"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac

 

A Voice for Justice

By Katelyn Rieder, Communications coop

(From left to right) S. Nancy Marie Bramlage, Associate Karen Martin and Justice Promoter Mackenzie Doyle worked together to coordinate a prayer service for peace at the Motherhouse in August 2023.

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, Mackenzie Doyle (justice promoter), recalls being taught by her parents at a young age that she was “called to care for others.” The family often volunteered together at their local church—cooking meals and cleaning up at night.

She laughs, “In high school, my faith practice was just kind of like, ‘I go with my parents on the weekends to Mass.’” Her connection with faith did not blossom until her senior year at Iowa State University, where she enrolled in a Catholic Social Teaching course.

“It gave me a theological understanding that the Church cares about racism, the Church cares about immigration. It made sense why I didn’t agree with my more conservative-leaning Catholic folks, because that’s not the entirety of what it means to be Catholic.”

From here, Mackenzie started to become more involved with campus ministry. She grew a close relationship with her campus minister, Emily Klaus, who acted as a role model as a practicing woman of faith also motivated by social justice.

“She showed me that it was not only possible, but it was who I was meant to be.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and Spanish, Mackenzie was certain her future would consist of being a full-time police officer. However, she began to question the reality of her role. “[Being an officer] really opened my eyes to the brokenness of the system I was working for. I felt pretty powerless—despite having power—to actually help people, specifically communities of color and those dealing with mental health issues.”

She and the police force mutually parted ways after about a year. Mackenzie then moved back home and started working at Old St. Pat’s, a parish that has a strong focus on social justice ministry. Around this same time, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd tragically became victims of police brutality.

As a former officer, Mackenzie had a strong reaction to the injustice. These events, combined with all she was learning at Old St. Pat’s, “lit a fire underneath” her. She enrolled in the pastoral ministry master’s program at the University of Dayton—which made her certain that she was born for this path.

“I don’t know, I just felt a calling to do justice ministry work,” she reflects. It was not long after that Mackenzie put in her application with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, and the rest is history.

(From left to right) Sisters Romina Sapinoso, Monica Gundler, Lois Jean Goettke, Kathryn Ann Connelly, and employee Mackenzie Doyle at the YWCA Racial Justice Breakfast in October 2023.

To integrate herself into the SC Community, Mackenzie spends time meeting with Sisters, Associates, and employees to build connections. This includes the six Justice Circles’ facilitators and members, which she helps run.

“I think one of my goals is to help the Circles not become so much isolated silos—we have to work together for justice in the world,” she says. “I’ve just been trying to support them in their work, and also catch the looser issues that don’t fit neatly, per say, in a Justice Circle.”

She continues, “I don’t want to be seen as the only person who does justice—I really want to be a facilitator of the work that the Sisters and Associates are already doing, and are going to do.”

With so many different issues occurring today, Mackenzie expresses how it can be challenging to figure out what to prioritize. She says, “We’ll probably mess up a lot more than we’ll get it right, but I think what I’ve learned from the Sisters of Charity so far is that they never stop trying.” When faced with these inevitable challenges, Mackenzie persists and pushes through for the sake of continuing justice efforts—a testament to her passion for this work.

“The world is so in need of love and justice,” she says. “And even if it gets discouraging or hopeless, I think we should keep trying to make the world kinder and more just and loving for all people.”

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