Ever since the immensity of COVID-19 became clear in the middle of March, I have struggled with one question: What can I do to make a difference? Now it seems I am asking myself that same question, but not just about COVID. Over the summer, as masses of people protested the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other people of color who have faced racial violence, I have asked myself: what can I do? With thousands of acres of California and Oregon on fire, I ask myself: what can I do? When faced with the vitriol and partisanship within our nation and our Church, I ask myself: what can I do?
As I was reflecting on what ministry looks like for me right now, the only way I could explain it was through analogy. Imagine that you were in the middle of staging a production of a play right before lockdown, let’s say Romeo and Juliet. Very abruptly you were forced to stop production and you left the sets, costumes, and scripts behind to wait while the world reeled from the events of 2020.
Since January, so much has happened in our world, in our country, and in our local contexts. COVID-19 disrupted our lives and demonstrated our vulnerabilities as religious communities. We were shaken to our core with the murder Breonna Taylor and the murder of George Floyd recorded for all to see. The issue of systemic racism in our country was on full display at the expense of a dying black man crying out for breath and for his mother.
In an earlier Giving Voice newsletter, we announce that Giving Voice’s October Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Encuentro would be a hybrid of in-person and virtual meeting. After further reflection, the planning team decided to have an entirely virtual meeting this October, hosted by Dr. Lisa Summerour. This meeting will be the first of two sessions, the second of which will be held in 2021.
In January my Congregation made a difficult decision to close our convent at the end of June. The conversations and discernment that preceded this decision left me with a sense of peace but also sadness. In 1930 our sisters arrived at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village (Manhattan). The parish started nearly forty years earlier and with a new church built, it was time for a school.
Did you ever notice that the words listen and silent have the same letters? I find this interesting. In order to really listen, I need to be truly silent. As an extrovert, this is not easy. When I listen, I tend to think about how I will respond. I want to be a better listener. In fact, my word for 2020 is listen. Every January for the past few years, I have chosen a word as a focal point. There is certainly a lot to listen to this year. At times, there is too much to listen to and I have to discern what is helpful and what is not.
Nsukka, which is a town I grew up in, is a university town with an international flair. It is located in the Eastern part of Nigeria in Enugu state. Growing up, my family and I worshipped at St. Peter’s Chaplaincy within the University. At a typical liturgy, you would find people from America, Asia and Europe affiliated with the university.
During this time, when we have been affected by a global pandemic, COVID-19, that have infected more than 8 million people around the world, we, in the US, have been impacted by a second global pandemic, systemic racism.
Giving Voice participants, save the date for our Cultural Diversity & Inclusion Encuentro Oct 22-24. Registration opens late July.