On August 17, 2018, the Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, hosted a Listening Session at the Richard Al Chaifetz School of Business at St. Louis University. “Listening, Learning, Leaning on God: Stories of Brokenness with a Call to Reconciliation and Change,” marked the first of many such sessions planed for Catholic Church leaders to welcome and hear those who have been hurt by experiences of racism within the Catholic Church. Leaders of RECON — an Incarnate Word Foundation initiative — participated in the event.
Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, and Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Bishops Robert J. Hermann and Mark S. Rivituso, Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and Bishop Martin D. Holley, Diocese of Memphis and Member of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, all listened prayerfully as more than twenty persons related their personal experiences of pain, misunderstanding, and rejection on the part of the Church, its people and institutions, due to the persistent sin of racism.
An audience of several hundred people joined the Bishops in prayer, song, and deep listening. Those gathered were given an opportunity to write down personal encounters with racism which were collected in a basket and presented to Archbishop Carlson and Bishop Fabre. At a simple reception following the session, participants shared their experience of immersion in a compassionate circle of humility and grace.
The evening culminated with Archbishop Robert Carlson’s invitation to join him in celebrating a healing Mass at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, Lindell Boulevard and Newstead Avenue in the Central West End. The Mass will seek healing for hurt caused by the Church through the sin of racism.
The St. Louis Review’s coverage of the event can be accessed at their website.