Message from the President: Black Lives Matter – Saint Mary's Commitment to Justice

Dear Saint Mary’s Community,

It is with a heavy heart that I send this communication. As we continue to support each other through the ongoing public health crisis, it is important to acknowledge that many members of our community are also coping with the pain and anger of being confronted with the unjust and untimely loss of the lives of African American people at the hands of current and former law enforcement. I want to acknowledge that these events are most poignant for members of our community who identify as Black and/or of African descent. Understanding this, I want each and every member of the Black community at Saint Mary’s College of California to know that I see you and that your larger Gael community sees you as well. We will work together in order to enact our Lasallian principles of inclusive community, respect for all persons, and concern for and commitment to social justice.  

Saint Mary’s College of California is dedicated to providing an educational experience that is grounded in its Catholic, Lasallian, and Liberal Arts traditions. This means that we are bound by our faith to stand against injustice, we pay homage to our Founder through attention to the marginalized, and we are driven by the need to engage in critical inquiry. As President, I call on our SMC community to take a moment to contemplate how we all can individually and collectively work to address the inequities with which we continue to struggle within our community, as well as how we can support the efforts of those who would push for constructive change all over the nation.

Together as a community we mourn the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as all other victims of racial injustice. We also pray for the safety of all those touched by the ongoing protests across the country. As we continue to shelter in place separately, let us stand together in spirit and purpose.

Yesterday was Pentecost. Saint John Baptist de La Salle writes at the end of Meditation for the Eve of Pentecost: “Send forth your Spirit to give us a new life, and you will renew the face of the earth.” How do we view the events of these recent days through this lens, committing ourselves to justice and standing in solidarity with the marginalized? How do we “renew the face of the earth”? As we saw this weekend, there are deep wounds, and healing these wounds will require an approach that includes the examination of a profound, systemic, and resistant legacy of racial discrimination and social inequality in this nation.

As members of a Lasallian community, let us recommit ourselves to our mission, including our core value of service, rooted in solidarity and justice. Let us stand with the marginalized and respond, not only with charity, but with courage, creativity, and compassion. Let us support one another and unite as a community in ways that allow our voices to be heard as we speak for those who are unable to do so.

In the spirit of Saint La Salle,

James A. Donahue