44 Days event focuses on the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement, hoping to show allyship and solidarity.
By Lenin O’Mahony
On March 3 students will have the opportunity to attend an online discussion and Q&A that focuses on Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church. The event is titled “The Voice of the Shepherd: A Dialogue on Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church.” It is described on the Saint Mary’s website as a “conversation with three national Catholic leaders, followed by SMC student responses and audience Q & A, moderated by President James Donahue.” The panelists present are Most Reverend Michael C. Barber, S.J, Bishop of Oakland, California, Pam Harris who is the Director of the Office of Ethnic Ministries at the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, and DeKarlos Blackmon the Director of the Secretariat of Life, Charity and Justice, from the Diocese of Austin, Texas.
I had the opportunity to discuss this event with Brother Charles Hilken, who as a member of the Bishop John S. Cummins Institute for Catholic Thought, Culture, and Action, felt moved to “explore the urgent spiritual and social needs of the day” with the hope that those needs can be met on our Saint Mary’s campus.
Brother Charles believes that religious organizations like the Catholic Church belongs side by side with movements like BLM, as long as those social movements work towards human solidarity and community, and “can stand under the healing light of religious founding charisms.” Brother Charles mentions how the most oppressed and marginalized people are themselves the focus of the saving power of Christ, and are obligated to be with those people, as well as alongside the social movements that might seek to uplift those same peoples.
The hope is that events like this will encourage conversation across divides. That Catholics who support BLM will be able to interact with and converse with Catholics who might struggle with accepting parts of the BLM movement and organization. As well as deeping inter-Catholic conversation, there is a desire for more communication with people of other faiths to discuss the common aims of humanity and how we can move our cultures and habits away from institutionalized racism.
Brother Charles is excited about this event's ability to do those very things, and how we have brought together a diverse panel of individuals in order to set the foundation for real conversations and real change. Events such as these are becoming more common and more important across college campuses, especially among universities of faith. More events like this are planned, with Saint Mary’s hosting a panel focused on women leadership in the Catholic Church on Saturday April 17th, 2021.
This event is taking place online on Zoom, on March 3 at 1:00 pm pacific time. More information is available on the SMC website.
Victoria Vidales '21,