Hello all! My name is Emily Cook, and I am a junior studying at the lovely Loyola University Chicago. I am a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice, as well as being on the pre-law track. If I could have fit another major and not have too remain at Loyola for well over five years (not that I would protest more time at Loyola), my third major would have been History. For now I can only sneak a few classes in the history department here and there. It was because of this need for a sprinkle of history in my life that the Ramonat Seminar stuck out to me. The seminar includes the bonus of independent research and guest lecturers, so how could I say no! The seminar focuses on the incredible period of growth in society that was the 20th century. As the 20th century dawned, Chicago was forever changed by a growing number of new perspectives on labor policy, government, and social life. New ideologies like communism, pacifism and even anarchism were rampant within Chicago.
It was at this time that Day began to grow the churches dedication to social justice. She founded a movement and fought for those who were left voiceless. It is her career and the tumultuous time in Chicago that coincides with her career that truly fascinates me. I am enthusiastic about the focus of the class on a strong woman fighting alongside the church to create a voice for the less fortunate. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, and in all the catechism classes strong women like Day were over looked. The seminar provides me with a chance to see for myself that is not just men that fight for social justice, but women alongside the church as well. Being a student from Loyola and studying how to advocate for those who are voiceless, the seminar allows me to see how activism has affected the lives of people in history.
Now after reading Day’s autobiography, The Long Loneliness, it has opened my eyes to the countless other social justice advocates that have mirrored her work. A more recent example of the continuation of Day’s work would be a pair of nuns and the long history of social justice they represent. Sisters Pat Murphy and Joann Persch have been fighting for the rights of immigrants in Chicago for many years (Ramirez, 2009). Their dedication to the care of others has become so well known that many refer to them simply as “The Sisters”(Ramirez, 2009). Their work has included lobbying, speaking at conferences, and marching for the more humane treatment of those being deported. Their most pivotal work has been their visits to various detention centers to pray with those on their last stop before deportation (Ramirez, 2009).
The two sisters belong to the larger group, The Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters of Mercy have a rich tradition of social advocacy dating all the way back to 1846 when they provided for Irish immigrants within Chicago (Kane, 2008) They are well known for founding several schools and founding the first permanent general hospital in Chicago. The sister’s influence continued well into the 20th century when they marched against segregated public schools (Marlin, 2010) Sisters Joanne Murphy and Joann Persch are just the latest example of a sacred tradition of catholic social justice within the Sisters of Mercy. I find this tradition incredible and very surprising because when I picture the daily life of a nun it most certainly does not include working in prisons or lobbying in the government. Like Dorothy Day they are indelible examples of a long standing tradition of catholic social justice within Chicago and the Church.
Kane, P. (2008). Suellen Hoy. Good Hearts: Catholic Sisters in Chicago’s Past The American Historical Review, 113(2), 512-512. doi:10.1086/ahr.113.2.512
Marlin, P. D. (2010). Sisters of Mercy: Catholic Women Religious Congregation. Retrieved September 06, 2016, from http://www.sistersofmercy.org/
Ramirez, M. (2009, August 9). 2 nuns from Sisters of Mercy focus on jailed immigrants. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 6, 2016.