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EDITORIAL | Civil Rights icon Sister Antona Ebo remains an example for us in the fight for justice and equality

Throughout her life, Sister Mary Antona Ebo was known for standing for justice and equality for all.

With her death Nov. 11, there are many who desire to keep her spirit alive. The African-American woman religious, who marched in Selma, Ala., in 1965 for civil rights, told the crowd then that, "I'm here because I'm a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness."

Sister Antona was a courageous witness beyond Selma and the civil rights movement. Even in her later years, she was involved in interfaith work and other social justice issues. During a visit to Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown, she encouraged others to "look at what's under the rug" and address the underlying issues.

For Sister Antona, taking a position on these issues was guided by her Catholic faith. She said that her faith taught her it was a responsibility. Her example inspires us to take up our own Catholic faith as a guide in confronting these issues head on.

She often encouraged others, in the words of Isaiah, to "Come. Listen. Live. Witness." In that sense, she often said that people must learn to "listen to one another so that we understand the difference in culture, in our relationship and in the way we talk with one another."

We have many opportunities before us to stay engaged in the efforts to promote peace and justice for all. In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Peace and Justice Commission continues its work of responding to systemic injustices in our community. Elsewhere in our community, the Ferguson Commission studied racial inequities and developed a path toward change. The effort now exists as Forward Through Ferguson.

The Catholic Church in St. Louis is positioned to continue the work of racial equity, much in the ways of Catholics who have come before us, including Sister Antona. With the recent events in St. Louis, some are calling this city the "new Selma."

With the spirit of Sister Antona shining a light before us, we must move forward and live up to what God is calling us to — to go out into the world and love one another and to share in the notion that we are all His children. 

>> Take Action

Missouri Catholic Conference: The public policy arm of Missouri's bishops serves as an advocate for different issues in the Missouri legislature. Visit www.mocatholic.org.

St. Charles Lwanga Center: The archdiocesan office of black Catholic ministries provides spiritual formation and leadership, including advocacy for justice and racial equity concerns, within the African-American Catholic tradition. Visit www.archstl.org/lwangacenter

Archdiocesan Peace and Justice Commission: Founded in 2015 by Archbisop Robert J. Carlson, the commission has developed priorities looking at how issues affecting the region specifically impact the family. To learn more, visit www.archstl.org/peace-justice.

Forward Through Ferguson: After the death of Michael Brown in 2014, a group of regional leaders, The Ferguson Commission, studied racial inequities and developed a path toward change. To learn more or to read the commission's report, visit www.forwardthroughferguson.org.

For the Sake of All: The project began in March 2013 as a collaboration between scholars at Washington University and St. Louis University to report on the health and well-being of African-Americans in the St. Louis region by highlighting social, economic and environmental factors that drive differences in outcomes. The site, www.forthesakeofall.org, includes specific action items.

Living Justice Ministry at St. Margaret of Scotland: The parish-based ministry has numerous activities, including dialogue events and calls to action. The group is LivingJusticeSMOS on Facebook. Or email [email protected].

Social Justice 4 All: A group of volunteers who are inspired by the Holy Spirit to improve lives for all in St. Louis. For information, contact Bernie Sammons at [email protected]

SPARC (Students Participating Actively in Real Change): A student-led group that meets monthly to plan events for social justice/diversity clubs in St. Louis schools, and serves as a network for students interested in these issues. To learn more, email [email protected]

Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty: The nonprofit organization is dedicated to ending the use of the death penalty in Missouri. Visit www.madpmo.org.

RELATED ARTICLE(S):Obituary | Sister Mary Antona Ebo, FSM

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