Human Rights Champions Honored

Recognized at CRLN's 20th Anniversary Fiesta

Jerome McDonnell, host of WBEZ's Worldview, recognized five people and organizations at CRLN's 20th Anniversary celebration as Human Rights Champions.  They had been nominated by CRLN members for their "extraordinary dedication to the cause of peace, justice and human rights in this hemisphere."  Reprinted below are the remarks from the event, recognizing each honoree, and pictures.


Martha and Denis Pierce

Martha and Denis Pierce, both individually and together, have epitomized a life of commitment to the causes of peace, justice and human rights.  Martha, upon graduating from seminary, took as her call the task of leading the Chicago Metropolitan Sanctuary Alliance.  CMSA's work with those in Central America who suffered from violence and displacement grew from an abiding commitment to the principals of accompaniment and radical hospitality.  From the work of CMSA, a project to organize religious communities and denominations for advocacy began and, twenty years ago, became the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America.  In those twenty years, CMSA and CRLN worked hand-in-hand, in a deep partnership.  In 2009, CMSA and CRLN formally merged, to continue their shared work and mission. 


Denis offers us an example of business leadership committed to making a difference for good in the world.  A civic leader committed to working to solve the root causes of poverty and homelessness, Denis offers his creativity, energy, and resources on behalf of many organizations working for justice, including CRLN.  


Two years ago, Denis and Martha created a remarkable new organization, the Pierce Family Charitable Foundation.  In those two years, the Foundation has provided CRLN with the technology and computer tools needed to move ahead, including: 1) computer and technical support through a local firm; 2) a new server and rebuilt network; 3) a wireless network; 4) purchase of computers and other hardware; and 5) supporting CRLN's new database and conversion.  This is in addition to the Foundation's direct and generous philanthropic support of CRLN's operations and programs.


It is difficult to imagine more generous and thoughtful partners.  Please join me in recognizing Denis and Martha as human rights champions - for all that they have done for CRLN and the cause of promoting peace, justice and human rights in this hemisphere.


Nancy Jones, Dan Dale and Their Family

As a church worker in El Salvador from 1989-1993, The Reverend Dan Dale worked with Bishop Medardo Gomez of the Lutheran Church in El Salvador in the midst of the worst repression against the poor.  With him, were his spouse, Nancy Jones, and their young daughters, Lucy and Jenny.  Choosing to accompany the poor and oppressed by taking the entire family into a war zone exemplifies this family's strong commitment to human rights.


Nancy Jones leads Chicago Fair Trade, an organization seeking to change individual and city purchasing patterns, encouraging people to purchase products made according to fair trade principles.  Most recently, Chicago Fair Trade successfully lobbied the City Council, which passed a resolution declaring Chicago a Fair Trade City


Currently pastor of Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Dan has helped organize the congregation's witness against U.S.-funded military violence in Colombia.  Under his leadership, the congregation became a member of the New Sanctuary Movement.  With Christian Peacemaker Teams, Dan has accompanied and bore witness to the suffering of the Colombian people caught between military, paramilitaries, and armed rebel groups.  For years, he has provided leadership to CRLN, currently as chair of its board of directors. 


Nancy and Dan have also encouraged their daughters.  Jenny currently serves at CRLN as the Chicago New Santuary coordinator, organizing faith communities to accompany and work for justice for immigrants.  Lucy is serving as a Peace Corps worker in Honduras, and is working in the aftermath of the military coup there. 


Please join me in recognizing Nancy Jones, Dan Dale and their family as Human Rights Champions.


Sisters Pat Murphy and JoAnn Persch

Sisters Pat and JoAnn have spent a lifetime serving vulnerable and marginalized communities. 


In 1990, Sisters Pat and JoAnn helped co-found Su Casa Catholic Worker Community for Central American refugees fleeing the wars in their home countries.  They became Peace and Justice Coordinators for the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago and currently continue their work as Peace and Justice Ministers in the Chicago area of the West/Midwest Community.   


Their ministry includes advocacy for immigration reform as well as accompaniment of those detained and deported.  They have faithfully stood in vigil outside of the Broadview Immigration Detention and Processing Center every Friday for the last 3 years.   They also established a court watch program in the immigration detention court. 


Through their persistent work, Sisters Pat and JoAnn have gained weekly access into McHenry County Jail for pastoral care visitation, provide individual pastoral care visitation each Friday at Broadview to those who are going to be deported that morning, and are allowed to pray on the buses leaving from Broadview carrying people to the airport to be deported. 


Sister Pat and Sister JoAnn have been long-time partners of the CRLN and have been leaders within the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition living out the prophetic tradition of sanctuary.  Please join me in recognizing them as human rights champions.


Jerome McDonnell

Jerome McDonnell hosts Chicago Public Radio's long-running global affairs program Worldview. From Nobel Peace Prize winners to Nicaraguan sweatshop workers, Worldview highlights a range of voices that go beyond the headlines. Each weekday, Jerome provides global affairs coverage of world issues with in-depth conversations on international issues and their local impact.


Jerome joined the staff of Chicago Public Radio in 1984 as an intern, later becoming a producer for the former programs Inside Business, and Midday with Sondra Gair-an international news analysis show. He has been a producer of Weekend Edition Saturday and also served as executive director of talk programming.


Through his work, Chicagoans hear and learn from Latin American human rights and religious leaders, as he gives them a forum to tell their stories, and leads them through insightful questions and discussion.  All of us who listen to Worldview are better informed about the issues and the systems that lead to injustice and human rights abuses in this hemisphere, because of Jerome's consistent and vital work. 


Please join me in recognizing Jerome McDonnell as a Human Rights Champion.


8th Day Center for Justice 

The 8th Day Center for Justice is a coalition of Catholic religious congregations committed to act as a critical alternative voice to oppressive systems and to work actively to change those systems.


One of CRLN's key partners over the past 20 years, the 8th Day Center, its staff and members, have worked together with CRLN members on many issues, including Closing the School of the Americas and immigration. 


As a leader in the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition, last year the 8th Day Center for Justice declared Sanctuary and its staff and members have helped organize the critical work of the New Sanctuary Movement here in Chicago. 


One of the 8th Day Center's most visible projects is its Annual Good Friday Walk for Justice, stemming from the Christian tradition of the Stations of the Cross -- Jesus' walk to his execution.  The contemporary stations, prepared by a variety of justice-seeking coalitions/communities, calls Walk for Justice participants to be in solidarity with those suffering at the hands of the "powers and principalities" of our day.


The theme for this year's Good Friday Walk - Trouble the Water - reflected 8th Day Center's belief that each of us must bear the responsibility to be in solidarity with those who suffer at the hands of dominating and abusive power. Those who are condemned, burdened, stripped of dignity, tortured and killed by unjust public policies.


For this public witness, and for all of their work on behalf of peace, justice and human rights in this hemisphere, please join me in recognizing the 8th Day Center for Justice as Human Rights Champions.