June 1, 2020
As we begin this first week in June, we are left devastated by the great unrest in our country, in response to the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Tayler combined with our continued anxiety regarding COVID-19. The protests across our nation have once again brought to the surface the need for justice and equity, especially justice for black men, women and children, whose voices go ignored when they cry out for their lives. We are all pondering that Franciscan question that has been posed to this year, "What is ours to do?"
Yesterday, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Pentecost, when Christians around the world cried out, "Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth." (Psalm 104). This call to the Holy Spirit is needed now more than ever. In a world living through a pandemic, hope seemed scarce to begin with, and now we are once again brought face-to-face with the reality of systemic racism in our nation, an even more harmful disease.
As an Alvernia Community, we want to acknowledge the feelings of pain, fear and anger. Our Bernardine Franciscan identity compels us to honor the human dignity of all people, and when we see that dignity infringed upon, our response is to want to reach out, stand up, and stand with our brothers and sisters of color whose God-given dignity has not been recognized.
But what is ours to do? While our initial cry is for the Lord to surround us with a healing spirit, we must also cooperate and respond to this spirit. As students, faculty, staff and alumni of Alvernia University, we must build up a community on our campuses in Reading, Philadelphia and Schuylkill- a community that recognizes and supports all members of color. But it doesn't stop there. Our community is here to support, nurture and develop people all people of color, all religions, all ethnic and social backgrounds. In our strategic plan, we identified this issue as an area to continue to emphasize and build upon. In this next year, we will build a community that ensures our students, faculty and staff have a safe environment of self-expression and security no matter the race, creed or color. While our hearts cry out, "Lord, send out your spirit!" our curriculums, athletics, clubs, and overall university life must exemplify that at Alvernia, all are honored for whom God has created you to be.
In the coming days and weeks, as we return to the "new normal" of life within a pandemic, and the unrest in our nation settles, let us not forget this call to action. When we come back to campus as a new community in the fall, let us come back ready to learn and educate, ready to reflect on our own roles in breaking down these systems of oppression, ready to love and support each member of our community. Let us be ready to rebuild our nation--a nation where there truly is justice for all, not just for those with power over, but for everyone. We will do this rebuilding one class, one program, one student at a time, one day at a time, one year at a time, and eventually, our work, inspired by the spirit, will truly begin to renew the face of the earth!
Peace and All Good,
John Loyack, President
Glynis Fitzgerald, Provost and Senior Vice President
John McCloskey, Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President
Carl Marks, Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Thomas Minick, Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Mary-Alice Ozechoski, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing
Rodney Ridley, Vice President, Associate Provost & Chief Operating Officer O'Pake Institute for Economic Development & Entrepreneurship
Rudy Ruth, Executive Director, Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement
Julianne Wallace, Vice President for Mission and Ministry