By Sister Anne Vaccarest
Forty sisters and associates participated in the Northeast Community’s biennial justice conference which was held the weekend of October 26–28, 2012, at Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford, Maine. Anti-racism was the conference theme. Some of the members of the Institute Anti-racism Transformation Team (IARTT) – Sisters Cora Billings, Diane Guerin, Priscilla Moreno, Georgine Scarpino, and Sue Wieczynski – facilitated the process.
This introductory workshop, which is being presented across the Institute, is a response to the Critical Concern of racism. Its purpose is to provide a common framework for understanding institutional racism and how it affects the lives of people of all races. The presenters helped participants work toward a common definition of racism. Those present were challenged to examine their own unrecognized racism and to identify core values that will make it possible to move together to the next step – how to create an anti-racist community. Toward that end, the group considered two questions: what can you do?— e.g., commit to raising consciousness around everyday instances of racism—and what will you do?—how will you work toward the realization of the vision of an anti-racist Institute?
The participants also welcomed Sisters Judy Oliver and Sue Lachapelle, who minister among the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy people at Indian Island, Maine, a ministry started in 1878 by Frances Warde. Judy and Sue showed the film Invisible, a documentary that exposed the treatment of Native American people, particularly in the residential schools where children were often stripped of their language and culture.
Judy and Sue also spoke of the live-in immersion experience that is offered at Indian Island for high school and college students as well as adults. They encouraged those present to consider immersing themselves in the experience.
(Pictured above: Sister Priscilla Moreno of the IARTT speaks to the group while Sister Cora Marie Billings listens.)