May 29, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Through the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, of which the Congregation is a part, the Adrian Dominican Sisters join more than 100 national faith leaders – from Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions, representing major denominations, national faith-based organizations, local congregations, and millions of people of faith across the country – to call for a National Day of Mourning and Lament to mark the death of more than 100,000 people in the United States from COVID-19.
The faith leaders call on federal, state, and local elected officials to observe Monday, June 1, as National Day of Mourning and Lament – a day marked by moments of silence, lowering of flags, interfaith vigils, ringing of bells, and civic memorials.
The call is being supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who represent over 1,400 mayors across the country. Mayors lead on the frontline of the COVID-19 response effort and continue to model critical local leadership in this difficult time.
Together, interfaith leaders and mayors across the nation call us to mourn, lament, and honor the dead, acknowledge the unequal nature of our suffering, pray together for the healing of the nation, and recommit to the difficult work ahead.
“We pray in a special way for the nearly 5,400 Michiganders who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and their heartbroken families,” said Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. “This call for mourning and lamentation must also become a call to action to address the racial inequities revealed by the pandemic,” she said. In Michigan, over 40% of COVID-19 deaths are suffered by African Americans who only comprise 14% of the population. Nationwide, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans and other people of color disproportionately suffer the effects of the pandemic.
“We applaud Governor Whitmer for creating the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities charged with addressing the racial injustices that were amplified by the virus,” said Sister Siemen. “Her steadfast leadership in maintaining strong state guidelines to protect Michiganders against the coronavirus is now needed, as we emerge from this crisis, to ensure that the lives of all Michiganders are honored and protected.”
The National Day of Mourning and Lament will follow a weekend of diverse services – Friday Muslim, Saturday Jewish, and Sunday Christian (including Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American) all united in times of lament and mourning for the dead. The vocation of remembering will unite across lines of religion and traditions and transcend our politics.
May 13, 2020, Maywood, Illinois – The COVID-19 pandemic turned the disciplines of Lent into mandates as the coronavirus forced the entire world to practice isolation and separation and face their fears. That is one aspect of a reflection written by Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, a hospital chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. She writes of the suffering that patients – whether or not they had the virus – endured while isolated in the hospital and of the fear that all of the hospital staff face. “For us, the hospital was the place where Lent was practiced every moment,” she writes, but concludes by encouraging readers to take on the hope of Easter.
Read Sister Xiomara’s reflection on life during the pandemic in the newsletter of Giving Voice, a national, peer-led association for younger women religious. Sister Xiomara serves in leadership of Giving Voice as a member of its Core Team.