Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 14, 2023 / 08:55 am (CNA).
A foundation that is raising money for the descendants of people who were enslaved by Jesuits announced $27 million in new contributions, more than doubling the total fund, which has now reached $42 million.
The new money came from two large donations: a $10 million contribution from Georgetown University and an estimated $17 million from the Jesuits. The Jesuit funding includes the estimated value of a former plantation that is owned by Jesuits and another $10 million.
With the additional funding, the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation’s fund has now reached 42% of its five-year goal of $100 million. The organization’s final goal is to ultimately reach $1 billion.
Monique Trusclair Maddox, a fourth- and fifth-generation descendant and CEO of the foundation, said in a statement that the contributions are a meaningful step.
“These contributions from Georgetown University and the Jesuits are a clear indication of the role Jesuits and other institutions of higher education can play in supporting our mission to heal the wounds of racism in the United States, as well as a call to action for all of the Catholic Church to take meaningful steps to address the harm done through centuries of slaveholding,” Maddox said.
Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation was established to support funding for programs that will help descendants of those who were enslaved by the Jesuits with a focus on three main areas. This includes education from early childhood to postsecondary education funding, support for elderly and infirm descendants, and racial healing and reconciliation in communities and organizations throughout the country.
Jesuits participated in the slave trade in North America since colonial times to support missionary efforts and establish educational institutions, including Georgetown. In 1838, the university sold more than 272 enslaved people from their plantations to southern Louisiana to support its financial needs.
“The work of reconciliation — grounded in a deep reckoning with the pain and injustice of slavery and its legacies — is an expression of hope,” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said in a statement.
“The Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation has put forth an extraordinary vision to uplift Descendant communities, support the educational aspirations of Descendants, and promote racial healing in our nation,” DeGioia added. “It is an honor for our university to have the opportunity to contribute to their efforts. The difficult truths of our past guide us in the urgent work of seeking and supporting reconciliation in our present and future.”
Father Tim Kesicki, SJ, who chairs the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Trust, said in a statement that it is important to right past wrongs.
“As a Catholic community, it is imperative that we don’t turn away from our sinful history of slaveholding and instead look inward at how we can right past wrongs with justice, healing, and compassion,” Kesicki said. “I am thrilled to see other Catholic and Jesuit institutions step up by investing in the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation’s mission to foster racial healing and uplift current and future Descendants.”
Georgetown University had previously contributed $1 million to the fund. The Jesuits have previously contributed $15 million to the fund when the foundation was first established.
According to the foundation, there are about 10,000 living and deceased descendants of Jesuit enslavement.
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