Unapologetically Black

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Where do we go from here?

I’ve heard a lot of people asking that question lately.

Interestingly enough, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. posed that same question in 1967 (during the annual convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference). He suggested that to answer the question, we must first HONESTLY recognize where we are.

King said: “When the Constitution was written, a strange formula to determine taxes and representation declared that the Negro was sixty percent of a person. Today, another curious formula seems to declare he is fifty percent of a person. Of the good things in life, the Negro has approximately one half those of whites. Of the bad things of life, he has twice those of whites.

“Thus, half of all Negroes live in substandard housing. And Negroes have half the income of whites. When we turn to the negative experiences of life, the Negro has a double share: There are twice as many unemployed; the rate of infant mortality among Negroes is double that of whites; and there are twice as many Negroes dying in Vietnam as whites in proportion to their size in the population.  In other spheres, the figures are equally alarming. In elementary schools, Negroes lag one to three years behind whites, and their segregated schools receive substantially less money per student than the white schools. One-twentieth as many Negroes as whites attend college. Of employed Negroes, seventy-five percent hold menial jobs. This is where we are.”

To all of my well-meaning white brothers and sisters who are asking the question today – eager to move to “action steps” in a quest to end racism, I have a question for you: Do you know where we are? If not, I suggest that you find out before moving to treat the symptoms rather than working to root out the disease, which is racism.

To all of my Black and Brown brothers and sisters, I suggest that we follow King’s advice: “First, we must massively assert our dignity and worth. We must stand up amid a system that still oppresses us and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of values.”

He warned, however, that arousing human worth within a “people that have been taught for so many centuries that they are nobody is not easy.” He stressed how even semantics/language have perpetuated a false sense of inferiority in Black and Brown children while perpetuating a false sense of superiority in white children.

“In Roget’s Thesaurus there are some 120 synonyms for blackness and at least sixty of them are offensive, such words as blot, soot, grim, devil, and foul. And there are some 134 synonyms for whiteness and all are favorable, expressed in such words as purity, cleanliness, chastity, and innocence. A white lie is better than a black lie.  The most degenerate member of a family is the “black sheep”, he said.

King urged us to affirm our own self-worth, to reach down to the inner depths of our own being and sign our own emancipation proclamation, telling the world that we are human beings with dignity and honor.

I signed my own emancipation proclamation decades ago; and I will not apologize for my truth: that I am Black, that I am proud (not arrogant), that I am valuable, that I have a rich and noble history, that Black is beautiful, that Black men are not a threat, that Black Lives Matter.

And I will not apologize for hesitating to applaud the institutions, corporations, organizations, and individuals who insist on treating the symptoms of racism while white supremacy continues to drive the operating system in America.

“… power without love is reckless and abusive, and  love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.  And this is what we must see as we move on.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted in Associate Blog

Dominican Sister of Peace Bernadine Baltrinic

Dominican Sister of Peace Bernadine Baltrinic

Dominican Sister of Peace Bernadine (Jude) Baltrinic, 88, died on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at Regina Health Center, Richfield, Ohio.

Born in 1932, Sister Bernie grew up in a community of eleven siblings, all the children of Mary Pozderac and Michael Baltrinic of Empire, OH. She entered the Congregation in 1951, paving the way for her Sister Betty, who joined the next year. She served God and the Church as a Dominican Sister of Peace for more than 65 years.

Sister Bernie earned her Bachelor of Science, Education in Elementary Education from Saint John College and her Certificate in Pastoral Ministry from the Cleveland diocese. She also studied at the Center for Intercultural Formation in Cuemavaca, Mexico.

Sr. Bernie began her ministry is an elementary school teacher, first in Ravenna, OH, and then in Cleveland. Teaching predominately poor minority students in the mid-1960’s, Sr. Bernie was inspired to take her own steps toward racial justice. She volunteered for missionary work in El Salvador as part of the Cleveland Diocesan Mission Team and served there for nine years.

