Chicago women come together in hope

Yesterday I was gifted with the opportunity of seeing the play Come From Away, based on the true story of the 9/11 attacks and the effect of an immediate shutdown of U.S. airspace. Suddenly, 38 planes (9,000 people) are diverted and grounded in the little town of Gander, Newfoundland. The “plane people” are confused and frightened, and the townsfolk are unequipped for 9,000 strangers, but they spring into action and soon there are cots, food, clothing and the offering of incredible hospitality. Barriers of race, nationality and sexual orientation are broken down, and Jews, Muslims, Christians and Hindus are worshipping together as the cast sings, “Let there be peace on earth…where there is hatred, let us sow love.” Lives were changed forever.

Eighteen years later we are still experiencing violence: El Paso, Dayton, Chicago. Blood screaming out! Last weekend, two young mothers who worked as Peacemakers on Chicago’s South Side were gunned down and left to die on the very street that they worked to keep safe. Their colleagues’ hearts were broken when they heard that two of their very own Mothers (Mothers Against Senseless Killings — MASK) lost their lives senselessly. However, spirits are strong, and they continue to stand with courage on that sacred corner in honor of Chantell and Andrea, refusing to allow fear to overcome them.

The “Chicago Catholic Nuns” pray at one of the sites of violence on the last Saturday of each month. In August they will stand at that same corner in solidarity with the MASK group and the community whose lives have been changed forever through the love that was poured out at the time of this tragedy.

Here at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, we daily meet our youth, our mothers and sometimes staff in their darkest moments. They seek comfort and support; they feel disconnected and alone. At those moments we are called to be present, to offer them our best selves. It is living in that Paschal Mystery where we experience the dying and risings of human lives.

We must recall that in each of us, as Richard Rohr says, there is an “uncreated spark in the soul” that can lift suffering humanity out of the chaos of hurt and loss, of grief and brokenness, to being transformed.

Wherever we are — in Gander, New York, Kansas City, Dayton or Chicago — we walk among those who feel lost and disconnected. Our spirituality and our faith call us to build bridges, to bring those “far off” into the community. Our Circles of Healing, of Reconciliation, of Celebration are such powerful instruments in restoring relationships, of healing the hurts, of connecting those on the edge.

This month the women of our community will come together, some for the first time, others who have been coming for years; some have lost children to gun violence, some to the prison system, some have lost their health, their marriage, their friendships. They laugh, they cry, they embrace. They are all hurting women looking to one another for hope and the strength to move forward.

As summer begins to move toward autumn, let us reach out to one another in prayer and love, helping to dispel the fears and hate within our families, neighborhoods, churches and the streets. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us!

– Story by Sister Donna Liette; originally published in the September 2019 issues of Cincinnati C.PP.S. Newsletter and The New Wine Press. Reprinted with permission.

Chicago Catholic nuns prayer meeting; contributed photo.

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