July 28, 2017, Chicago – Adrian Dominican Sisters Jean Keeley, OP, and Joan Mary, OP, were part of a delegation of 40 people who attended a July 10 press conference at Chicago’s Thompson Center to deliver a special letter to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. The letter, signed by 174 faith leaders, implores the governor to sign the Illinois Trust Act, which would ensure that citizens asking for help from law enforcement officials will not have to fear being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to check on their citizenship status.
The legislation was passed by the state legislature May 5 and now sits in the governor’s office. He has until Aug. 28 to approve, veto or take no action.
“As people of faith, we are called to stand in solidarity with immigrants in our midst who are in danger of having their families separated and taken away from the homes they have created in our state,” the letter reads in part. “Illinois has always chosen to act with love towards immigrants, becoming a source of stability for immigrant families. The Trust Act will reassure all immigrants that they are welcome and that the state will do everything it can to protect them and their families.”
Among the cosigners of the letter are Sister Jean; Adrian Dominican Sister JoAnn Fleischaker, OP; and a number of Dominican Sisters from other Congregations and Dominican Friars from the Central Province.
Sisters Jean and Joan were part of a five-member delegation from Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants (SBI), an organization founded in 2007 by Catholic Sisters of the Chicago area to work on initiatives of the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform. Membership has expanded to include associate members of religious congregations, religious brothers, and all who are committed to justice for immigrants.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters’ involvement is in keeping with the Chapter Initiative on Immigration adopted by the Congregation’s Dominican Midwest Mission Chapter, based in Chicago. Through this initiative, Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates in this Chapter commit to “answer the call to walk with immigrants in their struggle.” Individual Sisters and Associates choose to keep this commitment in various ways: by praying weekly with other people of faith at a detention center from which immigrants are deported; serving as witnesses for justice in immigration court; assisting on weekends at houses of hospitality for immigrants; working with immigrants at the Aquinas Literacy Center; and praying and advocating for immigrants.
Read more about the press conference and the Illinois Trust Act here.
By Sister Kathy Klingen
May 18, 2016, Chicago – Seventy Sisters in the Dominican Midwest Chapter came together April 30 at the Mercy Meeting Place in Chicago for the optional Spring Gathering to share personal stories from ministry with the American indigenous peoples; study the history of papal bulls that relegated Indians to the margins in the United States; and ask themselves, “What can we do?”
Sisters Sue Gardner, JoAnn Fleischaker, and Ellen Kennedy shared tangible artifacts, prayer, and stories of their experiences with the Indian tribes. Other Sisters in the Chapter have also ministered among tribes in the United States and Canada, notably Sister Joyce Rybarczyk, who served in Watersmeet, Michigan, for more than 40 years, and Sister Kathleen Walli, who lived and ministered with the Menomonee Indians in upper Michigan for 14 years.
The injustices to children in boarding schools, parents and their sacred prayers cannot be forgotten. With incredible knowledge and wisdom, Sister Anele Heiges spoke of the “Papal Bulls from 1452, 1453, and 1493, which authorized only Christian monarchies as sovereign, and encouraged them to vanquish and place in perpetual slavery/servitude any heathens, pagans and other non-Christians and bring them under Church dominion. The papacy authorized military conquest to assist conversion to Christianity.”
As of 2007, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples acknowledges many rights, yet is not explicit on sovereignty issues, Sister Anele said. Therefore, indigenous leaders want Pope Francis to rescind the Bulls that justify imperialism.
Sister Kathy Nolan, Director of the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s Office of Global Mission, Justice, and Peace, shared a petition being circulated by the Romero Institute, asking Pope Francis to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery.
“The Doctrine of Discovery, issued as three 15th-century papal bulls, continues to adversely dictate policy decisions directed towards indigenous peoples and their land,” Sister Kathy said. “This doctrine, created centuries ago, still acts as both the spiritual and legal endorsement of the exploitation and slaughters of Indigenous peoples, and the justification for imperialist economic ventures.”
A petition by the Romero Institute calls for the revocation of the Doctrine of Discovery. The petition reads, “We respectfully ask you, Pope Francis, to revoke the Doctrine of Discovery, which vested moral and spiritual authority in Colonial powers to brutally and violently conquer Indigenous lands.”
Article Submitted by Sister Kathy Klingen, OP
Feature photo: Sister JoAnn Fleischaker, OP, shares her experiences of ministering with American Indians. Photo by Sister Jane Zimmerman