Sisters and Associates Call for Justice for Refugees
Like all Dominicans around the globe, the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill have a deep and special concern for social justice issues. The Congregation recently took part in two important projects that call attention to the need for justice in today’s world.
First was the Give Refugees Rest campaign, run by the Rockland County, NY-based Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). The campaign, which aims to end Islamophobia and welcome Syrian and Muslim refugees into the United States, asked participants to decorate pillowcases with their wishes and messages for a hospitable United States. Why pillowcases? Simply put, there’s nothing more basic than having a place to lay your head. The pillowcases are then mailed to governors or the Speaker of the House, telling elected officials to wake up to human rights, and give refugees rest!
At a congregational meeting in late March, 215 Sisters and Associates designed an impressive display of pillowcases which were then sent to governors in all the states where the Sisters live and minister.
Decorated pillowcases hanging on display at Dominican Convent.
The grassroots #GiveRefugeesRest campaign was born during a time when the Iraqi/Syrian refugee crisis was, and still is, surging across the globe. Thirty-one US governors as well as Congress are attempting to prevent these refugees from entering individual states and the nation as a whole. “When I heard about FOR’s campaign, it was a perfect way for us to make concrete our commitment to refugees and immigrants,” said Sr. Eileen Gannon, Justice and Peace Representative for the Sparkill Congregation. “We’ve written letters, we’ve made phone calls, but this seemed a perfect action at this time when hate crimes against Muslim Americans and mosques in the US are increasing.”
Sisters and Associates designing their pillowcase messages.
The goal of the Give Refugees Rest campaign is that states across the nation will change their orientation toward refugees. The Sisters hope their voices, in the form of words and drawings carefully laid out on dozens of pillowcases, will join together with many others and send a loud message when they land on the desks of government officials around the country. People of all faiths and backgrounds are encouraged to join the campaign.
The second project the Sisters took part in was an international effort by the Dominican Family (Sisters, Associates, Nuns, Friars, Volunteers and Laity) to increase awareness of the ongoing crisis facing their Dominican Family members and those they serve in Iraq. As the 13th anniversary of the war in Iraq was marked on March 19th and Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged the genocide being committed by ISIS, Iraqi Dominicans welcomed a reminder that they had not been forgotten.
The Sisters shared messages of support and prayer via their Facebook page, meant not only to spread public awareness but also to directly reach the Dominican Family currently in Iraq. At the congregational meeting in March, the whole community expressed solidarity with Iraqi Dominicans, signing and taking photos with posters that boldly stated “We Have Not Forgotten”. The pictures, seen below, have been sent to the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Iraq.
Dominican Sisters of Sparkill with their messages of support for Iraqi Dominicans.
“Our connection with the Family in Iraq allows us to understand directly the horrendous situations in which so many in our world live,” said Sr. Eileen. “It keeps us from being indifferent to the tragedies experienced every day by people around the world. Here in the United States, we hear about one catastrophe after another and can be tempted to “glaze over” it all because it’s so overwhelming. We simply cannot let this happen. Through projects and actions like the outreach to the Iraqi people and the Give Rest to Refugees campaign, we challenge ourselves to stay informed and speak up for justice in our world. We are always looking for ways to join with others in these efforts and invite you to connect with us.”
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