Note: This is a message sent to the Benedictine University community in the wake of national events.
We are Catholic. All Are Welcome.
I write to the entire Benedictine community in light of the many expressions of concern that I have received over the weekend regarding the safety and well-being of our students.
First, let us remember one of our central beliefs and practices: "Let all who enter the community be received like Christ" from The Rule of St. Benedict.
Current national and international events are unsettling for many in our communities. We serve students all over the world, from China, Vietnam, Arizona, Illinois and online. Whether it is trade, public health, immigration, social stratification or written and artistic expression, students will be looking to us for guidance on these topics and, in some circumstances, their personal safety.
We will be there for them, first and foremost, in the classroom, where faculty bear the responsibility and the honor to sustain Benedictine learning environments. Grounded in the liberal arts, we help students know what it means to be human. As a Catholic university, we help them consider how to act as humans. They come to us for character formation, and they come to learn about our commitment to the dignity of the person. This is our core work.
We are also part of the American higher education sector. We are funded in some measure by public funds and that, in part, requires us to be mindful of state and federal statutes. But most of our support comes from students, alums, the Benedictine religious, and private donors who expect us to be united around the Catholic virtues of justice, temperance, fortitude, and prudence. So that is what I ask of all of us in these chaotic times.
I write to you from Washington, D.C., where annual meetings of Catholic and private university presidents just happen to coincide with protests and marches from all ends of the political spectrum. I have been struck by the passion of so many who marched to support life and liberty. The stakes are high, for certain, as we witness humanity struggling with 21st century issues that extend conflicts from previous times and places. They may seem overwhelming, but we will meet the needs of our 6,000 students through our teaching and service to them.
Rest assured, I will personally stay abreast of any national or international events that impact the well-being of our students. On Tuesday I will meet with members of our congressional delegation as part of that work.
In summary, I agree whole-heartedly with the principle at the heart of many of your concerns: that our Catholic and Benedictine values call us to respect, protect and support all members of our community.
Inspired by our mission, vision and commitment statements:
• We actively work toward an increasingly inclusive academic community.
• We bring the wisdom of our Benedictine and Catholic intellectual traditions into the dialogue about urgent social issues.
• We live and model the values of our Benedictine hallmarks -- including love of neighbor, conversatio, obsculta/listening, stewardship, hospitality (openness to the other), and community (serving the common good).
May God bless you. May God bless your families. May God bless our precious University.