Junior Sarah McDermott remembers she was in seventh grade when she first learned that her grandfather, Steen Metz, was a Holocaust survivor. Metz was a child when he and his family were taken from their home in Denmark and sent more than 500 miles away, to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.
It was only in his retirement that Metz began talking about his three years at the camp and he eventually wrote a book. Metz spoke to the Saint Viator student body in 2016 and at the outset of his testimony he made one request: “Be my ambassadors.”
“You are the last generation to hear from a survivor,” he told them. “I need you to tell my story so people never forget.”
His granddaughter is doing just that, through her involvement with the Children of Abraham Coalition, started by Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, and Saint Viator’s Justice League.
At a Women of Abraham event this week, Sarah spoke to the nearly 100 gathered—including Christian, Jewish and Muslim women—about why she has become an outspoken advocate for interfaith peace.
She told of her grandfather’s story and that after one of his first school presentations how they both had been on the receiving end of anti-Semetic slurs.
“That’s why I work for interfaith understanding,” Sarah said. “I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I did. I want the world to be a better place.”
Sarah works alongside several Saint Viator classmates, who are active in both the Children of Abraham Coalition and the Justice League, including Allison Bosshart, Amalia Sordo-Palacios, Devon Sheehan, Maura Hogaboom, Kevin Wilhite and Mamadou Camara.
Already this year, they have worked at the 9/11 Potluck for Peace dinner, attended by more than 200 people from the community, as well as the Shoulder to Shoulder Interfaith Immigration Advocacy Day held in October at a synagogue in Evanston and at the Junior High Interfaith Leadership Day, where they taught pre-teens to be voices of peace while honoring all faiths.
Ms. Emily Egan, Campus Minister, works with both groups, and she is watching with pride as these students are becoming leaders in working for interfaith peace.
“I have seen a deep sense of purpose form in students who are actively working for social justice,” Ms. Egan says. “Fortunately, this is a value many carry with them for the rest of their lives.”