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A Message to Our Community

by | April 13, 2022

Dear Members of the Saint Vincent College Community,

At the heart of the Saint Vincent College mission as a Catholic, Benedictine and liberal arts institution is precisely the Love of God and Love of Neighbor.  Because we are a Catholic College community, we can say that racism denies the sacred nature of a human being. Discrimination and bigotry towards any individual or group dehumanizes and objectifies them. As a community rooted in the Church we can add the dimension of faith and morality to our discussion of racism and our fight against it.  Our Saint Vincent community must deal with the evil of racism and every sin against the Sanctity of any human life. Racism is a grave sin.   

In September 2021, the Saint Vincent College Board of Directors approved the Strategic Plan for Saint Vincent College.  Here is an excerpt from the Prologue of that Strategic Plan:

When students arrive at Saint Vincent, they are coming from a variety of cultures, family environments and educational backgrounds, and all are welcome. What is common among these students, though, is that each has been subjected to any number of prevalent trends in society that have done them and other young people a serious disservice by weakening or eliminating their understanding of the value of human life and its sanctity. Society has legislated that vulnerable unborn life can be terminated at will when it is seen as inconvenient. The lives of vulnerable adults are at risk when elderly or the incarcerated are seen as unproductive or a drain on society. Bigotry, against whomever it is directed, is fundamentally an effort to portray groups of people having lesser or no worth. Exploitation of people, in human trafficking and other vile practices, objectifies human beings, disregarding their life value and their status as children of God. Therefore, the transformation at the heart of the Saint Vincent experience begins with an articulation and demonstration that the life of each student has value, and indeed, is sacred. Pope Francis states this clearly in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti:

Some parts of our human family, it appears, can be readily sacrificed for the sake of others considered worthy of a carefree existence. Ultimately, “persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when they are poor and disabled, ‘not yet useful’—like the unborn, or ‘no longer needed’—like the elderly (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, Encyclical, 18).

In addition, a readiness to discard others finds expression in vicious attitudes that we thought long past, such as racism, which retreats underground only to keep reemerging. (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, Encyclical, 20).

Saint Benedict affirms this in “The Rule”: “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.”

There is no place at Saint Vincent for racism or discrimination of any kind. 

We find support for this and draw insight from the three pillars of our Mission: 

Our Catholic character invites us to look to the Church and to God for guidance. The Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a document, “Open Wide Our Hearts, the Enduring Call to Love, a Pastoral Letter Against Racism.” 

The USCCB also offers a guide with action steps.

I am asking the Deans of our Schools and President’s Cabinet to begin conversations and meetings with the whole faculty and staff to study this document and implement it in our college, particularly to engage students in the discussion. 

Our Benedictine character gives us the ability to rely on the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Ten Hallmarks of Benedictine Education. Hospitality is often the first hallmark sited and makes us feel good about the welcome we can offer on our campus. This hallmark, however, goes far beyond feelings. It is based entirely upon God’s love for humanity and the sanctity of every human life (Rule of Saint Benedict, 53).

In the Bible passage of Abraham and Sarah in the desert, when three strangers passed by, Abraham invited them in and offered them a meal and hospitality, even though these three were unknown to them. It turned out that these strangers, these people different from Abraham and Sarah, were Angels sent by God to deliver a message that Sarah would bear a child in a year’s time. Abraham and Sarah, through hospitality, entertained the Divine Presence because they welcomed them (Genesis 18).

In the Gospel passage about the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, the disciples encountered a stranger and began to walk with him. They invited him to stay for dinner. During the dinner, they saw that the stranger was, indeed, the Risen Lord Jesus. Divinity itself (Luke 24: 15-35).

When we encounter others whom we do not know, it is an opportunity to see more clearly the Divine Presence in our world through the recognition of the holiness or sanctity of their human life. 

Our liberal arts character gives us the ability to rely on the centuries-old tradition of education as an opportunity to bring ideas in respectful conversation. Those ideas may be different or may even be at odds with each other. But what is essential in the best articulation of the dialogue is that the human beings involved are not at odds with one another or objectified or devalued. 

Our Saint Vincent Community has the opportunity to be steadfast in its mission in recognizing the sanctity of every human life and leaving no room for bigotry of any kind. 

As we begin this Easter break, I ask that every member of our community—faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni and friends—embrace the three sacred hours between noon and 3 p.m. on Good Friday to pray in reparation for the sin of racism and the sins against the sanctity of human life throughout the world.

From the Divine Mercy Chaplet: 

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

I am proud of our students, especially over the last few days, for the ways that they have engaged the question and difficulty of racism. As we continue this conversation, I invoke the wisdom of my dear mother, Irene, (God rest her soul) when she told my brothers and me how to raise a good family. It is the same wisdom we can look to for our students: “Love them, feed them and want them around. “


God bless you,

Father Paul Taylor, O.S.B.