Sr. Toni Harris, O.P.
International Co-Promoter for Justice and Peace
You have recently been appointed International Co-Promoter for Justice, Peace and the Care of Creation within the Order?
When I received the call from Sr. Gemma Doll, who is the North American representative to the International DSI coordinating Council, I was very excited, really thrilled. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity and I felt very honored to be considered. Then I began to think of the responsibility for knowing the global situation and the issues affecting people around the world. I also became aware of my inadequacy in languages, only knowing English at the time. Also, I wondered about my credibility as one coming from USA, which is perceived as the country that creates problems for many people in many parts of the world.
What is your dream for the many challenges that justice and peace face around the world?
A very important thing is not to become overwhelmed by the scope of issues and problems that face the world. It is very important not to be paralyzed by the challenges that face us. It is the basic message of the Paschal Mystery. Every action we take, prayer we make and step we take makes a difference. It all matters. It makes for a better world. We must believe this and not surrender to the problems which can overwhelm us. In this particular position, the goals of Dominican Sisters International as well as the Acts of the Krakow Chapter and other General Chapters have set the context and directions for Prakash (International Co-Promoter for JP for the friars) and myself. We will look through those lenses as to the activities we would undertake.
The International Commission for Justice and Peace has two promoters?a sister and a brother. What do you think of working in this way, of doing the mission together?
Bro. Edward van Merrienboer, in the late '80's, worked very hard to get a sister from each continental area to join the commission so that the whole family would work together. It made sense then that the General Promoters would be both a sister and a brother. It seems like an appropriate development of a wider view and a shared understanding of our mission and of our own self-understanding as a Dominican family committed to Dominic?s vision and Gospel preaching. We are brothers and sisters and we do work for justice.
I understand that you are going to Bolivia to learn Spanish. Why?
I need to know another language for this work in the Justice and Peace Office. I am interested in Bolivia because the language school that Maryknoll offers has a strong commitment to understanding spoken Spanish. Also our Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters have been in Bolivia since 1960. Part of the school's program is living with a family, which will put me in touch with the local people. Also Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. So being in that context will be an important learning for my new position as well as an insertion into the Bolivian reality.
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In the photo sr. Toni, on the left, with sr. M.T.Hanna, Iraqi sister.