Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, known around the world as the “Dynamic Deacon,” delivered a presentation on Building a Civilization of Love: A Catholic Response to Racism on Monday, Sept. 7, on the campus of Benedictine College. His presentation was sponsored by the Black Student Union and The Gregorian Fellows at Benedictine College.
One of the most sought-after speakers in the Church today, Burke-Sivers gave a straight-forward talk on steps the Church and those listening could take. With a background both in the Church and in law enforcement as a police officer and former police chief, he shared his unique view of history and current events.
“If we’re honest, we have to acknowledge that the Church in the United States has often been slow to respond to issues of race,” Burke-Sivers said. “Catholics can play a significant role in breaking down the walls of racism by taking a hands-on approach to creating pillars of mutual respect and understanding built on the firm foundation of covenant relationship (making the gift of yourself for the good of others).”
Burke-Sivers outlined a series of steps for the audience:
See past stereotypes and see people. (“See Jesus in the person standing in front of you.”)
Stop supporting media outlets, individuals and organizations that create, encourage and perpetuate racist stereotypes and propose violence and anarchy as solutions.
Appreciate the gift of cultural diversity. (Start study groups, hold potlucks, embrace cross-cultural choirs, etc. to bring people together at the parish level.)
Make a serious effort to promote conversation and dialogue.
Reevaluate law enforcement and use-of-force practices (“Reform and rebuilding – Yes. Defunding – No.”) (Implement social and scenario-based training.)
Put God back in society. (“We have taken God completely out of the public discourse.”)
Pray and fast. (A powerful combination. Important to pray in silence and, as St. Benedict said, listen with the ear of your heart.)
Ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“As faithful Catholics, we can no longer allow secular culture and ideology, with its promulgation of subjective, relativistic truths, to displace the objective truth of the Catholic faith in doctrine and principle,” Burke-Sivers said. “In order to defeat racism, there must be further introspection and a deeper examination of conscience in order to arrive at the root causes of disunity and divisiveness within humanity that lead to sinful acts.”
Burke-Sivers holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Theological Studies Degree from the University of Dallas. He co-hosts the Eternal Word Television Network’s popular radio program “Morning Glory,” the weekly broadcast “Living Stones” on Mater Dei Radio, and the “Sons of Thunder” podcast for World Ablaze. He also appeared in the major feature film, “Power in my Hands.”
He is the author of the best-selling book, “Behold the Man: A Catholic Vision of Male Spirituality,” co-author of “Ignite: Read the Bible Like Never Before,” and has written the acclaimed new book, “Father Augustus Tolton: The Slave Who Became the First African-American Priest.” Burke-Sivers is a Benedictine Oblate of Mt. Angel Abbey in St. Benedict, Oregon. He is also a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.
Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named in the Top 10 in the Midwest of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.