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Principles of non-violence

Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966

Paging through the newspaper the other day, I came across an interview with Ambassador Andrew Young, a close associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. The interviewer asked Young many questions about his early days in the civil rights movement. Young’s responses were thoughtful, measured and obviously the product of a man who has spent a lifetime working on behalf of others. I’m glad I read the interview.

But what truly caught me was the photo of Young accompanying the interview. I have a frozen-in-time mental picture of him. It is an image of a handsome, young, vibrant man – straight from my younger days in the ’60s! The photo showed a white-haired, older, very dignified person – pensive looking rather than ready to march.

All this to say – the struggle to end racism in our nation has been going on far longer than we probably care to acknowledge. It continues today … definitely as a justice ministry for the long haul.

Within the Sisters of Providence, our Anti-Racism Team helps us keep our eyes on the goal of being an anti-racist congregation. Made up of sisters, staff members and other lay volunteers, this group has provided workshops for SPs and our staff members, reflections, training sessions for our sponsored institutions and ministries, as well as training sessions with the Terre Haute police department, etc. The team members are dedicated and unceasing in the goal of eliminating racism.

Early on, this team adopted and passed on to all of us involved the definition of racism employed by Crossroads Ministry: racism = prejudice [systemic misuse of] power.

This definition requires thoughtful and careful analysis of our SP structures and systems. It is a challenging definition because it moves us beyond feeling into action on behalf of those who suffer from the often-unconscious exercise of white privilege throughout our Congregation systems and processes.

It goes without saying that the way we wish to be an anti-racist congregation is in keeping with the ways of Martin Luther King, Jr. – prayer, education, action and non-iolent resistance.

A group of our sisters prepared a prayer service for Congregation members to use in remembering Dr. King on the Jan. 21 holiday in his honor. The service includes a listing of Dr. King’s Principles of Non-violence.

Using the following principles as a foundation, please join with the Sisters of Providence in prayerful reflection, discussion and prayer and perhaps even in acts of non-violent resistance:

  • Non-violence is a way of life for courageous people.
  • Non-violence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
  • Non-violence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.
  • Non-violence holds that suffering can educate and transform.
  • Non-violence chooses love instead of hate.
  • Non-violence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.

Dr. King gives us much to ponder and to live. May we be worthy of his legacy.

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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