The Jesuit Antiracism Sodality East
“It is necessary, therefore, for the privileged and the underprivileged to work on the common environment for the purpose of providing normal experiences of fellowship. This is one very important reason for the insistence that segregation is a complete ethical and moral evil. Whatever it may do for those who dwell on either side of the wall, one thing is certain: it poisons all normal contacts of those persons involved. The first step toward love is a common sharing of a sense of mutual worth and value. This cannot be discovered in a vacuum or in a series of artificial or hypothetical relationships. It has to be in a real situation, natural, free.”
– Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited
My parish formed a Racial Justice Ministry two years ago. In the height of the Pandemic, we all read Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited together. It was eye-opening, heart-breaking, and terrifying to see how similar things are now to the way they were 70 years ago. Further, our group became much larger this past fall, with nearly 60 members. At our last meeting, when we needed to decide on new leadership (our parish has a practice of changing leaders of our ministries every two years), our group dwindled to just ten people, and no one felt called to co-lead this group with me. We also do not seem to have a clear direction as a group. I remain hopeful, but I cannot help but feel desolation at the fact that our once large ministry now seems to be dwindling without a clear way to move forward. We all recognize the urgent need for this ministry, and yet the future feels so uncertain.
Life Together, the faith-based, post-grad service program where I am on staff, is committed to dismantling white supremacy within our church and our small organization. Each month, our volunteers (we call them fellows), our chaplains, and our staff all gather to discuss race and racism within our own community and our world. The space that we hold brings me great consolation. This past program year, my co-facilitator (an Episcopal priest in Boston who has begun an inclusive church community to welcome those who have particularly felt marginalized called QTPOC, meaning Queer, Trans, People of Color) and I asked our fellows to discuss what they notice at their site placements around race and racism and dismantling white supremacy. Watching our fellows dive deep and discuss with us revealed not only the amazing work that their organizations do in Boston, but also the hard work of the leaders of their organizations to commit to this racial justice work. These very same organizations in which our fellows serve, sometimes have been unable to see their own shortcomings. I was impressed by the fellows’ commitment to noticing even the slightest injustice, and their bravery to discuss these things with our Life Together community, and sometimes beyond at their site placements.
This month’s reflection was provided by Jocelyn E. Collen, a graduate of Fairfield University and Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. If you would like to volunteer to provide next month’s reflection, please contact Sean: email@example.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this reflection do not necessarily reflect those of Jesuits USA East.