Building Bridges of Understanding and Hope
June 15, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For centuries, our country and our State have been plagued with problems of racial inequality and injustice. Although many people have acted in good faith in service and prayer to bring about just change, to acknowledge the dignity of each life, and to love one another, our current crisis causes us to reflect on how much we still must do together to make impactful progress. We vividly recall our own Church’s past sins and failings and admit to them freely.
With regret and humility, we must recognize that as Catholic leaders and as an institution we have, at times, not followed the Gospel to which we profess and have been too slow in correcting our shortcomings. For this reason, it is incumbent upon us to place ourselves at the forefront of efforts to remove the inequalities and discrimination that are still present in Maryland and our nation today.
Despite our painful history, the Church in Maryland has been deeply enriched by the gifts of Black Catholics. We think of Mother Mary Lange, who founded the first Catholic school for Black children in the United States, in Baltimore in 1828. One year later, she founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first religious order for women of African descent. Today, she is a Servant of God, in the process to be canonized a Catholic saint, a cause for which all Catholics should pray.
Maryland is also home to the National Black Catholic Congress, which acts as a witness and guide to the realities of the Black Catholic experience across the United States. It is also home to the Josephite priests and brothers, whose mission is to serve the African American community.
At a time when school segregation, sadly, was the norm in Maryland, two of our predecessors – Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle and Cardinal Lawrence Shehan – began the process of desegregating Catholic schools and parishes.
On March 12, 1950, in a homily on race relations, then-Archbishop O’Boyle said, "Unless the full resources of the Church are placed at the disposal of every single member of the church and made available to every man, there is no Catholicism worthy of the name. Our Sacraments, and our societies, our Mass and mysteries of the Faith are a common possession. Just as God is Our Father – What is Catholic is ours; it is all of us united as one."
This history provides the context for us today and should act to animate our prayers, thoughts and actions for an end, finally, to the sin of racism that remains with us and in us. The unjust killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans, and the subsequent protests, rallies and vigils that continue to take place make it clear that the conscience of our nation is on trial as questions of race and equality confront each and every one of us.
We must recognize that all of us share the same human nature and dignity because we are all created in the image and likeness of God; this is why human life is sacred. We call all people of good will to prayer to root out any hatred and animosity that has taken hold in one’s own heart. Inspired by Jesus’ command to “love one another as I love you” (John 15:12), we must seek to know and understand one another and to work to break down barriers through listening, prayer and a commitment to change hearts and minds.
However, prayer and dialogue, alone, are not enough. We must act to bring about true change. United, we seek healing, harmony and solutions that recognize that every person has been created in the image of God and that every person possesses human dignity. Over the years, the Catholic Bishops of Maryland have stood firmly in our support of laws that sought to bring about justice and an end to unequal treatment based on race.
This includes access to health and maternal care, meaningful educational opportunities, prison reforms, restorative justice initiatives, housing anti-discrimination efforts, juvenile justice reforms, and ending the grossly disparate practice of capital punishment. We commend the efforts of our state lawmakers to convene working groups to discuss legislative initiatives that are needed for reform, transparency, and racial equality. We look forward to playing an active part in these conversations on both a state and national level, and to lending our voices to those whose own have been stifled or altogether silenced by those who seek to quiet them.
We continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten the minds and hearts of our elected representatives so that truth and justice will prevail over the falsehoods of discrimination and injustice.
We pray that God will guide us during these difficult times and give us the courage to act with conviction in our duty to seek racial equality, heal divisions, and build bridges of understanding and hope.
|Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
|Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Archbishop of Washington
|Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly
Bishop of Wilmington
|Most Reverend Roy E. Campbell Jr.
Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
|Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville-Rodriguez
Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
|Most Reverend Michael W. Fisher
Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
|Most Reverend Adam J. Parker
Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore
|Most Reverend Denis J. Madden
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Baltimore
|Bishop-designate Bruce Lewandowski, CSsR
Auxiliary Bishop-designate of Baltimore
Ecuador needs our help. Join us in supporting our brothers and sisters in need today!
The Maryland Catholic Conference is joining with a coalition of leaders to send 20 tons of medical and cleaning supplies to help relieve the suffering from the coronavirus in our sister state of Ecuador.
Donation date extended to July 18!
Our brothers and sisters in Ecuador have suffered terribly from the Covid-19 pandemic, with over 40,000 confirmed cases and 3,500 deaths, more than any South American country except Brazil. The most populous city, Guayaquil, has been especially hard hit. Frontline workers are facing overwhelmed hospitals, little personal protective equipment, families are lacking access to health care, and the government is struggling to collect the bodies from the staggering death toll.
Our neighbors are in need, and we as the Catholic community want to reach out in solidarity. As the body of Christ, let's open our hearts to our sister state of Ecuador.
Hospitals and frontline workers desperately need personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical and cleaning supplies including
- Surgical or N95 masks
- Exam and surgical gloves
- Dishwashing gloves
- Disposable and reusable surgical gowns
- Face shields
- Shoe covers
- Vitamins (prenatal, kids, elderly)
- Clorox wipes
- Liquid bleach
- Liquid soap
- Hand sanitizer
- Disinfectant supplies
- Unopened bedsheets
- Unopened blankets
- Unopened pillows
Supplies can be dropped off at the following business locations by July 14 (click the location for directions)
Mr Car Locations
Toro Taxes – Silver Spring
An Ecuadorian military plane will deliver the donations on July 14; items must be dropped off prior to this date to make it on the plane.
You can make a secure donation through Paypal to the Ecuadent Foundation which is organizing these efforts. Ecuadent has directed medical missions to Ecuador for the past 30 years, providing excellent medical and dental care to impoverished children in the country. Each donation will go directly to providing medical supplies, cleaning supplies and food to those in need.
Relief supplies are being organized by a coalition including the Maryland Secretary of State, Ecuadent Foundation, Ecuadorian Consulate in D.C., Ecuadorian Armed Forces, Maryland’s Sister State Program and the Healing Hands Foundation.
Thank you for opening your hearts to our brothers and sisters in Ecuador. For more information, please contact Molly Sheahan at the Maryland Catholic Conference, [email protected].
Ecuador necesita nuestra ayuda. ¡Acompáñanos a apoyar a nuestros hermanos y hermanas necesitados hoy!
La Conferencia Católica de Maryland se une a una coalición de líderes para enviar 20 toneladas de suministros médicos y de limpieza para ayudar a aliviar el sufrimiento del coronavirus en nuestro estado hermano de Ecuador.
Nuestros hermanos/as en Ecuador han sufrido terriblemente por la pandemia Covid-19, con más de 40.000 casos confirmados y 3.500 muertes, más que cualquier país sudamericano excepto Brasil.
La ciudad más poblada, Guayaquil, ha sido especialmente afectada. Los trabajadores de primera línea se enfrentan a hospitales abrumados, poco equipo de protección personal, las familias carecen de acceso a atención médica y el gobierno está teniendo dificultades para recoger los cuerpos de los muertos por la asombrosa cifra de víctimas del virus.
Nuestros vecinos están necesitados y nosotros como comunidad católica queremos acercarnos en solidaridad. Como el cuerpo de Cristo, abramos nuestros corazones a nuestro estado hermano de Ecuador.
Los hospitales y los trabajadores de primera línea necesitan desesperadamente equipo de protección personal (EPP) y suministros médicos y de limpieza, incluyendo:
- Mascarillas quirúrjicas
- Guantes quirúrjicos y para examinación
- Guantes para lavar platos
- Batas quirúrjicas desechables y reutilizables
- Protectores faciales
- Cubiertas para zapatos
- Vitaminas prenatales o para niños y ancianos
- Toallitas húmedas con Cloro
- Jabón líquido
- Sábanas, cobijas, y almohadas nuevas
- Otros suministros médicos (consulte la lista)
Los suministros se pueden dejar en las siguientes ubicaciones antes del 14 de julio (haz clic para indicaciones):
Mr Car concesionarios
Toro Taxes – Silver Spring
Un avión militar ecuatoriano entregará las donaciones en el 14 de julio; artículos deben ser dejados antes de esta fecha.
