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Sr. Ceil Lavan on Human Rights

By Katie Mahon, Communications Manager

This week’s “Embracing Faith” article will focus on Embracing Faith through Reflection.

Embracing Faith Through Community

“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed...” -Isaiah 1:17

The issue of human rights has become a highly discussed topic over the past month.

From the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the horrific treatment of the Uyghur population in China, substantial human rights violations have occurred right in front of our eyes.

Whether we see posts on social media that highlight these atrocities or stories on the news, many of us have become aware of what is going on, but what we don’t know is how we can address these issues.

In the latest episode of the Hearts Afire Podcast, Sr. Ceil Lavan, OP, a Sister of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York, reflected on these issues and shared what human rights mean to her.

“Human rights are standards that recognize ad protect the dignity of all human beings. Human rights govern how individuals live in society and with each other, including the obligation the state has towards us. Human rights are universal and inalienable. They belong to each one of us equally. Human rights are inherent to the dignity of every human person across the globe.”

She went on to add, “Pope Francis tells us that human rights are universal, indivisible, dependent, and interconnected. They are rooted in the human person’s nature as an inseparable unity of body and soul. There is no hierarchy of human rights. All rights matter.”

Regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sr. Ceil believes that “The people of Ukraine need us to see them, they need us to see their suffering. They need to know we care and will try to help them.”

Sr. Ceil then went on to share ways how individuals can advocate and support human rights for those in need.

From donating to disaster relief organizations, to contacting your local legislator and informing them of what you would like them to do in Ukraine, or thanking them for their efforts, there are many ways you can help from home.

She also shared how two nephews of a fellow Blauvelt Dominican Sister, Diane Forrest, OP, have gone to Poland to provide humanitarian assistance.

Along with these efforts, Sr. Ceil also suggested educating yourself by watching the news and staying engaged on social media but prioritizing your own needs.

“In terms of advocating and supporting human rights for those suffering, even before the crisis in Ukraine, I’ve heard people say, ‘I stopped watching the news because it’s too depressing.’ I can relate to that. To protect your physical and mental health, you need to limit how much news you watch; please do so, but don’t stop completely.”


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