It is hard to say much that is new about giving thanks, and now the time is upon us when that is pretty much all we are hearing about. So, consider all you have; consider your families and friends; consider it all and…….
FOR ALL THAT HAS BEEN AND FOR ALL THAT IS TO COME.
“If the only prayer you ever say is Thank You, it’s enough.” (Meister Eckhart)
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. There are many things in my life for which I am grateful. Four of my favorites are the Justice Committees that I work with to do our Justice work. Our Peace and Nonviolence Committee includes Alicia Alvarado, Mary Beth Auletto, Chris Cahalan, Kevin Cahalan, Germaine Conroy, June Fitzgerald, Shawn Fitzpatrick, Michelle Grey, Anne Kilbride, Frank Martens, Judy Morris, and Jerry Stein. The committee developed the corporate stance on Abolition of the Death Penalty, coordinated Blessed are the Peacemakers Webinar, and have worked on Gun Safety Legislation in addition to their individual peace building activities. Go CLARA!
Working to educate us about our environment is our Eco Justice Committee. The members are Jane Belanger, Marguerite Chandler, Judy Hardy, Jo Hendricks, Karen Martens, Roberta Miller, Terry Wasinger, Mary Kay Woods. The committee has worked tirelessly to help us understand the importance of protecting our Mother Earth, our primary revelation of a generous God. They have written blogs to get us ready for Earth Day and helped us to participate in the Climate Strike. We are working on ways to calculate our carbon footprint and reduce it.
Our Immigration Committee has written letters, made calls, accompanied immigrants, and made public comments to protect our fragile asylum seekers and refugees. They include Alicia Alvarado, Esther Calderon, Gemma Doll, Conni Dubick, Judi Engel, Dora Harper, Martha Maloney, Roberta Miller, Rachel Sena, Carol Ann Spencer, Thoma Swanson, Janice Thome, Jim Tinnin, Roserita Weber, Rene Weeks, and Tom Winters. The committee developed a prayer card using artwork by Sr. Thoma in addition to helping with the Sock and Underwear Drive for asylum seekers in El Paso.
Finally, our Anti Human Trafficking Committee members have been active in work around the country working with trafficked women and educating hotel/motels about how to spot them. They have written blogs to help us understand what trafficking is and how it affects us especially labor trafficking. The Dominican Month of Peace will focus on trafficking in India. Our Trafficking Committee includes Mary Ann Alexander, Nadine Buchanan, Joel Campbell, Barbara Catalano, Carol Davis, Ellen Dunn, and Carol Gaeke.
These are just the highlights of the committee work. They provide so much awareness and guidance for my work. I am also grateful for my leadership liaison, Sr. Gemma Doll, who leads by example and her own involvement in justice work. It truly takes a village to do justice. Thank you for all your actions and prayers.
Should we talk about politics at our Thanksgiving dinner? Fr. Richard Rohr writes, “ Politics is one of the most difficult and complex issues on which to engage in polite conversation… But you know what? There is no such thing as being non-political. Everything we say or do either affirms or critiques the status quo. To say nothing is to say something: The status quo—even if it is massively unjust and deceitful—is apparently okay. From a contemplative stance we will know what action is ours to do, which words we are called to say, and how our spirituality must be fully embodied in our political choices.” Read more in his blog from November 17, 2019 titled Affirm or Critique.
Have you wondered what influence, if any, you can have in the church, government, or other institution? Dominican Fr. Dominic DeLay’s new short film, First Confession, is about how 7-year-old Sofia tells the bishop she needs to help him fix the church. Watch the 8-minute film here.
The U.S. has the highest child incarceration rate in the world, according to an expert who authored a new U.N. study on the treatment of children. The expert also says the administration’s family separation policy is “absolutely prohibited” by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The author, Manfred Novak, writes “there are still quite a number of children that are separated from their parents – and neither the children know where the parents are, nor the parents know where the children are.” For more information, click here.
Call your representative and urge him/her to vote for H.R. 2156, the RECLAIM Act. This act will make updates to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 and will release more than $1 billion already collected for abandoned coal mine site cleanup. The funds can be used to restore polluted streams, address hazardous erosion, land sinks, underground mine fires, and coal ash piles that are endangering residents’ health. RECLAIM will also put people to work in some of the areas adversely affected by abandoned coal mines – Appalachia and other regions of the country dealing with the effects of this environmental injustice.
Good News! A federal judge blocked the Justice Department’s Plan to resume federal executions. Read more.
According to Human Rights Watch, the lives of children around the world have improved but there is a long way to go. Child labor rates have dropped by a third, while school enrollment has increased by more than 110 million. Read about it here.
