Reflecting on Luke 12: 49-53
I used to love learning about the North American martyrs. These are the six Jesuit priests, and two lay brothers, who were martyred, three in New York and five in Canada, by the very tribes they came to serve. This happened between 1642-1649.
I’ve visited their shrines many times. The last time I was there, standing near the Stations of the Cross in Midland, Ontario, an indigenous woman in full Indian dress and headgear began playing Indian music from speakers she brought to the Shrine. She sang loudly, and mournfully, and carried a sign begging visitors to learn more about the terrible atrocities visited on the Iroquois, Huron, and Mohawk tribes later in history.
In those days I was ignorant of the sad legacy of the Canadian residential schools, often run by the same Jesuits who were martyred by the Indians centuries earlier. But, as more mass graves of Indian children are unearthed, it’s impossible not to know that the evangelical zeal of many religious orders placed them on the wrong side of history.
Facing the truth, and speaking it, is excruciating. Pope Francis, a Jesuit of course, traveled to Canada, spoke the terrible truth, and now we all must know it.
Misguided, and, certainly at times, cruel treatment of Indian children and their families in order to “make them white” left a path of broken families and despair, the legacy of which is still unraveling.
When truth is told it sets a fire to the earth. It divides families. It either matures us, or causes us to cling tighter to the sureties of our younger selves. Peace on earth comes only with truth. Let us be brave.
What truth in my family needs, finally, to come to light?
Kathy McGovern ©2022