Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life



For Catholic women, the relationship between faith and politics is subtle—and sometimes in conflict

Published by America: The Jesuit Review, January 16, 2018

Having spent two years as a volunteer in Amate House, a Chicago-based Catholic volunteer program, Leslie Carranza is committed to the values of service, faith, social justice and community. She now brings what she learned about Catholic social teaching into the voting booth with her. But the church’s influence on her choices is, as with many Catholic voters, complex.

Continue reading “For Catholic women, the relationship between faith and politics is subtle—and sometimes in conflict”

Will a Thriving Singles Scene Renew American Catholicism?

Published by Religion Dispatches, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, February 12, 2016

As the choir rehearses before St. Monica’s Sunday evening Mass, two blond women in skinny jeans slide into a pew in the rear of the church and chat quietly. A few pews back a woman wearing a mid-thigh length dress and a long sweater genuflects before beginning to pray. Before long, the church is filled with attractive people under 40.

St. Monica Catholic Community is a destination parish for young adults in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with a reputation for being the place where young, attractive Catholics go to seek somebody special—and I don’t mean Jesus.

Continue reading “Will a Thriving Singles Scene Renew American Catholicism?”

Praying for Rain in California

This piece originally appeared in the Yale ISM Review.

“As an American Indian, all my life I have been cursed with the myth of the ‘Indian rain dance,’” Johnny P. Flynn wrote in Religion Dispatches in 2012 when the United States Agricultural Secretary, Tom Vilsack, suggested a rain dance to end a drought. “I am here to say there is no such thing. Not in my Potawatomi tribe or in any other tribe across the Americas.” Weather-related rituals, Flynn wearily pointed out—including the Hopi’s famous late summer dances—recognize the season rather than bring on the rain.

That hasn’t stopped some from trying. Continue reading “Praying for Rain in California”

Japanese Americans remember Pearl Harbor backlash and support Muslims

Published by Religion News Service, Deseret News December 11, 2015

After 9/11, Kathy Masaoka heard a Muslim woman on the radio describe her hesitancy to go to the market for fear of being attacked.

“It crystalized for me at that moment, that this must be how my parents felt and how my family felt after Pearl Harbor,” she said. Continue reading “Japanese Americans remember Pearl Harbor backlash and support Muslims”

Young Catholics drawn to Pope Francis. Church life and dogma? Not so much

Published by Religion News Service, September 24, 2015

LOS ANGELES (RNS) When Regina Bunye catches sight of Pope Francis in Philadelphia on Saturday (Sept. 26), it won’t be her first glimpse of the pontiff. Last year, she took part in a pilgrimage to Rome, where she got within 20 feet of Francis, who waved to her group.

“It’s kind of like seeing a rock star up close,” said Bunye, 36. “He is just a connection away from St. Peter and then Jesus … and he’s an incredible man.”

Like Bunye, the young adults descending on Philadelphia this week may be Francis’ biggest fans. Continue reading “Young Catholics drawn to Pope Francis. Church life and dogma? Not so much”

Migrants find welcome with Italian church

Published by National Catholic Reporter, January 27, 2015

ROME AND SICILY — August in Italy is a usually a time for rest and relaxation. But on one Saturday in the summer of 2013, beachgoers in Catania, Sicily, found a boat full of migrants that had crashed off the city’s shore. Continue reading “Migrants find welcome with Italian church”

Italian convents act as safe houses in trafficking portal

Published in Global Sisters Report, January 12, 2015

The girl was waiting at the sisters’ gate one morning in August.

Before her 18th birthday, Elizabeth had already traveled across the Sahara and the Mediterranean on her way from Nigeria to Europe and spent six months in a brothel in Denmark. She was being prepared to start working on the streets of Italy when she found her way to Casa Rut, a safe house for trafficking victims. Continue reading “Italian convents act as safe houses in trafficking portal”

Ministering to unaccompanied immigrant children

Published by Global Sisters Report, June 19, 2014

Eight shelters in the Chicago area hold 450 immigrant children who crossed the border illegally and without a parent or guardian.

Once a month, an interfaith group visits one of the shelters to present a program with a theme like home or gratitude. The children draw pictures and sing a simple song. The adult leaders invite the children to light a candle. “You can tell that some of them really make that a time when they are praying,” said Benedictine Sr. Benita Coffey, one of the volunteers.

But the ministry is momentary. Volunteers are not to form personal connections with the children, and by their next visit, most of them will have moved on. Most likely they have been sent to live with family while they await their deportation proceedings.

As lawyers, social workers and volunteers, women religious and their partners help care for the growing number of unaccompanied alien children entering the United States. Their access to children, however, is increasingly brief. With thousands of immigrants overwhelming an already broken system, people of good will do what they can do to serve each individual in front of them. …


National Catholic Reporter also published a story on policies toward unaccompanied alien children on the same day.

How to treat unaccompanied immigrant children at center of policy debate

Published by National Catholic Reporter, June 19, 2014

The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati first found out that children were crossing the U.S. border alone in the early 2000s, when their mission took three Central American girls into their El Paso home.

The girls crossed the border when Immigration and Naturalization Service handled “unaccompanied alien children,” as the government refers to them. INS separated out minors, but they were still put in handcuffs, foot shackles and a waist chain, Sr. Janet Gildea said. “They treated them just like criminals.”

Yessenia Vásquez, a Guatemalan teenager who stayed with the Sisters of Charity, was not unlike the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the Southwest border of the United States this year. She was escaping an abusive situation and feared for her life. Continue reading “How to treat unaccompanied immigrant children at center of policy debate”

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