One of the best parts of my job as justice education coordinator for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas is visiting the campuses of colleges and universities and engaging with students, faculty and staff around issues that we all are passionate about. So I’m thrilled with the opportunity to be part of the Mercy College of Health Sciences’ Faith & Healing speaker series next week.
There’s so much I want to share with the Mercy college community, beginning with an overview of the Sisters of Mercy’s commitment to serving persons who are poor and vulnerable. That’s manifested in so many ways, from founding homeless shelters, food pantries and other social service ministries around the country to speaking out against budget cuts to these very programs and in support of increases in the minimum wage to give parents the dignity of being able to care for their children through their own hard work.
Then there are the “critical concerns” that the Sisters identified several years ago to focus their efforts on social justice and the environment under that big anti-poverty theme. I’m looking forward to conversations about how the critical concerns of Earth, immigration, nonviolence, anti-racism and women intersect with the experiences of students, faculty and staff in the health field and in the wider Des Moines community.
I anticipate lively discussions about the Affordable Care Act, which the Sisters wholeheartedly support out of their solidarity with persons who are poor and their conviction that health care is a human right. But we also will explore climate change and other environmental issues, gun violence, immigration reform, domestic violence and racism in our institutions and in our communities.
The Sisters of Mercy deliberately located their national offices just outside Washington, D.C., in order to influence debates in Congress around all of these issues. Sometimes, though, it can feel like living in a public policy ivory tower and it’s enlightening to step outside and learn how laws and proposed legislation are impacting or could impact real-life people. It never fails that I return from these visits with some different perspectives that I can bring to our education around the critical concerns and our advocacy with legislators.
Join us in the Sullivan Center – (NEW LOCATION) Iowa Communications Network Classroom SC130 on the Mercy College campus from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday January 22.
Refreshments will be served. Open to the Public.