Some among us may want to believe that our country has moved beyond the reality of racism that has so profoundly stained its past, or that racism does not involve us. Almost every day, news headlines demonstrate that our country's "original sin" of racism continues to impact the lives of many Americans, many of them Catholic—particularly those who belong to the African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American communities.
The killing of George Floyd and the violence inflicted on so many others serve as shameful reminders of the lethal and persistent injustice experienced by people of color in our country every day. The sin runs deep and it involves all of us. The call to conversion that lives at the heart of our Catholic faith demands a response from us. Peaceful protesters help us to hear that call more clearly.
Our mission is to form young women and men to follow the example of Jesus Christ who calls each individual to a conversion, a change of heart, that manifests in actions consistent with the reign of God. The conversion of each of us is an ongoing, lifelong reality, and we are painfully aware of the ways that we fail. As St. Ignatius teaches us, we must experience ourselves as loved sinners who reflect daily on our call to deeper conversion and the love that manifests itself in deeds more than words.
We pray that, as the Loyola community, we might hear this call to conversion, mercy and justice anew. We are a school and we have been entrusted with the formation of young hearts and minds. We need to do more in our efforts to be an inclusive and welcoming community. In recent days, we have been listening to our students of color share their experiences. We want them to know that they are loved and that they belong to Loyola. We are heartbroken when they relay experiences that contradict those truths. We pledge to continue to walk with them and together to confront the sins that divide us.
In the past several years we have made significant efforts to challenge and support one another in our mission to be a more inclusive community. With the leadership of a dedicated director of school culture, we have reviewed our curriculum, offered professional development opportunities for faculty and staff members and broadened student exposure to important social issues. Moving forward, we will prioritize collaboration with our student-led Diversity Board in the development of antiracism education throughout the curriculum and restorative practices that utilize education and reconciliation in the promotion of justice.
Finally, we believe in the power of prayer. We believe that God is always with us, especially in the darkest hours. Join us in praying that God will continue to change our hearts and move us to greater love.
Rev. Patrick E. McGrath, SJ
Charles W. Heintz