Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 11-06-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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10 OPINION NOVEMBER 6-12, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION Maybe it was because on the same day the announce- ment was made, I received the fall 2019 newsletter of the Northeast Sisters of Mercy. I smiled as I read the profile of Rhode Island's Mercy nun, Sister Amelia Carpentier. The snapshot of her life cap- tured her teaching career in Providence before she left for Belize in 1962 to work after a terrible hur- ricane there. She had 50 5-year-old boys in her first class. She conducted workshops, training local teachers in every school in Belize, many of which were difficult to reach. She and another sister traveled on rivers by dory. Outlier schools had no paper or pencils and the children had sticks and wrote in the sand. She expressed gratitude for all that the Belize people taught her along with her colleague nuns at Mount St. Rita Health Center, in Cumberland, whose stories made her realize that the nuns there brought Mercy to all parts of the world. The same newsletter focused on "Team Mercy," a group of senior citizen nuns and associates who took part in the annual walk for a temporary shelter, which raises money for sheltering the homeless or people who are at risk of losing their homes in Vermont. The Mercies had co-founded the group. The New Hampshire Mercy community celebrat- ed the abolition of the death penalty in the state after taking a corporate stand against it since 1997. A cli- mate symposium was held for 150 leaders, spearhead- ed by Mercy Sister, Mary Pendergast. Four young women took finals vows, one an immigration lawyer in New York City, another a geriatric nurse practitioner, another a spiritual direc- tor and the fourth, Sister Marybeth Beretta, president of Bay View Academy in East Providence. These sto- ries were only part of the ministries that the newslet- ter reported. So, bursting with affec- tion for this prayerful group where I witnessed for 23 years their persistent com- mitment to social justice and their ministries, I was somewhat taken aback by the Catholic bishops' rec- ommendation that Pope Francis allow the ordination of married men as priests in the Amazon region. The recommendation is limited to remote areas in South America because of the scarcity of priests and could set a precedent for easing the restriction on mar- ried priests throughout the world. They did not vote to allow women to become deacons in the church, despite the Pope's urging. I think that married men (and women) should be eli- gible for ordination, assum- ing they meet all the criteria indigenous to the vocation. In the early church, married men (starting with St. Peter), were ordained. Eventually, the church grew worried about property passing to the priest's family instead of the church so celibacy was introduced in the 11th and 12th centuries. While the nuns in the Mercy newsletter may or may not have aspired to be priests, they would have been fabulous ministers. I have met wonderful lay women also who would be remarkable priests. The ban of women is quite simply sexism. Pope Francis after the vote told the bishops that the Vatican will con- tinue to study the role of women from the early church. "We still haven't grasped the significance of women in the church," the Pope noted, "Their role must go beyond questions of function." Right on, Pope! Wake up, bishops! Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. She was a Sister of Mercy earlier in life. Church moves (slowly) toward holy women Cumberland educators are to be commended for their work in raising the bar – and scores – in the state's educational testing. The significant effort being made in the elementary and middle school grades is showing dramatic and suc- cessful results, and kudos to all those doing the hard work each day! It's a double-edged sword, however, as school leaders continue to bemoan the town's "lowest per-pupil spending" in the state by local taxpayers. I have long countered that our per-pupil frugality compared to other towns is not necessarily an apples- to-apples comparison. Cumberland educators, for instance, are not in the Social Security system, and taxpayers do not have to pay the millions of dollars each year into that system for teacher retirement. In other communities, those Social Security dollars are paid by taxpayers, and boost their per-pupil spend- ing amount, even though the money has nothing to do with a child's education. Not a penny is "for the kids." Cumberland's results should make all its residents proud. But it's now more of a challenge to make the case that superior results are all a function of more money. It's about good peo- ple, really. And we should re-commit to doing our best for those good people. Adding to Cumberland's possible woes was last week's story that (egads!) families were not sign- ing up fast enough for the low-price breakfasts and lunches, and the town could lose as much as $800,000 in state aid. Can we all agree this is a bit strange? Here in Rhode Island's Bizarro World, good economic news is bad news for the school budget. It is the first week of November and children have been in school for two months now. Apparently, they are finding food to eat, or they are able to pay full price for that food. The economy is better, and job- lessness is lower. Perhaps parents are finding work. But something is happening where children, apparently, may not need the help. But children in need are a meal ticket (so to say) for the schools. According to School Committee member Ray Salvatore, who heads the board's finance subcommit- tee, 200 fewer children have signed up for reduced-price lunches, and because of that, the schools may lose $800,000 in state aid. Our story reports Salvatore say- ing those kids deserve it. How do we know that? Do we see them hungry and unfed each day? I doubt it. Good people in our schools would be all over helping that child! And so educators and administrators will be beat- ing the bushes to get those kids signed up for reduced- price lunch, come hell or high water, to get that state money. By all means, let's identify any hungry children and get them taken care of. But if it's not 200 children and state aid is cut because the economy is better, don't look for any tears from me. Fix the funding formula that makes this exercise so Bizarro. The Wall Street Journal's editorial Saturday (Nov. 2-3) amplified this. The govern- ment Friday reported con- tinued increasing employ- ment and good jobs, despite a bit of a bump in the economy, now with only a 2 percent GDP. There were 131,000 jobs created despite GM having 42,000 workers on strike. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put out a press release saying the jobs report "offers further evi- dence that the Republicans' disastrous special interest agenda is hollowing out the middle class while enrich- ing the wealthy and well- connected." As the Journal queried: "What hipster doofus wrote that?" Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze What 'hipster doofuses' run our economy? From the Publisher TOM WARD Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume XXII, Number 15 November 6, 2019 @ Breeze THE NORTH PROVIDENCE ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally operated group of free weekly newspapers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher James Quinn, Deputy Publisher Jack Birolini, Director of Sales Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor Barbara Phinney, Controller

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