“This Good Work” is the Congregation’s bi-monthly e-newsletter to give witness to Precious Blood Spirituality through the lens of social justice, rooted in Gospel values and Catholic social teaching. In it we share real, legitimate information and ways Sisters are thinking about and living out many issues of peace, justice and ecology. This is curated by Peace, Justice and Ecology Coordinator Jen Morin-Williamson and features articles by Sisters.
From colorblind to culturally conscious
By Jen Morin-Williamson, Peace, Justice, and Ecology Coordinator
Following up on identity and bias, which I wrote about in the January issue of This Good Work, I wanted to share a little about my experience and discomfort as a white person learning about racism.
I grew up in a lovely small town. The people were kind and compassionate. It was a very safe place to raise children. And it was extremely homogenous. Literally everyone around me looked, talked and worshipped pretty much like me. Even with this lack of diversity, which I never noticed at the time, I was taught to be “colorblind.” I considered this to be pretty obvious, but I was told that it was progressive — until 15 years ago, when I had to take a diversity class in grad school. I was well into adulthood, and I did not think I would learn anything terribly new. Hey – I was colorblind, right? Read More
When I was challenged on my use of that term at the start of the course, I was offended. I simply thought that we are all people and we are the same on the inside. I didn’t think about race or ethnicity because everyone around me shared so many of my identities. I didn’t understand that this majority identity obscured the reality that other people with non-majority identities had other ways of being in the world. I realized that saying that I was colorblind was extremely disrespectful of these other identities, cultures and traditions. Race is so much deeper than skin.
What I was taught skirted the idea of racism. Don’t think you are better than a person of color because you are white. I didn’t. But then again, I didn’t really have to think about it. That was my privilege of being squarely in majority identities. I had to wrestle with the reality that I actually had privilege. I came from a middle-class family, I studied really hard, got a partial scholarship to college and came out with a good-paying professional job. I felt like I earned what I got. What I did not see was the inherent advantage I had merely by how I show up in the world. The American culture, our systems, are set up for my success. Had I been a person of color, there would have been innumerable roadblocks. So, I had to come to terms with being complicit in oppression. You cannot have privilege without oppression. If someone or some group has an advantage or power, it is always at the expense of another. Racism is systemic.
While engaging in dialogue about racism is still at times uncomfortable for me, I know I must continue. Precious Blood spirituality encourages me to listen to the cry of the blood and to work to remove oppression.
Book review — Then They Came for Mine: Healing from the Trauma of Racial Violence by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts
By Sister Margo Young, CPPS, M.D.
This book invites everyone to embrace spiritual healing and racial reconciliation efforts by way of vulnerability and reciprocity. Lewis-Giggetts states that “More hate is coming if we don’t heal.” Black and people of color live “with the transgenerational implications of racial violence and discrimination.” White people have their own ancestral DNA perpetuating racial violence and reinforcing bias and privilege. Living from these threads of history has led to the dehumanization of the other and is mired in power-over-another that is not balanced by reciprocity. Racism is both individual and collective, as well as institutional and cultural. Lewis-Giggetts explores the questions and the way forward in an honest and wholistic manner. How will we navigate the anger, grief and loss of racial trauma to heal? How will we together investigate and dismantle deep systemic inequities? When will every sinew of our being know the goodness of all of God’s creation and reflect it in how we love one another? Will we heal for the health of future generations? Read More
I found this book refreshing and different from other books that have been recommended. It is not one-sided, seething with anger, pejorative or simply a telling of historical facts. Lewis-Giggetts artfully weaves her deeply personal story of racial violence and trauma into a broad understanding of the realities and consequences of the United States’ history of racism. In addition, I particularly appreciated how she utilized Scripture, looking at it with the lens of racism, to prick my conscience and open me to the work ahead.
Together to the Fount …
By Sister Marita Beumer, CPPS
As I pondered the term “racism” and how racism affects each of us individually and in society, I reminisced on some of my experiences, and I’ve come to some new conclusions.
In an article that I wrote a few years ago, “Precious Blood Spirituality: The Dynamic of Intercultural Ministry,”* I shared some of my experiences that were negative at the beginning but were channeled to a positive outcome.
One of the experiences shared in the article related how one of our Spanish-speaking youth where I was in ministry was shot and abandoned in San Diego. He, Juan Luis, had just become a member of the church youth group and was trying to distance himself from gang membership and activity. Read More
After this incident, the members of the youth group channeled their anger with the help of our local community organizing group. They were empowered to make a difference for other youth by meeting with school officials to initiate a change of attitude and communication of the school system with Spanish-speaking families. As well, new programs were added to the curriculum which facilitated young Spanish-speaking youth to be educated in vocational and professional fields needed in the San Diego area.
Why does there need to be a tragedy before “something good” can happen? As I ponder this question, I recall the many efforts being made in some areas and church communities to promote the acceptance of diversity regardless of race, culture, language, etc. Just last year, I participated in just such an endeavor. It was the Easter Vigil in our church here in Dayton. That evening, over 50 members of different races and languages came together in the same ceremony to be baptized, to receive the Sacraments of Initiation. All were treated equally; all came to the Fount of Baptism with the same desire and the same result. Everyone sang and celebrated the occasion using the same liturgical programs that were in English and Spanish.
