May 29, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Through the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, of which the Congregation is a part, the Adrian Dominican Sisters join more than 100 national faith leaders – from Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions, representing major denominations, national faith-based organizations, local congregations, and millions of people of faith across the country – to call for a National Day of Mourning and Lament to mark the death of more than 100,000 people in the United States from COVID-19.
The faith leaders call on federal, state, and local elected officials to observe Monday, June 1, as National Day of Mourning and Lament – a day marked by moments of silence, lowering of flags, interfaith vigils, ringing of bells, and civic memorials.
The call is being supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who represent over 1,400 mayors across the country. Mayors lead on the frontline of the COVID-19 response effort and continue to model critical local leadership in this difficult time.
Together, interfaith leaders and mayors across the nation call us to mourn, lament, and honor the dead, acknowledge the unequal nature of our suffering, pray together for the healing of the nation, and recommit to the difficult work ahead.
“We pray in a special way for the nearly 5,400 Michiganders who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and their heartbroken families,” said Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. “This call for mourning and lamentation must also become a call to action to address the racial inequities revealed by the pandemic,” she said. In Michigan, over 40% of COVID-19 deaths are suffered by African Americans who only comprise 14% of the population. Nationwide, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans and other people of color disproportionately suffer the effects of the pandemic.
“We applaud Governor Whitmer for creating the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities charged with addressing the racial injustices that were amplified by the virus,” said Sister Siemen. “Her steadfast leadership in maintaining strong state guidelines to protect Michiganders against the coronavirus is now needed, as we emerge from this crisis, to ensure that the lives of all Michiganders are honored and protected.”
The National Day of Mourning and Lament will follow a weekend of diverse services – Friday Muslim, Saturday Jewish, and Sunday Christian (including Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American) all united in times of lament and mourning for the dead. The vocation of remembering will unite across lines of religion and traditions and transcend our politics.
May 27, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – The General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement in response to the death of George Floyd.
We are deeply troubled and distressed by the violent assault on and resulting death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. His anguished cry, “I can’t breathe,” as an officer pressed his knee into his neck, harkened back to the cries six years ago of Eric Garner, another unarmed African-American man who died in New York police custody.
His cry brings to mind the long and growing list of African Americans who have been killed, seemingly for no reason other than being black. “Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
Our Christian faith tradition holds that we are all one people, one body; each made in the image of God.
In his powerful videotaped sermon, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery,” Rev. Otis Moss III speaks of racism as a virus that has infected the spirit and soul of our country. Ahmaud Arbery, a young black jogger and “a man of potential,” Rev. Moss says, “was attacked and killed by men infected with America’s most common and potent viral agent. …The death of Ahmaud Arbery is not an anomaly but a historical pattern of behavior that binds every American to an unexamined history of our nation.”
Rev. Moss powerfully summarizes that unexamined history in his 22-minute sermon. It is a history that we Americans must acknowledge – and then set ourselves on a soul-searching course, powered by courage and love, to make real the ideals of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded.
Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters General Council are Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Patricia Harvat, OP, and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilors