Pastoral Response to Racial Injustice

Fri, 09/30/2016

Dear Loyola community,

The recent killings of Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott have reopened the wounds of racial division that trouble communities across the United States. Increased media attention of the kind that we have witnessed in the last few days can leave us with the impression that such events are occasional or spontaneous, when the tragedies of Tulsa and Charlotte should instead draw attention to the reality that too many people in our communities live every day of their lives in the face of hatred and bigotry.

This reality can become unbearable, which is why we must on these occasions come together to support one another as we struggle with grief and anger. For that reason the Office of Mission and Ministry will offer three days of “safe space” in the Manresa Den from 12 to 2:30pm on Wednesday, September 28,  Thursday, September 29 and Friday, September 30 for students or any Loyola community members to come and sit, reflect, cry, talk, share, and write messages or prayers.  These will be informal opportunities to acknowledge our feelings.  We will use the theme and imagery of “Seeds for Change” to explore and process our responses to recent events and ongoing struggles.  At least one Mission and Ministry staff member will be present at all times. 

Then, in mid-October, the One Loyola Room will display the prayers and messages (“Seeds of Hope”) created during these days in the Manresa Den.  We will also share images and stories of those who have made change and helped bring about justice in our communities and our nation. 

As a continuation of our attention to and advocacy for racial justice through Mission and Ministry, we will also dedicate the 9pm Sunday Masses on October 23 and November 13 as Masses for Racial Justice.  Following the Black Lives Matter conference at Xavier on October 21 and 22, which many of our students will attend, the October 23 Mass will include a litany of those lives lost to racial violence, specifically those killed in police shootings.  The November 13 Mass is already scheduled as the Martyr’s Mass and we will again include those “martyred” in our own time and communities through racial violence in addition to our annual observance of the Jesuit Martyrs.

Please remember that Loyola provides many resources to assist those who are struggling with grief and anxiety.  The University Counseling Center (UCC) offers personal counseling services to all enrolled students and can be found on the second floor of the Danna Student Center (Room 208). Appointments can be made by calling (504) 865-3835. This number can also be used for crisis counseling outside of regular office hours. In addition, the UCC offers a Grief Process Group. For more information, go to Faculty and staff may access the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) at 1 (800) 955-6422 to speak to a counselor.

God of boundless love, you who created every human being in your image and likeness, fill us with your spirit of compassion so that we may unite to heal the wound of racial injustice and may always find you in the faces of all our sisters and brothers.


John T. Sebastian, Ph.D.
Vice President, Office of Mission and Ministry