Canticle speaker explains nonviolence

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

CLINTON — Sisters of St. Francis and staff members had an opportunity to learn more about one of their core values – nonviolence – when expert Ken Butigan gave a workshop at The Canticle in Clinton this month.

Kate Marlowe
Ken Butigan, right, tells the story of St. Francis and the wolf of Gubio to Sister Donna Burke, left, and others at The Canticle April 11. Acting as St. Francis is Clinton Franciscan Sister Hilary Mullany and as the wolf is Dubuque Franciscan Sister Nancy Miller. The story facilitated Butigan’s workshop on nonviolence.

Butigan is director of Pace e Bene, a nonprofit organization fostering nonviolent change through education, community and action. He also teaches peace studies at DePaul University and Loyola University in Chicago. He told the women, “We live in a world of great external violence — physical, emotional, psychological, institutional and structural — as well as within our own beings. (We must ack­now­ledge) the deeply rooted patterns of violence within and without and to meditate on the possibilities of active nonviolence in such a world.”

He explained that traditional reactions to conflict are avoidance, accommodation and counter-violence. Nonviolence offers another route which in its essence appears contradictory: noncooperation with injustice while holding a steadfast regard for the opponent as a human being. “Jesus calls us to the way of nonviolence: healing violence and building a world of peace, justice and the well-being of all.”Workshop participants had the opportunity to reflect on their life experiences of nonviolently transforming conflict and analyzing stories Butigan told during the day. These stories included a faith-based, nonviolent movement that successfully ended a city policy that criminalized homeless people. Another story told of St. Francis of Assisi brokering peace between a town in Italy and a marauding wolf.

Additionally, the Clinton Franciscans were introduced to the CLARA nonviolent communication process: Center, Learn, Articulate, Receive and Accomplish. Participants broke up into two groups, each an opposing side in a conflict, and took turns practicing conflict resolution through the CLARA method.

Participants concluded the day by identifying concrete steps they can take to live and activate Gospel nonviolence as individuals and as a congregation over the next month and year.

Sisters and staff responded positively to the workshop. Sister Janet Ryan, OSF, said, “I am grateful for our day of reflection with Ken because in just the first 10 minutes it reinforced our call and mission to active nonviolence, that everyone has a part of the truth and that every person matters. This is enough for me to take and apply in my daily interactions with others. I also loved having our staff and friends present!”

Kate Marlowe, director of congregational communication, said, “I found it very informative and inspirational. I found myself recalling and using many ideas from (the workshop).”

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