(Nov. 12, 2019) – St. Matthew Parish, 130 St. Matthews Street, Green Bay, will host the official launch of the “Open Wide Our Hearts” photo exhibit on Nov. 14 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. This traveling exhibit, developed by the Diocese of Green Bay’s Office of Living Justice, features photos of Catholics from various racial and ethnic backgrounds alongside written narratives that document what life in the church has been like for them as a person of color.
“This project is an opportunity to listen to the experiences of people of color within our parishes and schools, whose voices have not always been heard,” said Peter Weiss, project coordinator and living justice advocate for the Diocese of Green Bay. “We invite Catholics and others from the community to join us in celebrating the richness and beauty that people of color bring to our church and to reflect on the ways that we, as individuals and as a church, could be more welcoming to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or background.”
Inspired by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter against racism, the exhibit features people of color from across the 16 counties of the Diocese of Green Bay, representing the diverse races and ethnicities present in our Catholic parishes and schools. The pastoral letter states, “What is needed, and what we are calling for, is a genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change and the reform of our institutions and society.” This project hopes to respond to that challenge by inspiring viewers to start a conversation about issues of race, diversity, discrimination, and inclusion within their parishes and schools and to look for concrete ways to become communities that embrace and celebrate diversity.
Gerry Martins, one of the exhibit participants whose portrait and narrative will be displayed, said, “I wanted to participate in this project, as I feel this is an important topic and there is still so much underlying racial tension. Bringing a sensitive topic into the open can be painful. However, once it is brought to the light, it can be examined and Jesus can bring healing to it. Let's open wide our hearts and let the light of Jesus bring in truth, unity and healing.”
This event is open to the public and will include the opportunity for viewers to participate in a facilitated discussion to process what they have learned. Peter Weiss will be available for interviews; please contact the Office of Communications to set up.
Who we are: As friends and followers of Jesus, the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay is devoted to fostering households and communities of discipleship through the mission and ministry of the Catholic Church. We are missionary disciples striving to lead all people to the Kingdom of God. Established in 1868, the diocese is composed of 324,000 Catholics in 16 counties: Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Forest, Kewaunee, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago.