Links for Learners
by Lynn and Bob
here for a complete listing of Links for Learners
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Connections for High School Teachers and Students
Links for Learners will support high school curriculum
Finding Links for
Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
- Christian lifestylesracial harmony; community-building
- Social Sciencesmulticulturalism; historical contributions of black people in America
Look for connections
for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:
- Parish sacramental
preparation programs and CCD classes; young adult discussion
programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.
- Parents will
also find this material useful in initiating discussion around
the dinner table, in home study, at family activities.
Terms in This Months Article
Look for the key words
and terms below as you read the article. Definitions or explanations
can be researched from the article itself or from the resource materials
cited throughout the Links for Learners. You
can also find a list of terms on the glossary
page of AmericanCatholicYouth.org.
"The test of every institution
or policy is whether it enhances or threatens human life and human dignity."
In a 1999 series of articles on subtle racism in Today's
Catholic Teacher, Maria Webb of the Office of Catholic Education
for the Archdiocese of Chicago writes of the need to create true community
within the Church and society.
Ms. Webb says it is we
who create community. In the parish, in the school, in the family, community
is our difficult but attainable goal. She offers guidelines
for community-building, which include evaluating our assumptions
about people and culture in the light of the Gospel, not on the basis
of stereotypes. Institutions, however, will not change until the individual
faces changes. Where do we start? she asks. With an honest self-examination.
There are some who believe
we all carry racism in our hearts. If we start with this assumptionat
least a trace of bias and ignorance lives in every heartwe can
then work toward opening our hearts further to others. We accept our
wrongful feelings and go on from there.
This assumption helps
us admit we don't know all that others think and feel. White people,
for example, cannot assume that black Catholics feel welcome in predominantly
white parishes, no matter what is preached, no matter what kind of programs
are in place. For example, see "Black men ponder their place in the
Church" in the National
Catholic Reporter. Black men feel ignored and taken for granted
by Church decision-makers, according to the article.
This month's St. Anthony
Messenger article describes the culture gaps that exist, or are
perceived to exist, between races and ethnic groups. Many Catholics
have inherited, and live in, a European-centered Church. Liturgical
celebrations, music, ways of expressing emotion, prayer languageall
come through a European heritage.
For peoples from Latin
American cultures and from Afrocentric cultures, to cite just two examples,
celebrating Mass in a predominantly Caucasian parish can be an uncomfortable
experience. For people to truly feel welcome at the liturgy, they need
to identify with the expressions of prayer and celebration. They should
want to come back again.
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, a major document of Vatican
II, states that "efforts must also be made to encourage a sense of community
within the parish, above all in the common celebration of the Sunday
Mass." Community-building within and through liturgy is critical.
Members of St.
Peter Claver Parish in St. Inigoes, Maryland, share their thoughts
about why they belong to the predominantly black parish. "I feel so
welcome here" is the common thread of all the comments.
What can a parish or a
school do to eliminate ignorance and create open hearts? We can, for
one thing, look for direction in the many parishes and diocesan organizations
that have put education and formation programs in place. St. Francis
of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan, developed a comprehensive
pastoral plan. The parishioners call themselves "a welcoming, evangelizing
community, striving to be accepting and inclusive of all people." Part
of their ministerial focus includes social justice. The parish is adopting
a parish in Latin America, and offers parishioners the opportunity to
immerse themselves in Latin American culture and reciprocate with invitations
to bring Latin Americans to St. Francis.
Michael Liberato, a member
of the Committee for the Advancement of Racial Equality in Lansing,
Michigan, suggests that parishes host meetings where two neighborhoods
can meet. The Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance conducts a bridge-building
program to bring parishioners of different cultures together.
This month's article describes
a retreat program for youth within the black community sponsored by
of Oakland in California. Their African American Catholic Pastoral
Center's mission statement aims to enrich the Church in Oakland with
the "precious and unique gift of blackness which the Church needsespecially
at this moment in her history." The services and programs offered by
the Pastoral Center include: African-American youth ministry leadership
development; Africentric liturgical consultation; and adult religious
education featuring black theology, black Catholic history and spirituality.
Eradicating the Disease
Father Clarence Williams
of the Archdiocese of Detroit developed the Institute
for Recovery from Racisms, a program that attempts to address and
treat the racisms so prevalent in our society. He cites white supremacy
as a dysfunction that results in not one racism but in racisms. His
suggested formats for recovery from racisms are personal recovery, recovery
working groups and focal support groups. These are similar to those
used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other self-help groups.
The program's recovery
stages are initially based on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's death and dying
stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Williams
adds re-engagement, forgiveness and witness as further recovery stages.
The goal of the Williams's
Institute is "new family formation." The recovering person moves toward
an intentional belonging to a new family of human beings that sees every
person as a sister and a brother.
Related Web Resources
Black Catholic Congress
University in New Orleans, and the Institute of Black Catholic Studies
Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
de Porres biography
Sisters of Providence and the Sisters
of the Holy Family
Archdiocese of Chicago
Black Sisters Conference
The main library
for St. Thomas University in Florida has an extensive list of publications
and files on civil and human rights, education and the family. The university
library houses documents for the National Office for Black Catholics.
To Stand on the Rock,
Joseph A. Brown, Orbis Books. Meditations on black Catholic identity.
You can send a St. Martin
de Porres e-Greeting from CatholicGreetings.org
some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however,
that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained
within the site’s archives.