Associate Blog

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Keep Calm and Stay Focused

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

What in the world is going on in our country? – children being separated from their parents at the southern border and placed in cages; people trying to “normalize” white supremacy and the belief that America belongs to white people; immigration hardliners comparing immigrants to rats and suggesting those seeking asylum can instead “go home”; politicians stoking racism, xenophobia, and fear; human trafficking is an epidemic; gun violence is at a level not seen in decades; the impacts of climate change are everywhere, the prison-industrial complex is big business, etc.

As I work to navigate what seems like never-ending chaos, I am reminded of a tweet from the Rev. James Martin, S.J.:

What Jesus never said: “Feed the hungry only if they have papers.” “Clothe the naked only if they’re from your country.” “Welcome the stranger only if there’s zero risk.” “Help the poor only if it’s convenient.” “Love your neighbor only if they look like you.”

His words implore me – as a Christian, as an Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, as a human being — to stick with Jesus and to not to be drawn into the discord.

Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick, visit those who are in prison, help the poor, and love our neighbor.

I will continue to sow seeds of love, compassion, hope, harmony, calm and peace amid storms of fear, hatred, dishonesty, and injustice.

How about you?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Shoutout to our Heroes in Blue who are Doing the Right Thing

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I have a tendency to follow stories in my hometown newspaper.

For nearly a month, one of the top stories has been about the fatal shooting of a man by a South Bend (Ind.) police officer, who did not turn on his body camera prior to the shooting.

The incident has raised the issue — once again — of the impact, benefits, and consequences of body worn cameras.

One of the things that troubles me is that the body camera sometimes gets a bad rap – I think because, in general, we tend to view cameras as a tool “to catch” police officers doing something wrong (a reasonable conclusion, considering that the big push for cameras nationwide was in response to the number of high profile shootings of unarmed black men by police officers).

I think that body (and dash) cameras do offer the potential to increase police transparency and accountability.  But guess what? The cameras can also “catch” officers in the act of doing something right (or doing something good).

I saw concrete evidence of that a few days ago when the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina released body camera footage of Deputy W. Kimbro taking life-saving measures  that kept a 12-day-old baby alive and breathing until emergency personnel arrived on the scene.

Last year, dashcam video caught Kingston Crowell and Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremie Nix saving the life of a three-month old baby who was choking.

Then there was the footage released in 2017 by the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department in Georgia that shows Officer William Eng taking a one-month old baby who was not breathing into his arms and administering chest compressions, until she let out a cry and started breathing.

Since 2015, when President Obama pledged funding for a nationwide program to equip police departments with body cameras, research has shown some interesting facts, Including:

  • Police leadership organizations have publicly supported the use of body worn cameras
  • Resident advocacy and human rights groups embrace the use of cameras
  • Cameras can lead to reductions in police use of force and resident complaints
  • Cameras generate valuable evidence
  • Limitations affect the likelihood that cameras will capture a complete visual and audio record of what has transpired.

 

That said, we need to be realistic about what body and dash cameras can and cannot do.

And we need to change the narrative to include the fact that body and dash cameras can also capture the heroic efforts of our law enforcement officers. I am sure that officers Eng, Nix, and Kimbro are just a few of our dedicated law enforcement officers who have been caught in the act of doing heroic deeds.

I wonder what we would find, if we reviewed all of the police video footage ever collected – more officers doing the wrong thing or more officers doing the right thing?

 

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Why I Became an Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace

Blog by Associate Frank Bevvino

As a new Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace I am proud to be a part of the Dominican family.  What drew me to become an Associate was a desire to become part of a community dedicated to prayer, study and building church and community. Simply stated, I wanted to proclaim the Gospel in many different formats.

As a deacon I have the privilege of preaching regularly at the Sacred Liturgy. However, St. Dominic saw the message of the gospel needed to be proclaimed not just to churchgoers but to all people: Christian and non-Christian.

At a time when social justice issues and the need to ensure all people are treated as God’s children, I felt a need to become part of a community that transcends the boundaries of the parish.

For many years, I have been interested in the life of St Francis and thought that someday I would become affiliated with the Franciscans. I expressed this one day to Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP. She asked me: “Why not a Dominican? and gave me a few books on St Dominic. As I read the books, I began to see similarities with St Francis. Dominic, however, focused on spreading the WORD to all people through preaching and outreach.

St Dominic’s approach was, for me, “catholic” (universal).  This appealed to me in light of where the Catholic church is today in the early decades of the 21st Century. The church is desperately in need of reform. It needs a new “aggiornamento” to revive the openness that Vatican II sought to achieve; a church that is inclusive and welcoming. Dominic’s emphasis on prayer, study, preaching and community brought together the things in my life that have brought me along my faith journey.

