June 7, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are in the midst of a difficult season. In addition to the threat of Covid-19 that continues to affect us, we have also seen in recent weeks the resurgence of the plague of racism, first with the killing of Ahmoud Arbery in Georgia and then with the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Pope Francis and our own archbishop Cardinal DiNardo have condemned these acts of racist violence. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said, “Too many communities around this country feel their voices are not being heard, their complaints about racist treatment are unheeded, and we are not doing enough to point out that this deadly treatment is antithetical to the Gospel of Life.” The bishops have given us an important call to face the threat of systemic racism head on. It is a call that our school community must answer.
Our school’s mission is rooted in the spirituality of St. John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council, a spirituality that affirms that Jesus Christ is the savior of all people, and that we as His followers must work for peace and justice in the world. Racism is antithetical to our mission and will not be tolerated on our campus. That is our stand, yet we have not always lived up to that ideal. St. Paul says of the Body of Christ, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). This is true for our school community as well. When one of us achieves something great, we all benefit. When one of us does something harmful or shameful, all of us are diminished.
Though the vast majority of our students would never engage in any kind of hateful behavior, a couple of recent incidents have shown that we still have a way to go in becoming the kind of community we aspire to be. We can and must do better to form our students to understand that all people are made in the image and likeness of God. Likewise, we must take the opportunity that this moment presents, not merely to respond to individual incidents of racism but to ask tough questions about how racism throughout our society affects us.
For my part as Chaplain, I pledge to do everything in my power to make sure that our students know that they are loved by God. To all our students, but especially those with black or brown skin; those who come from a cultural, linguistic, or socioeconomic background that differs from the majority; or those who for any reason may feel afraid, isolated, or unappreciated, I want you to know that my office will always be a safe place for you. My Master, Jesus, will one day ask me for an accounting of how I cared for the souls He placed in my charge. I pray that I will be able to tell Him that I always did everything in my power to show each of you the love that He has for you.
Recently, I celebrated a special “Mass for the Unity of All Peoples” at the school, that may be viewed here
in its entirety, or to view only the Homily, please click here
. It was moving for me to be able to pray for the victims of racist violence and to proclaim that Jesus is Lord and that He will overcome all our sins, even those forged in ignorance and hate. Yet it is more important than ever that my voice not be the only one that is heard. As a white man in America, my voice is already amplified. All of our voices must be acknowledged and lifted up, but especially those of people of color.
May God bind up the wounds of our nation. May He inspire in us a great hunger for justice and righteousness. And may He bless and keep each and every one of you.