Dear Bishop McDevitt Community, Stakeholders, and Students,
The 2019-20 school year has been riddled with much strife and disruption to our lives. Now more than ever, we as a community are challenged to rise up and fulfill our mission as a school that serves students of diverse intellectual, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds. As such, much of the turmoil in our country presently is affecting the daily lives of all those we are charged to serve. This message does not call on our community to defend political rhetoric, but to ensure we are once again standing together in determination to fulfill our mission which lies at the forefront of the concerns our country is dealing with today. Our mission challenges us to “graduate well rounded Christian men and women committed to living moral lives of holiness, integrity, justice and responsible citizenship”.
We are all in the current state of defending justice. The events of the last few days will tax our very definition of justice and challenge our method to achieve it. In transparency, I am torn on ways to emotionally manage the events. I, much like many of you, am suffering through what seems to be stages of grief for my fellow man and for our society as a whole. Unfortunately, these events are stirring many conflicting emotions in us all. I am reminded of the words from Martin Luther King., Jr. that are equally conflicting that, “A riot is the language of the unheard” and conversely that “Hate begets hate, and violence begets violence”. While we must understand many of our communities are hurting, as they feel they have been ignored, we must also understand the equal context that violence only begets violence. The Bishop McDevitt Community of students and families must ensure voices are heard, respected, and done so in a Christ like way through kindness in word and action.
The very mission of Bishop McDevitt High School is currently being jeopardized by the lessons we must learn in relation to justice and responsible citizenship. We must not further jeopardize our mission by lacking the integrity and moral lives to be socially aware of the effects these events are having on our entire community. So how do we manage in these tough times when the very mission of Bishop McDevitt High School is currently being jeopardized by the injustice being inflicted upon our citizens with the actions of a certain few as well as the rhetoric of hate being displayed across our country?
First, we must understand the actions of a certain few officers should not define our image for the countless others who detest those actions with the rest of us. While there may be those certain few who would commit the injustice that has divided our nation, there are tens of thousands of officers, some of whom I am proud to call friends, who do not support these actions and stand with us against the outcasts of their ranks. Second, in these dark times, when we are at a loss of words due to the emotional pain this is causing us personally and within our communities we must follow the words of Robert Kennedy and understand that “it is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance”. We must stand in solidarity together, Bishop McDevitt. We must not be silent and we must not be divisive. We must understand the feelings of our neighbors. And, we must begin to shape our future with “diverse acts of courage”. We must ensure our community begins the healing by vigorously defending the words of Pope Paul IV who aptly states “if you want peace, work for justice”. Defense of this peace and our work for justice may seem to be placed at odds because of the emotion these events are having on us. But we must not lose faith as a community. Our faith in Christ and our faith in each other must bind us evermore in our Bishop McDevitt Community.
Our Bishop McDevitt family must have the integrity and moral fortitude to put aside politics and come together as one community to embrace the social context of our current dilemmas. We must not succumb to the rhetoric of hate from anyone during this conflict that would steer us away from each other. We must “refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality and believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Martin Luther King. Jr. It saddens me that I must gratuitously utilize the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. in these troublesome times, but unfortunately our communities are hurting with images of a battle once fought, which has once again been driven to the forefront of many of our hearts and minds. It saddens me that we, especially our children, are still subject to these times. I stated just a few days ago in the commencement speech to our Class of 2020, that our past generations have left some heavy lifting for our graduates and that we must be the change we want to see in this world. This is much more true today than it was just days ago.
I leave you with these final thoughts: WE MUST stay together as one community; WE MUST embrace the mission of Bishop McDevitt and be committed to moral lives of holiness, integrity, justice and responsible citizenship; and WE MUST live by the words in Matthew 22 where Christ tells us all to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS DEPEND ALL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS.” Take care of one another, Bishop McDevitt Family. Thank you and God Bless!!
In faith, love, unity, and community,
Vincent Harper ‘92