Sunday, May 6, 2018

Relationship Building with Sr. Dr. Eva Lumas

Sr. Dr. Eva Lumas, SSS
On April 26, 2018 the Incarnate Word Foundation as part of their "Recon" programming and initiative sponsored an evening with Sr. Dr. Eva Lumas, SSS at St. Alphonsus "Rock" Church.  She spoke about the power and importance of building strong, diverse relationships.  Sr. Lumas is a Sister of Social Service who has taught at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, CA since 1994 and is currently serving as the Interim Co-Director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies in Louisiana.  She has taught and lectured throughout the country on topics of faith and culture, interculturation, catechesis and Black spirituality.  She has also served as the Coordinator of Catechetical Programs for the National Black Sisters' Conference. 

North City Deanery Choir
The program was also sponsored by the North City Deanery (NCD) Interracial Relations Committee and the Peace & Justice Commission of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  The NCD Interracial Relations Committee brings together predominantly white and predominantly black Catholic Churches within North City to build relationships across racial lines. 

Sr. Helena Monahan, CCVI
The program began with praise and worship music led by the North City Deanery Choir.  Then there was an initial welcome by a member of the Interracial Relations Committee and opening prayer by the pastor of St. Alphonsus, Fr. Rick Potts.  Sr. Helena Monahan, CCVI was present representing the Incarnate Word Foundation and offered a Scripture reading from 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, 12:12-13. 

Sr. Lumas then offered the keynote presentation on her reflections and own personal stories of building relationships with those who are different from you.  She shared six important characteristics of relationship building: 1) Acknowledge there is always more to learn.  2) Learn what we don't know.  We only know the world as we see it.  How do others see it?  3) It is so important to show up.  When you show up in new spaces, be open to change.  4) You might have to wait, but keep showing up.  Just because you are present doesn't mean that you will be welcomed right away.  Be persistent.  5) Be willing to open yourself up.  Don't make those in the present pay for the sins of the past.  Believe that this time, this relationship could be different.  6) Find mentors in this work.  It is important to process and spend time with others. 

In a world that is so divided today, it is important work to build close relationships with those who come from a different cultural background than you.  This is also important peace building work.  It is much harder to hate or cause harm to someone you know personally and care about, so diversifying one's friendships and communities is an important part of building a culture of peace and nonviolence.  The work to end racism and the work of nonviolence go hand in hand. 

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