Rebel Stories

Maria DeCarvalho

Executive adviser/Episcopal priest/cathedral dean/commodities banker/US Senate aide who helps people realize they have more power than they know.

What has been your most noted rebel accomplishment or experience?

Forging exciting, affectionate, challenging relationships between a diverse Episcopal congregation and both a conservative synagogue and a local mosque.

We began a tradition of shared worship with our Moslem friends after their imam addressed our congregation the Sunday after September 11. He began his sermon by addressing us: “Dear believers.” Tears everywhere. A young African man later told me when he heard imam Ansari speak, he had to ask himself, if I could be this wrong about Moslems could I also be very wrong about my father? He called his Dad in Africa — their first conversation in a decade — and reconciled before the older man died a year later.

We also began welcoming our friend Rabbi Franklin to witness our Palm Sunday celebrations, during which we ritually remembered the Passion — a story that is extremely precious to us and that has been used as a weapon against Jews for thousands of years. It was moving and powerful to realize that we could both honor a story that is sacred to us and see beyond it to someone else’s.

When did you first realize that you are a rebel?

When I represented my high school as a delegate to the Girls’ State convention, sponsored by the VFW Auxiliary. I explained to my hosts that I would not be signing the required pledge to salute the American flag. I was happy to salute the flag and not happy to submit to a requirement that I do it. It was all too ironic. At the end of the week the wonderful — and I absolutely mean that — women of the VFW Auxiliary awarded me the Citizenship scholarship. I think it was for $100.

What advice do you wish someone had given you earlier in your career?

Don’t be surprised if people who say they agree with you never actually say it in public.

What is your favorite rebel characteristic?

Affection

What’s your favorite question?

What are we not seeing?

What one clue tells you you’re effecting positive change?

Laughter

What do you think it’s most important for people to understand about rebels?

It can be lonely, scary and sad.

What’s your one word piece of advice for rebels?

Love.

What’s your one word piece of advice for non-rebels?

Playing it safe isn’t safe anymore.

Where do you think rebels are most needed today?

Wherever people are silencing themselves

Who is your favorite rebel from the past 100 years?

Desmond Tutu

What’s the one thing you should never say to a rebel?

You’re only doing this because…

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