Race and Grace: Let's Talk About IT

In this episode, Rocky Pierson shares her conversation with #NCSW2017 mini-grant recipient Sister Carol Dikovitsky, SND. Sr Carol talks about sisters and lay community members engaging in discussions about racial equality and social justice during the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland event, Race and Grace: Let's Talk About It.

“God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love.” - Henry Drummond

Sr Carol Dikovitsky:
I'm Carol Dikovitsky, and I'm a Sister of Notre Dame from Chardon, Ohio, which is outside of Cleveland.

The charism of my community is to proclaim the goodness and provident care of God. Basically, we are preaching the gospel, you know, the gospel message. Now, in many of our institutions, we are handing that leadership over to young adults and other people to carry on our mission as we age. So, we’re very concerned and are interested in making sure that they have the same vision and sense of mission and purpose that we do.


Sr Carol Dikovitsky:
We're following up on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, LCWR’s, kind of a focus on racism and diversity this year. We're calling it Race and Grace: Let's Talk About It. Our event is targeted at both the sisters and young adults, although anyone certainly can come. But, all year we have plans to involve the sisters in our diocese with young adults in various activities. So, we thought that National Catholic Sisters Weeks would be a good opportunity for that.

So, we're going to be meeting at one o'clock at Mount Augustine, in Richfield Ohio, which is a little ways out. And, we have two facilitators. They are from an organization called Equius, and they are going to lead people in talking to each other about race. So, it's not going to be a lecture per se; it is talking about things that are between us. So, you know, they're going to do things where you do sentence completion cards. And then, sit knee-to-knee with three other people that you don't know, and talk about your perceptions of race and your experience of race. So, we hope to have a real diverse crowd for this. We’re just trying to get people to talk to each other, and to know each other, to share, and to share their concerns and their perceptions.

Sisters and participants gathered together to share in an open conversation about issues of race and racial inequality. The event was an opportunity for everyone to share their stories, their truth, and their experiences. And, also share their concerns about issues brought up throughout their discussions. And, for the sisters, it was also an opportunity to pass on their mission of social justice to young people. After the event, I called Sr Carol again to talk about how it went.

Sr Carol Dikovitsky:
We were really pleased with how it went. We had 145 people come. About half of those were sisters, and half of them were our lay partners, especially young adults. And, our facilitators, Erica Merritt and Lee Kay were excellent. They lead people in a discussion where people are in groups of six and talked one on one with each other or small groups about issues of race, and white privilege, diversity, and things like that. It was really good. And then, there was a whole group discussion as well.

I was really happy with how energized the sisters who attended were, and how happy they were that we get offered this event. You know, we've been concentrating on thinking about what the sisters had to share with young adults, but I don't think, at least it wasn't so strong in my mind, how much the sisters, as we age and move into retirement, appreciate events like this. Events where they can discuss things that they’ve cared about their whole life. And, also, the young adults were really appreciative to see the sisters interested in these kinds of issues, the justice issues, and racism. And, just the wonderful opportunity for people to talk to each other because both African-Americans and Caucasians said that, you know, we're pretty much in our own milieu, and race doesn't come up. It doesn’t come up sometimes for the African-American as well for the Caucasians. You know, it just wasn't an issue. So, hearing each other's perceptions of this was really good. I was really happy with it. 

It was very meaningful to everyone. You know, originally we were thinking of having like a multicultural party or something. But, as our planning evolved, and the issues in the news were so much in the forefront, we were really happy that we ended up with something this substantial and this meaningful to people.

I think what impressed me the most is when I saw the room full of these people all really excited and energized. And, people of every age, and every color, and every walk of life.

About Be Inspired

A podcast chronicling the success stories of National Catholic Sisters Week - an annual celebration of women religious. Each episode will present interviews with NCSW Mini-Grant recipients to present a picture of the celebration's growth and highlight the valuable impacts of women religious all across the country.