November 21, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Iyad Burnat, a nonviolent peace activist from Palestine, brought his message of the nonviolent resistance to Israel’s settlements and the longing of the Palestinian people for justice and peace to the Weber Center Auditorium on November 13. In his heart-felt, sometimes difficult, presentation, he spoke of the injustices inflicted on the people of Palestine and their longing to live in justice and peace in their homeland with the Israelis.
Mr. Burnat spoke before an auditorium filled with Siena Heights University students, Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, and members of the greater Adrian community. The event was sponsored by Siena Heights University and the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation.
Before addressing the desires of many people in Palestine for a life of shared justice and peace, Mr. Burnat set the context for the situation in Palestine and laid out the injustices faced by his people. In 1948, he said, 7 million Palestinians became refugees with the arrival of people who wanted to establish Israel on their former land. In spite of the efforts of the United Nations to create a two-state situation, in which the people of Palestine and the people of Israel would share the land, Israelites built – and continue to build – settlements within the Palestinian borders.
Mr. Burnat said Israeli settlements had been built on his small village of Bil’in and other villages around the West Bank. Through the years, he said, more and more land set aside for the Palestinians was confiscated and used to create settlements for the people of Israel. He recounted much of the injustice that the Palestinians continue to face: water diverted to Israeli settlements from Palestinian people; checkpoints established between different parts of Palestinian land, making it difficult for the people to go from one area of their land to another; and violence against those who protested the occupation. These injustices made life difficult for Palestinians, Mr. Burnat explained.
In 2004, Mr. Burnat and others in Bil’in decided to hold nonviolent demonstrations against the occupation every Friday. “People from all over the world join us,” he said. “We use nonviolence in our strategies. We fight with our bodies” rather than with weapons. For example, he said, they have stood in front of bulldozers that were going to destroy part of their land to create the settlements. Sometimes, as many as 3,000 to 4,000 people participate in the demonstrations, he said.
“In spite of the nonviolence of our struggle, we have faced much violence from the Israeli Army from the beginning,” Mr. Burnat said. The army has used teargas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators, among other weapons. He recalled that 2,000 Palestinians – of which 800 were children – had been killed in 2014.
At a more personal level, Mr. Burnat spoke of the different times in which three of his sons had been shot. One of his sons lost his foot because he was not permitted to go to the hospital to have needed surgery. During his own most recent arrest two years ago, Mr. Burnat was attacked by six soldiers and endured two broken ribs, teargas sprayed into his eyes, and 10 hours of pain before he was let go to call an ambulance.
Mr. Burnat continues to focus his efforts on nonviolent demonstrations and on getting the word out about the situation to the rest of the world. “We invite everybody to come and visit us and see the life of the Palestinians, because we believe the internationals have become our messengers,” he said. People from other countries usually attend the weekly demonstrations.
He said that, because of the media, many people in the United States don’t understand the situation fully. “The media want to show the Palestinians as violent,” he said. “Go to the ground. Visit Palestinians. Meet Palestinian people. Taste our food.” He added that people in the United States need to understand that many of the weapons used by the Israeli Army against Palestinians comes from the United States and that – in spite of what the media might say – Palestinians do not want to eradicate the Jewish people.
Asked if the United Nations’ proposal for two states in Palestine was the solution to the violence and injustice, Mr. Burnat said no. “We believe and are working to have one state for everyone to live together in peace, justice, equality, and freedom,” he said. “This is the way we would like it to be. We are not against the Jews or the Christians.”
November 21, 2017, Detroit, Michigan – About 20 Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates were among 67,000 faithful who gathered November 18 at Ford Field in Detroit to witness a historic event: the beatification of Father Solanus Casey (1870-1957).
Born in Oak Park, Wisconsin, Bernard Casey joined the Franciscan branch of Friars Minor Capuchin at the age of 26 and was eventually ordained a priest – but not permitted to preach or to hear confessions. He served for years as the doorkeeper at St. Bonaventure’s Monastery in Detroit, and became known for his piety, compassion, love for the poor, and powers of healing. Now that he has been beatified, he needs one more miracle to qualify for canonization in the Catholic Church.
The beatification was a momentous event in Detroit – and for many Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates who have ties to that city.
“As I sat at the Beatification ceremony, I prayed that this amazing occasion would be a time of ongoing grace and inspiration for the people of greater Detroit,” said Sister Nancyann Turner, OP. For years, Sister Nancyann has ministered at Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen, founded by Blessed Solanus Casey in 1929. “I felt such a sense of unity among the thousands of people present at Ford Field – women and men honoring a very simple and generous, dedicated man.”
Sister Nancyann expressed her deep gratitude for the Capuchin soup kitchen’s ongoing mission to the people of Detroit, and for her own call to serve there, currently at the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program. “It is a great grace to serve at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen,” she said. “I am blessed and challenged over and over."
She also hopes that the beatification of Blessed Solanus Casey will have a positive influence on the people of Detroit – and throughout the world. “I pray that more and more people can truly be about listening, healing, and blessing – as was Brother Solanus,” Sister Nancyann said. “It is the core of the Gospel.”
Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP, who lives and ministers in Detroit, said the ceremony had special meaning to her. “When I was very young, just beginning to walk, a problem with my hip was discovered. I had to have braces on my legs. My mother took me to Father Solanus at the monastery on Mt. Elliott, where he prayed over me, blessed me and said, ‘She is going to be alright.’”
Sister Suzanne said the Mass reconnected her to that experience. “I felt gratitude for my mother and for Father Solanus,” she said. “It was a blessing, too, to be among the many people who gathered.”
Sister Anneliese Sinnott, OP, long-time theology professor at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, was impressed by the diversity of the ceremony, particularly in the choir, the cantors, the Scripture readings, and the prayers of the faithful – read in a variety of languages and reflective of the spirit of Solanus Casey.
“I also appreciated sitting with the Soup Kitchen folks because they were probably the most diverse in the stadium,” Sister Anneliese said. “I’m sure Solanus would be right up there with us.”
Both Sisters Jean Horger, OP, and Joan Baustian, OP, were impressed by the beatification. Sister Jean, who for years has ministered in parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit, was moved by the procession of relics. Paula Medina Zarate – whose 2012 miraculous cure of a skin disease brought about the approval of beatification for Solanus Casey – processed to the altar with a relic of Blessed Solanus. “The whole Mass was very well organized and so profound,” Sister Jean added.
Sister Joan, who also served in Detroit before retiring in Adrian, was moved by the “sheer number of people attending” the beatification, including young families. “My devotion to Father Solanus is largely because of his profound humility,” she said. “Detroit has a powerful intercessor.”
“I was gratified by the beatification of Father Solanus Casey,” said Sister Beverly Bobola, OP, archivist for the Congregation, who has had a special devotion to him for more than 40 years. Noting her gratitude for the Church’s recognition of Father Solanus Casey’s saintliness, she added that the historic event for Detroit places Blessed Solanus “in a place of renown for the whole world.”
Solanus Casey was the second man from the United States to be beatified this year. The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City celebrated the September 23, 2017, beatification of Father Stanley Rother, a local priest who was killed while serving in Guatemala in 1981.
Right: Sister Virginia (Ginny) King, OP, left, and Arlene Bachanov, Associate.