Our work with the 8th Day Center for Justice

8th Day Center for Justice friends, including Sister Kathleen Desautels (center) at the SOAWatch Border Convergence in 2016.

8th Day Center for Justice, a non-profit organization with staff offices in Chicago, is named after the Christian belief that all of life is in the 8th day of creation bringing all to full justice.

8th Day was founded in 1974 by six Catholic religious congregations of women and men. Today, more than 35 sponsoring congregations, as well as other partners, support 8th Day’s commitment to act as a critical alternative voice to oppressive systems and to work actively to change those systems.

8th Day envisions a world of right relationships in which all creation is seen as sacred and interconnected. Its mission is guided by the principles of non-violence, cooperation and mutuality with Earth and among all people regardless of ethnicity, religion, cultural background, gender, socio-economic class, or sexual orientation.

8th Day lives out its mission through efforts of education, advocacy, organizing and non-violent direct actions. The center upholds the right of conscience to dissent against oppressive structures in society and actively responds to emerging critical needs of our times.

8th Day Center’s internal organizing structure operates in a circular model of decision-making. As such, all roles and responsibilities are distributed in a non-hierarchical manner among the full-time staff.

Visit the center’s webpage or Facebook page or feel free to call us at 312-641-5151.

Sadly, 8th Day Center recently announced that it will be closing in September 2018. Read the full statement regarding the closure here.

Links

The following are links to many of the happenings at 8th Day Center for Justice:

Events: Check out a list of ongoing events the center takes part in

Centerings: The alternative magazine the center publishes. To receive Centerings, contact Jill Landrith (Jill@8thdaycenter.org)

Solidarity Statements: Read some of the statements the center has produced

Young Adult Council: Read more about how the center is engaging youth

Contact: A list of contact information for the center

Information on SOA/WHINSEC

The Sisters of Providence and friends march together behind their banner.

The School of the Americas (SOA), now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), located in Fort Benning, Ga., is a U.S. Army combat training school. The facility trains Latin American military in “anti-insurgency” tactics. For decades, numerous SOA graduates have been linked directly by the United Nations and human rights groups to the torture and massacre of their own people when they return home. The training school is supported by United States tax dollars.

SOA Watch is a large grassroots organization committed to closing the SOA and changing U.S. policy in Latin America through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and non-violent protests, as well as media and legislative work. Sisters of Providence have worked with SOA Watch for many years, and the congregation has an active presence at the yearly vigil that SOA Watch hosts at the gates of Fort Benning each November.  (To learn more about SOA Watch, visit them at www.soaw.org.)

Several Sisters of Providence have chosen to take direct action in protest of SOA/WHINSEC, facing legal repercussions for crossing onto federal property at Fort Benning. Sisters have also traveled to Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti and Guatemala where they have learned about the attacks by the military on people in those countries. In November 2008, Sister Kathleen Desautels was part of an SOA Watch delegation to Chile which sought to persuade the Chilean government to stop sending their military personnel to the school.

Sisters of Providence, Providence Volunteer Ministers and friends at the yearly vigil at the gates of Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, November 2008

Sisters of Providence, Providence Volunteer Ministers and friends at the yearly vigil at the gates of Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, November 2007

Prisoners and probationers of conscience

Sister Kathleen Desautels helps to organize the crowds for the procession.

Throughout the history of SOA Watch’s yearly vigils at the SOA/WHINSEC at Ft. Benning, Ga., various participants have chosen to take direct action by breaking federal law and trespassing onto the military base. After prayerful consideration and discernment, several Sisters of Providence have chosen to cross the line in this manner in protest of the school and have faced legal repercussions for their actions including house arrest, mandatory community service, probation and jail time.

Sister Kathleen Desautels

Sister Kathleen Desautels crossed the line in November 2001. She was found guilty on federal trespassing charges and served a six-month sentence at the Federal Prison Camp-Greenville (Ill.). Released in March 2003, Sister Kathleen remains committed to her mission and to working to close the SOA/WHINSEC.

“If loving peace and doing civil resistance to bring attention to this Gospel call is a crime, I’m glad to be called guilty,” she says. “Being a prisoner of conscience or being a probationer of conscience is being part of a growing community of peacemakers willing to do a non-violent act of civil disobedience. I prefer to think of it as faithful obedience to the Gospel call for love, mercy and justice.”

Read the original March 10, 2003, press release: “Sister of Providence released from prison.”

Sister Adele Beacham places her cross in the gates of Fort Benning.

Sisters Adele Beacham, Rita Clare Gerardot and Joann Quinkert

Along with 93 other protestors, three Sisters of Providence were arrested on federal trespassing charges on November 17 2002 for crossing an arbitrary line at Fort Benning, Ga. Sisters Adele Beacham, Rita Clare Gerardot and Joann Quinkert each were sentenced to 12 months probation. Sister Adele also was sentenced to house arrest and 250 hours of community service; Sisters Rita Clare and Joann received 500 hours of community service each.

At the time of their arrest, Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara (then General Superior of the Sisters of Providence) said, “We, the General Council of the Sisters of Providence, respect the choice of conscience of our sisters and support them with our love and our prayer. It is only through courageous acts such as theirs that others can be made aware of what the military arm of our government is doing in our names.”

Read the original press releases: