Racism is a Virus

SSJ Mission Possible by Sr. Ann Marie Cappello, SSJ

The U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph Statement on Racism and Commitment to Direct Action states that racism is a virus every bit as deadly as COVID-19, and which has infected our nation since its inception. Until we address it, people of color will continue to die and our nation will never heal. The statement also calls us to do the deep, ongoing inner work that anti-racism requires of us. This includes listening to, learning from, supporting, and elevating the black voices from within our sisters, partners in mission, and others.

As I read the statement, I thought of our SSJ Constitutions and what they say about our mission and ministry. We are called to extend our vision to those oppressive situations which threaten the dignity and wellbeing of persons. They also state that we bear witness to justice in our own lives as a step toward reaching out to those experiencing, and to those responsible for, the injustices in the world.

As I reflected on the words of both the Federation Statement and our Constitutions, I asked myself if I was reaching out to the dear neighbor without distinction. Without distinction – that is the most challenging part.

I need to pray often for the grace to meet this challenge. The song, Break My Heart, (from the CD Songs from the Heart by the Daughters of God) came to mind:

. . . Not just some empty repetition, no this is my sincere confession.

That I need so much more compassion. Please break my heart, O God.

 With what breaks your heart, O God.  Please break my heart.

  For the sick, for the poor,

  For the ones who need more tenderness and justice,

   Break my heart.

   For the lost, for the lame, for those suffering in pain

   Help me see you in each face through a broken heart . . .

The Federation Statement ends with: We ask God’s blessing on the struggle that lies ahead.  We as a Federation and as individuals must do better.

This is what makes the SSJ Mission Possible!