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May 7, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – In anticipation of the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day on Saturday, May 8, 2021, we Adrian Dominican Sisters endorse the joint statement issued by the National Black Sisters’ Conference and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on the critical importance of ensuring that all people – no matter race, zip code, economic status – enjoy the sacred right to vote.
As women of faith and faithful Americans, we believe that all people have the right and obligation to participate fully in our democracy. The National Black Sisters Conference (NBSC) and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) strongly oppose all attempts to restrict that participation by limiting the sacred right to vote. The strength and vibrancy of our democracy is dependent on the right of all people to vote regardless of their race, zip code, economic status, or party affiliation.
Our country has a long racist history when it comes to voting. From the end of the 19th Century to 1965, “Jim Crow Laws” systematically kept blacks from the ballot box. Violence, rigged literacy tests, property tests, grandfather clauses and more were used to deny people of color access to democracy’s most fundamental right, the right to cast their ballot. That right is under attack once again.
Our brothers and sisters struggled, some gave their lives, to secure the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It falls to us to continue their work. Pope Francis reminds us in Evangelii Gaudium that our vocation as Catholic sisters is inherently political: “We are all called to participate in public life…. Authentic faith always involves a deep desire to change the world…. We cannot remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.”
We must call out elected officials, at every level, who continue to introduce measures that would return us to the era of “Jim Crow.” They are celebrating our dark past by enacting laws that limit participation and threaten our democracy. We pledge to oppose them at every turn, and we promise to support legislation that will ensure all people can exercise their precious right to vote.
It is long past time we established national standards for voting to ensure all of us have a voice in decisions that affect our lives and protect our common home. We call on the Senate to immediately take up the For the People Act and we call on members of both the house and Senate to introduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
National Black Sisters Conference
Sister Anita Baird, DHM
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM — Director of Communications
Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council are Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor.
April 16, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – The Leadership Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, standing with U.S. corporate leaders against restrictive voting measures, issued the following statement.
As leaders of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, representing all regions of the United States, we join hundreds of U.S. corporate leaders in their recent “We Stand for Democracy” call to uphold the right of all U.S. citizens to vote and to oppose “any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.”
Following the passage in Georgia, along strict party lines, of legislation that restricts voter access in ways that disproportionately impact communities of color and people who are poor, similar efforts are underway in numerous other states where our Sisters and Associates live and minister, including Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Michigan. These efforts, which include 55 restrictive bills in 24 states, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, are premised on the baseless claim of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, which witnessed historic voter turnout.
The right to vote of every citizen of the United States regardless of race, creed, gender, ethnicity, or income is a hard-earned protection now enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. There must be no back-tracking to Jim Crow laws aimed at limiting robust engagement by all citizens in our richly diverse multi-cultural democracy. It is a right that also expresses a fundamental tenet of our faith – our belief in the inherent dignity of every person, made in the image of God.
The Leadership Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters is composed of the members of the General Council, including Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP; Vicaress Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP; Administrator Frances Nadolny, OP; and Councilors Patricia Harvat, OP, and Elise D. García, OP; as well as regional leaders, including Adrian Crossroads
Chapter Prioress Peggy Coyne, OP; Dominican Midwest Chapter Prioress Kathleen Klingen, OP; Dominican West Chapter Prioress Lorene Heck, OP; Florida Chapter Prioress Mary Ann Caulfield, OP; Great Lakes Dominican Chapter Prioress Carol Jean Kesterke, OP; Holy Rosary Chapter and Mission Prioresses Patricia Dulka, OP, and Sharon Spanbauer, OP; Our Lady of Remedies Chapter Prioress Rosita Yaya, OP; and Secretary Marie Joy Finfera, OP. The 14-member Leadership Council issued the statement during its Spring meeting, which was held virtually.