Sister Tracey Horan recognized by USCCB
Sister of Providence Tracey Horan was recently honored for her work ministering in social justice by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at a reception on Wednesday, June 14.
Sister Tracey, a native of Indianapolis and second-year novice with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, received the 2017 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the USCCB’s domestic anti-poverty and social justice program. The reception took place at the Indianapolis Catholic Center.
Sister Tracey, who ministers as a Bilingual Community Organizer for the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN), said she did not know she had been nominated for the honor until she received an email from USCCB officials.
“I wasn’t even aware that the award existed until then,” Sister Tracey said.
Sister Tracey added she had been nominated for the award by one of her colleagues, Shoshanna Spector, IndyCAN executive director.
During the reception, Sister Tracey spoke to the USCCB bishops in attendance for approximately two minutes on the topic of social justice.
When she began her ministry with IndyCAN, Sister Tracey admitted there was a learning curve for her.
“I didn’t have any formal training in community organizing,” she said. “I definitely have had a lot of growing pains in setting meetings with (Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and staff) and doing big events. It’s brand new to me.
“But we have a lot of amazing leaders who are a part of IndyCAN.”
The award is given in honor of Cardinal Joseph Louis Bernardin, who ministered as the Archbishop of Cincinnati from 1972-1982, and then as the Archbishop of Chicago until 1996 when he died.
“There is a connection with the Sisters of Providence,” Sister Tracey said. “We had several sisters who ministered in the Archdiocese of Chicago when Cardinal Bernardin was there. There has been a strong connection with our community and his legacy.
“I know that he was really passionate about systemic work and I know that he is really known for being a connector of people.”
Sister Tracey added that receiving the award “affirms” not only IndyCAN’s dedication to social justice, but also the Sisters of Providence.
“I think it is challenging to do social change work within the church,” Sister Tracey said. “Even though it is an essential part of who we are, it takes a lot of work to bring the everyday Catholic into it sometimes.
“But this gives me a lot of hope that there are still people who want to make sure this legacy continues and remains essential to the mission of the church.”
(Note: Below you will see Sister Tracey Horan’s acceptance speech, provided by Sister Dawn Tomaszewski):
I want to take a moment to thank the leadership of the USCCB for their support of work that puts faith into action to create a more just world. The Bishop’s Conference in Indiana under the leadership of then Archbishop, now Cardinal Tobin, followed by Bishop Rhodes, and soon to be Archbishop Thompson has made social justice a priority. Ralph McCloud, the National Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and our local Archdiocesan Director, David Bethuram, who help ensure the campaign’s ability to change systemic injustice and structures. I also want to note my thanks to the USCCB for their leadership, facilitation, and promotion for the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements in California. This was an opportunity for a Gospel encounter at a critical moment for people in our nation. And, of course, I wish to thank my parents and the Sisters of Providence who have formed my faith and continue to do so.
I began my formal ministry as a community organizer with Indianapolis Congregation Action Network last summer with a focus on developing immigrant leaders in our local churches. I jumped right into IndyCAN’s Ticket to Opportunity campaign. Over 3 months, 1,248 volunteers from our churches and partners engaged 40,000 voters to pass a transit expansion that will create thousands of jobs and double (in some cases triple) transit access for people of color and people in poverty in our city.
Community organizing and the rich Catholic Social Teachings of the church provide a vehicle for people to claim our God-given power and human dignity despite sometimes overwhelming feelings of powerlessness. People like Cardinal Tobin, who accompanied Emilio, an undocumented grandfather, to immigration court, have underlined the significance of this work today. – As Cardinal Tobin said, our call is to be people of faith-to “be the no” to a nation that chooses to separate families who are victims of a broken system.
Cardinal Bernadin’s Common Ground Initiative states, “Each of us will be tested by encounters with cultures and viewpoints not our own; all of us will be refined in the fires of genuine engagement; and the whole church will be strengthened for its mission in the new millennium.”
Over the past year, I have encountered people of faith from the 17 largest denominations in central Indiana, from more than 30 congregations committed to systemic change. When we gather, unlikely connections grow. Black, brown and white people sit down in rooms to talk about the impact of national health care changes on their families. Monolingual Latino parents sit down with their bilingual children to make calls to voters. Jewish Rabbis, Roman Catholic and Episcopal priests, Mennonite and Baptist pastors envision together what it looks like to create safe spaces for families living in fear of deportation and over-criminalization. The culture of divisiveness we live in today tells us these relationships are impossible. But we, as people of faith, know that with God, all things are possible. We know that unity is the only way forward. Organizing affirms that these relationships are not only possible but essential to building the reign of God on earth.
Tomorrow scores of faith leaders will gather downtown for a vigil to end the illegal practice of holding immigrants in our local jail without cause. We will hear from Maynor, a Latino lay leader from one of our Catholic churches who knows what it is like to be detained without warning. Maynor has been drawn to faith-based organizing that cuts across race, denomination and generation because these were the relationships that sustained him during the weeks he was detained. He found strength through gathering in the prison with men from diverse backgrounds with shared values and hopes for change. I invite those who are able to join us tomorrow at noon in front of the City-County Building for this vigil – another chance for us to “be the no” when our culture chooses to honor the human dignity and rights of some, but not others.
I am grateful to each of you for the ways you support the Church’s mission to build a more whole and just world, and pray that each of us continue to be converted by encounter to manifest the reign of God here and now. Thank you.
About the Sisters of Providence
The Sisters of Providence, a Congregation of nearly 250 women religious, with more than 280 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries may be found at SistersofProvidence.org.