MLK breakfast at Clarion University

The Clarion Call reports

On Jan. 21, Clarion University hosted its 7th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast.

The key note speaker, Sister Marian Wehler, OSB, is from St. Mary’s. She works in the field of education and had taught in Catholic schools and faith formation programs before teaching English in Tanzania for seven years.

Clarion University’s website stated that she holds a bachelor’s degree in education, is a certified chaplain and has experience as pastoral care director. She worked in the national office of the Alliance for International Monasticism in Erie, developing opportunities for Benedictine sisters to teach peers in Africa.

Sister Tina Geiger, RSM Catholic Rural Ministry, opened the event in prayer. She grew up in New Jersey.

Clarion University’s website states, “Her work is focused on social justice, both internationally and domestically. She is a founding member of the U.S. Catholic Coalition against Human Trafficking. She has worked with Renew International, through which she developed understanding for the hunger in rural areas for spiritual catechesis and faith enrichment.”

Geiger has a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and a master’s degree in religious education.

The event began with Clarion Borough mayor Dan Parker making the opening remarks along with Dr. Pam Gent, provost of Clarion University. Geiger then made her way to the podium for the opening prayer. When she was finished, Parker welcomed the Lift Every Voice choir to the front for the singing of “Lift Every Voice.” Afterwards, a special recital was performed by Emma Kovacs on violin. Kovacs played two songs, “Amazing Grace” and “America the Beautiful.”

Daria Tatom, a sophomore chemistry major, then delivered the student address. “We are his legacy,” she said as she closed her address.

Keynote speaker Wehler then came to the podium to speak. She brought up with her to the front the Lift Every Voice choir and asked them to stand at the front of the room with her as they sang verses of “We Shall Overcome,” alternating between the song and Wehler’s presentation.

Wehler reflected on her reaction to hearing about Martin Luther King’s assassination and his influence during the civil rights movement. She also spoke more in depth about his life and work to combat racial inequality through nonviolence resistance.

“What’s clear to me is we need to overcome anything and everything that tears down, blocks and destroys the ideals that we believe in as a country,” Wehler said.

Ron Radaker, director of Clarion’s Student Success Center, gave the closing remarks, sharing a few stories and honoring present students of Push Until Something Happens (PUSH). Geiger finished off the event by giving the benediction.

“We are here today not to look at the differences in others but choose to make a difference for others,” said Wehler in closing.