Sisters in Action
In addition to the sponsored ministries, sisters collaborate with and support many organizations through monetary gifts and volunteerism. They provide forums or support education on important topics and causes. Topics and causes are often driven by the Corporate Statements, LCWR Resolutions, and the missions of the sponsored ministries which are an extension of the Racine Dominicans' mission.
In 2015 alone, led by the Justice and Right Commission, the Racine Dominicans as a community did the following:
- Joined Greening Greater Racine
- Participated in petition with International Dominicans on Climate Summit
- Film event: "This Changes Everything" from book by Naomi Klein
- Sponsored workship: Catholic Response to Global Warming with Steve Colemen
- Promoted city-wide presentations on Catholic Social Teachings
- Collaborated with RIC on "11 X 15" campaign on solitary confinement
- Met with Racine County Sheriff Schmaling to discuss women in prison
- Explored the refugee crisis and openly support LCWR resolution on Syrian refugees
- Participated in Driver Card campaign for undocumented immigrants
- Drove efforts to make Siena (includes motherhouse, Siena Retreat Center, Siena North, Shorelight) greener
This following are a few recent examples of some individual "sisters in action:"
S. Pat Chaffee's Middle East Experiences and Reflections
The following report is about a trip to Afghanistan in March 2011. Sister Pat traveled to Afghanistan to represent the Racine Dominicans' support of the Afghan Youth for Peace effort. The group planted trees as symbols of the young people's desire to be rooted in peace. S. Pat has been back since this report was written.
From March 17 to March 22, 2011, I “hung out” with eight boys from this group in Kabul, listening to their stories, hearing their passionate plea for peace, simply enjoying their company. (Girls of the Afghan Youth were not present because girls are not allowed to travel from their conservative villages.) I was with a 27-member delegation organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. The Afghan Youth had invited us, and they welcomed us as friends saying, “We never thought that ordinary people would come to see us,” and “Your coming gives us strength.” They believe that the more friends they find, the more widely they can spread the word that ordinary people in Afghanistan want peace and will work for peace nonviolently.
Preparing to celebrate the Afghan New Year on March 21, they organized several peace actions. On March 17, before we arrived, they held a walk that included persons from different ethnic groups: Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazara. And because other demonstrations had erupted in violent words, and sometimes violent action, they chose to walk silently. Each walker wore a powder blue scarf because “The blue sky is above all of us.” They carried large blue banners, each with a message in Dari (official language of Afghanistan), Pashto, and English: Warmongers, do not turn our houses into war bastions! Today we make a resolution to stand for peace tomorrow. The citizens of Afghanistan say NO to war. Riot police faced them as they walked; the walkers smiled and flashed the peace sign to them.
We worked with the group in a second action, planting 55 trees in a school yard – poplar, apricot, plum, apple, and peach trees. We first met with school personnel, including the principal, a teacher, and Afghan’s Minister of Education. Among the questions we asked them was: “If the international troops were to leave, would Afghanistan be better off or worse?” Without a split second hesitation, the teacher and principal said “Better!” They admitted that there could – probably would – be violence, but their response was, “Let us Afghans solve our own problems.” Later, one of the school employees argued, “We need the international troops for security.” During our time in Kabul, we heard other individuals and groups who argued both sides of this question. The Afghan Youth unanimously call for responsible withdrawal.
As we left the meeting, the Afghan Youth greeted us with balloons and invited us to gather together, as they stationed themselves on the steps of the school. There they recited a poem they had composed, titled “We Need a New Tree.” You can see a video of the tree planting and read the students’ poem at www.livewithoutwars.org.
At first, I considered this to be a visit of friendship, not a political fact-finding visit. But politics is about power, and what greater power for peace is there than friendship, especially friendship among supposed enemies. Most, if not all, of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers are ethnic Hazaras, a minority and marginalized group in Afghanistan. As one of their peace actions, they made leather cases suitable for cell phones, tooled the Dari word for Peace on each one, and delivered them as gifts to a village populated by ethnic Tajiks. The villagers responded with, “We didn’t know there could be such love.”
Other articles by S. Pat Chaffee:
S. Lois Aceto is "Lighting the World with Truth"
To Serve and Protect in October 2016, is an example of S. Lois's "Lighting the World with Truth" video series taped quarterly covering comtemporary issues and topics. In this video, she interviews Racine, Wisconsin Chief of Police Art Howell.