‘Conversation on Race’ series launches Thursday

BRIDGEPORT—Sr. Melinda Pellerin, the first African American Sister of St. Joseph in the Northeast and the former Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, will lead off the “Conversation on Race” in the diocese with a webinar discussion of “Race and the Catholic Church” on Thursday July 30 at 1 pm.

The webinar series, produced by the diocesan Leadership Institute and featuring talks by teachers and pastoral ministers, will run through September 3. The talks will be live-streamed at 1 pm each Thursday and then rebroadcast at 7 pm each evening, with a question and answer sessions moderated by a member of the diocesan ad hoc committee against racism

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano called for the “Conversation on Race,” to explore the issue of race within the diocese and its institutions, to support diversity and multi-culturalism within the Church and the community, and to discuss racism within the context of Catholic Social Teaching.

“Without proper knowledge, effective and thoughtful action is not possible. For this reason, I invite all to join in these ‘Conversations on Race’ as we begin to respond in faith to this most important issue,” said Bishop Caggiano.

According to Dr. Patrick Donovan, director of the Leadership Institute, the webinar series is designed to inform those who attend about the sin of racism and the Church’s teaching regarding it, the many forms that racism and bigotry can take, its history in our society and the personal, economic and social consequences that racism has had on the lives of generations of people.

Scheduled talks include:

JULY 30 – Sr. Melinda Pellerin Race the Catholic Church
AUGUST 6 – Danielle Brown Open Wide Our Hearts
AUGUST 13 – Gloria Purvis Topic TBD
AUGUST 20 – Armando Cervantes Beyond Black: Multicultural Voices
AUGUST 27 – Pamela Harris Race and Catholic Social Teaching
SEPTEMBER 3 – Dr. Marcia Chatelain Living the Faith, Living Antiracism
Thursdays at 1 pm

In November 2018, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a new pastoral letter against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love. In the letter, the bishops invite all people of faith to conversion. We are called to open our minds and hearts to Christ’s love for all people and to the experiences of those who have been harmed by the evil of racism.

“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,” said Pope Francis, June 3, 2020.

In June of this year Bishop Caggiano formed an ad hoc committee against racism to response to the call for change in the Church and the larger community. The committee includes clergy and religious, as well as lay men and women who will develop a strategic vision and practical steps to foster diversity and work for equality.

ABOUT SISTER MELINDA: Sister Melinda Adrienne Pellerin took her final vows of chastity, poverty and obedience October 13 as a Sister of St. Joseph of Springfield after 10 years of discernment and formation during which her varied ministries included working with children in a day care in Kansas, starting a sewing program at a sober living house in Chicago and directing the SSJ’s Homework House in Holyoke.

She was baptized at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield and attended the former Holy Family Parish and School and the former Notre Dame High School. She earned a degree in history and secondary education at Annhurst College in Woodstock, Conn., and a master’s degree in educational technology from Lesley College.

A retired public school teacher, Sr. Melinda taught in Massachusetts at the middle and high school levels. She taught the International Baccalaureate Program at Springfield’s High School of Commerce and criminal justice at the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy. She also coached a mock trial team that was the first inner city team to go all the way to finals in Boston, and in 2004 she was the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.

The webinar series is sponsored by the Leadership Institute, the diocesan ad-hoc committee against racism and the Apostolate of African American Catholics.

(To register to join the “Conversation on Race,” visit the Leadership Institute: Click to view all of the resources and information about joining the conversation: