Knowledge Is Power

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

I graduated from high school in 1967, and during those years the Dominican Sisters engaged us in so many ways to enlighten, inspire and motivate us to see what was going on with the war protests, the civil rights movement and the world of the missions. The high school was a charter member of the Catholic Students’ Mission Crusade and, as a result of my membership in it, I learned all about the Micronesian, Polynesian and Melanesian island groups and began my deep desire to visit some of the African countries. We sponsored bake sales and made caramel apples for sale to earn money to “buy” Pagan Babies (and we got to name them, too). We had the experience every two years of the CSMC Conference for high school students from around the country and held at the University of Notre Dame. 10, 000 students and mentors gathered to hear speakers from around the world, missionaries with years of experience, e.g., Maryknoll Sister Maria del Ray, author and world traveler to so many mission lands; Monsignor Ssebayigga from Uganda who told us of the Mountains of the Moon( and who just passed in 2006); John Cardinal Wright who sang about the “little boxes on the hillside that all looked just the same”, but he compared them to the hovels of Appalachia not just the sameness of suburbia; and so many other inspiring missionaries. They lit the fire in so many of us to get to the work of home missionaries or international missionaries. We would save the world for God because all of those people were heathens and needed our help! Boomers—-this was our truth then, and you know it!

Somewhere along the line, I read Michener’s book Hawaii, and, as crazy as it sounds, that is where I had my AHA moment about the colonial mentality of our church and white society. My attitude was never the same and I wanted to learn more about not only how the church repressed the native spiritualties, but also what the people in those different places really believed in and why. There is such a thing as African theology and spirituality and, like our Native Americans, their connectedness to the earth is immense and intense.

Knowledge is a dangerous thing, for true! My intellect and my spirit now know how much damage has been done to the minds of citizens of all countries. White is not the best; it is one among many. White is not the safest; it is just as fragile. White is not the strongest; it has its weaknesses. White is not the smartest, but it does have access to better education most of the time. White is not always right…..

A few days ago, there was the remembrance of Juneteenth, the day when the slaves on Galveston Island finally found out that Lincoln had freed them—two years before. Why did it take so long for them to hear something that was “old news” to Blacks in other states and unimportant to their white masters? Poor communication lines from outside the state have been blamed, but the White masters on the island knew and didn’t want to lose their workers before crops could be harvested and barns could be built, so they waited a little while. No harm done, and it kept the economy alive.

There is so much to unlearn about the growth and development of our country. History is still being written, still being discovered. It must not make us feel bad or depressed. It must make us want to really be the best at cherishing the lives of all those God has created. It must make us realize the mistakes that were made, why they were made and make sure they are not still being made or ever made again. It is hard work, but what we learn will guide us, and our prayers will inspire us.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Peace and Justice Updates 6.23.2021

Statement on Juneteenth Observation
While we are all grateful that the celebration of Juneteenth will now be recognized as a federal holiday, we believe that there is still much to do to end the sin of systemic racism and ensure justice for all people. The following statement was released on our social media channels on Friday.

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We are honored to join our black sisters and brothers in the first official commemoration of Juneteenth – the date that marked the final end of slavery in the United States. This recognition is to be celebrated but is also bittersweet, as we realize that there is still much to do to heal the damage done by racial inequality and the systemic racism still in place in our nation.

While we pray with gratitude for this recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday, we also ask God to move each of us, as Christians, citizens, and leaders, to work for equality in education, housing, voters’ rights, the legal system, and employment.

We pray for the souls of those who died in slavery, and for those who died fighting for equality. May they experience the everlasting peace and justice of the Kingdom of God, and may we work towards that same peace and justice here on Earth.

The Interfaith Power & Light Film
Interfaith Power & Light will be sharing Other Side of the Hill, a hopeful, inspiring look at local leaders in rural America who are leading climate action in their communities.

This 30-minute film will be available for free online viewing July 10 – 25. Registration opens July 1.

You can watch the trailer and sign up to get a registration reminder here.

A screening kit from Interfaith Power and Light will be available on July 1.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Choosing Unity Over Division

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

In a deeply divided church and country, most of us long for voices that can bring us together, working for unity and understanding.  Is it possible to have a discussion with someone who has a different opinion and not view the result as “winning or losing?”

Our current church drama involves the United States bishops moving toward approval of a document that would deny communion to President Biden and any Catholic politicians who are pro-choice.  Most Bishops favored moving the document forward.  This brings up a familiar question, “What would Jesus do?”  For anyone who reads the Gospels, I think the answer is clear; he comes down on the side of unity, compassion, and non-judgmental attitudes.

