in Crux about the stance of Sister Donna and other faith leaders about the immigration crisis and the need to treat immigrants with dignity and justice.
May 30, 2019, Greensburg, Pennsylvania – Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, recipient of an honorary doctorate from Seton Hill University on May 11, 2019, charged members of the Class of 2019 with four principles – in eight words – for helping to make the world a better place. “Seek truth. Make peace. Extend mercy. Reverence life.”
Sister Donna has lived by those four principles throughout her years as an Adrian Dominican Sister. In conferring the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, on Sister Donna, Seton Hill University President Mary C. Finger noted that Sister Donna’s life’s work “reflects the Parable of the Good Samaritan.” As the first woman President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, Sister Donna used the Good Samaritan as the model for the organization’s strategic vision, Dr. Finger said. “You asked the questions, ‘Who today is lying by the side of the road in need of help? Who has been forgotten or marginalized or denigrated or despised?”
Dr. Finger also noted the contributions that Sister Donna has made as a clinical psychologist and in her work as consultant to the migration, domestic policy and racism committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and through global peace initiatives. “You provide hope to your neighbors across the country and around the world,” she told Sister Donna, who served as Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters from 2004 to 2010.
“I’m so humbled to receive this honor and to be with you on an extraordinary day in your lives,” Sister Donna told the graduates. She noted her own privilege also to minister at Catholic Charities USA, which annually serves 10 million people suffering from poverty, hunger, homelessness, mental illness, discrimination, and natural disasters.
“For those of you who are graduating today, I’d like to invite you to be agents for the good in applying your scholarship and training toward creating a society that’s more compassionate and more respectful of differences,” Sister Donna said. She expounded on the four principles by which the graduates can make to help to create a better world.
Seton Hill University, chartered by the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill in 1918 as a women’s college, now enrolls about 2,200 men and women. Watch the entire Commencement program. The conferral of the honorary degree and Sister Donna’s address begin at about the 26:25 marker.