Listening with the Intent to Learn

Photo by Chandana Ban on Unsplash

A few weeks ago I spoke with a friend of mine who said, “Katie, I feel like I’ve been asked to choose between being authentically Catholic and Black. I’m not going to choose anymore between being Black and being authentically Catholic.” The rest of the conversation I had with her has spurred me on to read and listen more to people whose stories and experiences are different than mine. In general, I’ve experienced very little persecution for my faith. I’m a cradle Catholic who went to Catholic school through my undergraduate degree then worked at two Churches before coming to work at a not-for-profit that serves Catholic Churches throughout the United States. My job is to coach Churches in their growth and transformation.

So what will help us grow and transform when it comes to racial equality? I have three ideas to share, but I want to hear from you too. What has your parish done? What have you listened to recently that gave you a widen perspective? This is not a checklist or an all-encompassing list of resources to “make us racially equal” by any means. It’s just three things that have been helpful for me that I’d like to share with you.

We are the Church // A Discussion on Race and the Catholic Church sponsored by Blessed Is She. It’s an hour, but it’s powerful. It’s a reminder that not everyone has the same experience or the same perspective on the world. I encourage you to take a listen to these three young Black women and their experience in their faith and the Catholic Church.

I’ve heard a few times now: “This is a political issue. We don’t get involved in politics.” We are a Church that focuses on issues that can also be considered political. We bring buses of people to the March for Life in DC each year. My own Diocese is a major organizer in a local march here in Charlotte. Ensuring all have dignity is not a political issue. The Church does not align with a political party. We don’t 100% agree with the left or the right. The Gospel is somewhere else, not even really in the middle – but outside of tho political divide. This piece about the Church and politics from Haley Stewart is thoughtfully written. The False Gods of American Politics

My last comment is to talk about a celebrate Black Saints, Indigenous Saints, and Saints of Color. In general we can get stuck on celebrating our old favorites (whom I love). I’m not suggesting we abandon Therese of Lisieux, Joseph, Catherine, Augustine, or Anthony of Padua – but rather that we add to our canon of celebrations and feast days. Let’s celebrate Bl. Peter Kibe, St. Josephine Bakhita, and Bl. Isidore Bakanja … and so many more. Let’s make sure our calendar celebrates holy men and women of every culture and color. My friend Meg Hunter-Kilmer has shared hundreds of stories over on Instagram if you’re looking for more holy men and women to celebrate!

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