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Celeste Reinhart The vision that broke forth from our most recent community gathering as School Sisters of Notre Dame was a resounding, “With Passion, Liberate!” For me, passion is any emotion of compelling force and to liberate is to set free from bondage, to release. I consider myself a passionate woman and, more and more as I get in touch with my own dynamism and energy, I am impelled to set free from bondage.

I am the Social Justice Co-ordinator in an immigrant parish of some 17,000 families squeezed into a city block in downtown Toronto. Histories of human rights abuses, domestic violence, gangs, drugs, sex trade, mental illness and economic margination, describe life in these apartment dwellings.

As a School Sister of Notre Dame, I am an active member of Ecumenical Coalitions on Economic Justice and Human Rights and the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative. These Coalitions give me the theological and advocacy know-how for my work with immigrants and the working poor. At the grassroots level, I spend my time assessing with the people their local needs, calling forth advocacy response and creating networks for structural change. Some of the highlights of our work together have been popular theatre on migrant workers’ issues, facilitating immigration procedures, initiating “Green Dollar” goods and services. On a wider scale, we are networking with the Global March of Women, Development and Peace and finally, in Hispanic circles, co-ordinating the Archbishop Romero 2000 events.

In my ministry, I frequently visit the 7-foot high bronze “Crucified Woman” at the entrance of Emmanuel College, in Toronto. Some say it is blasphemous because Christ should always be depicted as a man; others find it a contemporary interpretation of the Crucifixion. I find it a powerful reflection of the female slavery we find at the root of almost every structural policy needing adjustment in our global community. I receive support from around the world, that we School Sisters of Notre Dame, as an international congregation of religious woman, are breaking the silence and leaping, making it real, making it our own, making policy, history, peace, making mischief, difference, love and connections, making bread, a clean sky, active peace, the army disbanded, the child wanted, the body’s integrity honoured, the labour equal. All this is political and impelled by the spirit of Jesus Christ.

Sister Celeste Reinhart
Social Justice Coordinator, Toronto
School Sisters of Notre Dame

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