The great James Baldwin once wrote, "people are trapped in history and history is trapped in them." I have been thinking about history quite a bit lately, as we bring our celebrations of Black History Month to a close and enter into Women's History Month. History is much on our minds these days. Baldwin is right: we are, each of us, creatures of our cultural history. We cannot escape it: the best we can do is to become aware of it, and to be intentional about how we allow that history to determine our actions.
This past month, our JPIC office has spent time examining some facets of Black history, trying to highlight a few of the less-known stories of our cultural and institutional past. In recent years, many communities have experienced grave divisions over the question of how best to teach such history. Whose stories are we telling? Which are being ignored? Whose lens and perspective are considered authoritative, or normative? Whose history has been dismissed? What truths (and untruths) are we passing on as educators, and which are we collectively hiding from? Those questions -- and controversies -- have also popped up from many individuals in response to the ways we have tried to talk about Black history in our own spaces over the past month. I imagine that as we explore women's history this month, such questions might well continue.
Social justice work is rarely marked by unanimity. In our struggle to create a just world, there will always be those who think we go too far, and others who think we do not go far enough. In the midst of this, however, we are fortunate to be able to rely upon our values to guide us. Here in the Stuart Center for Mission, our values statement includes an insistence upon "standing in solidarity with the most vulnerable and acting to change the systems, policies, practices and attitudes that perpetuate injustice." Where history has contributed to injustice, we have a responsibility to name it. Where our histories have ignored or dismissed the most vulnerable, we have a responsibility to center their voices. Where we have failed to do this (and as we continue to fail!), we must constantly recommit to learning from our mistakes and doing better.
It is this constant recommitment to growth, the expansion of our own perspectives, that will help us to be less "trapped" by our history, and instead turn to history as something that we are called to build. I think that is what Baldwin means by saying that history is "trapped" in people. Each of us, in this moment, has a piece of history trapped inside of us. What will we do with it? How will we release it into the future? What unique story will our lives tell? This March, for Women's History Month, my prayer for all of us connected to this woman-led and woman-centered network is that we will make our own mark on history -- on women's history, and on everyone's history! -- in way that brings all of our communities closer to justice, liberation, and dignity for all.
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Coordinator
p.s. Have you looked at the JPIC International database lately? The JPIC Database is a living resource of the concrete JPIC commitments of the Society of the Sacred Heart as they show up in the 44 countries around the world where the Society has a presence. If you are part of a Sacred Heart ministry in the USC province involved in some facet of JPIC work, check your ministry's database entry and see if it needs an update. (You can send updates and photos to me to pass along for the database. Forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Announcements from JPIC International, Society of the Sacred Heart
The JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) International Office of the Society of the Sacred Heart produces weekly prayer guides throughout this Lenten Season. Click here to view each week's prayer guides on the JPIC Learning Hub website.
Deadline extended to March 31! The International JPIC Learning Hubs sponsors the "Move Our World" contest for youth and young adults to carry out a solidarity project that will have a positive impact on community members in vulnerable situations or that will help the conservation of our planet. Open to 16-20 year olds around the world with a connection to the Society of the Sacred Heart. Download the flyer to learn more.
Deadline extended to March 31! The International JPIC Learning Hub sponsors the JPIC Design Contest for youth ages 12-15 from Sacred Heart schools and ministries around the world. Prizes for winning designs! Download the flyer to learn more.
Peace and Justice
Catholic Church Involvement in Native American Boarding Schools: Learning to Walk the Good Road Toward Healing: Monday, March 6 & Monday, March 20, virtual. Presented by the Catholic Native Boarding School Accountability and Healing Project (AHP) and the US Catholic Conference of Bishops. Learn more and register here.
What does the academic study of religion teach us about the complex histories and legacies of slavery? How can a deeper understanding of the roles of religion enhance our commitment to reparative action in our contemporary times? This spring, Harvard Divinity School will host a series of online public conversations with members of the HDS faculty to engage these vital questions from their expertise within the study of religion. Learn more and register here.
