On June 28, Felician Sisters Mary Faith Balawejder and Melanie Marie Bajorek participated in a contemplative prayer vigil at Freedom Corner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The event, organized by members of Christian Life Community Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Area Pax Christi and St. Benedict the Moor Church, brought together approximately 200 people of various ages, ethnicities and backgrounds to pray for the changes needed to recognize each and every person as created by our loving God and equal to every other for that very reason.
The service was led by Masters of Ceremony Richard Stewart, NAACP President, and Katharine B. Dansby-Dean, both parishioners of Saint Benedict the Moor Church. Fr. Thomas Burke, newly-appointed pastor of St. Benedict the Moor Parish, offered the opening prayer; Senior Parochial Vicar Fr. Dave Taylor reflected on taking our fears to the Lord; and newly-ordained Fr. C. Matthew Hawkins, parochial vicar, spoke powerfully on the Catholic meaning of Black Lives Matter.
Fr. Hawkins told his audience that this cry is at least 400 years old and "properly understood, it is an expression of fundamental Catholic values of family, community, universality, life, and faith . . . to say 'Black Lives Matter' is to say that 'All Lives Matter'" and is "a cry that comes from the Gospel of Life."
A reflection on the spirit of Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, candidate for sainthood, was given by Sr. Evelyn Dettling, OSB, who knew Sister Thea personally. Sr. Melanie said, "As Sister Evelyn spoke and called Sister Thea's spirit to be present to this gathering, it was wonderful to remember Thea's positive example and influence in the '80s, a true model for today's activists."
At the end of the service, the group joined in singing the Black National Anthem: Lift Every Voice and Sing.