On returning to Ohio, Sister Bernie ministered with and for the Cleveland Hispanic community for four years and continued to work for social justice even after she had  “retired.”

Sister Bernie served her Congregation in a number of important roles. She was a vocation director, a Councilor on the Leadership Team, and Motherhouse Coordinator, and even served as President for eight years.

One role in which Sister Bernie served is still bearing important fruit for her beloved Congregation today. Sr. Bernie was a member of the Transition Team that helped to bring seven Dominican Congregations together to create the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

In 1999, Sister Bernie received the Bishop Pilla Leadership Award, honoring those who work for social justice, peace, and human dignity in the diocese of Cleveland.

When she “retired” to the Akron Motherhouse in 2010, Sister Bernie continued to serve her local community and her religious Community through her work as a volunteer, and finally, through her ministry of prayer and presence.

Sister Bernadine Baltrinic is survived by her brother, Robert; sister, Dolores Mae Kennedy and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Joseph, Michael, Peter and Brother David, CSC; and sisters, Catherine Fenn, Mary Bennett, Margaret Musarra and Sister Betty Baltrinic, OP.

A private Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Bernadine was held on May 4, 2020. She was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron, OH.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Bernadine’s memory may be submitted securely online or sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus, 43219.

To donate in Sr. Bernadine Baltrinic’s memory, please click here.

To view a printable PDF copy of Sr Bernadine’s memorial, please click here.

Posted in Obituaries

In the Breaking of the Bread…

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

When women are discerning their call to religious life, they are very interested in learning what it is really like to live in community.  They do not want to see the posed pictures or written statements of how we value community and one another.  They want to see us in action – with each other – in everyday moments of prayer, at play, in the garden, studying and journeying together.  When asked about our life, I share with them that one of the greatest joys of living in community is the time we spend together at the dinner table.

We often spend an hour or more at table in the evening as we break bread and share our lives.  The topics of discussion vary – from what we did that day and whom we met, to current events, theology, weather and whatever our student sisters are studying.  If you arrive after dinner has begun, you may be greeted by laughter or the sound of animated conversation coming from the dining room.   Following the voices, you will be greeted by a bright room with a very long dining table.  Our table, in this particular house, is so long that we five can sit six feet apart, in keeping with the new physical distancing guidelines.  However, the physical distance between us fades into the background as we take up our lives, break them open and share them with each other.  In these moments, we realize the Paschal mystery present to us as articulated in the Gospel of Luke, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him;” (Luke 24:30-31)

The story of the disciples in Emmaus continues with them getting up and going back to Jerusalem to share the wonder of the experience they had at table.  Their lives were transformed and made whole again in that encounter with Christ.  Thus, we too must go out and share this experience of Christ becoming present to us in community in the breaking of the bread and of our lives.  How are you being called to share this with others?

Next time you sit down with your family, community or by yourself, take a moment to become aware of the presence of Christ with you.  Be sure to pass it on.

If you feel God calling you to explore religious life, reach out and contact one of our Vocation Ministers.  Who knows, someday soon you may be at our table with us.

Posted in God Calling?

Dominican Sister of Peace Corona Bayer

Dominican Sister of Peace Corona Bayer

Dominican Sister of Peace Corona (Lavinia) Bayer died on April 27, 2020, at the Great Bend, KS, Motherhouse, in the heart of the Sunflower state where she spent much of her life and her seventy years of ministry.

Sister Corona was born in Willowdale, Kansas in 1928 to Margaret Gehlen and William Bayer. Like her older sister, Sister Camillus, she heard the call to serve God and God’s people as a religious sister and joined the Congregation in 1947

Sister Corona had the heart of Mary, but the hard-working hands of Martha. For many years her ministry was one of caring and service, doing domestic work in Kansas and Oklahoma. She also helped in the main kitchen of the Great Bend Motherhouse and in the sewing room, which must have helped lead Sr. Corona to her later ministry creating beautiful and practical handmade items to help support our missions.