The International Fellowship of Reconciliation and War Resisters League offer a webinar in their series “Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Times of War” this Friday, March 3rd with a focus on the war in Ukraine. Starting at 8:00 a.m. US Eastern (2:00 p.m. CET/ 5:00 a.m. PST) peace campaigners from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine will report live about their efforts for peacemaking as hundreds of thousands of people have refused to participate in this war. Learn more and register here.
Faith leaders in Georgia are calling for a week of solidarity action starting March 4th to support the local demand to end the proposed "Cop City" development project and prioritize social needs. The plans for Cop City include eliminating hundreds of acres of forest while building military-grade training facilities, a mock city to practice urban warfare, explosives testing areas, dozens of shooting ranges, and a Black Hawk helicopter landing pad. Clergy and lay leaders can add your name to the Clergy letter here.
The Restorative Justice Committee of Holy Trinity Church, Washington, DC, offers a free webinar this Saturday, March 4: "What If... You'd Lived with the Real Consequences of Racism Most of Your Life?" Gwendolyn Middleton Payton and Allison Hamilton share their heartbreaking and joyful story of restorative justice and racial healing. Learn more and register here.
This International Women's Day, March 8, 2023, in the midst of the Ukraine war and as the US continues to beat the drums of war towards China, a coalition of women-led organizations are rising with activists around the world in a call for Diplomacy and an end to war. See the list of coalition events, including a gathering in Washington DC on March 8, here
The ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition has issued a call to a National March on Washington against war, Sat. March 18, the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Learn more here.
Virtual Ecumenical Advocacy Days will take place April 25-27, 2023 with the theme "Swords into Plowshares: Achieving Enough for All & Pursuing Peace." Registration is now open.
Walking with Youth and People on the Move
CIW MOBILIZING ACTION: On March 14th, farm workers with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their allies will embark on a 5-day, 45-mile march from the small, agricultural community of Pahokee, FL, to the coastal city of Palm Beach to celebrate more than ten years of success with the Fair Food Program (FFP). The “Build A New World March” will span over 40 miles under the hot Florida sun beginning in the fields and ending at the luxury store-lined streets where Wendy’s Board Chair lives. Click here to learn how to participate or support this march.
Now through May 1, 2023, The Catholic Mobilizing Network invites Catholic poets ages 18-30 to enter the Justice & Mercy Poetry Contest for Young Catholics with an original poem about the injustice of capital punishment. Contestants are eligible to win up to $1,000 in cash. Enter the contest or share with a young Catholic poet you know!
Integrity of Creation
Today, March 3, is World Wildlife Day! This day aims to raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. This day matches with the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which ensures that international trade does not threaten the species’ survival. Click here to read more.
The congregations of LCWR Region 8 will observe Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, with a "Refuse to Use" challenge: refusing to consume beverages from single-use plastic bottles. The sisters of those 23 congregations are inviting others to join them in taking up that challenge. Learn more here.
Support the Ohio community of East Palestine after the devastating (and avoidable) train derailment and subsequent release of toxic chemicals into the region's watershed. Two organizations working to provide mutual aid, advocacy and mutual aid to residents are the Solidarity for East Palestine initiative and the grassroots environmental justice movement River Valley Organizing.
Interfaith Power and Light has published a comprehensive resource for Faith Climate Action Week, coming up April 14-23. The theme of 2023’s Faith Climate Action Week is “Living the Golden Rule: Just Transition to a clean energy economy.” This toolkit will equip you to lead faith-based discussion and action. Click here for more.
The United States EPA recently announced $100 million for environmental justice grants—the largest amount ever offered by EPA—to help underserved and overburdened communities. Applications are due April 10, 2023. Click here to learn more.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) has published a reflection guide entitled Lenten Values: Springing Into Action that offers Scripture, reflections, stories, prayers, and opportunities to take action connecting faith values with the work of immigration justice. Click here to download the guide in PDF format.
News from the Stuart Center:
We are thrilled to introduce the inaugural JPIC Commission for the US-Canada Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart! Click here to read more about the eight members of the JPIC Commission and learn more about their work.
Have you seen the new launch video for SacredHeartDNA? Click here to watch the video and learn more about this exciting new intergenerational program.
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