News

For further information on any of the news items listed here, please contact Alice Black, PhD, OPA, Director of Communications & Mission Advancement, at 614-416-1020.


 

NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard)

“All communities and persons across the nation should live in a safe and healthy environment…To the greatest extent practical and permitted by law…each federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental efforts programs, policies and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States.”

                                                                           President William J. Clinton
1994, Executive Order

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

How do climate change, COVID-19 and racism come together?  Cities around the country are asking that question.  If we eliminate COVID-19 from consideration, we find that in cities with large numbers of African Americans and Hispanic, those people of color live in highly polluted areas of those cities.

In west Louisville, the American Synthetic Rubber Company exceeded legal emissions of a particular toxic chemical, which increased the risk of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illness for disadvantaged communities with a large African American population.  Over the three-year period of 2017-2019, the company put nearly 4,000 pounds of 1,3-butadiene, a chemical compound used in making synthetic rubber that is associated with an increased incidence of leukemia. The company lost the resulting lawsuit and was forced to pay $135,375 to the city of Louisville.

Given that 80% of this toxic air pollution was released to west Louisville, often called “Rubbertown,” how will this support the citizens who were directly affected when the money was paid to the Air Pollution Control District of Louisville?

Systemic racism has enabled industries with toxic chemicals to locate in areas of cities with a predominance of people of color.  Cities in need of financial support court and incentivize these industries and often ignore environmental regulation, so methane-producing power plants are allowed to become part of the landscape, and methane part of the air that citizens breathe.

Neighborhoods near industries such as these are twice as likely to have either asthma or high blood pressure and four times as likely to have COPD.  Those living in an industrial area have higher rates of miscarriages, dementia, and lower birth rates.  Lower-income African Americans and Hispanic Americans have fewer choices in housing. Remember redlining? 

Environmental racism is inseparable from racial segregation, which is itself a result of individual and systemic racism, including public policy at every level of government.  For industry, non-white neighborhoods are cheaper to acquire.

Toxic air, water and soil are a fact of life in cities around the country.  In the last few years, weakened environmental laws have worsened the reality.  Many African American and Hispanic citizens find themselves in segregated neighborhoods, often located near plants expelling highly toxic chemicals.  This reality, coupled with high instances of heart, kidney and respiratory illness make African Americans a prime target of COVID-19.

In an era of multiple crises, we now face multiple layers of discrimination.  One solution available to us is to hold those in power accountable – VOTE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Peace and Justice Updates 7/1/2020

Protest the Death Penalty
Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court failed to act with mercy, which may mean the first federal executions in 17 years on July 13, 15 & 17 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Death Penalty Action will be there.

Please click here to find actions that you might take to protest these executions, including petitions, witness opportunities, and more.

The 27th Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty at the US Supreme Court is well under way. ALL PROGRAMS ARE BEING STREAMED LIVE on the Starvin’ for Justice Facebook Page at 11am, 1:30pm, 4pm and 7pm today and Thursday.

You do not need a Facebook account to watch, or to see the archive of programs already completed. The full schedule is here. Please note that the opening and closing events require registration, which is here.

Monsanto Pays Up
Bayer, following its 2018 acquisition of Monsanto, will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle nearly 100,000 individual lawsuits alleging that exposure to the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup causes cancer.

This $10.9 billion settlement is yet another landmark moment that signals a turning tide against agrichemical giants like Bayer. For decades, Monsanto assured farmers, farmworkers, pesticide applicators, and homeowners that glyphosate was harmless, even with prolonged exposure. For too long, mega-corporations have profited from toxic pesticides, obscured the risks associated with them, and avoided taking responsibility for the damages they have caused. Following the three previous verdicts, Bayer sees the writing on the wall and is seeking to mitigate its losses by settling and paying up now.

No More Genetically-Engineered Seeds!
For years now, pesticide industry giants have been peddling their genetically engineered (GE) technology kits: modified seeds and the herbicides that go with them. Clear evidence shows this system is dangerous, brittle and failing, yet these corporations are now doubling down. Right now, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering a request from Monsanto (recently acquired by Bayer) to approve a new GE corn seed engineered for use with five different herbicides.

The “creation” of a corn seed that can survive five different herbicides is likely to increase the use of those herbicides, putting the environment and wildlife in those areas at risk.

Click here to tell the USDA to prevent Monsanto’s use of genetically-engineered corn seeds.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

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, News

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?, News