Se pueden donar de forma segura por Paypal a la Fundación Ecuadent que organiza estos esfuerzos. Ecuadent han dirigido misiones médicas a Ecuador durante los últimos treinta años, proporcionando excelente atención médica y dental a niños pobres en el país. Cada donación se destinará a proporcionar suministros médicos, suministros de limpieza y alimentos a los necesitados.
Los suministros de ayuda están siendo organizados por una coalición que incluye al Secretario de Estado de Maryland, la Fundación Ecuadent, el Consulado Ecuatoriano en D.C., las Fuerzas Armadas Ecuatorianas, el Programa de Estado Hermanas de Maryland y la Fundación Healing Hands.
Gracias por abrir sus corazones a nuestros hermanos/as en Ecuador. Para obtener más información, contacte a Molly Sheahan en la Conferencia Católica de Maryland, [email protected].
The Maryland Catholic Conference congratulates Father Bruce Lewandowski, C.Ss.R., who was named an Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore today by Pope Francis.
Bishop-designate Lewandowski, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus/Sagrado Corazón de Jesus Parish in Baltimore’s Highlandtown neighborhood and the archdiocesan delegate for Hispanic ministry, will continue in these roles as Auxiliary Bishop.
He has been a strong advocate for immigrants and the marginalized. While at Sacred Heart, he worked with agencies in Baltimore City to develop two major initiatives addressing pressing needs in the Spanish-speaking community.
These included the creation of a parish ID for undocumented residents. City agencies recognized these as verification of residency so individuals could receive emergency and other services.
The Bishop-designate also recently partnered with the Baltimore City Health Department and Johns Hopkins Medical Center to create a COVID-19 testing site at the parish, which is located in a predominantly Latino neighborhood.
“The Maryland Catholic Conference is elated at the appointment of Bishop-elect Lewandowski, who has been a steady and pastoral voice on behalf of Baltimore’s Hispanic community, as well as an advocate for their dignity,” said Jenny Kraska, Executive Director of the Conference.
She noted, “He has demonstrated a willingness to work with public and private partners alike to improve the lives of others, especially the marginalized. We look forward to welcoming him to the Conference’s Board of Governors and to the addition of his voice as we represent the public policy interests of Catholics across Maryland.”
Bishop-designate Lewandowski was ordained in 1994 as a priest for the Baltimore Province of the Redemptorists.
Sally Rico was looking for a new way to keep parishioners connected with their faith after churches closed as part of the statewide COVID-19 precautions. Her idea, an outdoor, walkable rosary, soon went viral on social media.
Rico, coordinator for religious education at St. Lawrence Martyr parish in Hanover, Md., and Father Victor Scocco, OSST, the pastor, noticed that parishioners would park outside the church to say their prayers, while neighbors, who now were working from home, were using the park side of the 29-acre church property for exercise.
The parish, which is the faith home for nearly 800 families, has a circular driveway that could be blocked off while the building was closed. The idea for a walkable rosary was born.
Logistics of creating the rosary
The challenge was how to make it happen. The rosary could not be permanent since the driveway would need to be used by cars once the church reopened. Working with the Ayoub family, including their five children, Rico found a cornstarch and flour recipe for the paint and together they measured the driveway — 102 feet — and worked out the size of each bead.
On a cold and windy day, the team gathered for more than 10 hours to lay out and paint the rosary, using the feet of 11-year-old Grace to measure out the placement of each bead. They placed signs to help people pray.
