June 3, 2020
A statement to the St. Mary’s University School of Law family from Dean Patricia Roberts, J.D.:
My first three days on this campus have been filled with blessings. I’ve been part of planning for the safe return of students, faculty and staff to a dynamic learning environment; getting to know some of the colleagues who make this place so special; feeling warmly welcomed by Feisty (one of the Law campus cats) each morning as I arrive outside the administration building; and this morning, having the honor of saying the prayer to start the University’s Leadership Council meeting. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and the Texas heat I’ve been warned about has yet to manifest itself to its fullest extent. And as I sit in my office, every once in a while I hear those glorious bells ring, a reminder of why I joined this community of faith and mission.
But there are dark shadows over all of these blessings: the pandemic and the continued impact it is having on the health, safety and livelihoods of members of our community and the world, and the shocking events unfolding across the state and nation in recent days and weeks. Either one would be terrible to bear; both at the same time are devastating, with some communities feeling the crushing weight of death and fear much more significantly than others. I write to you today without answers, only the acknowledgment that there is so much work to be done. And we must do this work despite the exhaustion already felt in our bones and in our spirits.
I’d like to share excerpts from the prayers I drew from this morning, taken from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
God of Heaven and Earth, you created the one human family and endowed each person with great dignity.
Aid us, we pray, in overcoming the sin of racism.
Grant us your grace in eliminating this blight from our hearts, our communities, our social and civil institutions.
Fill our spirits Lord, so that we may give services of justice and peace.
Fill our hearts with love for you and our neighbors so that we may work with you in healing our land from racial injustice.
And finally, remind us Lord that you said, “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”
The characteristics of Marianist universities are many. They include promoting the dignity and rights of all people, and note the special responsibility of those of us training and forming students to raise awareness of the inequity in our nation and world, and to work to eliminate it where it still exists. I challenge each of us in the coming weeks to pray for guidance on how we might be part of a solution to bring our nation and communities together in healing and to be the peacemakers God calls us to be. I look forward to your ideas on how our community can best exemplify the Marianist characteristics at our law school and ways to inspire our community members to be leaders for the public good — fighting the inequities to which we bear witness. I also implore you to look out for one another, recognizing that the impact of recent horrific events are not felt equally among members of our community.