Bishop Stowe of Lexington provides comments that are relevant here:

“There are at least three places in the Gospels that involve people thinking they know what is best for Jesus.

When they try to prevent children from coming to him, Jesus rebukes his disciples as he does, he reminds them the kingdom of heaven belongs to those they would turn away.

When confronted about the woman caught in adultery, Jesus stops the mob by reminding them of their own sins. We bishops have a wealth of material to offer in that department.

And in the garden, Jesus rebukes Peter himself for using violence in protecting him. Jesus does not need our protection for him to carry out his saving mission.

There is a reason the long-standing pastoral practice of the Church is to presume people present themselves for Communion in good conscience.  We should reverence the mystery of God’s grace at work in every person, and the gift of faith present in every heart that seeks him in the sacrament.

Jesus is not a legalist.  He seeks to draw people to himself.  His arms outstretched on the cross and in the sacraments are where the saving occurs.”

When Pope Francis spoke of communion, he said, “It is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners.”  We say, “Lord, I am not worthy.”  When I stand in line for communion, I stand in line as a sinner.  What the bishops are doing by denying Communion on political grounds is disturbing because it models judgment, a lack of striving for unity and failure to hear Jesus saying, “that they all may be one.”

We find a sacrament being weaponized and politicized. For a moment, pretend that all 46 presidents were Catholic.  Looking at their actions, decisions, and words, would any of them pass the test and be deserving of communion?  We have had several slaveholders, adulterers, pathological liars, and those who approved dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, going to war in Iraq. Many have, through their political actions, cost hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

If we treat the Gospels as a roadmap for living, the path to unity is clear.  Leading compassionate, nonjudgmental lives is hard work, but possible when we recognize that we all have feet of clay; and when we fall, continue to get up.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

June OPPeace News

OPPeace News will return to its print version with the September 2021 issue. If you have missed an issue of the OPPeace News, please click here for our archives.

Posted in News

Dominican Sister of Peace Virginia Mary Sammett, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Virginia Mary Sammett, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Virginia Mary (Mary Alicene) Sammett, OP, (90), a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, died on June 13, 2021, at Norton Hospital Louisville, Kentucky.

Born in 1930 to Alice Largento and Carl Sammett, Sr. Virginia attended Mount Trinity Academy. She entered the Congregation in 1948 and took her final vows in 1952, serving the Church and her people for 71 years.

Sr. Virginia Mary earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy/ Psychology/English from Siena College (Memphis, TN) and a Master of Arts in Reading from Clarke College (Dubuque, IA). She put that excellent education to work ministering as an educator and administrator in schools in New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts for more than 40 years. Sr. Virginia also served as coordinator of a Language Arts program in the Diocese of Brooklyn and as the Reading Specialist for eight elementary schools staffed by our Congregation in Massachusetts.

In 2005, Sister Virginia began a new service to God’s people when she led a prayer ministry at Neville Place at Fresh Pond in Cambridge, MA. In reflecting on this ministry, she commented that she prayed the rosary with the residents and tried to be “radically open to ongoing conversion into the peace of Christ.” Her thoughtful ministry of care was much appreciated by the residents of the health care facility.

Sister Virginia was deeply involved in both the community life and the study life of our Congregation, as well in social justice issues ranging from racism to gun control to immigration.

In 2018, Sister moved to St. Catharine Motherhouse (St. Catharine, KY) where she continued to serve her community and the Congregation. In 2019, Sr. Virginia Mary moved to Sansbury Care Center (St. Catharine, KY) where she began a ministry of prayer and presence.

When speaking at Sr. Virginia’s funeral service, Sr. Kathleen Corrigan, OP, noted that the Scripture that Sr. Virginia chose was the fourteenth chapter of John, which begins with the words “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in me.” Sr. Kathleen said that Sr. Virginia not only lived by those words, but she modeled them for others, caring for and inspiring confidence in her many students as well as the elderly people to whom she ministered.

Sr. Virginia Mary is survived by several cousins.

Visitation and funeral services at Sansbury Care Center Chapel were held on June 22 and 23. Sr. Virginia Mary was buried in the St. Catharine Motherhouse cemetery.

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

Memorial gifts in Sr. Virginia Mary’s memory may also be sent to Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr., Columbus, OH 43219-2098. T

To download and print a PDF copy of this memorial, please click here.

Posted in Obituaries