ARCHDIOCESE ANNOUNCES ANTI-RACISM STRATEGIC PLAN
Goals to Recognize and Eliminate Institutional Racism
Plan Part of “Racial Justice Week” Initiatives January
CHICAGO (January 23, 2004) - The Archdiocese of Chicago’s
Office for Racial Justice today unveiled an anti-racism strategic
plan that is a direct response to Cardinal George’s pastoral
letter of 2001, “Dwell In My Love,” challenging Catholics
to understand the nature of institutional racism and to work to
eliminate it. This announcement comes at the end of a week dedicated
to raising awareness of racial injustices, which will culminate
in Sunday commemorations of the Cardinal’s pastoral letter.
The plan is the result of the efforts of the “Dwell In My
Love” anti-racism implementation team.
The team, appointed by Cardinal George in 2002 to address racism
within parishes, schools and archdiocesan agencies, represents two
major service areas of the Archdiocese: the Pastoral Center (the
central administration of the Archdiocese) and the Office of Catholic
Schools (elementary and secondary school administrators, principals,
teachers and staff). The third and last component to be added is
“The objective of the anti-racism plan, which has five-year
goals and two-year objectives,” said Sr. Anita Baird, DHM,
Director of the Office for Racial Justice, “is to dismantle
racism and build relationships within our institutions that are
socially just and then to carry that pattern into the larger society
where we all dwell in God’s love.” New strategies will
be incorporated into the plan to address new issues as they emerge.
Sr. Anita noted that this year, in addition to celebrating “Dwell
In My Love” Sunday with special homilies and prayers, parishes
and schools received informational packets in advance of Racial
Justice Week to assist parishes and school communities to raise
awareness of injustices – particularly racial and ethnic injustices.
“Raising the consciousness of school and parish communities
now,” said Sr. Anita, “will facilitate implementation
of the strategic plan.” That’s primarily because the
main component of the plan is a series of seminars and training
sessions designed to assist participants in recognizing institutional
racism and building anti-racism leadership models that will influence
both church and societal institutions.
Crossroads Ministry, an interfaith and community-based anti-racism
training organization headquartered in Chicago, and trainers from
the Implementation Team will conduct the training. The seminars,
which began the first week of January, are conducted on two levels
– one-day, introductory seminars and two and one-half day
intensive training for those who want to develop a deeper analysis
of racism and work to dismantle racism in its three manifested forms:
individual, institutional and cultural.
Esther Hicks, co-chairperson with Sr. Anita and the Director of
Catholic School Identity and Mission, will oversee the plan’s
implementation in the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese.
“We must first understand, accept and have a shared view of
how and where racism exists in institutions, Hicks said. “Only
then can we see clearly how society is affected and then begin to
change institutions that support racism.”
“Facing and eliminating racism is a work of faith,”
says Cardinal George,
”because conversion of the heart is the work of God’s
grace.” “I am grateful for the work of the anti-racism
implementation team and share their hope that these efforts will
one day make it possible for us to live in an anti-racist and just
The plan’s five immediate goals start with training Pastoral
Center and school personnel and eventually parishioners to understand,
own and affirm an analysis of systemic racism and to equip them
with the tools needed to begin to formalize an anti-racist identity.
The other goals flow from the first, namely, that the Archdiocese
of Chicago will hold a common understanding of anti-racism teachings;
generate a new climate of openness and trust that will result in
more cooperative efforts; establish shared leadership as a model
and expand the anti racism teams for full implementation of the
This level of systemic change will take decades to fully address,
and so the full implementation of the strategic plan is projected
to take 20-30 years.
“The last paragraph of the Vision Statement of the Strategic
Plan more than sums up this enormous task,” says Sr. Anita.
That portion states, “We are committed to the ongoing dynamic
and faith-centered struggle to dismantle racism and construct socially
just patterns of relationships within our ecclesiastical institutions
as we strive to build a society that dwells together in God’s
unconditional and universal love.”