Women religious, inspired by current protests, also see long road ahead

By Catholic News Service
Wednesday, June 17, 2020

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Across the country, women religious have joined in peaceful protests against racial inequality, while others, home for health reasons amid the pandemic, are very much in spirit with the marchers. But on the streets or not, many of them see the scourge of systemic racism not just as a blight on the nation but something the church must own up to and help eradicate.

Several women religious who spoke with Catholic News Service during the second week of June are no strangers to protests or justice advocacy. They said they’ve been inspired by the massive crowds gathering in towns and cities demanding action in the wake of George Floyd’s death May 25 at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. But these sisters — especially black women religious who make up less than 1% of U.S. sisters — keep their hope fueled by this current movement very much in check, acknowledging the long road ahead to achieve change or healing. Sister Leona Bruner, congregational leader of the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans, a historically black congregation founded in 1842, said the wave of peaceful protests in all 50 states “should be a turning point” and is something she and fellow sisters are praying will happen.

Likewise, Sister Anita Baird, a member of the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, and the founding director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Racial Justice, said she is “optimistic in some respects” right now but she also takes the long view. She cautions: “We have to stay focused; we can’t grow tired.”


  • racism

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