Sisters’ no hate campaign makes a difference

By Kate Marlowe
For The Catholic Messenger

CLINTON — The “Hate Has No Home Here” campaign has had a bigger impact throughout the city than the Sisters of St. Francis Franciscan Peace Center expected.

Kate Marlowe
Lori Freudenberg, community outreach director for the Franciscan Peace Center in Clinton, challenges attendees to have conversations with others about hate during a meeting Nov. 10.

The campaign began in the fall with a billboard, bus ad and social media posts announcing that the sisters were giving way signs bearing the message “Hate Has No Home Here” in six languages: English, Urdu, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic and Spanish.

The Franciscan Peace Center, founded to promote active nonviolence and peacemaking, ended up ordering 400 signs due to the popularity of the campaign. The sisters hadn’t anticipated that level of interest.

A meeting held Nov. 10 and attended by 15 people focused on the next step in encouraging a just and inclusive community and a safe place where everyone is valued and welcome. “Why is this important to you? Why did you come today?” asked Lori Freudenberg, community outreach director for the Franciscan Peace Center.

One attendee, Deacon Ray Hilgendorf replied, “I’m astonished that we got to a point in our society where we need to put signs in our yards telling us not to hate each other.” Other responses ranged from wanting to have conversations with people of differing views, concern about being alienated by others, and alarm at the lack of tolerance for differing views in the United States in the past year.

Following a discussion about the root causes of hate, Freudenberg proposed this question to the group: “If we had no hate in Clinton what would that look like?” Responses included: understanding feelings and opinions, embracing different cultures, helping fellow citizens to succeed, building bridges between communities and giving value to integrity.

The word respect surfaced a number of times regarding sentiments about others’ feelings, desires and freedoms. Also part of the discussion was how to include people in the meeting who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

Freudenberg concluded the meeting with a challenge. She provided a handout on how to have conversations during Thanksgiving gatherings and invited attendees to try to have at least one peaceful conversation before the next meeting.

She said she was inspired by those who attended the meeting wanting to figure out how to continue to get the ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ message out.

The next meeting will be Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. at The Canticle, home of the Clinton Franciscans in Clinton. For more information on the campaign or meeting, call the Sisters of St. Francis at (563) 242-7611 or visit www.clintonfranciscans.com.

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