Franciscan Sisters’ Conversation on ‘Embracing All Life’

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November 01, 2020

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity share on a current conversation regarding ‘Embracing All Life’.

Who is my neighbor?

In his new encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis offers a commentary on Luke 10: 25-37 in which an attorney asks him “And who is my neighbor?” In the middle of that commentary, he says:

“Today we have a great opportunity to express our innate sense of fraternity, to be Good Samaritans who bear the pain of other people’s troubles rather than fomenting greater hatred and resentment.” (Pope Francis, FT 77)

With these words, Pope Francis encourages us to permit the Lord Jesus to invite us once again to desire to be neighbor to each and everyone

Are we embracing ALL of our neighbors?

It was this very desire, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the many tragic and violent manifestations of racism that our country is experiencing, that led a number of Sisters to engage in conversations with one another. At first these conversations were one on one. We shared our grief, and even horror, at what had unfolded before our very eyes. How is such treatment of any human being still possible in the United States? How is it possible that such treatment remains unrecognized as the racism that it is? And how might the Lord Jesus be calling us to respond to what had touched our hearts? Gradually, each one of these conversations flowed together into what has become a new initiative within the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity: Embracing All Life.  The name Embracing All Life  (EAL) was chosen to communicate Jesus’ attitude toward us, that of an embrace, all life is sacred, and to recognize Jesus’ invitation that we be neighbor to each and to every human life, indeed to all of creation.

Let’s talk about what it means to be neighbors.

This group, Sisters Leonette, Marcolette, Carmen Marie, Mardelle, Marie Kolbe, Marlita, Kathleen, began meeting in June, 2020. Initially we conversed about the recent rising awareness of racism and the racism we had all experienced within the United States. From these initial conversations, the desire grew to share the goodness and benefit of our having come together to encounter and encourage one another.

We also expressed the desire to become more knowledgeable of facts that underly these actions.  How do racism, poverty, economic inequity, etc., gain the forefront in society?  How do we uncover our own unconscious biases, prejudices, and judgements in everyday situations?  We felt a call to invite our Sisters to join in this self-discovery. The Embracing All Life initiative seeks to widen the platform of conversation to as many Sisters as might be interested in seeking awareness of, and conversion regarding, the many ways we fail to love our neighbor, whether as unique Sisters, as a society, or even within community. 

Listening to our neighbors

EAL has initially focused on providing an awareness-raising conversation around the experience of racism and exclusion in the United Sates. This first conversation, held on Sept. 26, was a panel discussion in which stories were shared that depicted experiences of exclusion and discomfort due to race.  Responses of the Sisters who participated indicated that they were inspired and interested in ongoing conversations. As we seek to love All of our neighbors, perhaps we, as a Franciscan Community, can deepen our commitment to be instruments in helping to build a more inclusive society as we face the many affronts to life existing in our society.

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