As with so many things, its roots were in casual conversation.
“What would a ripple effect be,” asked Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Louise Akers, “if religious congregations created a network of good to work together toward a common goal, and in particular, justice and peace?”
She was talking to Sister Joyce Hoben, who at the time was the provincial of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
It was 1984, and they were sitting by a swimming pool. But from there, Sister Joyce brought the idea to Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Joan Krimm, long active in peace and justice issues both in the United States and abroad.
From that moment on, the conversation was no longer casual, and no longer speculative. Sister Joan contacted religious orders asking them to come together, as Sister Louise said, in a network of good.
That was the beginning of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC), a cooperative effort of five separate religious orders, including the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Sister Louise became its first director.
An office for IJPC was opened at St. Francis Seraph School in Over-the-Rhine, then moved to Peaslee School, which is now Peaslee Neighborhood Center. Peace and justice advocacy and educational efforts began immediately.
Today, IJPC concentrates on four areas: ending the death penalty in Ohio, promoting justice for immigrants, reducing violence, and educating the public about the evils, indicators, and prevalence of human trafficking. Its efforts are supported not only by Catholic organizations, but by innumerable Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim groups as well.
And it all started with a poolside chat.