Leader Spotlight: Sr. Ann Elizabeth

Sr. Ann Elizabeth is a Springfield Dominican sister with the St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Springfield, IL. Originally from Nashville, TN, Sr. Ann Elizabeth worked in Peru and she has continued being present in the Latino community in Springfield. Among other things this means that she attends bible studies in the Latino community and is part of the Spanish choir in her parish. 

How did you your work with Gamaliel begin? 

St. Katharine Drexel is a member of the Faith Coalition for the Common Good, which is affiliated with Gamaliel, so I first got involved with Gamaliel when I joined the parish. This happened about 2 years ago, when I came back to the United States from Peru. 

What issues in your community have you been addressing and how have they aligned with the Fire of Faith campaign? 

I’m on the City Services Task Force, which involves attacking various issues like getting abandoned houses being torn down, increasing voter registration, and organizing a neighborhood cleanup. The main issue right now is to address Springfield’s affirmative action plan and making sure that it actually helps people. We need to figure out the next steps to make sure this plan works. 

In your view, how do the issues that the Fire of Faith campaign addresses align with Catholic Social Teaching? 

They align really well, Catholic Social Teaching talks about a more just world in general. The issues we tackle are examples of Catholic Social Teaching in action. Going back to the affirmative action plan, the problem is that right now the hiring practices have been and are racist, which Catholic Social Teaching clearly says is a sin. Also by getting abandoned house torn down we help the neighborhood. Abandoned houses are good places for rats to live. They are also places that can be used by drug dealers; so it is good to get them down. With the Fire of Faith campaign it is about building relationships with people and seeing what we need to do better and how we can create change. It is important to remember that we need to build relationships with people, we need to respect them and their views. 

What appealed to you in the first place about Gamaliel’s Fire of Faith campaign? 

The Fire of Faith campaign is something we’re doing with the parish and it is exciting because it strengthens the community by building relationships and it lets us listen to what people have to say so hopefully as a result of this we’ll figure out a direction that the church needs to go. It’s a good way to involve parishioners; it gives the people a chance to say what they think. 

How has your Catholic background influenced your work in social justice? 

Again, basically it all goes back to the gospel. You can see the whole idea of building a different society than what we have. That was true in Jesus’ time and its applicable now. If you look at the gospel you can see a lot of the justice issues brought out, and what we’re doing goes along with Catholic Social Teaching and the gospel values.

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