PRAYER SERVICES & PRESENTATIONS
June 17, 2021 at 7pm ET – Shedding White Fragility and Working for Racial Justice
With Andrew Lyke
Andrew Lyke encourages white Catholics to leave white fragility behind and enter into “brave spaces” where the devastating effects of white supremacy on people of color can be confronted as people of faith.
While encouraged by the solidarity and activism of growing numbers of white people today, he is also exhausted by the paucity and tepidity of white Catholic leadership in the ongoing cause for freedom for people of color in this country. He notes that in the pastoral letter “Open Wide Our Hearts,” issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2018, there no direct references to white privilege and white supremacist ideology. It defines racism in general terms and there is little consideration given to racism’s purpose, its beneficiaries and its targeted casualties.
Lyke believes that the cruel, brutal, immoral and monstrous havoc caused by white supremacist ideology needs to be presented with full intensity, without pulling punches. What white people and particularly white Catholics need in order to address the “original sin” of our nation is not “safe space” like that which we tried to provide them, but “brave space.” In addressing the exhaustion of black people when dealing with white fragility – Lyke has found this defensive posture to be an inevitable speed bump, if not an obstruction to addressing the sin of racism in the church. White fragility tends to control the agenda and frame the narrative to meet white sensibilities.
Andrew Lyke has found that a commitment to entering into “brave space” gives the process room for error and grace for forgiveness. It demands patience and self-examination. It calls forth the power of human empathy that bonds people of good will. He believes that Catholic anti-racism activisim, like the Gospel, should be disturbing to all Christians – unsettling white Catholics out of their “colorblindness” and restoring the historical memory that has been lost. He notes that feelings of guilt, shame and bewilderment may be appropriate and need not be avoided. These feelings are important steps away from denial, a distancing from untruth that is necessary to awaken white people from generations of moral slumber and cultural delusion.
Finally, Mr. Lyke tells us that being anti-racist does not require a bullhorn, microphone or podium. It means being an ally in the struggle for equal justice and an agent of racial healing. The first step is being an interrupter. Whether it is in the workplace, the grocery store or the family dinner table, when white supremacist thoughts are expressed, interrupt them, challenge them. (America Magazine: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/11/30/white-fragility-catholics-anti-racism-racial-justice-239097)
Andrew Lyke is a Catholic ministry consultant, freelance writer, blogger and author, former campus minister, pioneer of Catholic Marriage & Family Ministry, Anti-racism Activist, Poet, Storyteller, husband, father, and grandfather. Over the past 40+ years, he has focused on Catholic Marriage & Family Ministry. He and Terri, his wife of 45 years, were part of a team of couples and priests who designed and presented PreCana for the Black Community in 1981. It was the first diocesan Catholic marriage preparation program by and for Black people. Andrew was hired by the Archdiocese to coordinate the marriage preparation and enrichment programs of the Archdiocese. He served in that role from 1999 to 2009 when he resigned to fully invest in Arusi Network, a not-for-profit he and Terri started for their ministry to marriage. He was rehired in 2011 as the Director of the Office for Black Catholics.
Prior to his tenure in the Archdiocese of Chicago, he was a campus minister at DePaul University from 1996 to 1999. While at DePaul, he was part of a team of campus ministers who were trained in the “Recovery from Racisms” curriculum. The team facilitated focal support groups with DePaul students, faculty, and staff.
In 2001, after the publication of Cardinal George’s Dwell In My Love: A Pastoral Letter on Racism, Andrew was a founding member of the Archdiocesan Anti-Racism Task Force through the Office for Racial Justice (ORJ). He served as a trainer, consultant, and program designer until 2014 when the ORJ was eliminated. Since then, he as served as a consultant, trainer, and motivational speaker on Catholic Anti-Racism, primarily in the Diocese of Joliet.
Andrew authored “Forging a Commitment to Love All: Creating an Anti-Racist Church,” published in the February 2011 issue of Liguorian Magazine. More recently in November of 2020, America Magazine published online an article by Andrew titled, “Dear White Catholics: It’s time to be anti-racist and leave white fragility behind.”
Andrew and Terri served as consultants to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Marriage and Family. They are the authors of several articles on Catholic marriage and family life for local and national periodicals. Their critically acclaimed book, Marriage On A Lampstand: Exploring a New Paradigm for Modern Christian Marriage, was “Book of the Month” on the USCCB marriage support website ForYourMarriage.org for March 2017. They are the parents of two married young adults and the grandparents of 4 girls and two boys ranging from 11 to 3 years old.