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Rock star for justice

It’s not every day you pick up a Rolling Stone magazine and know someone being featured in one of the articles, but that’s what happened to me last week.

I’ve been to rock concerts, but I’ve never been backstage. I’ve interviewed country music stars like Faith Hill and Pirates of the Mississippi for a short-lived country music column in Indianapolis’ alternative newspaper, Nuvo.

I guess you could say the person I’m connected to in this issue is a rock star in some sense. She’s a rock star for justice.

Sister of Providence Kathleen Desautels is featured in “The Nuns Crusade” by Mark Binelli on pages 70-75 of the current issue of Rolling Stone.

Sister of Providence Kathleen Desautels, in pink, stands on the courthouse steps on the first day of her trial after being arrested for peacefully protesting several years ago. Sister Kak is featured in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

Sister Kak, as we call her, was one of the first Sisters of Providence I got to know when I began working in the communications office at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods almost 15 years ago.

I’ve learned a lot from her. She challenges me to step outside my comfort zone. She inspires me.

One lesson I’ve learned from Sister Kak is that it’s ok to shop in big department stores as long as you communicate with the managers when you don’t agree with items being sold in the store — such as clothing brands made in sweatshops, for instance. Or strawberries being sold out of season — meaning they’re trucked in from thousands of miles away and all that entails.

Several times I’ve visited 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago, where she ministers. The ministry is amazing. The people I’ve met there, whether they be staff members, speakers or others they collaborate with, always have powerful stories. The kind of people you meet and never forget.

Sister Kak is one of those people to me. I’m sure she is to many others, too. Others like those she met at a big anti-NATO rally and march last spring or at the hundreds of other demonstrations in places like Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, Decatur, Ill., Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti.

I find comfort in knowing that when I don’t feel I can take time away from my two jobs in Indiana to participate in a sit-in or other nonviolent protests for a positive change that others, including Sister Kak, are there representing so many.

Rock on, Sister Kak!

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Cheryl Casselman

Cheryl Casselman worked as a marketing manager for the Sisters of Providence for twenty years. She grew up in Camby, Indiana and now lives in Sullivan County, Indiana. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Indiana State University and master's degree in Leadership Development from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

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