8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago kicked off its final year with a “Gathering of Gratitude” in Evanston, Ill., on Sept. 30. BVMs and associates, friends and supporters assembled for a simple ritual, shared the work of the coming year, and celebrated the past 43 years of 8th Day’s journey toward justice.
BVMs were one of the six founding congregations of the center in 1974. Over four-plus decades, 8th Day evolved into a 35-congregation coalition that collaborated with many partners to advocate for justice in society and the Catholic Church—‘guided by a vision for a world of dignity and respect for all people and creation.’
Associate Joann Crowley Beers, former BVM and one of the first BVM staff representatives at 8th Day, reflects, “We took to heart Pope Paul VI’s words, ‘If you want peace, work for justice.’ We looked at the stories of creation and saw that God rested on the 7th day, so on the 8th day the ongoing creation was in our hands—and the 8th Day Center for Justice was born. It was such a creative, optimistic, empowering time! I learned in those years how many BVMs were already deeply involved in works of justice. Allowing me to be part of something so much bigger than any of us confirmed that God is at work in us, and God’s work must truly be our own.”
Looking to the Future
The emerging reality of the diminishing numbers facing religious congregations jeopardized the ongoing sustainability of the center. After much exploration and discernment, the 8th Day staff and council determined that closing the center with dignity was the best decision moving forward.
“I treasure my years working at 8th Day because I find this ministry integrates my fundamental beliefs,” says Joellen McCarthy, BVM, who is the current business office coordinator at 8th Day. “The Center focuses its work on any system that diminishes the ability for humans and all creation to flourish. The structure within our operations embodies the phrase ‘be the change you wish the world to be.’ We make decisions in a consensual process and depend upon the accountability from mutual relationships to keep our work moving forward. I truly believe that mutual relationships are the foundation for nonviolence.”
The Commitment Continues
Though 8th Day will close, its work will continue, fostered by the interconnected groups and coalitions that have grown stronger over the years, working together for social justice.
“The 8th Day Center for Justice has exceeded every expectation of its founding communities,” says BVM President Teri Hadro. “It has been a reliable beacon for justice, a prophetic voice in society and church, a steadfast witness to Gospel values and a teacher of nonviolence and peace for all who had ears to hear. 8th Day will be missed, but seeds of its good work are growing in fertile soil across our globe. I am grateful!”
Note: A feature length article about the 8th Day Center for Justice, including many BVM reflections, will appear in the Winter 2018 issue of Salt magazine, published by the Sisters of Charity, BVM.
Post date 10.11.2017