Africa, Asia, North America

Sister Ethel Howley

Addressing injustices

 “… As time went on things began to change. We had a Vatican Council, we had a Vietnam War and life became a little different … So in my mind I was hearing an emphasis on working with the poor or making the concerns of the poor, also talking about the immigrants, and of course in Brooklyn there were many immigrants, particularly from Latin America.

 “I spent some summers working with the inner city youngsters from Brooklyn in summer camps and that too made an influence. Later on, I went to Hartford, Connecticut, and I worked with the archdiocesan religious education office there, but my responsibilities were with the prisons, Spanish- speaking parishes and the African-American parishes. 

“All of this made me want to find out why we have poverty, why war. I went to the Maryknoll School of Theology, and got a degree in theology in justice and peace. … I went to El Salvador … I went to Guatemala … and again I was involved in the injustices that were pushing these people to come to our country.”

First SSND NGO representative at the United Nations

“So after several years of ministering on Long Island with the Central American refugees, I was asked to be our first NGO representative at the United Nations … For almost 10 years I was there and it was a time when many of those world conferences were going on, social development, the Fourth World Conference on Women, financing for development, and also the conference on racism. 

“Back in 1987, the document that came from our General Chapter at that time talked about bringing the good news through contemplation, charism and experience and so that then motivated me to put the contemplative life and the prayer life together with why do we have these crises in our world. 

Sister Ethel Howley (on right, holding the corner of the banner) continues to work on peace, justice and integrity of creation issues for the SSND Atlantic-Midwest Province.   Sister Ethel Howley confers with Sister Lucy Giacchetti at a U.N. Department of Public Information meeting for NGOs in 2004.


Sister Ethel Howley (fourth from left) with the SSND delegation, including students from Notre Dame of Maryland University, at the 2009 U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

A contemplative approach to justice

“So now in 2012, we have the document Love Cannot Wait that talked about looking at the social, economic and ecological crisis of our times and the divisions that are in our world. And it also says to deepen the contemplative and prophetic part of our lives. 

So I think that is what has evolved within me since my days as a math teacher that I have found from those various steps of looking at the justices and the injustices - looking at what happens to the immigrants when they get here and also what pushed them to come here. So that s how my life has evolved over lots of years.”

- Sister Ethel Howley,

(Sister Ethel current serves as a resource person for the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office of the Atlantic-Midwest Province)


Transforming the world through education