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“Justice is JUST US”
with Sr. Anita Price Baird, DHM
SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence Annual Event
April 7, 2019
It was a gorgeous spring day on Sunday, April 7th when we welcomed Sister Anita Baird, DHM from Chicago to Buffalo as the speaker for the annual event of the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence. Hosted by SS. Columba-Brigid Church, Sister Anita’s presentation was an inspirational call to seek God’s Spirit each new day that “will allow us to put down our fears and to take up LOVE, to be consumed by love…Sister Karen was that hope, that joy, filled with love. She knew God’s faithfulness would guide her.”
After an opening prayer by the Reverend Antwan Diggs (whom Sister Karen helped years ago through her ministry with formerly incarcerated men at Bissonette House) and singing “This Little Light of Mine,” Center director Vivian Waltz celebrated the work of the SSJ Sister Karen Center by sharing highlights of this past year. Alternatives to Violence Project workshops continue at Wende Correctional Facility, in the community with seminarians, and with youth at Compass House Resource Center and Teaching and Restoring Youth (TRY). Camp Peaceprints 2018 touched the lives of 59 children and youth, exploring together “The Language of Peace.” Inmates at Attica Correctional Facility recently contributed a large donation for Camp Peaceprints scholarships. Tracy Craig, wife of SSJ Sister Karen Center board member Kali Williams, presented a check $1,000 for camp scholarships during the event program.
Middle school students from Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts then performed an excerpt from their play “Ruby” about the life of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American student to attend an all-white school in New Orleans in 1960. The cast of four girls included a young Ruby, an older Ruby who reflected on her childhood experience, Ruby’s mother Lucille, and Mrs. Henry, Ruby’s first grade teacher. When Ruby asked Mrs. Henry about being a teacher, Mrs. Henry told her she had taught overseas in integrated schools. Ruby responded “Then you ain’t know nothin’ bout segregation?” Mrs. Henry replied, “I know that it’s wrong.” The close relationship between Mrs. Henry and young Ruby was evident even in the short presentation by the BAVPA students.
Sister Elizabeth Savage, SSJ introduced Sister Anita, citing her numerous awards and honors, but more importantly sharing Sister Anita’s motto of faith in God: “Do whatever he tells you!” Sister Anita then took the podium and began by thanking the SSJ Sister Karen Center’s Advisory Board for our invitation. She also recognized members of the audience from Nardin Academy. Sister Anita’s congregation, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary founded Nardin in Buffalo in 1857.
Noting that we are in the fifth week of Lent, Sister Anita began by talking about the price of love. She believes that practicing love and mercy are the only ways to please God: “Love of neighbor is the pathway to justice and justice is the pathway to peace.” Quoting scripture that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, Sister Anita testified to Sister Karen’s passion for equality and justice which was the impetus for her willingness to lay down her life for the least of her brothers and sisters.
Sister Karen worked closely with the African-American community and Sister Anita talked about the evils of modern day segregation, both in Buffalo and Chicago as well as across the nation. Recognizing that we have made significant progress in housing, education, and income disparities, she described how the majority of people of color in this country continue to live in forgotten neighborhoods with failing schools, lack of healthcare, food deserts, and joblessness. Crime is high in these communities because people are desperate and there seems to be no way out. “We can scream to the top of our lungs that ‘Black Lives Matter’ but the reality is that angry, hopeless black youth and racially-biased law enforcement paint a very different picture…Peace and justice for poor communities is ever elusive.”
According to Sister Anita, Sister Karen’s martyrdom continuously calls us to put on the mantle of peace. Her lasting legacy is that we are all our brother’s and sister’s keeper. “Sister Karen’s voice was more than the communication of intellectual ideals and spiritual vision. Hers was a call to action…by her example she taught people that there is a way out of violence and despair and that it begins with each one of us.” Justice is JUST US!
The sin of racism was the focus of the next part of Sister Anita’s presentation. Harkening back to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 speech, “Where Do We Go from Here?” she concurs that the effects of hundreds of years of slavery and segregation cannot be wiped away in a generation or two. She talked about how the Christian Church was and is complicit in racism because of the silence of the Church’s leadership in the face of continuing injustice.
There has never been a social problem more enduring in the life of our nation than racism according to Sister Anita. “Let us truly believe that we are in the struggle of our lives. We must determine who we will be as Americans. We must stand up to speak the truth, for future generations, like the young actresses in the play, are depending on us. We cannot remain indifferent. We cannot remain silent… Anything less means that we are dishonoring this woman that we honor today.”
Sister Anita continued to call us to be stalwartly committed to the struggle for justice and equality for which Sister Karen gave her life. “We cannot rest until the children in the neighborhoods where Sister Karen lived and walked are no longer imprisoned behind bars of poor education and victimized by an often unjust criminal justice system that incarcerates black and brown bodies providing free labor for modern-day slave plantation that we call prisons.”
It was then that Sister Anita spoke a prophetic message: “Yet in the spirit of lament, we hold firmly to the belief that God is in our midst, that there is no pain, no hurt, no injustice so deep that God is not deeper.”
Drawing from the depths of God’s mercy, Sister Karen was a prophet, according to Sister Anita. “She spoke with the passion and poetry of those anointed by God to preach the good news that justice can and will prevail…We must continue to be challenged by the contagious hope, love, and optimism in the midst of life’s daily struggles that Sister Karen exuded in all that she said and did…We’ve all been given a light that will overcome darkness.”
