Equity and Inclusion


In response to the proposal from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) that congregations focus on the dismantling of racism, the Adrian Dominican Sisters began by identifying resources that can assist us in raising our consciousness of white privilege and white supremacy, both personally and systematically.

From January 2021 through June of 2023, our Toward Communion: Undoing Racism and Embracing Diversity Committee and our Justice Promoters collaborated on a project to provide information on prominent Black and Indigenous Catholics who have made significant contributions to the church and society, along with reflection questions and a prayer.

In May of 2022, Kevin D. Hofmann was named the founding Director of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion for the Congregation. With the goal of normalizing conversations about race and culture and discussing what it means to feel included and excluded, Kevin began contributing to this blog in June of 2022. He shares his unique experience of growing up Black in a white family in Detroit and educates on topics of equity and inclusion.

Equity and Inclusion Project

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Black Catholic Project: Bishop Edward K. Braxton

Graphic with quote and an image of Bishop Braxton

Black Catholic Project: Bishop Edward K. Braxton

Bishop Edward Braxton was born on June 28, 1944, in Chicago, the third of five children of Mr. and Mrs. Cullen Braxton. After elementary school, Edward attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary for high school and then Niles College Seminary and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. His first Mass was celebrated at St. Philip Neri Parish (staffed by Adrian Dominican Sister) on May 17, 1975, where his family lived and his sister attended grade school.

His early years of priesthood were spent at a number of parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and following these ministries he earned a PhD and an Doctor of Sacred Theology degree at the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium. Bishop Braxton continued his studies with a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago, and then spent time at Harvard and the University of Notre Dame. His next assignment took him to Cleveland to become Chancellor for Theological Affairs to Bishop James Hickey of Cleveland at the request of the Archbishop Jean Jadot. From there he spent time in Rome as the Scholar in Residence at the North American College.

Bishop Braxton’s ministries and travels didn’t end here. His skills and expertise have taken him to Africa, Europe, Central and South America and a variety of locations in the U.S. In 1995 he was appointed to be Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis; one week later his father died. Bishop Braxton has served as Bishop of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and then as Bishop of Belleville, Illinois, where he retired in 2020.

Despite his many accomplishments Bishop Braxton has not been able to escape the prejudice imbedded in the American white population. He was moved around different dioceses at the request of priests and some archbishops. And his experiences as a “Black man” reflect the common treatment often foisted upon non-whites. He recalls one time he was stopped by the police for “driving while Black” and was interrogated (probably because he was not wearing his Roman collar). Perhaps his critics would not have been so hard on him had he been a “white bishop.”

Bishop Braxton’s preaching and writing skills are widely known. In his latest work, The Church and the Racial Divide: Reflections of an African American Catholic Bishop (Orbis Books), Braxton wrestles with this racial divide within the U.S. Catholic Church. He urges readers to recognize their own complicity in the racial divide without judging others and while remaining open to the Holy Spirit’s call to justice. He reminds the reader:

 

The racial divide is apparent to this day in many people’s systemic and systematic treatment of people of color as inferior and undeserving in this country. This leaves Black Americans at a disadvantage as they seek a good education, meaningful employment, decent housing, health care, and every other form of social advancement and benefits. All these instances of the racial divide are examples of racism.

 

Reading this work would expand all our thinking about the existence of racism with the Catholic Church in the United States.

 

Reflection Questions

1) If a Black priest were appointed to be your pastor, how would you feel?

2) Bishop Edward Braxton has gifted the Catholic population of the United States with much wisdom. Have you read any of his articles or his book?

3) What is “our Adrian history” of including non-white candidates in Adrian Dominican life?

 

Prayer

O God, help us to rid ourselves of the prejudices we carry, some on the surface, some hidden deep within our hearts.

Give us the strength to see all others as you see them.

Give us the sensitivity to work toward an eradication of all forms of racism and prejudice that are in our hearts, on our lips, or present among those to whom and with whom we minister.

We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus.

Amen.

 

Resources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Braxton - Wikipedia entry on Bishop Edward Braxton

https://www.diobelle.org/bishop-emeritus/biography - Biography of Bishop Braxton by the Dioceses of Belleville, Illinois

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/author/312/bishop-edward-k-braxton - Articles written by Bishop Edward Braxton on the Catholic News Agency website

 

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