from the Companion Directors Team
Precious blood spirituality not only informs our interior and communal life but finds expression in our ministries, priorities, and our interaction with the world. The new vision statement of the companion movement speaks of our gatherings as a motivating force that send us into the world to be beacons of hope and reconciliation in a wounded world. This will look a little different for each person.
It is clear that upholding the dignity of the human person is central in the heart of Jean Swymeler, a companion from St. Joseph, Missouri. Jean is a retired reading specialist serving low income students in Title One schools the last twenty-five years of a career that spanned 33 years. Her belief that everyone has the right to be the best they can be and reading skills and education promotes success was the guiding force that encouraged her to dedicate herself to this pursuit.
After Jean retired, she was inspired by Br. Daryl Charron, C.PP.S. to become a board member of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP) and to start a chapter in St. Joe. Missouri is one of a handful of states where the death penalty remains. Monthly executions are commonplace.
MADP works feverishly for a moratorium of the death penalty. A vigil is held the evening before an execution occurs to increase the public’s awareness that this offense against the social teachings of the Church is taking place. Fr. Ron Will, C.PP.S., Br. Daryl, and Companion Connie Swymeler also attend the vigils. A respect for all life is what motivates Jean to participate. She questions the mindset that holds it is acceptable to kill people to show that killing people is wrong. She is encouraged to battle this issue motivated by the fact that people of color and economically disadvantaged people who rely on a public defender are far more likely to receive the death penalty than their white middle class counterparts.
Jean believes that “an eye for an eye” mentality is not consistent with Precious Blood spirituality. She is firm in her conviction that we are all one family. What happens to one happens to all. (To be continued next week)