Black heritage: Dancing for the Lord

By Rachel Cywinski

LOGOS Staff Writer

 Celebrating Black History Month in prayer, dance, scripture and song brought dancing to the floor Feb. 9 at the Chapel of the Incarnate Word.

The celebratory service, hosted by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word’s New Membership Committee and the university’s Liturgical Outreach, featured dance teams of all ages from Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.

UIW siblings Charity Bowen and Paul Bowen sang and danced together, and students in Sister Martha Ann Kirk’s Arts for Christian Worship class dramatized the day of Pentecost and a Zambian folktale.

Kirk, a religious studies professor, narrated the folk tale in which several blind people each touch a different part of an elephant and individually conclude they know the nature of the elephant based upon that part, leading to endless arguments amongst themselves.

“And so these folks from Zambia disputed loud and long,” Kirk said. “Each was partly right and all were partly wrong. And how often am I like one of these persons so tied to my opinion, politics, denomination. Let us all learn we need each other.”

Sister Leti De Jesus Rodriguez shared her experiences in developing an Incarnate Word mission in Zambia from 2001 to 2009. She facilitated a holistic mobile clinic to provide conversation, basic needs and primary care in an area where 30 percent of the population was infected with HIV or AIDS. Rodriguez displayed maps and photos from her mission.

Doctoral student Eucharia Gomba, a nun in the order of Sisters of the Infant Jesus, found the CCVI mission neighbored her hometown in Zimbabwe. Students from Prayer and Spirituality classes taught by Kirk and Suzan Ray, an adjunct professor, visited with their instructors and members of Holy Redeemer Church during a reception following the service.

“African culture is a culture of hope, a culture of wisdom, with gratitude for the littlest things,” Rodriguez said. “We are called to recognize the face of God, the face of Jesus Christ, in every single person.

“(For every) 50 people there, 15 have AIDS. Two generations have been lost, leaving behind the orphans. To get water you either go to the river where it is infested because of the people or you dig a well but the water comes out brown because of the copper. I thought, ‘In America we have all sorts of resources and here there is not even drinking water.’”

Rodriguez said two major challenges were supporting women who defied their culture and incurred the wrath of their tribes by refusing to prevent infecting their babies with AIDS, and “It was so hard to say goodbye to people who were dying.”


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