A tour guide shows Sr. Patty Johnson Carondelet and Sr. Anne Karges Canada the U.N. Security Council roomSome say that in order to really comprehend the meaning and purpose of the United Nations, one must watch it in action.

In April, a group devoted to the Congregation of St. Joseph’s non-governmental organization (NGO) at the U.N. met in New York City for a total immersion into the Congregations of St Joseph’s (CSJ)’s role at the U.N. The group included: CSJ NGO representative Sr. Justine Senapati (Annecy — India); Director of Public Information Sr. Barbara Bozak (Chambery); alternative representative Sr. Marianne Sennick (Brentwood); Sr. Patty Johnson (US Federation); Sr. Anne Karges (Canadian Federation); and myself.

Sr. Anne Karges shares a light moment during the U.N. orientationDuring that meeting we were told of a quote that stuck with me throughout the orientation. The late Sr. Gloria Garcia (Brentwood) who represented the Congregation of St. Joseph at the U.N. said this of the NGO, “The work of the Sisters of St. Joseph is the work of the U.N. and the work of the U.N. is the work of the Sisters of St. Joseph.”

These words stuck with me when our group got to witness first-hand the U.N. in action.

Initially it was a surreal experience, a culmination of the many years put into my political science degree in college. In a scene that seemed straight out of a movie, the elevator doors opened to the meeting spaces, and I was immediately overwhelmed at the sheer beauty of the sight before me. In this atrium were people of every color, every ethnicity, every faith speaking a cacophony of languages — together. When people talk about the beautiful tapestry that diversity paints, I can only imagine this is the scene they dreamed of.

After moving through the initial shock, we sat in on a High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace. I wasn’t sure what to expect — U.S. attitudes toward the U.N. have been increasingly negative, some calling into question the purpose of an entity that is generally not a law-making body. Would this merely be another meeting offering lip-service to various countries? How does such a large organization truly function? What could they possibly accomplish?

Sr. Barbara Bozak Chambery shows Sr. Anne Karges Canada and Kristen Whitney Daniels the Statue of Liberty via the Staten IslandAfter spending a thoughtful and engaging hour there, the answer was abundantly clear: with dialogue and education. The U.N. — and the Sisters of St. Joseph work there — isn’t just important; it’s critical.

Remembering the words of Sr. Gloria, the Congregations of St. Joseph NGO at the U.N. hold fast to that mission, especially as we map out our future.

Beginning July 1, Sr. Barbara will transition into her new role as the coordinator of the NGO, after many years as the NGO’s Director of Public Information. Sr. Justine, who has been our representative at the UN since 2014, will continue in this role until January 2019 as she assists Sr. Barbara in her transition. Filling out the team, Sr. Marianne will continue to represent us at critical forums and committees such as the Commission on the Status of Women and Financing for Development Forum.

The group shares a meal after a busy morning at the U.N. From left to right. Sr. Anne Karges Sr. Barbara Bozak Sr. Patty Johnson Sr. Justine SenapatiThe NGO will also roll out a new social media plan in the coming months. This includes an overhaul of the website to make it increasingly a place for up-to-date information, a robust social media presence on both Twitter and our new official Facebook page (coming soon!), and a feature story each month on the inner-workings at the U.N. Be sure to stay tuned for these new updates.

I’m sure many would agree that just turning on local, national, and international news can be utterly depressing at times. It can be hard to remember that there are people working tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring the dignity and justice of the world at large. That’s what our NGO continues to represent and continues to do. Together we can ensure that the rest of the world knows it too.