Dear Canisius High School Community,
We acknowledge that much of our attention over the last several weeks has been focused on providing a quality Jesuit education in the eLearning environment, bringing the school year to a successful close, creating virtual summer programs, and preparing a safety plan for our return to campus during this pandemic.
However, the horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th reveals yet again that there is another force to which we all continue to remain vulnerable. This force is not novel nor one of nature or biology; rather, it is of human sin. Racism is the original sin of our nation.
One of the pillars of Jesuit education is a commitment to doing justice. We are called to walk with the poor, the marginalized, and those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.
In fidelity to this mission, we stand with our students, our alumni, and all those in our community and country who are speaking out against the killing of Mr. Floyd and in opposition to all violence facing people of color across our nation.
On our campus, outside the dean’s office, is a quote from Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, that reads: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
As a Catholic Christian community, we cannot remain neutral. We must take a stand when we see systemic injustice. We must acknowledge the lethal impact of racism. We must not allow police brutality to claim another life with indifference. We must act peacefully and with resolve.
As the bishops who are the chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have stated: “While it is expected that we will plead for peaceful non-violent protests, and we certainly do, we also stand in passionate support of communities that are understandably outraged. Too many communities around this country feel their voices are not being heard, their complaints about racist treatment are unheeded, and we are not doing enough to point out that this deadly treatment is antithetical to the Gospel of Life.”
It is hard to know where to start or what to do. In the spirit of St. Ignatius of Loyola, we ask the Lord to guide our discernment regarding how we, as faculty, staff, and administrators, can better teach and guide our students; how we can better form future leaders committed to justice; and how we can allow prayer to open our hearts to truths we have too often avoided.
We pray for the eternal rest of the soul of George Floyd and for the grace of consolation promised to those who mourn, for the healing of our communities, and for the wisdom and courage to promote a more just world.
Fr. David S. Ciancimino, S.J.
Ms. Andrea Tyrpak-Endres