The name of our organization, the Before Gethsemane Initiative (BGI), refers to Jesus’s prayer for unity and conversion before He leaves for the Garden of Gethsemane as written in the Gospel of John, Chapter 17. The mission of BGI is to promote racial reconciliation, healing and awareness about racism and xenophobia from an understanding of the inherent dignity of the human person from conception to natural death. We plan to do this by 1) providing a safe space for Catholics of color to find community in the Church at a national level and providing them with opportunities for spiritual and psychological healing from the wounds of racism and 2) calling all Catholics to conversion to turn from the sins of racism and xenophobia. The plan is to combine prayer and fasting with racial sensitivity training and social change from the framework of Catholic social doctrine. We intend to address racism against all marginalized groups and to also discuss xenophobia and just immigration. We plan to offer racial reconciliation retreats, small group bible and book studies, collaboration with Catholic counselors, awareness workshops and racial sensitivity training programs for parishes, Catholic schools, and other Catholic organizations. Feel free to read more about Before Gethsemane at https://beforegethsemane.com/
Maria Benes graduated with a doctorate in political science with a specialization in human rights in August 2021. She is an award winning instructor known for teaching college students to have civil conversations around controversial human rights issues such as racism, abortion and immigration policy. Maria previously served as a FOCUS missionary and a high school youth minister. Chenele Shaw is pursuing a graduate degree in marriage and family counseling and is a former youth minister and high school theology teacher. She has a passion for helping Catholics of color heal from the wounds of racism and for calling all Catholics to deeper conversion away from the sins of racism and xenophobia. Chenele hosts the podcast Ave Spotlight with Ave Maria Press and has been featured on Our Sunday Visitor, The Catholic Woman and other Catholic websites.
This initial funding would allow us to hire a company to file our 501(c)3 forms, pay our incorporation fees, pay the IRS filing fee, pay for fundraising registration and other starting costs. Please note that these initial donations are NOT tax deductible since we are not a 501(c)3 quite yet. We thank you for believing in our mission and for helping us to launch BGI! Even if you can't donate, please keep us in your prayers and feel free to share with others who you think would want to invest in our organization. God bless you!
In Christ, Maria Benes and Chenele Shaw