We write as a few of the Dominican Sisters of Peace who live at St. Catharine Motherhouse. For almost 200 years our sisters have stood with you and you with us as our neighbors and friends, our students, patients, parishioners, and colleagues. We write today out of deep concern for what seems to be happening now in our community and in our world.
For almost two months Kentucky has stood strong and united against the worldwide threat of COVID-19. Because of our united resolve against many odds, we have succeeded in keeping our disease numbers among the lowest in the nation. But in recent days we experience forces arising among us that could destroy our unity and expose us to even worse threats from the pandemic.
Many members of our community suffer from unemployment and other restrictions. We miss direct contact with our families, friends, and neighbors. Many deeply miss the opportunity to worship God together. We want our children back in school and day care, our businesses back to thriving. We want our freedom back to go where we want and do what we want.
But in recent days forces beyond these shared desires seem to be creeping into our reality. These forces range from men with assault weapons protesting COVID restrictions at the state capitol to media posts declaring that the shelter-at-home policies we have sacrificed to embrace have been not only unnecessary but even designed to destroy our economy. We see people refusing, in the name of “freedom”, to wear masks in public thereby risking the health and lives of all of us, but especially the most vulnerable. We even see incredible charges of “socialism” and “communism” being used to scare people into defying shared efforts to protect public health. Bear in mind that our governor, along with most governors in the country, has worked to promote the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control.
We invite all of us to take a hard look at the choices we make as we move into this new phase of responding to our pandemic reality. Some key questions to ask ourselves: Are my actions and words likely to unify or divide the people in our community in the common purpose of defeating this virus? Are my actions and words designed to honor and protect all members of our community, including those who are most vulnerable? Are my actions and words giving a good example to the children who learn more from our actions than from our words? Might I be unwittingly supporting forces I do not want to rule our state or our world?
Friends, we, your sisters, believe that Kentuckians and Americans have arrived at a new crossroads. We can go forward from our victory against this first wave of the virus to defeat a potentially worse second wave, or we can blow up our hard sacrifices to date by dividing again into partisan camps who waste energy making false accusations and stirring up false suspicions against the other side. The choice is up to all of us. Let us be guided by our better angels and bring our best wisdom and intelligence to this moment. As people of many faiths, we CAN make this a better county for all. Let us begin that sacred challenge again in unity. And may the spirit of local hero Louis Sansbury be our guide on the journey.
Sister Elaine DesRosiers, OP
Sister Luisa Derouen, OP
Sister Mary Louise Edwards, OP