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13:1-13

Children with a thirst for love never quenched;

cement bodied miseries disguised as truth and cigarette butts

station themselves by the hearts of the weary. In this place where

“I don’t see color”

translates into

“I won’t see you”,

Sister Ann saw potential.

She saw potential in the faces that looked at the ground when they walked

because to look ahead was to see a future they felt they didn’t deserve.

She saw potential in the hands frozen in fists,

clasped beneath chins to catch whispered prayers.

She saw potential in hearts unified in hardship

and in their unyielding will to persevere.

To many, Sister Ann was a welcomed breeze

when people were being smothered by political hot air.

joined in friendship,

She was a practitioner of peace where violence was expected and glorified;

a blacksmith who forged understanding with knowledge and patience.

She was a hearty laugh when people forgot to bring their smiles with them

a beacon of faith that illuminated the darkness

are deserving of the very best the world has to offer-

when they left better days;

declaring with fiery boldness

“You, fighters for justice,

you are not a lost cause,

you are worthy of love.”

To many Sister Ann was an activist,

a leader,

a warrior,

a believer,

a survivor,

a supporter,

a friend.

To me, Sister Ann was the foundation for some of my most beloved memories;

the architect that crafted the castle of my childhood.

Because she saw the pain and the potential for greatness

in a group of boys who shook her car one afternoon;

Because she was brave enough to say “Let’s have a conversation”

when healing for those who had been forgotten wasn’t up for discussion;

Because she had faith in the broken places, weary faces and frozen fists,

¡CityArts! was born.

With the energy of those who breathe deep in the beauty of their dreams, Sister Ann

sculpt the intricacies of identities denied and render ourselves visible again.

created a space where children, like me, could paint love into being.

We could picture our happiness on paper, clay and canvas;

We could drum to the rhythm of our healing hearts,

and wash away our worries like sidewalk chalk in a spring rain.

sow seeds of forgiveness in our garden

We could brighten the city of Providence with work from our hands;

hands frozen in fists reopened;

hands joined in friendship, strengthened;

hands beneath our chins tossing whispered prayers to the stars, we now knew,

could be ours.

crushed crayons and paint splattered on every inch of the floor.

the paint splatter were varied flight patterns –markers that signaled how far we flew

¡CityArts! was like my second home.

I remember when the building had no walls,

No walls meant the floor was our run way,

yesterday and how far we can

fly tomorrow.

¡CityArts! and all of the organizations Sister Ann has touched, are branches of the tree

The homeless, the weary, the sick and the poor can rest in the shade it provides.

she planted, right in the heart of Rhode Island.

The forgotten can be remembered,

the lost can be found,

the angry can find peace.

Activists can find movements worth fighting for,

teachers can find pupils eager to learn,

children can find role models,

survivors can be reminded of their strength.

Every person who has come in contact with Sister Ann,

are beautiful, varied splatters of paint on the floor of change.

every single one of us,

We are multicolored markers of how far we have come and how far we still have to go.

Sister Ann has passed the brush our way and now its our turn to continue on with the

work she has started; to paint, draw, sculpt, dance, drum, sing, plant a better Providence

in being. We must be bold enough to have faith in the broken places and brave enough to

say

“Let’s have a conversation.”

By Victoria Matthews, CityArts Alumna and former AmeriCorps Member

This poem is available for purchase as a book via Blurb.

“The book is dedicated in loving memory of Sr. Ann Keefe, CityArts founder and activist. 
On November 10, 2014, CityArts accepted the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama and the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities. This award was a sweet tribute to the hard work and vision of Sr. Ann Keefe, who passed on the eve of Martin Luther King Day 2015. The lights dimmed throughout our communities as we lost a dear friend, a tireless champion, and a spiritual cheerleader. We know however, Sr. Ann would snap us back to attention—to overcome our sadness, and remind us that there is still more work to be done to make the world a better place for ALL people. Let us join together in celebrating her life of service, and work together as she would expect—to ‘speak less and DO MORE!'”
– Barbara Wong, CityArts Executive Director 
Title Origin: First Corinthians 13:1-13