Dear Members of the McQuaid Jesuit Community,
As we shared with our parent community Monday of this week, we are heartbroken by the terrible manifestations of racism and violence that we have seen over the last several months, most recently the death of George Floyd. The scenes and images, culled from TV cameras and cell phones, are difficult to watch but demand attention. The protests in cities and towns, including right here in Brighton, point the way towards justice and progress.
As a Catholic, Jesuit school, we affirm the words of Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB): “We should honor the sacrifice of George Floyd’s life by removing racism and hate from our hearts and renewing our commitment to fulfill our nation’s sacred promise — to be a beloved community of life, liberty, and equality for all.”
The McQuaid Jesuit community — our alumni, our current students and families, our teachers, our benefactors and friends — has a role to play in upholding this “sacred promise.” And we know that, like all communities in this country, we must reflect on our own history and our own actions. In the past few years, we have undertaken several important student life initiatives surrounding injustice. Our Xavier Week initiative, now in its fifth year, spotlights a topic of social justice with guest speakers and special programming. New clubs, such as the St. Benedict the Moor Black Student Union and the Mosaic Club, afford students the opportunity to engage in dialogue about issues of race and justice and ensure that all voices at McQuaid can be heard.
These are important and overdue first steps. But to overcome and reverse injustice, we all must look within ourselves and ask: to what end is a Jesuit education? Perhaps the most famous answer to that question came from Fr. Pedro Arrupe, the former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, in a 1973 speech:
Men-and-women-for-others: the paramount objective of Jesuit education – basic, advance, and continuing – must now be to form such men and women.
For Arrupe, “men-and-women for others,” now an iconic motto for Jesuit education, meant more than occasional acts of charity. It meant an attentiveness to the structures in our world that divide, diminish, and degrade our fellow human beings, depriving them of the dignity with which God graces us all. It meant using the “posts of power” we assume in our society to advance the good of all in that society. Sometimes we need reminders of the challenge of Arrupe’s words, and his belief that our Jesuit tradition empowers us to meet that challenge. This is one of those times.
How to respond is a question each of us must ask ourselves, but let there be no doubt we all have a role to play. In the spirit of Saint Ignatius Loyola, we must all discern that role with renewed conviction — with “eyes to see and ears to hear.” At McQuaid, we pledge to discern how we can better educate our students to be leaders in our communities in the spirit of Arrupe. We ask God to guide this discernment, so we can all be open to difficult truths, courageous action, and lasting change.
Let us continue to work for an end to division, hatred, and violence, and for a resurgence in love, wisdom, and compassion. Let us renew our commitment to our nation’s “sacred promise” — to truly be a beloved community of life, liberty, and equality for all.
Rev. Robert E. Reiser
Adam R. Baber
Please read Fr. Reiser’s homily of the Feast of Pentecost by clicking here.