A 77-year-old Chicago nun is working to end violence in her neighborhood by bringing neighbors together, and she told NBC’s Megyn Kelly on Monday that God is protecting her.
Community in a dangerous neighborhood
Sister Donna Liette works in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, an area Kelly called “one of America’s toughest neighborhoods.” She works with teenage boys — many of whom have been victims of gun violence — as well as their mothers.
Liette told Kelly she hears “at least” about five to seven murders in her neighborhood every week. More than 750 people were killed last year, the Chicago Tribune reported, and the city could see even more homicides by the end of this year.
The Catholic nun said that many of the young men have been shot — but she said she doesn’t worry about her own safety as she works in the area.
“I feel like I have God’s protection,” she said, adding that the young men she works with look out for her too.
“I mean, these boys, if anybody tried to harm me, oh—” she began, laughing.
She said the kids she works with often come in hardened by their circumstances, so she hugs them a lot.
“They’re good kids,” she said. “They just want to be loved, they want some support.”
When one of the boys Liette works with said he sees her as a mother, she quipped that she’s more like a grandmother.
Sister Donna’s mission
Liette said that when she visits young people in prison who have been incarcerated for crimes, they often ask her to look after their mothers — and that gave her an idea.
She realized that many of the mothers in the neighborhood were “isolated” — they were ashamed by crimes their children had committed or they were mourning the loss of a child. So Liette decided to bring them together.
She organized regular meetings in order for neighborhood mothers to be together. She said they were “quiet” at first, but they soon became the best of friends.
Liette admitted that her work is hard and she “cries a lot on the way home.”
“There’s still a lot of good here,” she said, adding, “there’s a lot of people working together, we can’t lose hope.”
At the end of the segment, Kelly presented Liette with checks to support her ministry.