Thursday, January 04, 2007

Nancy Pelosi: signifcance, commentary

Dear Friends,

Wednesday morning I accompanied the choir from my church at St. Camillus in Silver Spring MD to Trinity College/University in DC where they sang for the mass to begin Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's big week. Robert Drinan, SJ was the celebrant and it was wonderful. You may remember that he was a Congressional Representative from
Boston, back in the 70's (when I was in Cambridge) before he was asked not to run again. He is currently on the faculty of Georgetown Law School.

The focus of the celebration was to remember the suffering children in Darfur and Katrina and the homily focused on the opportunities we all have to make a difference in the lives of the children - he made this point to Congresswoman Pelosi by challenging her to look back next year to see how she has worked to improve our foreign and national policies with respect to the lives of children. He mentioned that the USA is one of 2 countries that have not signed the International Children's Rights Act, Somalia is the other. He told us that 31,000 children die needlessly each day - the equivalent of 10 airplanes full of children crashing each day. He called upon all of us to look to see how we can be involved.

Nancy Pelosi, her husband and their children and grandchildren and brothers and sisters were there. At the payers of petition, one grandson, who barely reached the microphone, about 6-7 years of age prayed for his Grandma Nancy who will be speaker of the house - not a dry eye in the church of many women graduates of Trinity - from the classes of '60 - '68. She was in the class of '62.

But the biggest applause was when Drinan said in his homily that the next Speaker was a Mother - the applause was wild! Perhaps this is because of the fact that our generation of women is clear that we stand on the shoulders of those women who went before us and that we are a transitional generation. Young women of today may not be struck with the significance of this event. Another glass ceiling has been
broken permanently. I pray it paves the way for minorities as well.

After communion, a Rabbi spoke based on a quote from Leviticus about the genocide in Darfur and he reminded us that "we are not to stand idly by" and watch yet another genocide take place. He exhorted us to take action in whatever way possible to encourage the United Nations to take strong action to stop the process that will be reminiscent of Rwanda, Croatia, Cambodia and of course Auschwitz.

Afterwards there was a reception with Italian pastries and tea sandwiches in a grand room in what seemed to be a converted mansion. Nancy Pelosi commented that she was moved when the choir sang the Peace Prayer of St. Francis after communion because her home is now San Francisco and she considers that the theme song of San Francisco. She enumerated the values/virtues that highlighted in the prayer -
love, hope light, joy, understanding - and said these are values she learned at home and at Trinity. (In the days where an all women's college was a place where women could shine and be leaders without concern for what the "boys" might think.) I was moved when she promised to bring those values from St. Francis' Peace Prayer with
her to the office of Speaker beginning today.

It was by pure chance that I was able to accompany the choir (as an assistant to the percussionist) and it was a thrill for my Democratic Irish Catholic heart for whom the idea of a woman speaker of the house was never conceivable let alone on the radar in my youth!

We really have come a long way!

I will take the risk and ask for prayers for our new Speaker of the House and ask God to strengthen her and all of the members of Congress that they might be less partisan and truly work together as servant leaders.

Much peace,

From the sister of one of our women priests in the Celtic Christian Church to which Paschal also belongs.


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