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Women's Rights Are Human Rights

Mary's Pence Celebrates 30 years of women-focused philanthropy.

In Late-'80s Chicago, a nun named Maureen Gallagher had an epiphany while vacuuming. Days before, she had gone to her prayer group, full of other Catholic women. Two sisters voiced frustration: The diocese had rejected their request for more funding to support their successful prison ministry.

Vacuuming, Gallagher imagined meeting God. “What did you do to help women?” God asked. She replied, “I’m a woman; I couldn’t do anything.” Again, God asked: “What
did you do?”

Moved, Gallagher founded Mary’s Pence, a nonprofit that awards grants to small, community-based and women-led organizations across Canada and the U.S. Based
today in Saint Paul, Mary’s Pence, which turns 30 this year, has stuck to its original mission: to aid women by following Catholic social teaching.

Read the article here.


Pence from Heaven: Mary's Pence invests in justice for women -- literally - Minnesota Women's Press

In the investment world, "angel investors" are those who provide the first financial backing  for entreprenurs and their fledgling  companies. That title seems doubly appropriate for St. Paul-based Mary's Pence, an organization formed by women of faith to fund women's economic development   projects in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Read the article here.


Interview with Gaby in La Voz Latina

Gaby Bandini, new ESPERA Business Facilitator, was recently interviewed for an article in La Voz Latina, a Spanish language newspaper for the Latino community in St. Paul and Minneapolis where Mary’s Pence offices are located. We have translated the article here for your convenience. You can click here to read the original article in Spanish.

Gabriela Bandini, New Business Facilitator for Mary’s Pence
By Leonor Villasuso
Translated by Grace Garvey-Hall

Located in St. Paul, MN, the organization Mary’s Pence works to fund projects that benefit women who lack resources in six countries on the American continent and the Caribbean with the goal of contributing to the betterment of their physical, social and economic conditions – to date there are a little over 900 women participating across the ESPERA Program (Economic Systems Providing Equitable Resources for All). Mary’s Pence donates money to the nine groups of women they work with, and the women take out loans that they use to start agricultural or artisan projects or small shops.

Many of the participants are illiterate, which is why it is especially important that they have someone who can teach them accounting, budgeting and marketing, and why Mary’s Pence has recently hired Gabriela Bandini (Meixco, Federal District, 1983) as the Business Facilitator for the ESPERA Program which operates in Meixco, Central America and Haiti.

Read the rest of the article here.


Mary's Pence Grantee, Water With Blessings, Featured in National Catholic Reporter

WATER WITH BLESSINGS received a grant from Mary's Pence this year. They work with parish partners to provide water filtration systems to marginalized communities around the world. Read their recent press coverage here.

Mary's Pence Hosts ESPERA Gathering in Guatemala – NUESTROS SUEÑOS BAJO UN MISMO CIELO

This March, for the very first time, Mary’s Pence gathered representatives from ESPERA groups across Central America, Mexico and Haiti. Participants gathered in Guatemala, and included the coordinators of local funds from 6 countries, women who participate in the lending pools, and representatives of Mary’s Pence board and staff.

The theme was “Our Dreams Under the Same Sky” and the purpose was to share experiences with ESPERA, commit to goals for ESPERA for local programs, and identify ways to collaborate across this network of amazing women. Read about the Encuentro/Gathering in our newsletter, and visit the Mary’s Pence facebook page to see more pictures.

Mary’s Pence Leads Panel at National Call to Action Conference

Mary’s Pence hosted a workshop at the national Call to Action Conference in Louisville, KY in November 2012. The workshop, The New Dynamics of Solidarity: Stories and Strategies of Women in Latin America, included a panel of speakers working with ESPERA in El Salvador:

  • Gilda Larios, of Mexico, travels across Central America working for Mary’s Pence partnering with women’s groups to create community lending pools.
  • Eva Martinez Menjivar of Suchitoto works with Concertación de Mujeres de Suchitoto, coordinating their women’s community lending pool.
  • Sr. Peggy O’Neill, SC, has lived and worked in El Salvador since 1986 journeying with the people through the armed conflict of the 80s and their rebuilding efforts.

Mary's Pence Makes Statement Supporting the Leadership Conference of Women Religious

April 28, Chicago, IL: Mary's Pence history is inextricably linked to the Sisters' communities of LCWR. At our 25th Celebratation, Mary's Pence made this statement in support of the Sisters and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.


Giving Thanks, Moving Forward - Mary's Pence 25th Anniversary

Mary's Pence celebrated 25 years this April! We gathered in Chicago for a celebration of Mary's Pence women and our collective work. Featured guests included founding mothers Edwina Gateley and Maureen Gallagher, and Mary's Pence grantee Still Point Theater Collective.

Renate Schneider, Mary's Pence ESPERA Liaison in Haiti, Honored

Renate Schneider is one of the recipients of The Sister Thea Bowman Humanitarian Legacy Award. Renate is the liaison to Mary's Pence's ESPERA Program in Haiti. More information about the award and ceremonies here.

Mary's Pence Ministry Highlighted in National Catholic Reporter

The National Catholic Reporter highligted Mary's Pence in its Sepember 2, 2011 issue.  Read about the founding of Mary's Pence in 1987, and about several recent grantees, including Community of the Beloved in Asheville NC, WHEEL in Seattle Washington and Awamaki in Patacancha Peru.Look in your upcoming issue. Read the full article here.


Gilda Larios, Mary’s Pence ESPERA Fund Facilitator, in Sojourner’s Magazine 

Gilda Larios lives in Mexico City, and has a long history of working with refugees on projects supporting rural women as they strive for economic self sufficiency. Gilda was highlighted in the February 2011 issue.


Mary's Pence Speaks about ESPERA Funds at NYC Catholic Worker

On June 17, 2011 Gilda Larios, Mary's Pence ESPERA Fund Facilitator from Mexico City and Katherine Wojtan, Mary's Pence Executive Director spoke at Mary House, the Catholic Worker House in NYC.  An inquiring group learned about our work in Latin America, Mexico and Haiti.  The audience deeply valued making financial resources available to women, and a lively discussion ensued related to interest vs fees for financial services.


A Springtime Gathering of Graces with Judy Schiavo

Mary's Pence hosted a spring retreat in New York City on May 24th, 2011.  Judy Schiavo, a spriritual director, lead the retreat, using readings by Dorothy Day, Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, and Maya Angelou. After the reflection we will shared a simple meal and heard from those involved in a ministry supporting women, including some Mary's Pence grantees.


Los Angeles Religious Education Congress

We shared the message of Mary's Pence at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.  Board members Rosa Castillo and Sr. Judy Molosky organized the effort, supported by volunteers.  A donation from Marisa Antonini made our participation possible. Approximatly 40,000 people attend this event.

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