Ed Kaiel
Ed Kaiel

St. Ignatius Parish in Southeast Portland is beginning a faith formation program meant to reveal hard truths about race, prompt healing and change unjust social systems.

The first eight-week series, to begin next month, is called “Faith and Racial Equity: Exploring Power and Privilege.”

It’s a religious curriculum that comes with a warning. The sessions will challenge white Catholics, surfacing racism many believe has endured in society but that many white people deny, said Ed Kaiel, a member of St. Ignatius who is helping organize the program from JustFaith ministries.

The event comes during a summer of worldwide protests for racial justice sparked by the death of Black citizens at the hands of police. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25 was the main catalyst.

The program may be difficult, but the goal is to safeguard the dignity of each human being, Kaiel said, adding, “This is exactly what we are called to with George Floyd’s death.”

Two subsequent eight-week series will focus on racial healing and ways to change social structures. 

Kaiel, 73, said that many Portland Catholics have grown up in what he calls “a white bubble.” He thinks the JustFaith program will create Catholic disciples with a deeper relationship with Jesus and a broader Christian view of human dignity.

The three series will not stop with education but will move into social action, said Kaiel. The acts are meant to bring fairness to systems, which is distinct from offering charity, he explained.

“We can’t get off the hook with just doing charity,” Kaiel said.

All are invited to the St. Ignatius sessions, which will be held online. Dozens of people have already signed on. Kaiel wants to help other parishes begin the program.

“We have been avoiding our responsibility for a couple of centuries,” said Kaiel, who thinks the sustained global attention on racial justice this summer portends a breakthrough. He thinks the JustFaith program could be in line with the move toward fuller human dignity.

“The question is,” concluded Kaiel, “how do we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters who are a different color?”

edl@catholicsentinel.org

Learn more

There is a virtual introductory presentation about JustFaith at St. Ignatius via Zoom on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 4 p.m.

To register, go to justfaith.org/portland-august-2020

Contact Ed Kaiel: ekaiel@pcc.edu