Brenna Daugherty, Trinity 2013, grand niece of Sister Dorothy Stang, SND
at the February 13, 2010 symposium marking the 5th anniversary of Sister Dorothy’s death
She knew she would be killed. Listening to author Binka le Breton retell the story of Dorothy Stang’s murder in the Brazilian rainforest in 2005, I was struck by this thought that stayed with me all night. Dorothy knew she was going to be killed one day or the next, and yet, she did not relent in her quest for justice.
Yes, she was certainly afraid at times. Surely, Dorothy must have had moments when she wondered if her life’s work would continue when she was gone. Surrounded by the people of the Amazon to whom she devoted her life, we cannot know what moments of great loneliness and uncertainty she might have faced.
What we do know, however, is that she set out on the pathway that fateful morning, February 12, 2005, armed with her bible and her conviction that she must continue her quest for justice.
She was 74. She could have long retired to a safer and less strenuous life, perhaps even returned to her family home in Ohio. No one would have faulted her for walking away from a lifetime of sacrifice in a time of increasing danger. but, not Dorothy. She stayed in her adopted country, she remained devoted to her community in Anapu, she continued to live a life that exemplified the Catholic principles of social justice:
*Advocacy for life and human dignity
*Protection of human rights
*Standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters everywhere
*Taking the option to work for the poor and vulnerable of ur society
*Upholding the rights of workers
*Accepting responsibility to build community
*Caring for God’s creation
Caring for God’s creation, Dorothy Stang was shot six times by the assassins who were working on orders from the powerful land and logging interests. She was left to die on the muddy rainforest floor. This diminutive white-haired nun was so threatening to those gigantic wealthy interests that they had to get rid of her. She knew they would. That’s the most remarkable part of the story. She knew this would happen, and yet, she walked into the forest, alone.
Most of us will never face such a life-threatening choice in pursuing our life’s work. Many of us will retire long before we reach our seventh decade. A few of us might choose to leave family and friends to move far away to pursue God’s work, but most of us hope to be able to do that in time to get home each night for supper and the late news. We are stressed-out about whether snow plows will get to our street sometime soon; we are afraid of running out of milk, bread, coffee during the storm.
The 5th Anniversary of Dorothy’s death should shock us up off those couches and out the door into action. Here at Trinity, our heritage and still-vital life force through the Sisters of Notre Dame calls us to action for justice each day. We say that we do that in our teaching, our service, our commitment to the education of all in our city. Sometimes, though, we need to do even more.
In the weeks ahead, we will renew conversations at Trinity about how to express our commitment to environmental justice and sustainability in our academic programs as well as institutional practices. We do some things here and there, we could do more.
In memory of, in honor of, and with the inspiration of Dorothy Stang, Trinity will advance the cause of social justice and especially the care for God’s creation.
I invite comments from the community about the best ways to translate this intention into real programs and practices. Please make a comment by clicking on the link below.
See Binka le Breton, The Greatest Gift: The Courageous Life and Martyrdom of Sister Dorothy Stang
Here are photos from the February 13 symposium:
Author Binka le Breton…
Brenna Daugherty introduces members of the Stang family…
Sisters of Notre Dame …
Trinity staff member LaWander McFarland helps Binka le Breton with the setup…
The audience in O’Connor…
Comments? Please click on the link below…