This past weekend we celebrated the feast of Pentecost – the Church’s reminder of the fire and power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were left in the upper room despondent, angry, and unclear about their future, just as many of us might feel during these chaotic times of pandemic, the recent killings of black Americans, and the uprise in so many communities as a response.
When Jesus returned, he infused the confused disciples with the Holy Spirit through his breath. The breath of Christ empowers, emboldens, and sends forth in stark contrast to the brutal seizure of the breath of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others over the years.
As a Lasallian Catholic ministry, we are called to always stand with the most oppressed and vulnerable populations as our faith demands a preferential option for those hurting most. Centuries of systematic racism in this country and around the world require long-deferred action on the part of people of faith and we hope to examine our blindspots while creating change here in our own communities as well as offer support and solidarity for true healing and justice around the world.
We hope not to make empty statements without action. Discussion with students, alumni, and faculty have influenced the creation of this statement and will continue to drive the change that we desire in both our community and the world at large. We would like to let you know of some work already in progress at La Salle and invite you to stand with us for continuing advocacy, action, and reflection.
We know that change requires resources. The most significant priority of Generations: The Campaign for La Salle Students, our capital campaign which kicked off in July of 2018, is extending accessibility and affordability to all families, including the middle class, working class, disadvantaged, and underserved families. This is a concrete expression of our Lasallian commitment “to provide a human and Christian education to young people, especially the poor and marginalized.” (The Rule of the Brothers of the Christian Schools) Twenty-seven percent of 2019-2020's freshman class consists of students of color, as compared to 19% of the remaining high school enrollment, thanks to an intentional and ongoing effort at diversifying our community.
The District of Eastern North America (DENA), the network of Lasallian ministries in our region, have collaborated on a powerful set of resources for education and action. Collectively we are establishing a Racial Justice Coalition to help organize, reflect, and act. Please click the link to view the letter from our Provincial / Visitor and join our efforts to create a more inclusive and peaceful community. Letter from Brother Dennis Lee and the Racial Justice Coalition.
Through the efforts, insights and experiences of members of the Student Diversity Committee, plans for faculty and student de-bias training were scheduled for this past spring. A series of workshops led by academic researchers, psychologists and social workers were specifically tailored to our community to promote cultural competency and responsiveness throughout our school.
Though this collaboration was put on hold as a result of school closings, we plan to move forward in the upcoming school year to engage in this training to promote inclusivity and empathy. It will allow us to reflect on our own social structures as well as curricular content. Our goal is to better understand systemic oppression so that we give all La Salle students, faculty, and staff the resources, tools and dispositions of mind necessary to overcome ignorance, complacency and injustice.
As a community called to action, we are rooted in deep prayer and faith. We invite all to an eight-minute and forty-six second candlelight Zoom service on Sunday, June 7th at 8:00pm. The Lasallian Points of Light prayer service will mark the pain and suffering of George Floyd while inspiring us to move forward in hope, action, and love. We want to max out our 500 person capacity and light up our community both near and far. Invite your friends, family, coworkers, etc. (If you are locked out for the first vigil, there will be two more following at 8:15pm and 8:30pm.) https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88230131310
Our faith is not a tool to be weaponized, but a call to peace founded on real justice. We pray for the Holy Spirit to enkindle the fire of deep love and justice in all of our hearts to enable us to work together for healing as we strive towards an end to structural racism and to discrimination in our communities and classrooms at La Salle Academy.
Brother Dennis Malloy FSC Donald J. Kavanagh