Dear Members of the De La Salle Community:
In recent months and recent weeks, in this part of the world especially, we have experienced many challenges and hardships. We must, in times like these, turn first and often to our faith for answers, consolation and guidance. I have chosen this Sunday, Trinity Sunday, to address you more directly on the events that have now overshadowed the pandemic that has occupied us for several months. It seems to me that the Feast of the Holy Trinity, special for Lasallians, speaks to Christians in a unique way as it is a celebration of the great mystery of the Blessed Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the profound and loving relationship of Persons which it represents. After all, the current difficulties are essentially the result of a failure to live in a loving relationship.
Just as we begin to return to a more regular rhythm of life as the health pandemic, please God, appears to be subsiding, we have seen the unanimous condemnation of deplorable conduct causing the death of another human being.
Now we must reflect seriously and thoughtfully about what this action and the subsequent demonstrations of protest mean not only to those most intimately impacted in the United States but to us as well. As I shared with students last week, we cannot allow hatred and violence to be the dominant forces that drive us forward. More specifically, we must consider what all this signifies for us at De La Salle College “Oaklands” in the City of Toronto, in the Country of Canada, in the Year 2020. First, as I reminded our students, there is no one in this school community who should not know that racism is wrong. There are never any excuses for it.
As a Catholic school community of long-standing, we must do our own reflecting and thinking and not be unduly influenced by our secular world and political forces. Our absolute and primary concern must always be the young people entrusted to our care. The temporal and eternal welfare of our students is our mission.
Good educators, like good parents, understand their obligation to show the same degree of love and respect for each and every pupil and child. At the same time, good educators and parents also know instinctively when this or that student or child is in particular need of help or attention. Over the years, I have seen a special need or emphasis on this issue or that, regarding students. Now, at this point in time, we as educators are rightfully asking ourselves how we are serving Black youth attending school at the College. This particular concern, again like good educators and parents, does not diminish our love and concern for others in our care. Good parents and good educators both know that this is perfectly acceptable and appropriate.
The entire school community must pause then to ask ourselves if our Black students are full participants and full beneficiaries of the Christian and human education we provide for all. These students should face no more obstacles, and the same expectations of all our students. I am certain that all members of our school community would expect nothing less. Here, despite our human failings, we try to build bridges together. Just as in family life, we may not shout our concern for one another from the rooftop, but we do strive to treat one another as brothers and sisters. To date, I believe, as Canadians, we can be rightly thankful that protests, especially in Toronto, our largest city, have been peaceful and unifying. We hope and pray that this is a genuine sign that we understand that we are all in this together and that together we can do better.
I do urge all of us though to approach the events of these times with eyes of faith and a deep sense of trust in the Lord, who directs all things towards good. We must always view this issue and the myriad of others that tragically fill our world, above all, as a Catholic educational institution and according to our unique Lasallian traditions, which see the school as a means of salvation for all God’s children. In the end, to reiterate my words of last week, it will only be a change of hearts and a commitment to living out daily the love of one another that will overcome hatred and division among people.
Finally, it is important for us as a Catholic educational community to look for direction and guidance from our local Shepherd and Chief Teacher, the Archbishop of Toronto, His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins. You will find accompanying this reflection, a letter from the Cardinal that I hope you will take the time to read. As well, a link to the letter we received on June 5th from the Reverend Brother Superior General of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools is also linked to our website. Both letters underscore the importance of the issues before us and the obligation to address them always in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church.
May we continue to implore our Lord and His Blessed Mother that we are granted wisdom to address these matters justly and that peace and harmony will prevail in our days.
Brother Domenic, fsc