For me, this was a wonderful celebration during which different expressions of diversity were permitted and appreciated. Yes, it took extra time and effort, but there was an acceptance of one another that surely helped all of us live a Resurrection experience of new life together as the Body of Christ. Hopefully such an experience will help us live more acceptance in our daily lives.
So I challenge myself, and anyone else, to ask ourselves: How can we be more proactive in continuing the Good Work of our foundress Mother Brunner through the acceptance of one another through positive endeavors, uniting us as one?
*”Precious Blood Spirituality: The Dynamic of Intercultural Ministry” is a chapter in the book Precious Blood Spirituality: Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Father Tim McFarland, C.PP.S., and published in 2020 by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood’s General Curia.
Our Opposition to the Death Penalty
By Sister Martha Bertke, CPPS
All life is sacred, and everyone has a right to life, which should be protected and valued at every stage. Catholic social teaching proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Situations which undermine human dignity cry out for change; those actions that promote human life need to be fostered.
The use of the death penalty undermines human dignity, and I am convinced that an end to the use of the death penalty would contribute to the enhancement and progressive development of human rights. As a Sister of the Precious Blood, I oppose the death penalty.
We Sisters of the Precious Blood of Dayton, Ohio, strive to be a life-giving presence in our world. There are many concrete ways we can manifest our dedication to be life-giving. One way is to oppose the death penalty. Read More
Over 20 years ago, in 2002, the Sisters of the Precious Blood took a corporate stance for the abolition of the death penalty, and we continue to advocate against executions. A corporate stance is a deliberate public statement made in the name of a specific group in response to a grave matter of human concern. It reflects a corporate consciousness based on study, reflection and prayer. As women dedicated to Jesus Christ, it flows from our Spirituality of the Precious Blood.
Our corporate stance states: “We, the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton, Ohio, publicly condemn the use of capital punishment in the United States and in the world. We believe the use of capital punishment is responding to violence with violence and perpetuated the cycle of violence and revenge. We believe that every life is sacred from conception to its natural death. We urge government leaders to abolish the death penalty. We encourage government leaders to find alternative ways to protect society from dangerous offenders, all the while respecting their dignity as human beings.”
Precious Blood Spirituality contains a message about the bonding of the human community, and it inspires hope. In these times of violence and conflict, through the Precious Blood of Jesus there is hope that reaches beyond apparent hopelessness. No matter how insignificant our actions may seem, when they flow from the Spirit of Christ within us, they can transform the world.
Racism, DACA and the Latino community
By Sister Mary E. Wendeln, CPPS
Racism shows itself in subtle ways, such as discrimination, prejudice, bias and ignorance. Here are a few examples from my lived experience in ministry with the Latino community.
Systemic racism was most noticeable in federal government benefits. Cut was a 40-hour-a-week program in which qualified farm workers built their own homes decorated with flowers and gardens. Read More
Qualified Puerto Ricans were denied cash assistance and food stamps because they spoke Spanish and looked a certain way even though they are U.S. citizens. Threatened with a lawsuit, Job and Family Services finally began the process of serving this community.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program recipients received temporary work permits (renewable after two years and with a Social Security card and temporary stay of deportation) under an executive order issued in 2012 by former President Obama for those arriving in the U.S. prior to age 16 and before June 15, 2007. A legal volunteer went with a 15-year-old DACA recipient and her father to a Social Security office that had refused her a Social Security card three times. Explanations and a conversation with office superiors led to a resolution.
Similar incidents also occurred in local motor vehicle offices. Many DACA recipients and American citizens were refused a temporary driving permit because no one over 18 had legal status in their household to accompany the applicant. Now in Ohio, after a local community organization with a nonprofit local law firm won a decision that reversed that law, a noncustodial person such as an uncle or godparent with legal status may accompany a temporary permit holder.
Today, DACA recipients, on average, are 26 years old; collectively, they pay $9.5 billion in federal, state and local taxes each year. Yet they do not get a blanket right to go to college. In some states, DACA recipients are considered “international” students and must pay a higher tuition rate, while some states have passed laws allowing DACA recipients to pay in-state tuition; meanwhile, DACA recipients do not receive any type of federal financial aid, though they may be eligible for state or college-based aid. Nor do they qualify for ACA (Obamacare) or Medicaid. Neither are they eligible for unemployment or retirement benefits.
Many ineligibility policies are politically motivated. For example, many DACA recipients were denied the first COVID stimulus checks under the Trump Administration since they lived in mixed-status households. So local and national advocates lobbied for the inclusion of a household member with a Social Security number as eligible for the stimulus packages.
Despite these challenges, DACA recipients found ways to attend college, receive health care at clinics if needed, and contribute to family household expenses. One DACA recipient shared with me that he shared his stimulus money with his parents, as they were laid off work during COVID because of their immigration status.
Congress must act soon to update DACA as it is threatened once again by a lawsuit. For 11 years, DACA recipients have lived roller coaster lives. Isn’t it time they live normal lives with a path to citizenship?
Sign up for our e-newsletters!