At this moment in time, the Division of Mission and Ministry recommits to the principle of justice. For the families and communities of all those directly impacted by systemic oppression, police brutality and the plethora of mass shootings and gun violence that have cut short the lives of many, we continue to grieve, to be outraged, to pray, and to act. In living out the Vincentian question, What must be done, we recommit ourselves to never ceasing in our struggle for justice. Our work is the work of connecting contemplation and action – centering marginalized voices and ennobling the dignity of all. Our Mission and Ministry staff continues to be here to listen, to believe, to accompany, and to walk together.
As well at this moment, we share a powerful result of communally connecting prayer and action. In February of this year, DePaul’s Division of Mission and Ministry along with our Muslim student group UMMA and the local nonprofit organization IMAN hosted a Virtual Fast-a-Thon, in which people were invited to experience fasting as a spiritual practice connected to building solidarity and working for social change. Our special guest was Cariol Horne, a former Buffalo (N.Y.) police officer who had been fired from her job after intervening to stop abuse by another officer in 2006. As a result of her firing, Cariol also was prevented from collecting her pension. Cariol has never stopped struggling for justice, both in her case and in the wider cause of preventing police abuse. Her case, and her struggle received renewed attention in the wake of the George Floyd case and other prominent cases which raised questions about why police officers didn’t intervene to stop abuse by other officers. In late 2020, Cariol’s Law was passed in the city of Buffalo to obligate officers to intervene to stop abuse and protect them from retaliation after doing so as well as other systemic police reforms which can serve as a model for other jurisdictions.
During Fast-a-Thon after reflecting on her own experience of fasting for the day of the event, Cariol was asked how she was able to persevere in her struggle for justice for so long. She spoke about her children and her community. She shared how deeply it affected her when she heard of others who had given up on constructive change and lashed out in ways that were destructive to others or to their own selves. She said she wished that they had known of her own campaign and that people like her were struggling and she was moved by the solidarity of others and the attention her case was finally getting. Last week, as the sacred fasting month of Ramadan began, we received the good news that Cariol had prevailed in her court case, that she would receive formal reinstatement and back pay that would allow her to receive her pension. (For more information on Cariol’s case and Cariol’s law visit cariolslaw.com).
We are called by our Vincentian Mission to connect contemplation and action – to be in solidarity with those who are marginalized, oppressed and suffering. We recognize the limitations of our own individual experiences and perspectives and experience the great wisdom and inspiration that are gained in encounter and solidarity across social divides. We strive to take part in efforts that sustain struggles against injustice and work constructively toward nonviolent systemic change. We firmly believe that all people of goodwill joining together in such efforts is the way forward, a path that is steep and difficult at times, but filled with beautiful rewards.