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Statement on the death of Tyre Nichols
February 1, 2023 8:27 AM

A Statement by the National Black Sisters Conference on the murder of Tyre Nichols
January 30, 2023

The New Year is barely a month old. We have just celebrated the national holiday honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the warrior of peace, and the world sadly commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In a few days, we will celebrate Black History Month as we honor the achievements and contributions of African Americans in the struggle for freedom.

Yet here we are again grieving the death of another young Black man, Tyre Nichols, whose life was taken at the hands of five Black police officers on a night in a quiet Memphis neighborhood.

Tyre Nichols' life at the age of 29 was taken before he had a chance to fulfill his purpose. This young man was not a person to be feared or perceived to be a threat. He was a son, father, and contributor to society; respected and loved by all who knew him. His only crime was being Black in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Violence against African Americans has been a fact of life in this country since the first slave patrols were created in the 1700s to apprehend runaway slaves. Historically, the system was designed to institutionalize terror against Black people.

The five Black police officers who brutally took Tyre's life as he cried out for his mother; were indoctrinated into a corrupt system and freely chose to perpetrate violence against other Black people in the name of institutionalized racism.

Unfortunately, police violence is not new. The video of the incident is no different from other police footage, and the only difference is that the majority of the officers are Black!

In speaking to this fact, Mr. Nichols' mother, RowVaugh Wells, stated:
"…And what they are doing to black communities is wrong. We're not worried about the race of the police officers, and we're worried about the conduct of the police officers. Policing in this country is focused on control, subordination and violence…society views black people as inherently dangerous and criminal..."

The National Black Sisters Conference is worried too! When will we wake up as a nation? 

How many lives will it take? How often must we bear witness to the senseless killing of African Americans by the police? Where is the collective voice of our religious communities, African American organizations, and Church? The prophet Micah's words speak to what the righteous are called to do: "The just God demands justice!" God demands a change of heart.

As we move into Black History Month, how will we answer a mother's prophetic words on the sad occasion of her son's death? What will we remember? How will this modern-day Black genocide be eradicated? Where do we go from here?

With righteous indignation, we all must act! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes in his book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? "Freedom is not won by passive acceptance of suffering. A struggle wins freedom against suffering." Let this be our rallying cry for justice!

As the National Black Sisters' Conference, we are demanding JUSTICE FOR TYRE! and calling for:

  • Immediate passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 by Congress
  • More progressive oversite and accountability of police departments by the Justice Department
  • Local and State reform of policing, and
  • The end to police brutality that continues to plague Black and poor communities

Finally, we call on our Church to speak out in the name of the Gospel. This killing is a pro-life issue that is just as important as protecting the life of the unborn.

Tyre's spirit cries out for justice, and we will continue to stand in the gap, crying out in the name of justice for our people.

United in the struggle for justice,
The National Black Sisters' Conference
January 30, 2023


In memoriam: Sister Mary Flynn, OSF
January 16, 2023 9:44 AM


Sister Mary Flynn, O.S.F. died on Sunday, January 15, 2023, at 6:50 a.m. at St. Francis Convent, Springfield, IL

Sister Mary, the former Mary Elizabeth Flynn, was born in Litchfield, IL, on October 5, 1930, the daughter of George and Ruth (Wilson) Flynn. She entered the Congregation on September 8, 1949, and professed her religious vows on June 13, 1952.

Sister Mary graduated from Springfield School of Practical Nursing, Springfield. 

Sister Mary served in the Credit and Accounting Departments at HSHS Hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin and the Business Office at St. Francis Convent. She also served as a Licensed Practical Nurse at St. John’s TB Sanitarium, Springfield, HSHS Hospitals in Illinois, St. Francis Convent, and St. Ann’s Home Shreveport, LA. She served at HSHS St. Francis Hospital, Litchfield, from 1979-84 and 1991-2012.

She was preceded in death by her parents and eight brothers: Gerald (twin brother), George, William, Riley, Stephen, Edward, Robert, and Brendan Flynn, and her sister: Katherine Flynn.

She is survived by her brother, Daniel (Luisa) Flynn of Creve Coeur, MO, four sisters-in-law, several generations of nieces and nephews, and her Franciscan Sisters with whom she shared her life for over 73 years.

Visitation will be held at St. Francis Convent from 4-7 p.m. with a Wake Service at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 17, 2023. The Eucharistic Celebration and Rite of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Clare of Assisi Adoration Chapel at St. Francis Convent. Burial will be in Crucifixion Hill Cemetery.

Staab Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Feature story from 2007
 


In memoriam: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
January 4, 2023 12:32 PM



Pope Francis led tributes to his predecessor after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died on December 31, 2022 in a monastery in the Vatican at the age of 95. “We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind and we feel such gratitude in our hearts, gratitude to god for giving him to the church, and to the world,” Francis said in Saint Peter’s Basilica while leading traditional vespers ceremony ahead of New Year’s Day. “Gratitude to him for all the good he accomplished and above all for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his life. Only God knows the value of his sacrifices for the good of the church,” Francis added.

Benedict, who was the first pontiff in almost 600 years to resign his position, rather than hold office for life, passed away on December 31, 2022, according to a statement from the Vatican. “With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni said. Francis went to see Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI soon after he passed away Saturday morning, according to Bruni.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was born on April 16, 1927 in Bavaria, Germany and his priesthood ordination was on June 29, 1951. On April 18, 2005, he was elected the 264th successor of Saint Peter and chose the name Bendict XVI. On February 28, 2013, he announced his resignation.


In memoriam: Sister Jocelyn Serwatka, OSF
November 22, 2022 9:41 AM


Sister Jocelyn Serwatka, O.S.F., died on Monday, November 21, 2022, at 12:57 a.m. at St. Francis Convent, Springfield, Illinois.

Sister Jocelyn, the former Isabelle Serwatka, was born in Madison, Illinois, on August 19, 1925, the daughter of Alexander and Natalia (Sydloski) Serwatka. She entered the Congregation on February 2, 1941, and professed her religious vows on October 4, 1943.

Sister Jocelyn graduated from St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing, Quincy University with a Bachelor of Science in Education, Marillac College with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and St. Louis University with a Master’s in Nursing. She earned a CPE Certificate from St. Mary’s College, Kansas City, MO.

Sister Jocelyn served as a nurse in different roles at HSHS hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin. She also served in Missouri, Arizona, and as a corporate nurse consultant for Nursing Home Managers in Springfield, IL. Other ministries include English Teacher, Pastoral Care at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital (Decatur, IL), Parish Ministry at St. Thomas Parish (Decatur, IL), and Justice and Peace Coordinator at St. Francis Convent, Springfield, IL.

She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers: Sigmund and Roman Serwatka, and two sisters, Irene Niedzwiecki and Adele Balcer.

She is survived by one brother, Stanley Serwatka of O’Fallon, Illinois, many nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews, great-great nieces, and great-great nephews, as well as her Franciscan Sisters with whom she shared her life for over 81 years.

Visitation will be held at St. Francis Convent from 4-7 p.m. with a Wake Service at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 25, 2022. The Eucharistic Celebration and Rite of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, November 26, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Clare of Assisi Adoration Chapel at St. Francis Convent. Burial will be in Crucifixion Hill Cemetery.

To read her feature story from 2013, please click here.

Staab Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

 



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Posted: February 1, 2023 8:27 AM Statement on the death of Tyre Nichols
Posted: January 16, 2023 9:44 AM In memoriam: Sister Mary Flynn, OSF
Posted: January 4, 2023 12:32 PM In memoriam: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Posted: November 22, 2022 9:41 AM In memoriam: Sister Jocelyn Serwatka, OSF
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