Ferguson grand jury decision may not have been correct course of action

Most Americans could be found glued to a television during the evening of Monday, Nov. 24, as a decision by a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., was announced.

That grand jury, through St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s words, decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing 18-year-old Michael Brown in August.

The grand jury met for almost a full month and listened to approximately 60 witnesses before reaching a decision.

The decision not to indict Officer Wilson sparked peaceful demonstrations – and violent riots. People from all across the nation also protested. The entire process has proven to be both frustrating and disappointing.

It is difficult to imagine the pain the Brown family is suffering as they move forward without their loved one.

Members of the Anti-Racism Team of the Sisters of Providence closely watched the situation unfold. And despite having a profound respect for law enforcement and its duty of keeping peace and protecting the citizens of the United States, the team has come to the conclusion that the decision may not have been the correct course of action.

According to 2010 statistics provided by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana, approximately 34 percent of the persons in prisons and jails are African American. Of the state’s population, African Americans make up only 9 percent.

These statistics are quite disturbing and are also a continuing trend. We do live in a culture of gun violence, ongoing racial profiling and increasing militarization of law enforcement, as well as a criminal justice system rampant with human rights violations.

However, there are solutions, and more can be acted upon. More dialogue is needed to further educate ourselves on these issues.

Events like National Night Out can shine a light on interactions between a community and its police force. All can get a better understanding of what law enforcement officers do regularly.

Perhaps law enforcement officials can visit – more regularly – with a younger generation and hopefully begin taking steps to reverse this trend of mistrust.

Perhaps law enforcement should be reflective of the communities they serve. Perhaps Congress should pass the End Racial Profiling Act.

Continued interaction among law enforcement and communities is a step in the right direction. It is a step that should be taken.

Following the announcement of no indictment, Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a statement alluding to the fact that the decision does not mean “we are done fighting for Michael Brown.”

Brooks stated the NAACP stands “united with the community and other activists groups.”

The Anti-Racism Team of the Sisters of Providence encourages all to attend the 2015 Terre Haute Human Rights Day, scheduled for March 10. This could be considered another “step in the right direction” of further education.

Indiana State University hosts the annual event, which features a keynote speaker and others, interactive workshops, a diversity march, dramatic performances and other activities. Perhaps attendance can help further educate not only students, but all people, including law enforcement.

The purpose of the Anti-Racism Team of the Sisters of Providence is to transform the Congregation into an open, inclusive and anti-racist Congregation. The members of the team work to dismantle systemic racism within the Sisters of Providence, our sponsored institutions, places of ministry and the larger society.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Ongoing dialogue regarding the statistics mentioned above and more is encouraged. The Anti-Racism Team plans to continue dialogue regarding these ongoing issues and hopes others will join the chorus.

Anti-Racism Team of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana

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One of the sisters’ successes

Following Malcolm Blue's "thank you," I too can say that the sisters' “work is a success,” and I am one of their successes – specifically, the Sisters of Charity, BVM, and the Sisters of Christian Charity, all in Chicago.

I thought to be a nun, but God's will deep in my heart was that I marry and become a mother. Today at 77 years of age, I follow my sisters in religious life and love and encourage them in their valor to bring life to the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.   

The sisters encouraged me in my spiritual development and I continue to grow many years hence. Today, I encourage all the women holding fast to the Spirit of Jesus Christ that was promised to remain with us always. Do not falter!

I wonder if the work would be easier if the sisters would seek and unite with all the other Women of Truth like myself in openly manifesting the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we are at whatever social level, education and experience each might be.   

I am comforted but surprised whenever I meet another laywoman who shares the desires and endeavors of those called "religious."That I am comforted proves there are others. That I am surprised proves that more of us need to know.  

The NCR providing this opportunity to respond to the Global Sisters Report is a step in broadening our awareness of the Holy Spirit's work in uniting all people as One in, for and by Love, and for this I am grateful.   

We've been taught that it was through the body of a woman that God became incarnate. Now the feminine spirit labors to birth the Spirit of justice, peace, and love. God! The feminine spirit stirs in the hearts of our brothers, too.

Sincerely, 

Mary Ceglarek-Maslowski
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

Women priests do not affirm hierarchy

The recent article written by Dawn Cherie Araujo is a great tribute to women who are committing their lives to Church renewal through their ordination as priests. There are actually about 200 women in our International Movement. This includes priests, deacons and candidates. They are in Europe, Latin America and North America.

In her article, Ms. Araujo cites the following quote without referencing the source: "Unlike some of the current members of the religious communities they left, as priests they affirm the idea of the church’s clerical hierarchy."

The current members of religious women communities are truly holy women committed first and foremost, to the people of God who, according to Vatican II, are The Church. We all know that many of these women are at odds with the hierarchy and for very good reason.

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) has among its members many former women religious. However, ARCWP members do not “affirm the idea of the church’s clerical hierarchy.”  We believe that the Church needs reforming at a very basic level to be truly in sync with living according to the Gospel of Jesus, our brother.

There is a very important correction that must be made to the quote cited above. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests' model is not clerical or hierarchical. We are egalitarian and circular in our decision-making, in our structures as well as in our inclusive grassroots communities. That is why our priests do not wear clerical collars. We see ourselves as one with the people with whom we partner and those we serve in ministry. We do not set ourselves apart. Our  vision is to live Gospel equality now through a renewed priesthood in a community of equals.

I am making this correction as circle leader on behalf of our ARCWP community.

With gratitude to you Dawn for covering our movement so eloquently I ask you to notify your readers that this statement is very incorrect from our vision and mission.

Blessings and peace,

Dorothy Shugrue ARCWP
Cheshire, Connecticut

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Thank you for covering sisters at LCWR

Dear Global Sisters Report,

I am not Roman Catholic, but my life's journey has been assisted at different forks in the road by sisters, particularly four (coincidentally?) Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, N.Y.

And therefore I am very much interested in the efforts of nuns from those "on the bus" to those in Tennessee.

I want to thank you sincerely for your wonderful coverage in NCR of the speeches, speakers and reactions to each, as well as the photographs. I almost feel as if I were present. I cannot wait to read the results of the [LCWR] Board of Directors' decisions.

God DID bless your efforts and I sincerely thank you for them.

Appreciatively,

Malcolm J. Blue
Valencia, California

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