(This article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 Issue of the TAU-USA #101)

Shortly after the tragic death of George Floyd this past May, St. Joan of Arc Regional Minister Cherryle Fruge shared that her region had started a diversity team. The following is a report from Cherryle about this effort: 

 The idea of developing a Diversity Team began so we could do a process of elimination to dissect the roots of racism that falls under the umbrella of All Violence. The agenda for the first Zoom gathering was to find out “Who We Are” by each telling our story. “Have you ever been discriminated against or shunned on your Franciscan Journey. Have you experienced discrimination within the Order?”

We needed to first work “within” before we could work outward – ruling out if there were any issues within the Order concerning racism or discrimination of any kind to all people of diverse cultures. If there is a problem within the Family, we have to work on addressing the dysfunction, educate and reconcile our differences so we can begin healing the wounds from the inside out. Once the wholeness of our self returns, only then can we more fully understand how to educate with love and compassion in the world in which we live.

I am happy to say that everyone on the team said that the Order “felt like home” and being in fraternity sustained them. Since there are no issues within the Order in our region, our focus moved to educate ourselves on the Beatitudes of Good Communication amongst all people. I heard a quote that went something like this: “You are the other part of me, I don’t yet understand.” We need to learn from each other. This is why learning and practicing mindful dialogue is so important with all people, because we don’t understand each other and what life is like from the perspective of other cultures. We are now working “outward” to help make this happen.

Cherryle Fruge, OFS, St Joan of Arc Regional Fraternity

Note:     Banner by Deacon Patrick depicts the Mission Statement of the SJA Region Diversity Team: Like Francis’ Mission, Go Rebuild Our Church, We believe as we work inward to rebuild ourselves then we will understand how to work outward to rebuild God’s Church in the world – One Living Stone at a time.