The weather was perfect as over 50 Sisters of Mercy, Mercy associates and Mercy colleagues in ministry joined the thousands on Pennsylvania Avenue, in view of the U.S. Capitol, to listen as speaker after speaker described the economic and health disparities experienced by nearly half of the U.S. population. Much of the day’s message was almost too challenging to absorb: How can it be that in the richest nation in the world, those suffering from poverty “include 43% of our entire population and 52% of our children, who have died at a rate 2 to 5 times higher during this pandemic, and 250,000 of whom died from poverty and inequality every year?”
The members of the Mercy delegation came from as far away as California and from across the country A number of sisters traveled on all-night buses, including Sisters Grace Miller and Rita Lewis along with others from the House of Mercy which serves Rochester residents who suffer from homelessness.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II enumerated the disparities: “This is a movement—until children are protected; until sick folk are healed; until low-wage workers are paid; until immigrants are treated fairly; until affordable housing is provided; until the atmosphere, the land, and the water are protected; until saving the world, and diplomacy, and living in peace is more important than blowing up the world,” he added, “we won’t be silent anymore.”
Said Sister Patricia Hartigan, “There was…[a] spirit there: the spirited people who came to stand with and support those whose basic human needs are often neglected if not ignored by those who hold power.”