Sister Marcelline Koch, standing, assists Sister M. Dominic Joerger while Leroy and Johnetta Jordan share a treasured photo.
On behalf of all our sisters, and with the gratitude of dozens of coworkers and hundreds of students who will benefit from your generosity to the annual St. Dominic Day appeal, thank you. Surely, it was more than a coincidence that while preparing this message for you on the evening of September 5, I stumbled across this photo.
I ask your indulgence and beg you to stay with me—because surely, this is not a coincidence, but a point of God’s grace—and reason enough for me to believe that your generosity will be multiplied in ways we can only now anticipate.
In the photo you see here, our friends Leroy and Johnetta Jordan joined Sister Marcelline Koch and Sister M. Dominic Joerger on the morning of a donor thank you brunch at Sacred Heart Convent in March 2019. The story of their friendship begins decades earlier, however, at St. Patrick’s Parish in Springfield.
There, the Jordans worshipped and managed Lenten fish fries, served, and raised their daughters.
There, their friendship with Sister Marcelline and Sister M. Dominic grew.
There, Sister M. Dominic founded St. Martin de Porres to serve people impoverished by, among other things, the structural racism that plagues our nation.
“I can’t recall a word he said that day,
but I’ll never forget the passion, energy,
and hope with which he spoke.”
Grace, Faith, and Friendship
The fertile ground of St. Patrick Parish nurtured the seeds of friendship and mutual respect between the sisters and the Jordan family, making it possible for Leroy and Johnetta to say a powerful “yes” when, in 2004, they were asked to join the newly forming Springfield Dominican Antiracism team (SDART).
This photo contains that story—woven of grace and faith and friendship, service, and deep longing for the healing river of racial justice to rain down on our nation at long last. This photo, holding that entire story, was stumbled-on-to the evening of September 5, twelve hours after the gentle passing-over of the fiercely loving and loyal Mr. Leroy Jordan.
Hands to the Plough
We couldn’t have known the day it was taken, in March 2019, what would transpire in a year’s time:
- The March 2020 donor brunch was cancelled as the global coronavirus pandemic began to take hold in the United States.
- In April, plans for Sister Mary Dominic’s diamond jubilee were also scuttled by the pandemic, her family unable to travel for the celebration.
- In May, the pandemic still raging, George Floyd was murdered on the streets of Minneapolis. Bringing a startling awareness of systemic racism to the consciousness of white America and much of the world.
Then, in June, after having missed a scheduled SDART gathering, team members were thirsty for the solace of their friendship and purposeful conversation. We gathered virtually to share our experience of living this double pandemic: the tandem scourges of the coronavirus and racism, seated deeply in a 400-year lineage of oppression in the Americas.
Leroy and Sister Marcelline Koch have been ploughing, seeding, nurturing, and harvesting the field of SDART’s work for nearly 16 years. On the day of that team teleconference, though he was ailing, Leroy made an extraordinary effort to participate. Struggling for breath, he delivered a passionate message that took all of us by surprise. In a strong, resolute voice he encouraged us to keep our hands on the plough as we look forward under extraordinary circumstances to deepen our commitment to the work of dismantling racism at Sacred Heart Convent and in our high schools.
“I can’t recall a word he said that day,” Sister Marcelline said. “But I’ll never forget the passion, energy, and hope with which he spoke.”
So, yes. Thank You. Thank you for your kind gift. Thank you for being there to help us fulfill Leroy’s desire that we keep our hand on the plough.
Your gift to the Dominican Sisters of Springfield through the annual St. Dominic Day appeal is a priceless investment in the future of our antiracism work. Through your kindness and the powerful intercession of our friend Leroy, we can anticipate extraordinary things.