Sisters of Erie push to end racism

Ashley Barletta, Staff writer

It is evident in our society today that racism still exists, and many people are standing together to end it. Members of the Benedictine Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania are calling for an end to systematic racism in Erie, PA, and across the nation. The collective of religious Sisters refers to racism as a public health crisis and states that it must be demolished.

“The three communities have collaborated on many activities over the years. Together they started the DAWN – a housing project that works with landlords to lower the rent for the low-income women applying to live there. The woman has a mentor from DAWN to work with her,” said Sr. Natalie Rossi, Sister of Mercy and Campus Minister. “We’re excited to collaborate on another project.”

County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper and Council chairman Andre Horton brought the proposal to end racism into the light, which is a big step for truly putting racism out to pasture. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we as humans have had more time to focus on our society’s conditions. Racism, as well as its much-needed termination, is being talked about more each day.

Now that we have the time to fight against racism, that is precisely what the Sisters of Mercy are doing within our respective communities.

“Each community is working on anti-racism, but on many issues, we take a stand together. We worked together on the issue of Immigration. The Mercies has been working on anti-racism for about six years by educating the Sisters and associates, plus taking stands publicly,” said Rossi.

The Catholic Sisters in Erie have been working to end racism through prayer, compassion, and support for those working tirelessly to bring racism to an end.

They are also advocating for an end to discrimination within their sisterhood and through-out the community by their words and actions.

“We also worked together on the House of Healing that worked with women who had been separated from their children because of incarceration. The House of Healing provided life skills programs. The House closed because the laws changed, and the women could choose to live at home with an ankle detector instead of living within the program.

The communities also now work together on Take Back the Site,” said Rossi, describing the Sister’s joint efforts to end violence.

It is irrefutable that the Catholic Sisters all around Erie will stop at nothing to abolish racism. They are doing all they can to stand up for those who have been treated unjustly by the system and are determined to continue to make whatever progress they can to end racism for good.

The Benedictine Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania realized that if they do not speak up against the problem, they are part of the problem. Their mission is to do the will of God, and that includes working for justice for everyone, even when, and especially if, others do not agree that what they are doing is right.