Dear Members of the Santa Clara University Community,
Our nation has witnessed a number of tragic deaths in recent days and months, deaths that seem too painful, too cruel, and perhaps too shocking to imagine. Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the five law enforcement officers in Dallas, the victims in Orlando and San Bernardino, and others who have died from profound ills in our society – we begin by praying for them.
We remember that those we have lost, named and unnamed, like those of us who remain in this world, are gifts from God, a God who endowed us all with human dignity.
This radical idea constitutes for us a fundamental value as a Jesuit, Catholic institution. We cannot avoid or ignore the premise that each individual possesses inherent dignity simply because they are from God.
When we engage with others in the fullness of their diverse identities and their intersections -- race, ethnicity, place of origin, sexual orientation, religious belief, economic status, and other elements that make up who we are - we concretely honor the dignity of one another.
But we are human and by the nature of our humanity, we allow tensions to arise from our differences. Institutions like ours teach us to wrestle with those tensions, to recognize the value of our differences and similarities, and to act with good will to become our better selves personally and as a community.
While these days of violence have brought on immense grief and despair, we as a society are capable of working with, rather than against, one another to overcome injustices and live together in community. To make this a reality, it takes personal reflection, communal dialogue, and actions, both big and small that bring peace and justice.
Drawing on the tradition of St. Ignatius, Campus Ministry, the Ignatian Center, and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion will host a guided practice of the Ignatian Examen that will focus on the multiple tragic events that we have recently witnessed and their systemic context. The Examen is a prayer method of reviewing events and experiences and reflecting on the invitation of the Spirit present there. Members of the community are invited to attend on Thursday, July 28 at 4:00-5:00 p.m. in the Multifaith Sanctuary, St. Joseph’s Hall.
I also encourage you to seek out your local churches, neighborhoods and communities to engage on issues that cry out for attention in the wake of St. Paul, Baton Rouge and Dallas - gun violence, racial injustice, and other forms of societal divisiveness. Here at Santa Clara, we welcome members of the community to consider ways of integrating the issues that arise from these events in your work or studies as we continually seek to foster a more just, humane, and sustainable world.
As the summer days press on, we continue to grieve as a nation for all who have died as a result of hatred and injustice. Let us turn our grief to good and honor the dead by working for justice through peace.
Michael E. Engh, S.J.