Sister Karen let her light shine! She was the light in the midst of darkness for those who had long given up on life. “She was a mother to the motherless, a friend to the friendless, and a ray of hope to the hopeless.” We are to emulate the unwavering faith of Sister Karen, of whom Sister Anita testified: “She listened. God spoke, She acted.” Justice is JUST US!
Sister Anita testified to the eternal legacy of Sister Karen’s life and ministry. “This woman is now among the saints of glory, this woman is praising God day and night and is interceding for us and for this world, watching over us, loving us, praying for us, challenging us, encouraging us to continue to move forward, to fight the good fight, to keep our hands on the plow and not look back. We have been called; we have been chosen to leave peaceprints wherever we go!”
It was time to sing the “Peaceprints”song as we do every year. “Follow the way of love…It’s time to light the way to peace, our spirits full ablaze!”
DVDs of the program are available by calling 716.893.0808 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
See April Annual Event Photos page for photos.
CLICK ON NEWSLETTER TO VIEW SUMMER 2018 NEWSLETTER
“A Journey of Justice and Mercy”
with William J. Hochul, Jr.
SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence Annual Event
The SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence welcomed William J. Hochul, Jr. as its speaker for its Annual Event. Attendees joined him on “A Journey of Justice and Mercy.”
SS. Columba-Brigid Church, 75 Hickory St., Buffalo hosted the event April 15, at 3:00pm. A reception followed.
A U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York 2010 – 2016, Mr. Hochul talked about the ideals that led him to his long career in the legal field. He shared highlights of his extensive experience with why people resort to violence, what can help them turn from violence and what a community can do to assist people to live nonviolent lives.
A Cheektowaga native, Mr. Hochul received his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1981 and his J.D. from SUNY Buffalo Law School in 1984. He currently serves as general counsel for Delaware North.
The event also honored William Marx and the Buffalo Peacemakers Gang Intervention and Outreach Program. Mr. Marx, a member of the Center’s board, is a long-time advocate of social justice, particularly through Pax Christi and as a facilitator of the Alternatives to Violence Project. Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Peacemakers brings together existing peace-making groups to mentor youth, strengthen communities, enhance safety and reduce crime in Buffalo neighborhoods.
CLICK ON NEWSLETTER TO VIEW WINTER 2017-18 NEWSLETTER
SEE CAMP PEACEPRINTS PAGE FOR NEWS OF CAMP PP 2017
SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence Marks 10 Years of Service
April 2, 2017 "On the Edge of Violence and Nonviolence: The Challenging Words of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam"
Dr. Christopher Stanley, professor of theology at St. Bonaventure University, will speak at the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence’s annual fundraiser on April 2nd. SS. Columba & Brigid Parish (75 Hickory St.) will host the event at 3:00pm.
Dr. Stanley’s presentation, “On the Edge of Violence and Nonviolence,” will examine some key texts in all three Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—that give divine sanction to both violence and nonviolence. Followers of the religions have long struggled to make sense of these directives and to understand how they can be applied today. Some benefits and dangers of guiding our lives by these texts will be discussed.
A lifelong activist and pacifist, Dr. Stanley has traveled the world to help people explore the role of religion in contemporary social conflicts. He will call us to respond nonviolently to the challenges facing our society today.
A celebration of the 10th anniversary of the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence and a reception will follow the presentation.
Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 362.9688, online at www.sisterkarencenter.org, or at the door.
PEACE-JUSTICE-NONVIOLENCE FESTIVAL AND WALK Sept. 11, 2016 at Canalside
Joining Together for All Our Brothers, Sisters, Children & Mother Earth
A warm and sunny day at Canalside on September 11th was the setting for the third annual Peace-Justice-Nonviolence Festival and Walk. The Sister Karen Center was one of over 125 sponsoring organizations which comprise the WNY Coalition ofPeace, Justice and Nonviolence Advocates. The lively festival was just one of the multitude of ways these groups are hard at work to reduce violence in our community and world.
The festival was intentionally planned on September 11th to reframe and rededicate the day in accordance with the vision of the September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. The nonviolent examples of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sister Karen Klimczak, Buffalo’s Apostle of Peace, were an inspiration for the festival.
Members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy opened the proceedings with a traditional Indigenous Nation’s Welcome and Thanksgiving to All Creation. The greeting was followed by an interfaith prayer and moment of silence for all victims of violence locally and throughout the world. Various speakers emphasized the interconnectedness of the violenceof racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, poverty, war, gun violence and the destruction ofMother Earth.
Participants were given a ribbon of fabric and asked to write on it a word or phrase that expresses peace, justice, and nonviolence. The ribbons were tied together and carried on a Walk of Peace with drumming and singing along the river to the marina gardens.
Throughout the festival over 400 attendees mingled at informational tables staffed by community organizations. (Sister Jean Klimczak gave out “I Leave Peaceprints” dove signs at the Sister Karen table!) Vendors offered tasty ethnic food. Facepainting by Charlotte Waltz-Rieber and craft-making were enjoyed by children of all ages.
In reflecting on the day, Sister Karen Center Director Vivian Waltz was quoted in the Buffalo News. “There are so many groups working for peace and justice in Buffalo, it’s important to get together and celebrate the work we do, especially now when people are so divided and there’s so much violence. Each year it’s a day of healing and peace.” (See home page for photos.)