Celebrating Community at the Detroit Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters

Catherine Gillette
October 26, 2022

On October 13, NETWORK’s Pope Francis Voter Tour continued on  with a Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters in Detroit, Michigan.  With more than 100 Spirit-filled advocates in attendance, this event was co-hosted by the IHM Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, and the Elephants in the Living Room.  It was held at the Marygrove Conservancy.

Due to the pandemic, I haven’t done many in-person trainings over the past few years.  While Zoom is nice (and certainly has its benefits), there is such a richness to spending time together…in-person! Perhaps that is why “community” was my big takeaway from this town hall. It popped up in a number of ways.

First, it is important to understand the significance of today’s Town Hall venue.  The Marygrove Conservancy was formed after Marygrove College’s 2019 closure.  It is a non-profit organization that cares for the 53-acre campus and “envisions the campus as an anchor and hub of a thriving Northwest Detroit community, in which all children and families are engaged in transformative educational experiences from cradle to career…”  It is a continuation of the Marygrove College legacy and a powerful commitment to the surrounding community.

Three older white ladies with gray hair wearing masks look at the camera

Local sisters (left to right) Sr. Elizabeth Walters, IHM, Barbara Beasley, IHM, and Karen Donahue, RSM, all spoke about the reasons they are Pope Francis Voters at the Detroit Town Hall

Beyond that, I have to give another shout-out to our hosts.  We are always grateful when someone is willing to collaborate with us to host a NETWORK event. That said, it is particularly exciting when multiple entities join forces and collaborate on an event.  Being hosted by the IHM Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, AND the Elephants in the Living Room was a treat. All of the folks I encountered throughout the day were open-minded, curious, supportive of our vision, and enthusiastic about engaging on the upcoming election. Being with the community our hosts brought together was an absolute joy.

Our program today began with a Buzz Question—asking folks how they are feeling about the upcoming election and where they find hope. To be honest, many people were feeling afraid, worried, or nervous. However, when we asked where they found hope, we heard “being here,” “young people,” and “community.” During challenging times, there is such comfort and power in coming together as a community.

Finally, I am perhaps most grateful for our Town Hall attendees’ willingness to take their learnings plus NETWORK’s Equally Sacred Checklist and share them with their own communities—parishes, congregations, schools, community groups, and more!  A significant part of being a Pope Francis Voter is a willingness and commitment to do the work. We must commit to having hard conversations with our families and friends. We must work together to grow the community of Pope Francis Voters, and I’m confident that our Detroit Town Hall attendees will go forth and do just that!

Our community is passionate, committed, and growing. That is what gives me hope during this election season.