George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. The list is much longer than this. With each of these victims, I see a burst of social media posts, a few days of intense media focus, and then the world moves on until another incident occurs. The cycle must be broken. It must be broken.
Three of the five core principles of a Lasallian school are having respect for all persons, creating an inclusive community, and demonstrating concern for the poor and social justice. St. John Baptist de La Salle created schools that welcomed all students, no matter who they were or where they lived. He especially welcomed into his schools the poor and marginalized. Over 300 years later, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute strives to do the same. We are an inclusive community. We work hard on a daily basis to confront issues of diversity, equity, and inclusivity. We strive to create a school that is overtly anti-racist. And we encourage our students to actively serve our WNY community and to work for social justice. Sadly, while we strive for these ideals, we have so much work yet to do. The cycle must be broken.
When I opened my email this morning, I was greeted by the monthly newsletter published by the students in our Equity and Justice Club. Across the top of the page was this quote from Nelson Mandela: “It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it.” I hope our students see the power within this statement. Their generation has the power to change the cycle of racism that every generation before them has failed to break. It is in their hands and our hands to promote equity and address systematic injustice and racial discrimination wherever it exists. The cycle must be broken.
It is frustrating that we are not in school with our students today. There are so many conversations to be had, there is so much to discuss and so much to teach and to learn. Our physical distancing is certainly an impediment to that. Please know that, despite our distance, we want to hear from you. Please reach out and let us know your thoughts.
A fourth core principle of a Lasallian school is faith in the living presence of God in our lives and in our world. With this core principle in mind, we turn to prayer in times when words are not enough, in times of crisis, and in times of frustration and dismay. I leave you with Pope John Paul II’s Prayer for Peace and ask you to join me in praying for healing in our community, in our country, and in our world. With God’s assistance, we can break the cycle.
Lord Jesus Christ, who are called the Prince of Peace,
who are yourself our peace and reconciliation,
who so often said, "Peace to you," grant us peace.
Make all men and women witnesses of truth, justice,
and brotherly love.
Banish from their hearts whatever might endanger peace.
Enlighten our rulers that they may
guarantee and defend the great gift of peace.
May all peoples on the earth
become as brothers and sisters.
May longed for peace blossom forth
and reign always over us all.
- Pope John Paul II
Please know that you are in my prayers and the prayers of the Christian Brothers.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, Pray for Us!
Live Jesus in Our Hearts, Forever!
Christopher Fulco, Ed.D.