White supremacy hurts all white people. Read how from Greg Elliot of the American Friends Service Committee about how “our own liberation as white people, our own humanity, is inextricably linked to racial justice” in Ten Ways White Supremacy Wounds White People.
US taxpayers spent almost $1 billion incarcerating innocent black people. Couldn’t this money be used for better purposes? Read here.
The recent meeting of the U.S.C.C.B. showed the division present in the Catholic community today about the justice issues in today’s society including abortion, immigration, and climate change. Sadly, one bishop described climate change important but not urgent. Read more here.
I’m pretty sure most people know the name Jesse Owens, who dominated the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, winning four gold medals.
But what about track legend William “Harrison” Dillard, four-time Olympic Gold Medal Champion?
Harrison Dillard — the only male runner in history to win Olympic gold in both a dash and the high hurdles and a member of the U.S. Army 92nd Infantry, the famed all-black “Buffalo Soldiers” who fought with distinction during World War II — will be laid to rest this week in his native Cleveland, Ohio.
I admit that Harrison Dillard had fallen off my radar, but came back into full view in April 2015, when I was visiting the Baldwin Wallace University campus – on the same day that he was present for the unveiling of his life-size bronze statue. Dillard, 96, was an alumnus of Baldwin Wallace.
That day, I was reminded of how people like Harrison Dillard don’t have household names — how they are not included in the history of our nation that is taught in schools and how it is seemingly not important to know their names.
That stark reality struck me again last week (on the heels of Harrison Dillard’s death), as I watched a television news story about the life of Azellia White. The news station – along with several other media organizations – was reporting Azellia White’s death. One of the news reports started like this:
“Azellia White, one of the nation’s first African American female pilots, earned her pilot’s license just after World War II and found freedom flying in the skies above the Jim Crow South.”
Like Jesse Owens, I am pretty sure the name Bessie Coleman, who soared across the sky as the first African American and the first Native American woman pilot, rings a bell (at least I hope so). And let us not forget that because of racism, she had to earn her license from France’s Fédération Aéronautique Internationale before touring America and Europe. But what about Azellia White?
Well, here’s a tidbit: Azellia White, her Tuskegee Airman husband, Hulon White, and two other Tuskegee Airmen (Ben Stevenson and Elton “Ray” Thomas) created a flight school, delivery service, and airport in the Houston area with a mission to serve the black community during segregation,after World War II.
And here’s a real eye-opener: White died on September 14, and was buried a week later in her native state of Texas. She was 106.
Here’s my question: Why did it take more than two months for national news outlets to figure out who she was?
While I am distraught over the fact that it took so long to acknowledge Azellia White’s legacy, I find comfort in the fact that she was (finally) recognized; and I am heartened by the timeliness of the reports about Harrison Dillard’s death.
For me, this illustrates that while we have made some progress when it comes to inclusion, we still have a long way to go. It reinforces, for me, that structural racism still persists, that people of color are still viewed as “other”, and that there is an unwillingness to view “black history” as American history.
Harrison Dillard’s longtime friend, Ted Theodore, described his death as “a loss for humanity” and said “he was an example for all of us, how to live our lives, with never an unkind word for anyone. He was a champion, a true champion.”
Isn’t it time for us to honor and celebrate all of our champions who have contributed significantly to history in America?
The Dominican Sisters of Peace is grateful and blessed to announce that they have received a $1,400 grant from the Catholic Foundation to support vocation and discernment programs at their recently-opened House of Welcome on the east side of the city.
The House of Welcome, sometimes called a House of Discernment, is a community specifically intended to welcome women who are considering entering the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Women in discernment might visit for a few days to experience community life, and Candidates who have entered the Congregation may live there while in the first step of her formation.
This grant from the Catholic Foundation will help to support programs at the House of Welcome, including local discernment group meetings, hosting on-line meetings to connect local discerners with Sisters and discerners around the country, and discernment and mission retreats.
“This generous gift from the Catholic Foundation will help us continue to reach out to women in the mid-west who are prayerfully considering a call from God,” says Sr. June Fitzgerald, Vocations Director for the Dominican Sisters of Peace. “This outreach has been essential to growing our community, as we have 12 women in discernment and five women in active formation to become Dominican Sisters of Peace.”
Five Dominican Sisters of Peace and one woman who has entered the Congregation as a Candidate live in the House of Welcome.
About The Catholic Foundation
The Catholic Foundation’s mission is to inspire giving and assist donors to provide for the long-term needs of the 23-county Diocese of Columbus. The Catholic Foundation fulfills its mission by seeking donors to establish endowment funds designed to support current and future needs and by distributing earnings according to diocesan priorities and donor intent. It is one of the oldest and largest Catholic foundations in the country, distributing nearly $150 million throughout the diocese since 1985. For additional information about The Catholic Foundation, please visit www.catholic-foundation.org.