An Agape Response to Worcester Bishop’s Threats Over Black Lives Matter Flag at Nativity School
At a Catholic School in Worcester, Red Flags
By Yvonne Abraham Globe Columnist,Updated April 2, 2022, 2:58 p.m.
There is so much to legitimately worry about in this world, real issues of life and death, race and gender, hope and fear. And then one throwback with a miter cap and staff does this: The Catholic bishop of Worcester has demanded that a middle school remove the Pride and Black Lives Matter flags it has flown for more than a year or lose the right to call itself a Catholic school.
Until now, Nativity School of Worcester has been minding its own business, doing what it does best: God’s work. The tuition-free school — part of a Jesuit network — serves 61 boys in grades 5 through 8, almost all of them students of color and from low-income families. With longer school days and individualized attention, those kids will often leap six or seven grade levels in four years, going on to become successful high school and college students. [click link below for full article] Yvonne Abraham
Suzanne sent the following email response to Yvonne:
I am a co-founder of a lay Catholic community in Hardwick, MA, where for years, boys from Nativity School came to experience a Catholic Community dedicated to sustainability, Catholic Social Teaching and Nonviolence. The Jesuit in charge at the time of Nativity students visits to Agape, Fr Jack Fagan SJ, is dedicated to the teachings of gospel-nonviolence and encouraged the creation of nonviolent problem solving. The Agape Community staff offered programs on conflict resolution using Jesus as the exemplar of gospel-based nonviolence when students came to Agape, or we offered nonviolent problem solving while at Nativity.
The reactionary and inflammatory actions of Bishop McManus over a Black Lives Matter flag, ignore the dedication to peace and Catholic Social Teaching that the long Jesuit tradition at Nativity Schools throughout the country represents. Sadly, McManus’ excoriation of Nativity and the threats to single-handedly deny its Catholic identity, offer another tyrannizing example of a Catholic cleric ignoring the profound cultural and spiritual changes in a social fabric where Black Lives are undervalued and denigrated daily.
Instead of using the moment to call for constructive dialogue on racism in the Diocese of Worcester, McManus creates a divisive and toxic authoritarianism that has caused countless young people to flee the Catholic Church, which his demeaning and myopic recent action will certainly infuse and ensure. Not to mention the insult to Black Catholics in the Worcester Diocese and beyond.
Thank you for your spirited coverage of this issue.
Suzanne Belote Shanley, co-founder, Agape Community www.agapecommunity.org