“We put the prayers of the rosary close to where they would be prayed for those who don’t know how to pray the rosary. We picked joyful mysteries. We need to be joyful regardless of our situations,” said Rico.
Then Rez LaBoy got a call, asking if he could come over. LaBoy, a recreational drone operator, recently joined the parish with his wife, Karen, after moving to the area. He has been preparing to become Catholic through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program at St. Hugh of Grenoble in Greenbelt, his wife’s longtime parish, where they received marriage preparation and have been helping livestream Sunday Masses this spring.
Within minutes of the call, he headed to St. Lawrence with his drone and took photos of the rosary, which the parish posted on social media. That’s when things took off. Calls and emails have poured in from around the country.
People really have a hunger for Christ
At the parish, Scocco said that “over the last weeks, we have seen people quietly walking and making use of the rosary.”
They have come not only from the parish, but from other parts of Maryland, and a neighbor who is not Catholic asked Rico to walk through the rosary with her. Rico explained that the rosary is a meditation on the life of Christ.
“The beautiful part of this story is that many parishioners were hurt in not being able to come into the church. No one ever thinks about the church having to close its doors,” LaBoy said, noting this was a “creative and unique way” for parishioners to still come to church, although outside.
While the past two months have meant many changes for the parish, Scocco said, “What I’m amazed about is the cohesiveness of the parish. We have managed to stay together.”
“While people are of varying opinions on how and when we should open up, one thing is clear: they have an obvious hunger for the sacraments,” he continued. “People really have a hunger for Christ.”
In speaking about the changes, Fr. Scocco noted that he has acquired more digital skills and said parishioners write daily and have been grateful for online Masses. The parish’s young adult lectio divina group moved their meetings to Zoom and, using the parish directory, coordinated outreach to seniors in the parish. Online Adoration has drawn strong numbers and when Fr. Scocco offered the Sacrament of Reconciliation outdoors, following social distancing guidelines, people came for 2-1/2 hours.
Parishioners also have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nine families, including the father-in-law of an RCIA participant, affected.
Fr. Scocco expects some online ministry will continue after restrictions are lifted. The parish looks forward to worshipping in-person again, welcoming their eight RCIA participants into full communion, and to celebrating an ordination to the priesthood that will be held in the fall. Brother Josh Warshak, OSST, has been assisting as a transitional deacon at St. Lawrence while preparing to become a priest.
Please note: The Rosary was not designed to be permanent as the driveway will be used for cars again soon. The parish may create another outdoor rosary next May. Photos by Rez LaBoy, recreational drone photographer.
Sally Rico provided the recipe used to create the Rosary:
- 1:1 flour to water
- 1:1 cornstarch to water
(1/2 c. of cornstarch + 1/2 c. of water) + (1/2 c. flour + 1/2 c. of water) = just over a cup of solution
Food dye for approximately 1 cup of solution
- 10 drops blue
- 2 drops pink
- 2 drops black
Blessing in Time of Pandemic
Lord God, true Physician and Healer,
be merciful to us and grant us your aid in these troubled times.
Heal all our sickness and every affliction of your people,
especially those suffering from the pandemic that has spread so widely.
Drive out our infirmities of soul and body;
free us from all disease and especially from this scourge.
We place in your hands the elderly, the frail,
people with disability, children, young people and families,
those who are poor, lonely, and isolated.
Give them patience and hope.
We ask for your blessing on all those who care for the sick:
doctors, nurses, EMTs, first responders of any kind.
Shield them, guide them, strengthen them as
they administer treatments and care.
We implore your blessing on medical researchers and scientists
who are tirelessly working to find cures and treatments.
Reveal new ideas and accelerate their discoveries to fight this disease.
Finally, we ask that you bless our elected leaders as they enact policies and directives that are meant to protect us and keep us safe.
May they respond to the challenges of this affliction with prudence and sound judgment.
May their planning alleviate economic burdens, compensate for losses, protect employment, and ensure ample food for the poor and isolated.
We place our trust in you, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen