Sister Mary Donohue has a gift for appreciating positive moments and sharing them with others. For example, Mary recently posted photos on the East-West Conference in First Class, which captured the beaming faces of the nineteen young women at their eighth- grade graduation from Sisters Academy in Baltimore. As Chair of the Board of Members, Mary welcomed students, parents, and faculty to the socially distanced but enthusiastic ceremony this past June.
In the eighth month of this Pandemic Year, after six months of quarantine, our Notre Dame Schools throughout the United States have begun to reawaken. They are welcoming students back to classrooms that have morphed into health care bubbles, seeking to protect everyone from contamination. Intensive work produced extensive plans for each school as requirements for opening varied from state to state and often county to county within states. No part of the educational plan was arbitrary as mandates proliferated from each local educational agency.
In a recent East-West Circle 10 conversation, the critical situation of the Navajo Nation hit hard by Covid-19 became part of our reflection. This deep concern was understandable since three of us, Sisters Marietta Brown, Natalie Bussiere and Dianne Shaw, ministered for many years with the Navajo people in Thoreau, New Mexico.
We know one reason why the Navajo Nation has been hit so hard. There is no water!
John Lewis co-authored novels and memoirs. They were written for the next generation, but the trilogy, March is for the not-so-young too.
The trilogy is dedicated to the past and future children of the movement. These books are the way John Lewis passed the torch. The books are a guide. He knew that to engage young people he had to dramatize history.
March is indeed dramatic! Consider the raw material; non-violence put to the test. Demonstrations and sit-ins quickly turned into stompings and baton-beatings. Buses set afire. Folks spray-painted, disinfected and hosed; children arrested. Lewis wanted readers to feel it.
On Saturday, August 15, Father Joe Muth, pastor of Saint Matthew Church in Baltimore, rallied our parishioners to join another Interfaith rally in support of Black Lives Matter. About 80 people came from churches and local organizations. We stood along the intersection of Loch Raven Boulevard and Woodbourne Avenue and raised our posters and banners as cars whizzed by waving and honking in solidarity. At noon, Father Joe gathered us for prayer, actually the conclusion to the prayer already enacted by those present. We keep echoing that Amen as we go about our lives and ask God to fill our hearts and our country with the goodness and love necessary to pursue a more perfect union of justice and equality.
On August 17th, many gathered by Zoom for a prayer service, reflection and sharing on the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Sponsored by the US JPIC Committee and facilitated by Sister Maura Browne, twenty-nine people joined in the meeting, including sisters, associates and staff representing the three provinces in the United States as well as sisters from the US who were missioned in Japan.
It was August, 1968, at the first gathering of Black women religious, that I became aware of other Black women in religious orders. At that first gathering I met Sisters Dolores Harrell, and SNDdeN Sisters Jo Mary Davis, Teresita Wiend and Josita Colbert, who were in different communities at that time. Also gathered with us were Black clergy and men in religious communities.
During that gathering, we were introduced to lectures by various civil rights leaders and one of those who was most impressive and memorable for me was Dr. C.T. Vivian. Of course, being new to this activity, I did not really know who this man was and all that he was doing for the cause.
As Notre Dame Mission Volunteers enters into a new service year, staff and members are making the active decision to continue choosing hope. The words of the late John Lewis, we may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us, will be the mindset held in hopes of a successful year of personal and professional growth. When the pandemic surged and necessitated a total pivot in operations, NDMV staff embraced the ever-increasing unknowns and dedicated themselves to ensuring their members finished the service year strong. By utilizing new technologies and establishing an online curriculum of live and pre-recorded trainings, members were able to connect, find hope through one another, and discover new meaning in their service.