Category Archives: Wonder Women

Belonging to the Human Family

Phil Goldsmith moderating Compassionate Immigration Reform Conversation

Phil Goldsmith moderating a 2015 Chicago Wisdom Community Compassionate Immigration Reform Conversation

Last fall, 25 of us gathered in Chicago with Sr. JoAnn Persch and Sr. Pat Murphy, leaders in the Compassionate Immigration Reform movement, to explore the topic of compassion.  This leg of the sisters’ compassion journey started on a snowy January morning in 2007 as they stood outside the Broadview Immigration Staging Center with an immigration lawyer in solidarity with men and women being deported that day.  Nine years later, they can still be found there most Friday mornings standing for justice.

Compassion in Action

Compassion would take them to Springfield, IL where they were instrumental in the introduction of a bill to mandate pastoral care for immigrant detainees.  Skilled collaborators, they understood that the bill’s passage would require support from people of all faiths who believed that pastoral care visitation was a human and religious right of those detained.  And, so the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants , now a non-profit with more than 200 volunteers, was born.


U.S. flag flying outside Broadview Detention Center

Today, the weekly vigils outside Broadview Detention Facility draw students, teachers, advocates, and religious leaders from around the country.  In Sept. 2015, Sr. JoAnn spoke at a Congressional Briefing on alternatives to detention for immigrants awaiting deportation.  Both Sr. JoAnn and Sr. Pat travel to universities to speak with professors and students about the movement.  The two were featured in the documentary film Band of Sisters

Compassion Barriers and Breakthroughs

I listened as the sisters fielded questions on everything from an outspoken Republican presidential candidate’s position on immigration to how the two remained motivated in the face of slow progress and setbacks.

I was struck by the care and respect they extended to everyone involved in the situation — elected officials, detainees and their families, and the leadership and staff of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  I am inspired by the way they carried dedication to the cause and a genuine desire for progress with faith and civility.

Living the Questions

Surrounded by the current election rhetoric and churning global events,  I continue to live with the questions that arose in me during their conversation:

  • If all humans are our “sisters and brothers,” how are we called to respond?
  • When is my ability to listen, speak and behave compassionately challenged?
  • Am I willing to pray or meditate for “brothers and sisters” with whom I disagree?
  • When and how does it make sense to stand together for a common goal?
  • How do I nurture faith and optimism in myself and others over time?

Gathering organizers Chuck Ruth, Sherry Helmke, Phil Goldsmith, and Marta Nieves (left to right) with Sr. Pat Murphy and Sr. JoAnn Persch

When I’m in Chicago, I do my best to join the Interfaith Vigil on the first Friday of the month.  I watch the sisters as they greet each person or group warmly.  When I grow up, I want to be like them.


The Magic of Musing with a Mountain Mermaid


It’s not every day I meet a mountain mermaid.  Especially one as colorful as Lisa.  We met at The Collage Café, one of my favorite neighborhood gathering spaces.  Our purpose was “musing.”

Noticing What Works

Lisa’s musing journey began near the headwaters of the Arkansas River in Colorado.  A few years back, she noticed a couple of things about her daily planner.  First, it devoted lots of space to Monday through Friday, but not nearly enough to Saturday and Sunday to suit her.  Secondly, she realized she wanted space — a place where she could doodle, sketch, color, collage & dream.

Watching Her Practice Unfold

With a background in printing, she began experimenting with developing a journal where her musing practice could thrive.  In 2013, she realized she wanted to create a musings journal for the entire year in advance — rather than month by month — and the Daily Musing Journal was born.  Once it was created and she shared it with other people, they got excited about musing on a regular basis, too.


Letting My Inner Muse Lead Me

Fast forward to a lovely October day in 2015, when I had the chance to spend two hours musing with Lisa, Patti, Katie, and Lindy.  Our assignment was to muse visually — with doodles, sketches, inspirations, gratitudes — about the week we had just completed.  I enjoyed noticing what rose to the surface of my memory.  What I remembered and what had simply slid away.  I noted how much color I used to capture my week, curious about whether that would always be the case.  Two hours later, I strode home refreshed, rejuvenated, and surprised by the power of a 3″ x 3″ daily “blank canvas” and excited at just how far musing could take me.

Cropped Musing Journal

Email a sentence, thought, doodle or note about musing to sherry@newviewnow(.)com if you would like to be registered to win a FREE 2016 Daily Musing Journal designed by Lisa, the Mountain Mermaid.  Wellness Coach Nina will draw the winner on Weds., Nov. 4, 2015.  Learn more about Lisa at Enjoy ~


Celebrating Peg’s Joyful Commitment

Sr. Peg Party

It’s fitting that this Sunday afternoon, there’s a special celebration at Tacoma’s STAR Center for Sr. Peg Murphy, a dear friend and mentor.  In 2000, after teaching and parish and community advocacy careers, the Tacoma Dominican (TD) Community and the dreamers who founded Catherine Place tapped Peg to serve as director of the fledgling organization.

Embodying the Spirit of a Namesake

The choice would prove to be a wise one.  Fifteen years later, more than 1,500 women turn to Catherine Place ( each year.  Although Peg always reminds us that Catherine Place “could never be about one person,” it’s hard to imagine a founding director who could better embody the spirit of Catherine Place’s namesake – Catherine of Siena.

Catherine Place

Compassion, Wisdom & Resourcefulness

From 2008 to 2014, I had the opportunity to witness Peg’s compassion, wisdom, and resourcefulness.  Like Catherine of Siena, a 14th century Dominican, Peg works tirelessly and fearlessly at Catherine Place and through her work with organizations such as Nativity House, St. Leo’s Parish, and the Tacoma Dominican community to affect positive change in our society.  

I watched Peg’s passion for Catherine Place’s mission of improving the quality of life for women and her welcoming, nurturing spirit embolden women on the margins – many of whom were navigating the daily challenges associated with poverty, violence, loss, immigration, and chronic health conditions.

Hugging Peg

Bringing Out the Best in People and Our World

Knowing Peg made me a better woman and a wiser, more compassionate human being.   Her generosity and dedication inspire me and reach around the globe.  During Maher Founder & Director Sr. Lucy Kurien’s 2013 visit, Peg quietly tucked an interspiritual pendant that she wore almost daily into Sr. Lucy’s purse.  Ever since discovering the treasured gift that she had so admired in her bag, Sr. Lucy is seldom seen without it.

Peg has a gift of knowing what is needed and offering it — without fanfare.  Her students, her colleagues and clients, the women of Catherine Place and the Tacoma Dominican community were blessed the day she arrived on America’s shore.

Wherever I am, I’m stronger knowing there’s a Catherine Place in our world.  If you’re in Tacoma this Sunday, I would like it more than anything if you would stop by Tacoma’s STAR Center and give Peg a hug for me . . .  and don’t be surprised if a MIRACLE happens.

Celebrating Sr. Peg Murphy,, Sun., Oct. 25, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., Tacoma’s STAR Center , 3873 S. 66 St.  To RSVP or donate, visit