Leader Spotlight: Sr. Cheryl Liske

Sister Cheryl Liske, OP  is a Dominican Sister of Adrian Michigan. She grew up on the west side of Detroit in a neighborhood of post WWII housing. Sister Cheryl currently lives a block west of her childhood home in Detroit. She is the Michigan state director and is a member of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish Community in a suburb of Detroit. Sister Cheryl is also part of the Gamaliel national staff, the Gamaliel National Clergy Caucus and the Leadership Assembly.

What is your role within the Gamaliel network?
As the state director of organizing here in Michigan I work with the leadership of our five affiliates to train grassroots leaders to use the tools of organizing to work collaboratively in the community to research community problems and to change conditions that disadvantage poor and low-income communities.  I help the leadership with their strategic planning and as a faith-based organizer I agitate leaders to use their God given talents to become the person God intends them to be.

How did you become involved with Gamaliel?
I became involved in Gamaliel when, in 1989, I was studying and living at Our Lady Gate of Heaven and our pastor asked me to help organize a small cluster of neighboring churches “to help the poor.”  When the group hired me to be the director (part-time) I decided to go to Gamaliel weeklong training to learn what community organizing was all about. Since then I have been the lead organizer in organizing all five of the Gamaliel affiliates in Michigan.  To me faith-based community organizing is one of the best experiences of “Church” anyone could have.

How do you see the Fire of Faith Campaign align with Catholic Social Teaching?
The Fire of Faith Campaign is Catholic Social Teaching lived out in our world.  It is our faith made real and alive in our midst.  Fire of Faith is about building the connections within our faith communities (Rekindling Congregations); providing access to jobs and economic opportunities for those who are marginalized (Rekindling our Economy) and is about encouraging civic engagement (Rekindling our Democracy) at all levels of our society.  Fire of Faith is about the very Catholic principles of justice, right relationships and allowing people to determine their own destiny.

What issues in your community have you been addressing and how have they aligned with the Fire of Faith campaign?
In Michigan we are working on:

  • Regional transit that allows all regional persons access to good jobs, good food and good housing
  • Transit options that PROVIDE jobs
  • Early Education and quality schooling that prepare all of our young people for good jobs
  • Immigrant rights and comprehensive immigration reform
  • Health Equity
  • Civic Engagement – voter registration and voter turn-out
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