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I was deeply moved by Time Magazine writer Lily Moore-Eissenberg’s January 27, 2020 article ‘Our Work Is Helping People Find Happiness.’ Meet the Leftist Nuns Helping Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border’.

The article highlights the depth of response to “…a ‘call to the border,’ as many sisters describe it. Since then, more than 700 nuns from the organization’s 300 member congregations have volunteered their services, some traveling hundreds of miles to join sisters who already lived in border towns.”

The writer truly captures a living testimony of faith and spirituality in action through dedicated Sisters who have compassion for the migrant poor. For this reason, I encourage others to read the article.

But I was taken aback by the use of the term ‘Leftist Nuns’ in the title and by the paragraph with the phrase ‘leftist strand of Catholicism’ and a reference to Liberation Theology.

Liberation theology may be expressed in various ways. It goes back to the Conferences of Latin American Bishops (begun in 1955 and continuing today) where deep and complex reflections on how to live the Gospel in the historical, cultural and economic context of the people, challenged traditional Catholic spirituality and structures in Latin American countries.

The “leftist strand of Catholicism” should in no way define “Liberation Theology”. Living the Gospel in a context that touches the lives of people in all aspects of the human experience, and which gives the freedom and empowerment to be all that God would wish for each—this defines Liberation Theology. I am afraid that the word ‘leftist’, takes away the importance and essence of this theology and creates a theological and political divide like much of our political arena today.

I share these thoughts with the deep love and appreciation I have for Liberation Theology, especially lived out among the poor, and by those who have given their lives being the voices of the poor; people whose cries have not been heard.

Sr. Joan Williams, OP
Dominican Sister ~ Grand Rapids, Michigan

Sister Joan Williams, OP, ministered in Honduras for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1998. Her work included religious formation, HIV support programs, housing and school projects, and prison ministry focused on rehabilitation, schooling, formation, and liturgical celebration. She taught theology courses at Catholic University, formed lay ministers in villages that had no priest, and guided retreats and rural village outreach.

(Photo) Joan Williams, OP, pictured leading a religious formation conference in Honduras.

Joan Williams teaching religious formation in Honduras