As I began to attend associate meetings and meet with my mentors, I was asked to read the Associates guidebook and reflect on what I read. I was also asked to seek out Dominicans who best represented the Dominican charism. This was not an easy task. In fact, during my search I came across a book written by Sr. Mary Jane Dorcy, OP entitled, St Dominic’s Family. The book tells the story of the lives of more than 300 famous Dominicans. The Dominican family has a wealth of contributors to Church history. Following St Dominic’s example are many women and men who have proclaimed Christ in a manner indicative of building church. However, what I was looking for was a contemporary example. I found one in Yves Congar, OP.

Yves Congar, a French Dominican priest, was one of the pioneers in the Church’s theology on ecumenism and the place of the laity in the Church. Pope John XXIII appointed him as a counselor at the Second Vatican Council. Congar’s personal influence on the Second Vatican Council was far reaching. It included lecturing international groups of bishops and helping to draft conciliar documents. Congar’s hand can be discerned in almost every major document produced by the Council Fathers. Congar was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994, shortly before his death.

Reading about Congar led me to discover the brilliant minds of many Dominicans of the 19th and 20th Centuries: Chenu, Schillebeeckx, Gutiérrez, and many more. These names are just a continuation of the long history of Dominicans that have contributed greatly in spreading the Good News, including Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, Rose of Lima and  Catherine of Siena.

Today, the Dominican Sisters of Peace are preaching the Gospel worldwide in outreach programs, calling for an end of gun violence and the death penalty and advocating for equal rights for minorities and the safe treatment of migrant families entering the United States and other countries.

As Associates, we are fortunate to be part of a community dedicated to preaching the Gospel and praying together as a family united under St Dominic. The rich history of the Dominican Order demonstrates the success and divinely inspired efforts of St Dominic.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

LAUGHTER DOES GOOD, JUST LIKE MEDICINE

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Once you start laughing, you start healing.

That is something one of my late mentor’s used to say. He would say “Colette, you will always be able to conquer anything as long as you can continue to laugh in the midst of adversity. Laughter is the best medicine you can have.”

I was reminded of his words recently when I heard a new gospel song by BeBe Winans and Korean Soul called “Laughter Just Like Medicine.”

It turns out that the singers and my beloved mentor (a psychologist and religious brother) are right.

Scientists and researchers say that laughing is medically beneficial. Studies show that laughter boosts the immune system and triggers the release of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain.

Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increase blood flow; reduces pain and allows toleration of discomfort; and relaxes the body. It creates a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between people and produces a general sense of well-being.

When was the last time you had a good laugh?

Go ahead, take your medicine. Click here to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuQOnT6R6mY

 

Posted in Associate Blog, News

When You See Them, You Will Grieve

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I did something this weekend that I really didn’t want to do.

I watched the Ava DuVernay-directed When They See Us, the four-part mini-series streaming on Netflix that tells the story of the Exonerated Five.

I hesitated to view it because I knew it was going to be difficult to watch. I knew it would trigger the trauma of strategic and systemic racism – a system that devalues black and brown lives (meaning it would take me on a very rough emotional roller coaster ride).

I knew the story and its outcome: five black and Hispanic teens (ages 14 to 16), labeled the Central Park Five, were arrested, interrogated, tried and convicted of brutally raping a 28-year-old white female jogger, despite the fact that DNA evidence wasn’t a match for any of them. Twelve years later (when all but two of the five were out of prison), a convicted rapist and murderer (whose DNA was a match) confessed to the crime.  The five were exonerated and eventually received a $41 million settlement and have found life after incarceration.

But I convinced myself to watch it – even though I knew it would cause me to be an emotional wreck –because I knew it was an opportunity to hear the story from the perspective of the five – all now men in their 40s.

I made the decision after reading articles and seeing interviews of the five and experiencing their words describing the mini-series as a way to convey their “truth”; as a “sacrifice” to change the culture by becoming engaged; as a “platform” to start the conversation to prevent another Central Park Five; as a means to “effect change”; as a vehicle for telling their stories.

It became very clear to me that these men wanted and needed to be heard. I was compelled to oblige, knowing that my discomfort couldn’t possibly compare to their lived pain and trauma. So, I braced myself – still, their pain and trauma were transferable. I fully understand why a grief counselor was on the set while filming.

Ava DuVernay has said her goal in directing the series was “to humanize boys, now men, who are widely regarded as criminals” and “to invite the audience to re-interrogate everyone that they define as a criminal … I’m asking the question to everyone, ‘What do you see when you see black boys’?”

From my vantage point, black and brown boys continue to be seen as deviant in our culture. Isn’t it time for that practice to end?  Tens of thousands of innocent people continue to be incarcerated for years and decades for crimes they did not commit. Isn’t it time for that to end too?

When They See Us is the Exonerated Five telling their story. And as painful as it is to hear, I think they should be heard. They paid a terrible price, and I think we owe it to them to listen.

I hope you accept Ava DuVernay’s invitation to question who you define as a criminal and to answer the question: What do you see when you see black and brown boys?

 

Posted in Associate Blog