Random Nun Clips

Working (hard!) behind the scenes

Podcast Recorded: November 13, 2020
a woman studies a chart while other people are conversing behind her

Nuns know how to get things done! Sister Michele Morek shares her experience working at the United Nations.

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Transcript (Click for More)+

Sister Rejane  
This Random Nun Clip is brought to you by A Nun's Life Ministry.

Sister Maxine  
I'm Sister Maxine of A Nun's Life Ministry. And my guest today is Sister Michele Morek, an Ursuline Sister of Mount St. Joseph, Kentucky. Sister Michelle is with Global Sisters Report, a leading source of news and information about Catholic Sisters and the critical issues facing the people they serve worldwide. Say a little bit more about what you did there at the UN.

Sister Michele  
I was the director of a coalition of sister communities. There were 20 of us who had banded together to form an advocacy group at the United Nations. We were all too small, our communities were all too small, to have our own representative at the United Nations. Some of the big communities like the Charities and Franciscans and Dominicans, they have their own representative, but we were 20 small communities, and we had our own representative. And not only did I do advocacy, like writing and speaking at the UN to try to get our points across, we could bring the sisters in from our 20 communities and give them internships at the United Nations. We had several things that we focused on in our advocacy. One of them was human trafficking, one of them was water. Now they're doing homelessness. But they're all things that have to do with women and children.

Sister Maxine  
As you reflect back on that experience, if you have to say what was the most rewarding accomplishment or movement forward, that you experienced in your time there on behalf of all these communities, and on behalf of the people who are in great need in this world?

Sister Michele  
Well, as anyone who has worked with the UN would tell you, the UN moves very slowly. And you don't see a lot of major accomplishments right away. For example, the sister who was the director ahead of me had worked for 10 years, trying to get the idea of demand as a driver for trafficking into the UN. And now once you get something into a UN document, it's there for millennia. But you have to get it in first. And so it took her 10 years before she saw the word "demand" used in the context of human trafficking. Now, my most successful achievement, I think, was we worked for the five years I was there on the sustainable development goals. I started by going to Rio de Janeiro for that meeting, and then we watched the development of this over the years and one UN representative told us that most of the wording for the sustainable development goals had come from the private sector, from NGOs like us. And he said, probably 80% of it came from the religious NGOs, who were there. We worked very hard on the one for water--water and sanitation. I was in a group that worked on that. So we were proud of that.

Sister Maxine  
The NGO you were with and many of the others with Catholic Sisters were significant in framing the issue.

Sister Michele  
Oh, yes, I think so. Because sisters, you know, once they get there, they jump in, and a lot of the representatives at the UN, they stand up and talk about how wonderful their countries are, and what they do. But not all of them do a whole lot of work. And so a lot of them rely on NGOs to come to them and say, "Hey, here's a document we would really like to get before the end. Would you like to sponsor this with us?" And so we do, as most communities of women, know how to get things done. We work behind the scenes and push.

Sister Rejane  
To hear full episodes of A Nun's Life podcasts, visit the podcast page at anunslife.org/podcasts.

This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.

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