The following Letter to the Editor, co-signed by Kentucky congregations Dominican Sisters of Peace, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Sisters of Loretto/Loretto Community and Ursuline Sisters of Louisville was sent to the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Record, the diocesan magazine.
The grand jury announcement on Sept. 23 in the Breonna Taylor case of three counts of wanton endangerment for Officer Brett Hankison and no charges for the other officers involved, has left us with feelings of great sadness and injustice for her family, friends and our entire community. We pray for peace in Louisville and our country at this moment.
We have seen firsthand the deep divide this tragedy has caused in our city and in our nation. Breonna’s death has brought to the surface the history of systemic racism in the United States. We, the elected leadership of religious congregations of women in and around the Louisville area, feel the rage and despair of this moment.
As majority white communities, we recommit to prayer, self-examination, and advocacy. We support the right to peaceful demonstrations. We call for fundamental reform in the way policing is done in the United States and call for legal reform to strip away protections for those who bring violence and death to unarmed black people.
We call for and commit to REAL change to bring REAL peace, the peace that comes when all have enough, when all are treated with respect. Every person is a precious child of God. Breonna Taylor. Say Her Name. She is a precious child of God.
Last Friday, in our monthly Emmaus Discernment Group, a discerner raised the question of how one might feel God nudging her. One way to know is paying attention to the feelings inside. A person might feel an immense joy, or find herself restless about the idea of religious life, or wish to deepen her relationship with God, or might feel passionate about peace and justice, etc.
For me, it was a combination of three feelings, which came in stages. When I first recognized and felt how much God loved me, an immense joy inspired me (and I also felt being called) to share that joy of being loved by God. The next stage was when I became super sensitive to songs, i.e. listening to “Take a chance on me” while watching Mamma Mia, was another nudge. The more I played with the thought of religious life, the more restless I became. My prayer life was a ‘busy’ one, but something was still missing, and I wanted to get deeper. And then came the feeling of healthy anger. A healthy anger is a type of anger that helps us to explore our feelings and the way we would respond instead of just reacting. What might a healthy anger look like? Let me explain it with my experience. I started to discern God’s call with a spiritual director. At that time, I was teaching in an underprivileged area. As a teacher, I saw the effects of the 2007-2008 financial debt-ceiling crisis: the electricity in some of our students’ homes was cut, and some even became homeless for a short period of time. My spiritual director helped me understand how not to let this distract me but rather to explore what I could about it, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) symbolizes for me how to take action.
Last Friday, our country lost a giant, a Champion of Justice, our “Notorious R.B.G.” RBG’s mother taught her not to be distracted by emotions like anger because it just drains one’s energy. So, Justice RBG used her energy for empathy and equality, and her passion for justice wisely. My spiritual director, too, advised me similarly, to use my passion for justice wisely.
RBG was about embracing justice and embracing people – especially those who were left out or left behind. She was a woman of courage, vision, determination and action. She put anger and fear behind her and was all about serving those in need. She is an inspiration for all. She had a way of helping others see injustice and discrimination. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg knocked on closed doors, opened them, and held them open for others.” (quote by Dean Lizabeth Cohen) She gave voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless.
The combination of discerning God’s call in my life and the urge to work toward a more just and peaceful world led me to look into religious congregations that worked for peace and justice. I found the answer in becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace. We, Dominican Sisters of Peace bear witness to the Gospel and we work to build a more peaceful world through our ministries, our prayer, and our way of life. Being in vocation ministry, I find inspiration in her advice: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” (RBG) My prayer is that I can be a witness of faith and that others may see the meaning and joy of this way of life.
Thank you, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Now let us honor her by continuing her advocacy for a more peaceful world.
If you think that God is calling you to live out your call as a Dominican Sister of Peace, contact us.
I have been reading John Lewis’s memoir Walking with the Wind and could probably copy into this blog almost every passage. But this one caught my attention in light of the current situation in our country:
When I care about something, when I commit to it, I am prepared to take the long hard road, knowing it may not happen today or tomorrow, but ultimately, eventually, it will happen. That’s what faith is all about…. Some battles are long and hard, and you have to have staying power. Firecrackers go off in a flash and leave nothing but ashes. I prefer a pilot light—the flame is nothing flashy, but once it is lit, it doesn’t go out. It burns steadily, and it burns forever.
