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Archives Sister Donna Franklin shares reflections at annual Catholic Charities Caritas dinner
The challenge of living in the light

Nov. 8, 2017

By Sister Donna Franklin, DC
Diocesan Catholic Charities directorSister Donna Franklin

Hope, peace and strength are constitutive elements of living in the light.

Msgr. Joseph Aubin in his work as a Catholic Charities Director and as a pastor offered the light of hope to his clients and his parishioners.

Father Patrick Mundy gifted others in his work for Catholic Charities and as a parish priest with the light of peace.

Mr. Alex Velto and his colleague and friend Msgr. Robert Lawler were enlightened and understood that people needed homes not shelters. They embarked on an epic journey and built numerous units of subsidized housing throughout the North Country.

Today, Catholic Charities stands on the shoulders of giants like these men. We continue the legacy of shining light into the dark corners of poverty, despair, hopelessness, and marginalization.

Catholic Charities accepts the challenge of rejecting the darkness of “othering” and we stand for inclusion, acceptance, tolerance and respect for all persons.

The staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities have seen how the darkness of “thinking you can do it alone” and the arrogance of power and control can impede quality service provision to the most vulnerable members of our community and we embrace the practice of networking and collaboration. We accept the challenge of practicing and serving in the light of partnership.

Over the years, Catholic Charities staff has been enlightened by the stories of the military personnel and veterans and their families who have come to us for services. We have heard about their sacrifices and the cost of war. We know that their service and their lives should not be overshadowed by the darkness of war mongering. Their service and their sacrifices deserve to be honored and cherished.

We all live in a circle of community. Every circle has a rim. In the shadow of the rim, on the margins of community dwell many invisible poor, migrant workers, immigrants, the working poor, retirees and other people who are disenfranchised.

Catholic Charities staff does not just make a place in the circle for our brothers and sisters. Catholic Charities staff knows that it is critical to go to the rim, to the margins with unclenched fists, open hearts and open minds and stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with those on the margins. The goal is to accompany them, lighting the path as they journey towards full participation in the circle of community.

Catholic Charities mission rests on three pillars: responding to people in need; empowering people to build bridges to healthier lives and inviting people to join us in the works of charity and justice.

Tonight I offer you an invitation:
• When our moral values and principles are being relegated to the back of the bus behind racism, sexism and classism and other ism’s, can we see the light given to us by Rosa Parks? She had the dignity and self-worth to say, “I’m tired.” “No more”.  Can we accept the challenge of living in the light?

• Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream and Robert Kennedy had a vision of our country as it could be. Do we have their willingness to listen to our own prophetic inner voice and then risk not just speaking truth to power but using the power of our own truth as defined by the Gospel to challenge oppressive structures.
Can we accept the challenge of living in the light?

• Alice Paul and the Suffragettes faced their fears and gathered up their courage to begin their protests on Washington fighting for the right for women to vote. They suffered imprisonment and torture but they never gave up when faced with the darkness of discrimination and violence. They knew where they stood and they stood there. Can we accept the challenge of living in the light?

• We have the honor and the privilege of sharing history with a great leader, Pope Francis. The light of his wisdom compels us to reject uniformed, unintelligent and dangerous nativism. He invites us to acknowledge our role as not just global citizens but as integral embers of the human community. He also invites us to care for God’s creation which he calls our “common home.” Can we accept the challenge of living in the light?

• The hope of Msgr. Aubin, the peace of Father Mundy, the strength of Alex Velto…they have left us a legacy of living in the light.

Can we accept this legacy? Because, in the words of Rabbi Hillel If not us who?  And if not now when?

Caritas Dinner


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