The times are turbulent. The unrest is real. Our state, our nation, and our world are in pain. From the unconscionable death of George Floyd to the movement that his and so many others’ tragic fates have inspired, there exists a deep and essential need for healing and reform of both hearts and systems to address the plight of racism and the legacy of injustice in our society. Such an ideology and the oppressive actions it inspires, categorically opposes our fundamental belief as Catholic Christians and members of the Holy Family Catholic High School community that all humanity is made in the infinitely beautiful image and likeness of God.
Holy Family has been intensely engaged over the last weeks in meaningful dialogue to develop a message that communicates our response and reinforces our commitment to partnering with parents in the education of their children. While to some our timing may seem delayed, know that such comes from a place of intentional prudence and a desire to first both listen and understand, then to respond.
Without the revelation that there is the image of the divine found in all, we will be left with a void in our understanding of one another and doomed to repeat the sins of the past. “Since something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person, the dignity of every person before God is the basis of the dignity of man before other men. Moreover, this is the ultimate foundation of the radical equality and brotherhood among all people, regardless of their race…” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church #144)
It is our further belief that as an educational community built upon a bedrock of faith we are called to uphold in both word and action the principles and values inherent in the mission of our school and that of the Catholic Church — and serve, genuinely and authentically, as the face, hands and feet of Jesus Christ. The call of the Gospel is not merely to “avoid evil” but it also calls us to “do good.” There is the expectation of action. We must respond to that command. It is not a suggestion. We must ask how we can love our neighbor, ensure the dignity of others is upheld, and that justice for all is exercised…and then respond with our answers.
Holy Family’s response to that call is evidenced by the lived reality that is manifested in a school culture guided by faith and animated by action. We take this seriously. We empower our students to be agents of change. We equip our students with Catholic Lasallian values and inspire in them a passion to address the injustices that face our world. We foster opportunities for actively seeking justice and equality for the marginalized and suffering. We create safe spaces to engage in meaningful dialogue that supports authentic listening and understanding.
As an institution of learning, while we believe the primacy of educational responsibility resides with the family, Holy Family not only accepts, but welcomes and embraces the incredible responsibility of setting the table each and every day, serving our students a comprehensive educational and spiritually formative experience that cultivates both their hearts and minds with the aim of bringing hope and goodness to the world in which we live.
Education is perhaps the most powerful force we can enlist in countering ignorance and destructive ideologies. The questions are then: What have we done with such a gift? What must we do moving forward?
As we work to reopen our doors for the fall of 2020, we will remain steadfast in carrying out the good and holy work already in progress relative to the Lasallian ideals of social justice and support of the marginalized. We will continue our ongoing pursuit of professional development aimed at deepening our understanding of the impact of unrecognized biases. We will likewise enter into an assessment and evaluation of what we teach and how it is taught…both implicitly and explicitly. And of equal importance, reveal what is not taught. This will require extensive, and possibly uncomfortable conversations, in an effort to inform change where and when it is needed. And the voices of all must be present.
The world that awaits us in September will not be the same as it was just six months ago. That said, among many things, it will be imperative to explore new ways to open dialogue and talk about race and racism with our students. To that end we believe that perhaps the most important gift that Holy Family can bring to this conversation is Jesus Christ. As a Catholic school, we know the illumination that Jesus can bring to any situation, especially those in times of darkness. We pledge to renew our commitment to our Catholic Lasallian values and to all of our students – those of yesterday, today and tomorrow to ensure their hearts are prepared with the goodness that will help them transform the world that will receive them.
Let us pray for healing. Let us pray for hope. Let us pray for peace.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…Pray for us.
St. John Baptiste De La Salle…Pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.
So that in all things…God may be glorified.
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn’s In God’s Image: Pastoral Letter on Racism: https://www.archspm.org/in-gods-image-pastoral-letter-on-racism/
USCCB’s Pastoral Letter on Racism: “Open Wide our Hearts”: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/upload/open-wide-our-hearts.pdf
USCCB Educational Resources: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/educational-resources-on-racism.cfm
USCCB Responding to the Sin of Racism: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/african-american/resources/upload/Responding-to-the-Sin-of-Racism-USCCB-Resource.pdf
USCCB Statements and Letters: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/statements-letters-against-racism.cfm
USCCB Prayer to Address the Sin of Racism: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/prayer-to-address-the-sin-of-racism.cfm