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Parish facilitates discussions that encounter

Over ten years ago, we began hosting Discussions That Encounter (DTE) at our parish, St. Olaf Catholic Church, in Minneapolis, MN. The discussions bring people together from the parish and the surrounding community to form relationships and learn about and dismantle racism. The discussions occur twice a month, once at our parish, and once at a local community center. Through these discussions, which also include speakers, films, and study materials, we work to raise awareness, facilitate encounter, and provide education on historical and current topics related to racial and economic justice, such as housing discrimination, education and employment opportunity, criminal justice, and other issues. The discussions complement other efforts in our parish. ThYear of Encounter with Pope Francis program has helped to increase our parishioners’ awareness about our participation in systemic racism. The experience of encounter through parish social services, and our involvement in a community coalition around homelessness, have helped us to recognize the connections between racial and economic justice. We are now working to help our homeless brothers and sisters engage in advocacy around issues that affect them. At the level of parish administration, our staff participated in a four-hour training on understanding our biases and white privilege. This helped us to consider how we could adapt our ministries to ensure that people of all cultures and ethnicities feel welcome and have leadership opportunities within the parish.