This need to stay with it, to hold tight, must grow stronger in all of us, I think. Right now with the “quiet” health crisis of COVID 19 when we are not rushing out to buy essential items and finding empty shelves, and we do not see so many lines of people waiting to get into the store themselves; when we can find lots of hand sanitizers, digital thermometers, disinfectant wipes, and TOILET PAPER; these days make us relax, make us think it’s not so bad anymore. We have seen what thinking that way has gotten us. Who needs to wear a mask, right?
We apply some of that “quiet” to the issues of the protests and Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and we speak about how it will all be over soon and we can stop talking about racism. Then there is another police shooting, of a Black suspect or a police officer, and we are smacked right back into the chaos.
Many of the books I am reading now, written in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, could have been written today in 2020. Very little has changed and very few white minds have conceded how much evil exists because of the systems in which we live, get educated, make a living, raise a family, pray and socialize.
Over the next couple of months we are going to have to dig deep inside ourselves and find out just what it is that makes living in a democracy a good thing for everyone, not just a few. It will sometimes be painful, sometimes hurtful, but if we do it for the best reasons it can only be helpful and life giving.
A nurse, Black woman, and mom of five named Dawn Wooten, working at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, has reported that an “inordinate amount of hysterectomies” are being performed on female patients at the Center.
Ms. Wells said it was “like an experimental concentration camp.” The women who were undergoing the invasive procedure were often not told clearly, in their native language, why the procedure was necessary. One even said she was not properly anesthetized during it.
We demand that ICE immediately shut down the Irwin County Detention Center and that Congress hold ICE and CBP accountable for continuing human rights abuses by cutting funding to ICE and CBP in the 2021 budget now. Click here to sign our petition.
US Sisters Against Human Trafficking Newsletter
Click here for the September Newsletter, reflection and educational opportunities.
This is the second in a three-part series on being a common good voter. This series is looking at issues relevant to the 2020 Election in light of the commitments of the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
Create environments of peace by promoting non-violence, unity in diversity, and reconciliation among ourselves, in the Church and throughout the world.
Promote justice through solidarity with those who are marginalized, especially women and children, and work with others to identify and transform oppressive systems.
Create welcoming communities, inviting others to join us as vowed members, associates, volunteers, and partners in our mission to be the Holy Preaching.
The Dominican Sisters of Peace
“There is a humanitarian crisis at the U.S. border: one of immigrant children separated from their parents and migrants dying as they seek refuge. There is a crisis of walls built through communities and of refugee families in camps or military bases. The Trump administration is now joining more than 53,000 people in increasingly fatal conditions.
Friends Committee on National Legislation
We need voters to call on Congress and a president committed to humanitarian assistance, rooted in traditional religious values that demand fair treatment of immigrants, including uniting families.
When we vote for the next president and senators, will we vote for those who uphold the Bill of Rights and other constitutional protections, not discriminating on the basis of religion and ethnicity? Do we want to elect leaders who believe in due process for immigrants and refugees, including those who are members of other faith traditions-who enter the United States?
The Atlantic reports that the Supreme Court upheld the president’s “travel ban” policy, which barred most entry into the United States from Muslim-majority nations. The Supreme Court upheld this policy despite overwhelming evidence of religious discrimination targeting Muslims. The need for common good voters for immigration reform is urgent.
On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court ordered the Trump administration to start accepting new DACA applications and requests for advanced placements. This was a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of dreamers.
Dreamers were brought to the United States at a young age, some only infants. They have no connection with the country of their birth. Many said they did not know that they were undocumented immigrants until they were teenagers. DACA provides a path to citizenship for the dreamers if they have committed no crime.
DACA recipients are doctors, nurses, business owners, grocery store workers who have contributed their skills and commitment to the United States. They study in our schools, serve in our military, pray in our churches. The United States is served in many ways by these 787,580 dreamers.
When we vote for the next president and senators, we are voting for common good justice for DACA recipients. We are echoing our congregation’s corporate statement on immigration:
“We call for comprehensive immigration reform that would provide additional viable, legal avenues for immigrants, reunite families, legalize undocumented persons. And establish opportunities for permanent residence.”
Our voices need to be heard. Yours will be heard only if you vote.