Dominican Sisters Conference decries race-based violence; calls for soul-searching engagement

SDART co-chairs, Mr. Leroy Jordan, center, and Sister Marcelline Koch, OP, receive proclamation from Mayor James Langfelder during the SDART 10th anniversary concert at Sacred Heart-Griffin Auditorium on June 20, 2015.
SDART co-chairs, Mr. Leroy Jordan, center, and Sister Marcelline Koch, OP, receive proclamation from Mayor James Langfelder during the SDART 10th anniversary concert at Sacred Heart-Griffin Auditorium on June 20, 2015.

U.S. Dominican Sisters issued a statement calling for “personal and national soul-searching” as a step toward eradicating the racist systems that wound our nation.

Already engaged in efforts to dismantle racism, the Springfield Dominican Sisters support the statement issued by the Dominican Sisters Conference on behalf of the 19 member-congregations of U.S. Dominicans.

“We are deeply pained and outraged at the increase in the number of police killings of innocent African American citizens—an alarming indicator of the way Black people are being dehumanized, marginalized and devalued,” the statement begins. “We also deplore the horrifying sniper killings of police officers that took place in Dallas as well as the shootings of police officers in other cities.”

Springfield Dominican Sister Marcelline Koch co-chairs, with Leroy Jordan, the Springfield Dominican Anti-racism Team (SDART). She said “Race-based police violence and the backlash it has unleashed against law enforcement are two symptoms of the same illness—institutionalized racism. With our Dominican sisters throughout the United States we call for and commit ourselves to the personal transformation that is at the heart of any meaningful social change.”

Mr. Jordan, a long-time Springfield resident and educator, believes that eliminating racism and injustice is the only way to solve our national and global problems. “Racism is learned. Anything we have learned we can unlearn,” he said. “God has given us the ability to learn new things. To learn something new, to learn a new way to think and to act, that is our salvation.”

Through SDART the Springfield Dominicans work toward dismantling racism in their own sponsored

Dominican Sisters Anti-Racism Team members singing during their 2015 tenth anniversary celebration
Dominican Sisters Anti-Racism Team members singing during their 2015 tenth anniversary celebration

institutions and ministries. At three high schools—Sacred Heart-Griffin, Springfield; Marian Catholic, Chicago Heights; and Rosary, Aurora—there are staff members who are accountable to the congregation for implementing strategies that address issues of racism within the schools. St. Dominic Health Services, Jackson, Miss., (SDHS) has its own anti-racism team, which works closely with SDHS administrators to address issues of systemic racism within the seven subsidiary organizations, including, St. Dominic Hospital and St. Catherine Village retirement community.

An anti-racism committee at Sacred Heart Convent, the congregation’s motherhouse, provides on-going dialogue and education for sisters and staff to increase awareness of the effects of racism on the way white people and people of color understand and relate to one another.

To learn more about the Dominican Sisters’ anti-racism efforts or to find organizations committed to this goal in your area call Sister Marcelline Koch at 217-787-0481.

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