Sister Corona earned her Certification as a Nurse Aide from the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1970 and additional Certification from Barton Community College in 1976. With this knowledge she was able to begin a new ministry of caring, serving through the Health Aid Service and as a Nurse Aide in Colorado and Kansas.

Sister Corona Bayer and her famous scrubbies.

Sister Corona was dedicated to the missions of the Congregation as well as to a mission close to her own heart, the Central Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired. She created countless wonderful handcrafted items to be sold at the annual CKA VI and Great Bend Mission craft shows. Her craft table were always full of quilts and baby blankets, hats and scarves, table runners, along with dolls and other toys, not to mention the thousands of scrubbies that have become a main staple each year. She was especially pleased to create a Dominican Sister doll for the Lourdes Museum in France.

In her remembrance at Sr. Corona’s wake, Sister Renee Dreiling quoted the reading from Revelations 14:13, “Happy are the dead who die in the Lord. They shall find rest from their labors, for their good works accompany them.” Sr. Corona was, Sr. Renee said, a woman of innumerable good works, but also a woman of kindness, of generosity, and of gentle, playful nature. She loved to dress up for Halloween, to prepare for family gatherings with her Sr. Camillus, and to make the occasional oddball and lighthearted requests of Leadership, like buying the local Dairy Queen as a new ministry.

Sister Corona was preceded in death by her parents, six brothers, and one sister. She is survived by two brothers, Leonard and Herman Bayer; three sisters, Ginny Klein, Martina Young and Joan Payne; two sisters in law, Mary and Kathy, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A Vigil Service was held on April 28, 2020, and the Mass of Christian Burial was held on April 29, 2020. Sr. Corona Bayer was buried at the Sisters’ Resurrection Cemetery in Great Bend, KS.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Corona’s memory may be submitted securely online or sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus, OH 43219.

To donate in Sr. Corona Bayer’s memory, please click here.

To view a printable PDF copy of Sr. Corona’s memorial, please click here.

Posted in Obituaries

Dominican Sister of Peace Virginia Marie Butler

Dominican Sister of Peace Virginia Marie Butler

Dominican Sister of Peace Virginia Marie (Virginia Cora) Butler died on April 12, 2020, at the Mohun Health Care Center in Columbus, OH.

Born in 1928, Sr. Virginia was one of four children born to Hazel Supp and Robert Butler of New York City. She entered the Congregation in 1950, made first profession in 1952 and perpetual profession in 1955. She served her Congregation and the people of God faithfully for 68 years.

Sister Virginia Marie earned a BA in Art from Rosemont College, her MA in Scripture from Providence College and a Certificate in Biblical Spirituality from the Catholic Theological Union. This education prepared her well for her retreat ministry in Florida, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania, and for her service to her retired Sisters in both Elkins Park and Danville, PA. She found her time at Lucy Easton Smith Residence for Women in Philadelphia, PA, to be among her most significant ministries.

Sister Virginia Marie also served her Congregation as both Novice Directress and Assistant Junior Mistress. Her beautiful calligraphy was used by many of the Congregation’s retreat ministries.

In 2001, Sister Virginia Marie published Go to Galilee: The Spiritual Geography of the Gospels, inspired by a study trip to the Holy Land.

In true Dominican fashion, Sister Virginia Marie changed residences a number of times in her later years, moving from Elkins Park, PA, to Danville, PA, to Saint Catharine, KY, to Oxford, MI, and finally to Mohun Health Care Center. She was always grateful for the warm welcomes that she received in each new community and contributed her own humor and joy.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Hazel Supp Butler, her brothers, Robert, Jr. and Warren, and her sister, Hazel Schmitt.  She is survived by several nieces and nephews.

A private funeral service and burial at St. Joseph Cemetery in Columbus, OH, were held on April 21, 2020.  A memorial service will occur at a future date.

Memorial gifts in Sister Virginia Marie Butler’s memory may be sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, OH 43219 or submitted securely at oppeace.org

To donate in Sr. Virginia Marie’s memory, please click here.

To view a printable PDF copy of Sr. Virginia Marie’s memorial, please click here.


Posted in Obituaries