Over the course of the last calendar year, St. Ignatius Parish has been grappling intentionally with the realities of racism and racial unrest in our country, church, and parish. This racial reckoning stems from the murder of George Floyd by police office Derek Chauvin on May 25th, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death approaches, together we pause to reflect on our own progress in becoming a parish committed to antiracism.
During the summer of 2020, Father Bonfiglio challenged members of the parish by asking how St. Ignatius could best respond to the issue of racial justice. He subsequently appointed a group of parishioners to spearhead a parish Antiracism Committee, which invited leadership to grow in their own knowledge of antiracism by reading Fr. Bryan Massingale’s Racial Justice and the Catholic Church and Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist. Additionally, gathering for a retreat, the Committee engaged in a day of prayer, reflection, and discernment to create a vision for how St. Ignatius can build the pursuit of racial justice into its identity:
St. Ignatius Parish will be an antiracist multicultural parish where people of diverse identities including race, gender, sexual orientation, and others will experience a safe community, faithful to the Gospel call of Jesus.
In addition to reading books, the parish has taken some concrete steps to actualize that vision. Some of these include:
• A Sunday Hospitality Adult Faith Formation conversation centered around equity, inclusion, and our Jesuit Catholic mission.
• An antiracism retreat in October for parishioners to reflect on our “taken-for-granted” assumptions about culture and race.
• Homilies at mass addressing the issue of racism in our country.
• A deep-dive, twice-weekly Discernment Series on Racial Justice newsletter featuring essays and reflections on issues of race and faith, with more than 900 participants, many from outside St. Ignatius Parish
• Establishment of small faith sharing discussion groups as part of the Discernment Series
• Collaboration with the Ignatian Solidarity Network and Jesuits West Collaborative Organizing for Racial Equity (CORE) efforts and initiatives over the past year.
Additionally, through a strategic planning process with representation from the five parish commissions, the Parish Council adopted five strategic goals related to racial justice. These include:
1. Cultivating Community Conversation and Deepening Relationships
2. Diversifying Liturgy, Prayer, and Worship
3. Educating Our Community
4. Evaluating Policies, Practices, and Procedures
5. Expanding Outreach
Each goal corresponds with one of our five Commissions. To put these goals into action, each of our five Parish Commissions will decide how to best put their particular goal into action, beginning next week during the monthly Leadership Night.
The vision and goals stem from our own mission statement which calls us to be a welcoming and inclusive Catholic community because we are companions of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Word, who lovingly looked down on the world, became flesh and dwelt among us so that we might know God’s love and desire for us to be one human family. During his life, Jesus always accompanied the poor and the marginalized and declared his mission was one of liberation (Luke 4:16-21).
To celebrate the official adoption of this plan, all parishioners are invited to attend our liturgies this weekend, which will shine light on how our scriptures can inform us about racism. This is a momentous day for us as a parish because it also marks the reopening of all our liturgies, more than one year after we closed due to the Coronavirus crisis.
During this season, when we are invited to experience the Easter joy of Christ’s resurrection and become “co-laborers’ with him to build the Kingdom, let us take up Christ’s call and the call of the Society of Jesus’ Universal Apostolic Preferences to walk with the excluded, the marginalized, those whose dignity has been lost by working to truly make our parish an antiracist parish, one where all are included and we are all celebrated as beautifully made in the image and likeness of God.
As we continue this work, we would like to acknowledge the excellent work of the Antiracism Committee, past and present, for all the ways they have prayed, discerned, and worked for justice, including: Fr. Greg Bonfiglio SJ, Michael Boyle, Teresa Cannata, Lisa Freese, Ana Gonzales-Lane, Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez, Lucy Irwin, Rosa King, Quincy Krashna, Michael Neary, Veronica Palustra, Gail Priestly, and Larry Simi.
Teresa Cariño and Lucas Sharma SJ