Sisters reaffirm mission, announce new officers

A public, livestreamed concert of celebration and gratitude by singer/songwriter Sara Thomsen was held during Chapter week in Clinton.

The Catholic Messenger

CLINTON — The Sisters of St. Francis recently reaffirmed their mission of living and promoting active nonviolence and peacemaking and their charism of ongoing conversion.

The reaffirmation took place during the community’s quadrennial Chapter May 10-14. The community describes Chapter as a time when sisters and others come together to have deep conversations about their life, mission and future. Sister Catherine Bertrand, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, facilitated.

During Chapter, the community set direction for the next four years. They committed to supporting the future of the Franciscan Peace Center, building and maintaining relationships and collaborations, creating sacred spaces for reconciliation and repair of harm, exploring the emerging future of religious life, and strengthening their corporate stands. The death penalty, nuclear disarmament, immigration reform, human trafficking, care of creation, basic human rights and income inequality are areas in which the community has taken corporate stands.

The Chapter also affirmed a statement in response to racial injustice, issued in June 2020, that pledged listening to the experience and wisdom of people of color and learning about racism in all its dimensions (systemic, institutional, and cultural). Furthermore, the community will work in solidarity with people of color for radical reforms to racialized systems and recommit to nonviolence as the way to effect systemic, societal and personal change.

A livestreamed concert by singer/songwriter Sara Thomsen on May 12 celebrated 2016-2021 leadership team members Sisters Janice Cebula, Marilyn Huegerich and Kathleen Holland and the community’s commitment to the mission of living and promoting active nonviolence and peacemaking.

The community announced its 2021-2025 leadership team on May 14: Sister Janice Cebula, president; Sister Marilyn Huegerich, vice president; and Sister Ruth E. Westmoreland, councilor. The new leadership team will be installed later.

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Stopping hate, showing love in Clinton

Barb Arland-Fye
Clinton High School Principal J.R. Kuch leads participants in the annual “Stop the Hate/Show the Love” event outside the school on Sept. 17.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

CLINTON — A peaceful protest this past summer against racism did not get much press because this community’s members have learned how to talk with one another. “That’s why we should make the news,” said Karl Wolf during the 22nd Annual “Stop the Hate/Show the Love” event on Sept. 17. The Clinton Peace Center, a ministry of the Clinton Franciscans, is among the event’s sponsors.

Wolf served as master of ceremony for the event that started inside Clinton High School with a welcome from Principal J.R. Kuch, who quoted Bryan Stevenson, the author of “Just Mercy” and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Kuch encouraged the gathering of around 50 adults and children, all wearing face masks, to “focus on the things that bring us together rather than the things that divide us.” That will make the world a better place to live.
Clinton High School’s A’ Cappella Choir performed “Three Things” by Ryan Main and “Be the Change” by Marc Kaplan/Colin Britt. The young singers wore face masks as they sang softly but clearly. The “Three Things” referred to trust, love and care. “Be the Change” lyrics included “Be the change you want to see in the world and change will come to you.”

Clinton Police Department Captain Pat Cullen spoke about conflict resolution. “We have to sit down together, constantly, working on living by the golden rule,” he said. “We need to come to peaceful solutions (to problems). Political party affiliation, the color of one’s skin or social status does not matter. “We can work together; we’ve proven it,” he said.

Afterwards, Kuch picked up the slender, white peace pole and led everyone to a grassy area outdoors for the gathering at the peace pole and release of butterflies. Attendees wearing face masks sang “Let There be Peace on Earth” and young children released butterflies from a mesh basket to fly gracefully into the sky.

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