Tag Archives: Catholic

this is what democracy looks like: chicago women’s march

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“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” – Coretta Scott King

Can someone tell me how long is normal to have “This is what democracy looks like!” “This is what democracy looks like!” stuck in your head? Not complaining, just asking for a quarter million of our Chicago friends.

Saturday, like millions of people all over the world, we marched alongside a diverse, conscientious, passionate, compassionate, and completely beautiful gathering of human beings in Chicago. When we filled Grant Park mid-morning, the crowds kept flowing. When we filled the streets, the march got “canceled.” And after a few hours of empowering speeches, touching performances, chants, cheers, and celebrations in languages from Hebrew to American Sign Language, we ended up taking part in the flow of the cheering, singing crowd through parts of the Chicago Loop that are usually clogged with cars. (It sure felt like a march!)

Our voices and our cheers reverberated between the skyscrapers as people peered down from condos and office buildings and hair salons. It was surreal—one of the most profoundly powerful moments of my life.

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We had so. much. fun painting our positive, hopeful signs the night before:

Make America Love Again // back: Be the Light!
Make America Hope Again // back: There Is No Planet B!
Make America United Again // back: (American flag)
Make America Kind Again // back: (big sparkly heart)
Make America Nasty Again (we couldn’t help it!) // back: Who Run the World?
No Justice, No Peace // back: Love Trumps Hate
Who Run the World? // back: GIRLS!

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We found a kindred spirit with her empathy sign! This woman had also attended Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

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Never before could I ever have imagined that many people could come together so peacefully, positively and inclusively. The theme of the march was “Connect. Protect. Activate.”—which we repeated and yelled and hopefully imprinted on our memories to carry with us to do something about the issues we care about after Saturday!

In fact, that was one of the key takeaways: If this march just resulted in us patting ourselves on the back for taking part, and that was it, it was nothing more than a pep rally. This was a wake-up call, a gigantic moment of empowerment, a call to action—and it’s just the beginning. It’s up to us to take this from a moment into a movement.

Some ideas: 
Run for office!!!
Save your Senator and your Representative’s number. Call frequently.
Volunteer regularly with an organization that supports an issue you care about.
Actively open yourself to and seek opportunities to have conversations with people of different backgrounds and ideologies.
Subvert systems you oppose: grow your own food, make your own clothes, create “sharing economies” of your own, help out at a local school.
Add more in the comments!

Since the March, I did find out that some pro-life groups were turned away from partnering, which is a complex and difficult issue in and of itself (here’s one interesting discussion of the limits of and intersections between a feminist and being pro-life). But I also found it heartening to see a few women’s signs proclaiming those views as well.

As the Women’s March emcee and so many people said, this event was about everyone and so much bigger than one particular passion; no matter if we struggle to understand each other’s issues or experience them ourselves, we must come together to move forward, collaborate, and never, ever give up. Divide and conquer is our government’s prevailing philosophy, it seems, and it certainly need not be our own.

I personally am Catholic and deeply cherish our Catholic social teaching, so no matter the opportunity, I am grateful to be able to have a platform (or crowd) in which I can jump and smile and shout about the earth, the vulnerable in our society, the importance of putting people before our economy—and more.

So, to all the people who marched: Thank you.

To all those who marched before us: Thank you.

To the others talking about the March and, in the future, writing about this in the history books (!!!): Thank you.

And to those with criticisms and questions: Thank you.

Together, all of us will keep this messy experiment in democracy flowing forward, and for better or for worse, we will write history.

How will you contribute to our nation’s history today?

meet sister adele: milwaukee franciscan nun

Sister Adele in the Vineyard, People with Panache

Before Vatican II—the first assembly of Roman Catholic leaders of such large magnitude in nearly 100 years—Sister Adele’s name was Sister Raymond after her father. Her beautiful baptismal name (in honor of her aunt) was returned to her five years after she became a sister.

The sky was bright and the breeze was perfect as I drove up for a 7 a.m. breakfast with the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. Sister Adele Thibaudeau came out to meet me at my car, and we walked the grounds at this gorgeous oasis along beautiful Lake Michigan in Milwaukee. Vineyards, beehives, gardens, orchards, and gorgeous altars to Mary, St. Francis and key Catholic figures adorned the grounds, and it was so peaceful. If only every morning could start with Sister Adele!

As we walked and talked, I felt so serene and centered talking to the young nun my grandma had referred me to—Sister Adele’s tranquility is contagious. Widowed more than 25 years ago, my grandma is an associate at our local convent, which means she participates in much of the religious life without taking the vows of sisterhood. I come from a Catholic family on both sides and have very much embraced and deepened my faith in recent years, so I was happy and excited to get to share the story of Sister Adele, a woman following a path I myself have considered.

Fun fact: In a place where the median age is 80, Sister Adele is in fact one of the very youngest—though not quite as youthful as some of the sisters in If Nuns Ruled the World, one of my favorite recent reads. But it doesn’t matter. Her heart, her ideas, and her energy are timeless. Continue reading