2016 Feast of Scholastica and Prophet of Peace Award

2016 Feast of Scholastica and Prophet of Peace Award

Prophet of Peace Award: Linda Lyons King
Presentation by Prioress, Sister Anne Wambach, OSB
Feast of Scholastica
February 11, 2016

Benedictines seek God with a single-hearted faith according to the vision of Benedict and Scholastica. We witness to the scriptures and strive to be women of compassion who take responsibility for local and global change to bring about justice and peace in our world. Because of this we choose this feast for our annual Prophet of Peace Award, an opportunity to acknowledge others who take responsibility for change that brings about justice and peace.

We honor Linda Lyons King, recipient of the Erie Benedictines 2016 Prophet of Peace Award. Why is this Gospel, the story of Martha and Mary extending hospitality to others (Luke 10: 38-42), especially appropriate for the occasion?

Often when this Gospel is read there seems to be a general tendency to focus on Mary to the point of almost ignoring Martha. These sisters, Mary and Martha, have both suffered from being viewed in combination ─ a combination that seems to detract from their uniqueness rather than add to it – maybe even more so as regards Martha.

I would like us to take a good look at Martha.

In this brief section of Luke’s Gospel, we learn several things about Martha.

Martha was an important figure in her community, a woman with a home ─ a woman given to hospitality, ever ready to take care of any guests who sought refuge under her roof.

Martha’s generosity was beyond measure. She was extremely caring. You can be sure Martha’s table was a gift of the heart. Her hospitality was clearly the result of tender, loving care, concern and attention.

Martha was a doer, a capable woman who organized and ran what would have been considered a fairly large household.
We learn that Martha was capable of deep feeling and she spoke her mind about it.

Could it have been Martha’s ability for “deep feeling” that was the catalyst for her response to the pressing needs of the moment, in this case the pressing needs of hospitality? Did she not want to do everything possible to meet the needs of her guests?

When we consider all of this we start to really see Martha, a woman who was practical, efficient, talented, caring and willing to speak out and use her gifts for the good of others. One of Martha’s most generous acts was to open her home to Jesus and make him welcome through radical hospitality.

I daresay that Martha and Linda Lyons King hold in common some very important characteristics, not least among them radical hospitality.

Radical hospitality can be defined very simply:
• hospitality that overcomes injustice;
• hospitality that is rooted in love;
• hospitality that is unwavering in mercy and compassion.

Linda Lyons King is a woman who practices the kind of “radical hospitality” spoken of in Luke’s Gospel.

Like Martha, she is talented and efficient, caring and committed, faithful to her convictions, and moved by her deep feelings to respond to the pressing issue of domestic violence in our city.

Like Martha, Linda is indeed an important figure in her town, and it is right and good for her to be honored this evening for her commitment to SafeNet and its dedicated work.

SafeNet is an organization that believes every individual has the right to be respected and to live a life free from abuse.

SafeNet, Erie’s only accredited domestic violence agency, is committed to ending domestic violence, affirming human dignity and delivering comprehensive direct services to victims of domestic violence.

To this end, SafeNet provides sanctuary, support, education, and advocacy and has been doing so, free of charge, for more than 40 years. In addition, SafeNet promotes changes in legislation and social policies.

Linda Lyons King has been the Executive Director of SafeNet since 1984. We honor her this evening
• for her long-time justice work against domestic violence, primarily for women and children;
• for the leadership she has provided in educating the broader community about domestic violence and how to bring an end to it;
• and for the efforts made to provide a green space in the heart of the city — the Big Backyard Children’s Garden— where children who have been traumatized by domestic violence can, relax, play and heal.

Linda Lyons King, you embody the corporate commitment of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie as a prophetic witness of peace and justice.

We extend our annual Prophet of Peace Award to you—

• For your leadership as executive director in transforming SafeNet into a model domestic abuse agency that provides comprehensive services to over 1500 victims a year.
• For your prophetic voice in alerting the Erie community to the problem of domestic violence long before it was considered a serious subject of concern or a social justice issue.
• For 31 years of faithful dedication to educating the public about the widespread and serious nature of the domestic abuse problem that nationally affects one in three relationships.
• For clearly articulating to the public that domestic violence is a learned behavior to maintain power and control over another through fear by inflicting physical, sexual or verbal abuse.
• For being a courageous advocate for victims of abuse—primarily women, whose plight is often ignored or dismissed, and for providing temporary shelter, services and spaces of beauty that enable these women and their children to escape life-threatening situations and live in safety and dignity.

We honor you.
We applaud your life’s work.
We pray for the courage to follow your example.

May you continue to “seek peace and pursue it” with the honor and support of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie.

Sister Anne Wambach, OSB, the twenty-first prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania is a native of Philadelphia. She moved to Mount St. Benedict Monastery in 1992 to respond to a desire to experience the monastic way of life. Previously a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Chestnut Hill, Sister Anne began the formal transfer process to the Erie Benedictines in 1993 and made her monastic profession in 1997.

Sister Anne has served the people of the Diocese of Erie as a teacher at St. Gregory's School in North East, Pa., from 1992-1995, and at the Neighborhood Art House in Erie, beginning as program director in 1995 and as executive director since 2005. She served on the Monastic Council from 2006-2010.