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Aquinas Literacy Center Opens New Site on International Literacy Day

September 22, 2017, Chicago – Aquinas Literacy Center celebrated International Literacy Day, September 8, in a very special way – with a grand opening celebration for its new site. 

Sister Kathleen Klingen, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Midwest Mission Chapter, based in Chicago, opened the celebration with a heart-felt blessing. Officiating at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia; State Representative Theresa Mah; and Aquinas staff members: Alison Altmeyer, executive director; Sabrina Poulin, volunteer coordinator; and Meg Green, program director.

“It was a perfect evening, [celebrated by] learners, volunteers, neighbors, supporters, political leaders and 19 Adrian Dominican Sisters,” Alison wrote in an email describing the event.

The Adrian Dominican Sisters opened Aquinas Literacy Center in 1996 in the basement of the convent at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church. Aquinas has grown from a small center with two tables and five chairs to one that continues to offer tutoring in the English language.

“Aquinas Literacy Center has bridged the cultural divide in the McKinley Park community by offering English as a Second Language instruction to adult immigrants,” Alison said. One-on-one tutoring is supported by programs such as conversation classes, book clubs, writing workshops, computer learning opportunities, and job assistance workshops.

Alison is pleased with the new site. “Our location is ideal – on a main street, next to the local elementary school and two blocks away from the local library,” she explained. “We have experienced an increase in new student registrations because we’re more visible.”

For more details, read this article by Joe Ward in DNA Info.


Image of ribbon-cutting ceremony at Aquinas Literacy Center for new location

Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Aquinas Literacy Center’s new site are, from left, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, State Representative Theresa Mah, Aquinas Literacy Center Executive Director Alison Altmeyer, Program Director Meg Green, and volunteer Tutor Rita Janco.

Symposium Sheds Pastoral Light on Appreciating People for Who They Are

May 31, 2017, Chicago – While the Catholic Church has not changed its dogma on homosexuality, Pope Francis has issued “an invitation to be more pastoral” to brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community.

That was the take of Sister Virginia “Ginny” King, OP, who attended the New Ways Ministry’s New Life Symposium. Held at the end of April in the Hilton Rosemont Chicago O’Hare Hotel, the symposium focused on “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis.” New Ways Ministry, which focuses on ministry to the LGBT Catholic community, hosts the symposium once every five years.

Speakers included Lisa Fullham, Associate Professor at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, “Sexual Ethics and Same Sex Marriage”; Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, “The Catholic Church, Criminalization Laws, and the LGBT Experience in Uganda”; Leslie Griffin, Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, “Religious Liberty, Employment, and LGBT Issues”; and Father Bryan Massingale, Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University, on “Pope Francis, Social Ethics and LGBT People.”

Sister Ginny said she was particularly struck by Father Massingale’s talk. He pointed out that, while the Catholic Church teaches about the human dignity of homosexual persons, the Church also discourages them from acting on their inclinations. “In other words, we don’t condemn you for your homosexuality, but don’t tell anybody and you’re OK,” Sister Ginny said. “That denies people their rights.”  

Father Massingale encouraged the audience to look at people as humans, Sister Ginny said. “Everyone should have the right to live and to work and to pray where they are called to do these things,” she added. 

Sister Ginny also took away from the symposium the idea that, while Pope Francis has not changed the Church’s dogma or laws regarding homosexuality, he brought about “an invitation to be more pastoral” to people who so often hear negative and rejecting words about themselves. Pope Francis has shed a “pastoral light of appreciating people,” she said. 

Sister Ginny also sees the need for people to become more educated on issues of sexuality, including LGBTQ issues, and to have more open conversations about these topics.  For example, she said, New Ways Ministry sponsors a dialogue between lesbian women religious and people in the religious communities and in formation work. One such dialogue will be held in 2018. “These are opportunities for people to engage in these conversations,” she said.



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