July 5, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters added their voices to thousands of others on June 30 as they participated in Families Belong Together marches throughout the United States. Demonstrations throughout the nation protested the U.S. immigration policy that has separated children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border as the families attempted to enter the United States without formal documents.
Sister Corinne Florek was one of about 2,000 people to attend a rally at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. “It was inspiring because most of the speakers were young children,” she recalled. “They reminded us of the children’s march during the fight for civil rights. One girl spoke of her father being taken by ICE and how that affected her.”
Sisters Mary Trzasko, OP, and Beverly Stark, OP, were present at the rally in Charleston, South Carolina. Sister Beverly made the connection between the current immigration issue and the history of slavery in the U.S. South. “We gathered on and all around the steps of the Court House in Charleston, South Carolina, which is only a few blocks away from where slaves were bought and sold and families separated,” she said. “It was wrong and cruel then and it’s wrong and cruel today.”
About 20 Adrian Dominican Sisters were present for the rally in Adrian. Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Director of the Congregation’s Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, noted that the people of Adrian have been consistently attending rallies calling for social justice – from the Poor People’s Campaign and March for our Lives to the June 30 Families Belong Together March. “There was a lot of enthusiasm,” she said. “It was very encouraging.” The rally began at 11:00 a.m., and by noon, the crowd had grown to 150.
“The rally was very well attended in spite of the heat,” said Sister Annette Sinagra, OP, who also attended the march in Adrian. “It was a great support for the children and families that have suffered so very much under the cruel policies of [President] Trump.”
Sister Esther Kennedy, OP, also joined the Adrian march. “I was grateful for everyone who came. I also appreciated the cars that went by and honked…in support of immigration reform.”
Sister Esther spoke of her own motive for attending the rally. “We can feel overwhelmed in these kinds of situations, like there’s nothing we can do,” she said. “I do not want to be silent. I must put my body, my heart, my spirit, to join with others, and it’s not just in protest, but in remembering the core values this democracy was founded on. There have been times in our American history when we have not protested enough. I don’t want this to be one of those times.”
Sister Kathleen believes the message of the rally in Adrian goes beyond the call for an end to cruel separation of families at the border. The underlying message of the June 30 rally and the other recent rallies is the same. “There’s a consistent message that voting in November is going to be very, very important,” she said. “We need to get out the vote in November because that’s the only way we’re going to make any changes.”
Sister Cheryl Liske, OP, a community organizer, attended the Families Belong Together Rally on July 2 in Saginaw, Michigan. She accompanied members of the Ezekiel Project of Saginaw, one of four organizations that were called upon to speak during the rally. About half of the people who attended the rally then went to the office of Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) to present a cage full of toys for the children at the border. The action was in reference to reports that children at the border had been put into cages.
Sister Virginia “Ginny” King, OP, attended two rallies in the Detroit area, the first in front of the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Detroit. From there, she attended a related rally at the Hart Plaza in Detroit, traveling with “a small but diverse group,” she recalled.
Feature photo (top): Participating in the rally in Adrian are, from left, Sisters Joella Miller, OP; Maurine Barzantni, OP; Corinne Sanders, OP; Carmen Álvarez, OP; and Sara Fairbanks, OP.
Rally participants gather at the Court House in Charleston, South Carolina
May 31, 2017, Chicago – While the Catholic Church has not changed its dogma on homosexuality, Pope Francis has issued “an invitation to be more pastoral” to brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community.
That was the take of Sister Virginia “Ginny” King, OP, who attended the New Ways Ministry’s New Life Symposium. Held at the end of April in the Hilton Rosemont Chicago O’Hare Hotel, the symposium focused on “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis.” New Ways Ministry, which focuses on ministry to the LGBT Catholic community, hosts the symposium once every five years.
Speakers included Lisa Fullham, Associate Professor at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, “Sexual Ethics and Same Sex Marriage”; Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, “The Catholic Church, Criminalization Laws, and the LGBT Experience in Uganda”; Leslie Griffin, Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, “Religious Liberty, Employment, and LGBT Issues”; and Father Bryan Massingale, Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University, on “Pope Francis, Social Ethics and LGBT People.”
Sister Ginny said she was particularly struck by Father Massingale’s talk. He pointed out that, while the Catholic Church teaches about the human dignity of homosexual persons, the Church also discourages them from acting on their inclinations. “In other words, we don’t condemn you for your homosexuality, but don’t tell anybody and you’re OK,” Sister Ginny said. “That denies people their rights.”
Father Massingale encouraged the audience to look at people as humans, Sister Ginny said. “Everyone should have the right to live and to work and to pray where they are called to do these things,” she added.
Sister Ginny also took away from the symposium the idea that, while Pope Francis has not changed the Church’s dogma or laws regarding homosexuality, he brought about “an invitation to be more pastoral” to people who so often hear negative and rejecting words about themselves. Pope Francis has shed a “pastoral light of appreciating people,” she said.
Sister Ginny also sees the need for people to become more educated on issues of sexuality, including LGBTQ issues, and to have more open conversations about these topics. For example, she said, New Ways Ministry sponsors a dialogue between lesbian women religious and people in the religious communities and in formation work. One such dialogue will be held in 2018. “These are opportunities for people to engage in these conversations,” she said.