By Timothy K. Kinsella, Ph.D., head of the History Department and Director of the Master of Liberal Arts Program at Ursuline College.
Sister Henrietta, CSA (1902-1983), serves as a wonderful example of an individual going outside of herself, in this case to help the invisible poor in the Hough area, an inner city neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side. Prior to her work in Hough, she had already developed intellectual and administrative skills through her past positions in hospital work, and combined them with her heart’s yearning of service to the poor.
Marie Gorris, Sister Henrietta’s baptismal name, entered the Sisters of Charity in 1925 shortly after receiving an R.N .degree from Canton’s Mercy Hospital School of Nursing. She then worked at Mercy Hospital and Timken Mercy Medical Center between 1928 and 1962. Examples of her many titles include; night supervisor, supervisor of surgery, head administrator, supervisor of construction, and fundraiser. These skills would later be of invaluable help in Hough.
Recently Susan Sarandon was asked if she is a feminist and her response left many asking if perhaps we are moving towards a post-feminist world. Of course, the very fact that Sarandon was asked if she is a feminist well demonstrates that gender politics continue (certainly, men are not asked such questions).
According to Sarandon, “I think of myself as a humanist because I think it’s less alienating to people who think of feminism as being a load of strident bitches.” She went on to explain that “feminist” is an “old-fashioned word” and is actually used to minimize women and girls.
If you are a Dave Matthews Band fan like me, you certainly noticed the news this week that fans stopped to help a man who had a bike with a flat tire on their way to a DMB concert and found that the person was Dave Matthews. The fans placed his bike on their bike rack and gave Dave Matthews a ride to his own concert. Being the gracious person that he is, Dave showed his gratitude with front row seats, back stages passes, a meeting with the band, dinner, and of course, a shout out during the concert. Jealous? I am!
The Dave Matthews Band has become iconic in the world of rock. Although there have been long breaks between album releases, the band tours year after year, and their fan base continues to grow. Beyond the unique beat and brilliant tones produced by this eclectic band, the lyrical focus and continued grappling with life’s mysteries is a significant draw for the listener.
A continuous theme found in the music is the idea that focusing on the afterlife, or what is beyond us, has left humanity failing to recognize the sacred that is in the here and now. We are so preoccupied with trying to attain what comes after this physical life that we fail to notice all that surrounds us in the present. In the song “Don’t Burn the Pig,” DMB poses the question, “Is this blessed sip of life not enough?” Without debating the existence of a life beyond the physical world, these lyrics have demanded that we take notice of the beauty in our daily lives and experience God as God is present.
I can’t help but think of Catholic Imagination when I hear this song which views creation as sacramental. Creation in all its forms reveals something about God and thus brings God among us. Consequently, this life is “blessed” and should be embraced as such. Too often we waste away our days in search of something that should remain a mystery and fail to recognize the divine that permeates our everyday lives. The music of DMB acknowledges this calling its listeners to realize and be conscious of the sacred in all its forms and to have gratitude for all that is experienced in this “blessed sip of life.”
Gina Messina-Dysert, Ph.D. is a theologian, ethicist, and Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Ursuline College.