As a member of the Vinfam North American social justice advocates, we meet monthly to discuss various issues. Our January zoom call included a presentation by Fr. Stan Chu Ilo of DePaul University, titled “A Culture of Encounter.” Fr. Stan spoke about the importance of recognition of others, especially those living in poverty or victims of injustice. We need to listen to them and not only “hear” but “heed” their words and pleas for help.
I think it is important to remember this during February and black history month. I think it is important to remember this as here in Canada we are still finding evidence of unmarked graves on the site of former indigenous residential schools. I think it is important to remember this as we see more protests about vaccination policies but also include those proclaiming white supremacist views. We all need to hear and heed what each of us is saying but if not done in way that is respectful, the attempt becomes futile.
While we pride ourselves as Vincentians, on our efforts of charity and justice, how often do we really hear what those we serve are telling us? How often do we take the time to give them a real voice and a place at the table?
We can all do better! It can start by being educated on our different cultures and the great variety of faith traditions. There are so many cultures rich is their own history and culture. What a wonderful gift we have to be able to share our cultural differences.
Perhaps this black history month presents us with such an opportunity.
Why not make this a month to take actions that may lead to becoming a more diverse and inclusive family. I am truly grateful for our Vinfam discussions on this issue. Here in Canada we now have sub committees for both Multi Cultural Diversity and Indigenous Peoples. I never attend a meeting of these two committees without learning something more about their cultures and various challenges they face.
Why not make this black history month the beginning of an on going cultural encounter?
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is a Canadian Vincentian. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
I respectfully acknowledge the traditional, unceded territories of the Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit, on which lands we meet, work and live.