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The Jesuit Antiracism Sodality East

“All the princes and the people who entered this covenant agreed to set free their slaves, their male and female servants, so that they should no longer be in servitude. But even though they agreed and freed them, afterward they took back their male and female servants whom they had set free and again forced them into servitude.”
– Jeremiah 34:10-11




Summer can provide an opportunity for educators to step back, rest, and plan for the future. In that spirit of reflection (and with school diversity currently in the news), I invite us to listen to the voices of some of our students.

In the below JARS presentation from 2021, Fr. Mario Powell, SJ, shares the deep pains experienced by students of color studying in predominantly white Jesuit schools. The entire presentation from Fr. Powell and Fr. Lester Love, SJ, MD, is excellent, but the litany of lamentation I reference here can be found from 5:13 through 10:56.

Lord, help us do better.


Perhaps this is counter-intuitive, but consolation is the best word I have to describe encountering Rachel L. Swarns’s just-released book about our Province’s infamous sale of 272 enslaved persons. At last, the emphasis is on the enslaved people’s own experiences, where I expect God’s focus was all along. According to an interview with Swarns, who is Catholic:

It is certainly a story of heartbreak, yes, but it’s also a story of family and faith, and it turns out that the Church itself meant a lot to these families. The Church was not, in their minds, controlled by these sinful men who did these things; the Church was more than that. They could not control the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; all of that belonged to those people. And not only did they hold on to their faith, but after the War, they became religious leaders, many, lay leaders, within the institution and tried to reshape it.

This month’s reflection was provided by Sean Toole, SJ, of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Estill, SC. If you would like to volunteer to provide an upcoming reflection, please contact Sean:

The views and opinions expressed in this reflection do not necessarily reflect those of Jesuits USA East.

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