Our vision of a just society is one where all of humanity can realize Jesus’ dream that all may have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
As vowed women religious and as a Congregation, it is the Gospel and Catholic Social Teaching that call the Dominican Sisters~Grand Rapids to bear witness to the dignity of every human person.
We embrace our Dominican charism of Veritas (“truth) which compels us to search for and preach truth as it impacts the lives of people and planet—to be a voice that focuses attention on the cry of Earth and the cry of the poor.
Dominican prayer, study, community, and service are pillars, guideposts, of how we choose to be present in the world. This means that we remind ourselves to pray about, study, contemplate, and dialogue in community about social justice issues of this time and place in the history of the world. It is in this way that we seek Truth, by listening to witness on Earth and listening for God’s voice on our hearts about matters of the world.
Individual responses to the call to justice are very personal. We respect that the ways of justice preaching and teaching are as varied as each Dominican Sister, each Dominican Associate, and all persons.
Our justice advocacy aligns with that of other congregations of women religious, the world-wide Order of Preachers, the Roman Catholic Church, and other entities with which we collaborate. Essential to supporting God’s work today, we look to the root causes of injustice, collaborating with individuals and other organizations working to raise awareness and provide support when and where we are called.
Holding to our Congregation Constitution and the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, we stand in solidarity with all peoples, recognizing the bond of interdependence among us. Our Directions in Ministry, Statements, Stances, and Commitments guide our congregation in setting guidelines, priorities, and investment decisions that have far-reaching effects. We always strive to address injustice in a spirit of respect, compassion, and solidarity.
We rely on a process that, through dialogue and courage,
leads us to a deeper understanding of complex areas of injustice
rooted in racism, sexism, poverty, and oppression that give rise to violence.
Listen to those who are oppressed, economically poor, and living on the margins.
Seek to understand the interconnected realities
that are the roots of injustice and conflict.
Work with others to challenge and change the systems
that perpetuate the harm that is being done.
Address injustice in a spirit of respect, compassion, and solidarity.
The Leadership Team in 2015, affirming our 1999 Direction Statement on Racism, issued the following statement:
The Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids condemn racism. Hate and discrimination diminish us all. We grieve with the citizens of Charlottesville and with all of us who are also harmed by racist words and actions anywhere. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones, with all who live in fear, and with all whose dignity is threatened by hate and violence.
The Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids stand against harmful rhetoric and actions that result in fear and evoke hatred in our cities and neighborhoods. Racism afflicts our country. Any conversation or activity that contributes to division, hatred, violence, or disrespect of another human being hurts all of us as a human family. We pray that people relate to each other with dignity and respect.
We, as Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids, see first the common ground of our humanity, and allow our differences only to enrich, and not to disparage. In all of our undertakings, we will notice first and foremost the human person before us. (DSGR Statement Against Racism 1999)
Moved by the Prophets, inspired by Jesus, and guided by Catholic Social Teaching, we claim the truth that the fruits of creation and all that is produced from them have a universal destination – they are meant for all. The economy, enlivened by a healthy cooperation between private initiative and government, is to be at the service of the common good. We denounce global economic systems that value money and profit over the dignity of human beings and the life of the planet.
Our call is to examine economic structures and systems in terms of how they hurt people with the least resources; to change our own practices that contribute to this; and to advocate for policies that promote more equitable sharing of Earth’s abundance.
A major endeavor undertaken by the Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids is Socially Responsible Investments. We are members of the Coalition of Responsible Investors of Michigan and Indiana (CCRIM) with a membership from eleven religious congregations.) Through CCRIM we are affiliated with the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility and with them are able to cofile resolutions and enter into dialogues with corporations where we are shareholders. Our Economic Justice response teams respond to federal and state budgets, the Affordable Care Act, work and labor issues and the like.
Ecological reflection leads us to acknowledge three truths: 1) the theological truth that creation, the precious common home for the whole of life, is God’s; 2) the scientific truth that human behavior is causing grave harm to the environment, even to the extent of changing the climate (Laudato Si); 3) and the moral truth that we individuals, groups, and nations have the duty to reverse this destructive trend. Pope Francis, in his 2015 address to the United Nations, gave voice to the rights of nature.
Our Call: to respect and honor those rights through the lifestyle choices we make, personally and collectively.
Our response team collaborates with the Catholic Climate Covenant, West Michigan Environmental Action Coalition, Citizens Climate Lobby, and others. Alerts to which we respond have included support of the Paris Agreement, use of pesticides and antibiotics, care of the Great Lakes, support of the EPA.
There is the sociological and economic truth of the deplorable worldwide industry in human trafficking. For purposes of slave and sex labor, desperate men, women, and children are drawn into a vortex of degradation. We denounce the consumerist mentality by which human beings are turned into mere instruments of satisfaction and profit.
Our call is to expose the truth about modern-day slavery and advocate for substantive laws that protect victims and hold accountable all who facilitate and enable human trafficking.
According to the United Nations, there are over 60,000,000 displaced people in the world today. Recent Popes and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have repeatedly defended the right of people to migrate whether they are fleeing poverty, political or religious repression, or violence. They call upon wealthier countries, like the United States, to open their doors to receive those coming to them in need.
Our call is to welcome the stranger, to speak the truth of the roots of our own immigrant nation, and to advocate for just immigration policies and practices.
In 2014, our Congregation made a corporate stance to act as advocates for unaccompanied children at the border in local, national, and international communities.
Additionally, our response team has responded to alerts for comprehensive immigration reform, protection of DACA, continuation of ITP status for Haitians and Hondurans. We participate in local demonstrations, marches, etc. We work with the West Michigan Coalition for Immigration Reform, Michigan Immigration Rights Center, the MICAH Center/Workers Rights Center. Members of our response team provide ESL and citizenship programs as well as tutoring services for immigrants.
We extol the dignity of every human life, made in God’s image, a truth revealed in Genesis. To live that truth we take a stand, by preaching and action, against all threats to human well-being. The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties” of all people – of those threatened by war abroad or gun violence at home, of prisoners, of the sick, of children in the womb, of mothers in crisis – these too are our “joys and hopes … griefs and anxieties.” (Cf. Gaudium et Spes, #1.)
Our call is to see the face of God in the whole of life, to embrace the tenets of nonviolence, and to practice loving our enemies.
Members of our response team have been national leaders in nuclear disarmament movements. Locally we have collaborated with the Institute for Global Education. We have responded to alerts and initiatives on gun violence, death penalty, prison reform, police/community relations, civil discourse.
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