By: Sr. Mary Jo Curtsinger
Ubuntu! Sunday morning’s prayer gathered us in the truth of our life in community: I am because we are. The great I AM reminded us that She Who Is accompanies us on our liberative journey by night and day (Exodus 13: 21-22). In song we invited along our just patron (Matthew 2:18-25) and compañero: Walk with us Joseph, show us the way, into the Heart of our calling, before sharing at our tables about what calling was beginning to burn in our hearts.
And were our hearts not burning within us all the more as our justice action speakers opened up their lives to us?
Serena Martin-Liguori, executive director of New Hour for Women & Children- Long Island, introduced us to ways in which our carceral system “punctures the will to live” for already-traumatized persons resisting “death by incarceration” through grace-lets of hope and resilience. Shameka Parrish-Wright — for whom the 18th Floor Nun Dance Fest was a Yes!-experience she’ll try to unpack once back home — wove her story of transformation from one unjustly incarcerated to one organizing and advocating against poverty, particularly by being a “bail disrupter,” eliminating the injustices of a cash bail system for The Bail Project.
Barb Baker, advocacy director and certified peer support specialist for Keyway: Center for Diversion and Reentry, broke our hearts with her heartbreak of being separated from her children while incarcerated and then mended them with the heartwarming alternatives she has helped to bring to life through diversion and advocacy. Barb’s colleague April Foster shared the professionalism of honing key ways to support the reentry of formerly incarcerated women into the mainstream.
We were pumped for chipping in! Lisa Cathelyn, the U.S. Federation’s justice coordinator, reported out the news that we did so at the $15,000 level by the time of the banquet (and invited the dollars to keep rolling in like justice, donate here). All funds will be distributed evenly between the three organizations our speakers represented.
And let’s not forget Meg Olson, the grassroots mobilization Director for NETWORK, reminder to remind President Biden about his promise to initiate a committee to study reparation for racism’s legacy.
Ubuntu! I am because you are! We carried the importance of centering voices closest to the reality to our seats at the Eucharistic table, imploring God: clothe us in your kindness and mercy,” another lovely lyric and melody by Sr. Kathy Sherman (Congregation of St. Joseph). Archbishop of St. Louis Mitchell T. Rozanski, a friend of the Sisters of St. Joseph, welcomed us and broke open the Good News of God’s love showing up in acts of mercy and compassion to the (dear) neighbor. (Did anybody else notice how he kinda looks like that portrait of Fr. Jean-Pierre Médaille?)
The highlight of the banquet was perhaps the circling round of all hotel staffers to wild cheers and applause and napkin-twirling, followed by the blessing “Love be with you, peace around you, the presence of God be with you,” led by the very gifted musician team of Sisters Anita Kurowski (Rochester) and Kathy Sherman. Sr. Mary Dacey, Event 2022 facilitator, articulated a wonderful litany of thanks which we all acclaimed full-throatily, pouring out our gratitude to all involved in bringing the Federation Event 2022 to life! If thank you is the only prayer we ever offer, it will be enough.
Ubuntu! I am because we are.
[Mary Jo Curtsinger, CSJ is a sister of the Congregation of St. Joseph]