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.

Since January 2021, our Toward Communion: Undoing Racism and Embracing Diversity Committee and our Justice Promoters have 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 and shares his unique experience of growing up Black in a white family in Detroit.

 

Equity and Inclusion Project

rss

Click here to return to the latest update


Sister Theresa Maxis Duchemin

Drawing of Sister Theresa Maxis Duchemin in habit

Sister Theresa Maxis Duchemin:
Woman of Color, Pioneer of U.S. Religious Life

Theresa was the first U.S.-born African-American woman to become a religious. The child of unwed parents of mixed racial lineage, she still received an education far superior to most women of her time, thanks to the kindness of her adoptive family, the Duchemins. Her upbringing in their Haitian refugee community enabled Theresa to attend a school established for the children by Elizabeth Lange and Magdalen Baras, also of Haitian origin.

In 1829 these women formed the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first congregation of African-American women in the United States. At age 19, Theresa was one of the founding members. While serving as General Superior of the congregation, Theresa came into contact with Rev. Louis Gillet who was seeking women religious to teach in the new state of Michigan.

Theresa agreed to help Gillet found a new congregation in Monroe, Michigan: the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After a decade of successful ministry and growth in Monroe, a dispute over the congregation arose in 1859 between the bishops of Philadelphia and Detroit. The bishop of Detroit blamed Theresa, deposed her as General Superior, and sent her to a Pennsylvania foundation, which then became a separate branch of the IHM congregation.

Theresa struggled for years to reunite the two congregations. In an effort to remove herself as an obstacle to reunion, Theresa spent 18 years in exile with the Grey Nuns of Ottawa. During this time, the bishops of Detroit and Philadelphia forbade the IHM sisters to communicate with Theresa. Writings from both bishops indicate scorn for mixed race people and their male dominance over women’s congregations. In 1885, Theresa was allowed to return to the IHM community in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where she lived her last seven years.

What happened to Theresa is representative of the experience of thousands of women in the past. Vilified and banished for her assertiveness, for her lack of social respectability, and for her determination to remain faithful to what she believed was a God-given mandate, she saw her intentions and her community co-opted by men who thought they knew better than she what the community should be about. All this happened in the 1800s. Yet in some ways, the story and the situation are still occurring in our 21st century.

 

Resources

Our Founders page of IHM Sisters' (Monroe, MI) website - ihmsisters.org/who-we-are/history-and-archives/our-founders

History section of IHM Sisters' (Scranton, PA) website - www.sistersofihm.org/who-we-are/ihm-history/theresa-maxis.html

Pilgrim: Let Your Heart be Bold by Margaret Gannon (Scranton, PA: Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 2018).

Paths of Daring, Deeds of Hope: Letters by and about Mother Theresa Maxis Duchemin edited by Margaret Gannon (Scranton, PA: Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 1992).

"Dangerous Memory: Mother Theresa Maxis Duchemin and the Michigan Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary" in Building Sisterhood: A Feminist History of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Marita Constance Supan (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997).

"Sharing a Co-Founder, IHM and Oblate Sisters Work on 20-Year Reconciliation," Global Sisters Report article by Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, September 3, 2015.

 

Reflection Questions

Read the poem "Christ in the Margins" by Edwina Gately (from her book, Christ in the Margins). In this poem, Edwina Gately has effectively described founders of present-day congregations.

Racism, sexism and clericalism challenged Theresa Maxis' intense call to serve God. How do we handle the tensions between church authority and congregational discernment? How do we resolve this?

Theresa Maxis had every reason to feel betrayed by church leaders and even some of her sisters. How do we rise above criticism, betrayal, and hypocrisy and stay focused on the mission?

Theresa was a true pioneer, daring to travel to new frontiers for the sake of mission. How are we breaking new ground today?

 

Prayer

Gracious God, may the heritage we have received from our foremothers be like water flowing from a source that seeps into every part of us, touching every part of our lives, giving us life. In turn, may we become life-givers to everyone we meet.

May we burn with zeal for the call of our charism. In the spirit of our founders may we be active in our preaching so as to feed the hungry, heal the sick, make peace and challenge racism.

May we remember the spirit and courage of Theresa Maxis and Catherine of Siena as we model their service, their identification with the poor, and their commitment to the mission of Jesus.

Let us treasure always the perseverance and great faith of Theresa Maxis and all women leaders of the church.

Amen

 

your Comment will be showing after administrator's approval







b i u quote


Save Comment
Showing 0 Comment


Subscribe to receive these blog posts directly to your email inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time and we do not use your information for any other purpose.

  • Equity and Inclusion Blog

Recent Posts

  • Different Angles to View the World Posted 3 days ago
    Different Angles to View the World By Kevin Hofmann  Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion A few years ago, my wife, Shilease, and I decided to mark our anniversary every year with a ...
  • Black Catholic Project: Liturgical Dance and African Popes Posted last week
    Black Catholic Project: Liturgical Dance and African Popes A recent article in the online newsletter Black Catholic Messenger recounts how when a Black Catholic Parish in Mobile Alabama tweeted a video of a teenage parishioner using ...
  • How We Impact Others Posted last week
    How We Impact Others By Kevin Hofmann  Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made ...
  • Impact Versus Intentions Posted 3 weeks ago
    Impact Versus Intentions By Kevin Hofmann  Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion “I’m pregnant,” she said. I could sense the shame in her voice. “Yes, I know,” was my response. I was 11 years ...
  • I’m Diving in… You? Posted last month
    I’m Diving in… You? By Kevin Hofmann  Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion I sat in on a Zoom call a few weeks ago about creating a deeper conversation around race and racism ...
  • The Rules Posted last month
    The Rules By Kevin Hofmann  Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion When my sons were little, we would sit in front of the TV each holding a video game controller. It was a ...
  • Black Catholic Project: Sister Cora Marie Billings, RSM Posted last month
    Sister Cora Marie Billings, RSM Sister Cora Marie Billings has dedicated the past six decades of her life to rooting out racism, and she has no plans to slow down. She traces her roots in ...
  • Unlimited Trajectory Posted last month
    Unlimited Trajectory By Kevin Hofmann  Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion Approximately one year and nine months ago, on the night after the presidential election, President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris took the ...
  • Mind Games Posted 2 months ago
    Mind Games By Kevin Hofmann, Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion “The trouble is that once people develop an implicit theory, the confirmation bias kicks in and they stop seeing evidence that doesn’t fit it.”    ...
  • Satellite Office Posted 2 months ago
    Satellite Office By Kevin Hofmann Director, Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion When Erin, the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Director of Human Resources, called and told me I got the job of Director of the Office of ...
Read More »

People of African Descent on the Path to Sainthood

Printable bookmark of African Americans on their Way to Sainthood (PDF)

U.S. Black Catholic History Links

Black Catholic History page by Seattle University

Timeline from the National Black Catholic Congress

Sister Jamie T. Phelps, OP, discusses Black Catholics in America with Dr. Paul Lakeland for Fairfield University's "Voices of Others" video series

News report on one of the oldest Black Catholic parishes in the U.S., St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (formerly St. Monica) in Chicago, Illinois