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By Sister Chilee Okoko, DMMM

The Department of Life, Dignity and Justice will be holding its fifth conference on May 18. The previous four conferences were held in the Diocesan Pastoral Center but this year’s conference will be virtual because COVID-19 precautions of the Diocese still advise against large gatherings indoors.

The conference’s theme is “Building a Culture of Peace, Justice and Respect for the Dignity of the Human Person.” The theme has been chosen because the goal of this conference is to address current social, political, cultural and religious issues taking place in the society and the world at large.

The Department of Life, Dignity and Justice raises awareness, promotes and champions the Church’s ideals, teachings and culture as contained in Catholic Social Teaching. This objective is achieved through the various department ministries/offices with the mission to “Create a holy and just society by promoting the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of God’s creation.”

The conference will feature two opening keynote addresses with the following topics:
 1. Unity in Diversity: The Strength and Beauty in Variation and Differences, which will be delivered by Dr. Amanda Alexander, Ph.D., the Director of the Diocese’s Ministry Formation Institute.
 2. The Root and Many Faces of Racism: Why It Has Been Classified as Sin by the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will be delivered by Dr. Daniel Walker, Ph.D., an internationally recognized scholar, artist and social entrepreneur.

There will be two breakout sessions. Topics are:

The Origin, History and Causes of Migration/Immigration in the World, which will be presented by Very Rev. Anthony Dao, Ph.D., the Vicar Forane of the Hemet Vicariate and Pastor of St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, Temecula.

“Should the Beginning of Life (Conception), the End of Life (Death) and the Spectrum in Between (Lifespan), Be Treated With Varied Dignity and Importance?” which will be presented by Dr. Matthew Petrusek, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theological Ethics at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

The closing keynote, which is intended to bring together all the information and wisdom from the day will be called “A Call to Act with Justice, to Love Tenderly, and to Walk Humbly With God” and will be delivered by Rabbi Hillel Cohn, Ph.D., the retired rabbi of Congregation Emanu El, Redlands.

The conference is from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is open to everyone in the Diocese of San Bernardino or anyone from anywhere who wishes to participate. The conference is free, although the organizers would like people to register for it online to help with planning. To register, visit lifedignityandjust.wixsite.com/mldj/event.

Sister Mary Chilee Okoko, DMMM is the Director of the Department of Life, Dignity and Justice.