A legacy that challenges

"The King Legacy: Making a Difference" was the theme of the seventh annual MLK, Jr. community breakfast at Clarion University, Clarion, on January 21, 2019. Sister Marian Wehler, OSB and Sister Tina Geiger, RSM, Co-Directors of Catholic Rural Ministry in the surrounding counties, were guest speakers.

Using verses from We Shall Overcome, the key anthem of the 1950/60s Civil Rights Movement, Sister Marian compared that movement to today’s "Black Lives Matter" Movement. She shared how Dr. King dealt with the anger he felt from the racism he experienced. "Dr. King chose the Christian mandate to love and the method of non-violent resistance to counteract the injustice," she said. In addition, Sister Marian found another example of courage in Sister Thea Bowman, a young African American sister who spoke truth to power when in 1987 she challenged US Catholic Bishops to take leadership in healing the national rift created by racism. She concluded her presentation by issuing a challenge to the attendees: "We are people of privilege. To make a difference is a privilege we have...we need to use it, not abuse it by squandering it. We need to choose to do something.”

One of the campus ministry students attending the event told Sister Marian that her favorite part was hearing about the peace and justice efforts of religious sisters today, including such things as prison ministry and the collaborative Take Back the Site Vigils conducted by the Benedictine Sisters of Erie and Oblates, Sisters of St. Joseph, Agrégées and Associates, and Sisters of Mercy and Associates.

Sister Tina Geiger, RSM offered the final blessing using excerpts from the Border Awareness Solidarity Prayer (Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, Ann Arbor, MI): "May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and the exploitation of people and the earth so that you will work for justice, equity and peace . . . . and may God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so you will do the things which others say cannot be done.”

Photo, courtesy of Clarion News: Sister Marian joins the "Lift Every Voice" choir in singing We Shall Overcome.