Dear La Salle Community,
I write this letter as part of La Salle Prep’s continued response to the unrest in the world around us. My hope is that it can serve as an opportunity to reflect and affirm our shared Lasallian mission, and to provide context to the direction we are headed and the changes we need to make in order to more fully carry out our mission.
The photo and news article above recount the supportive phone call that a Dallas, Texas, bishop received from Pope Francis after the bishop took a knee and held a “Black Lives Matter'' sign in solidarity with other clergy kneeling to protest the killing of George Floyd. The story affirmed to me that the work of rooting out racism, of standing with the victimized, oppressed, and marginalized, and of taking time to reflect and pray was something my Church was calling me to do. It affirmed that there is no distance between the Church’s stance on life issues and the statement that Black lives matter. It affirmed that now is the time to take action, upend, and expand our comfort zones to make way for meaningful change. It reminded me that we bear the responsibility of being the voice, hands, feet, and heart of Christ in the world - and that right now, that heart is breaking. We must engage our students in understanding the truth and complexity of our community, country, Church, and world so they can serve as the voice, hands, feet, and hearts of healing, love, and peace.
I just finished meeting, via Zoom, with several alumni who are among the more than 1,200 signers of a change.org petition that calls on me and La Salle Prep to embed the truths about systemic racism, oppression, and marginalization in our curriculum and to do more to prepare our graduates to enter the complex and challenging world. I welcome the petition and this call to accelerate the shift we have started at La Salle. And I am grateful to these alumni for holding us accountable and exemplifying what it means to “leave to serve.”
No doubt, La Salle has a lot of work to do. Not only must we provide lessons that stimulate the mind; we must provide lessons that will resonate in students’ hearts long after they have graduated. We have already taken steps toward that goal, including requiring equity training for all faculty and staff, implementing student programming to explore topics such as identity, empathy, and dialogue, creating a staff and parent equity team for equity leadership, hiring for diversity, and reviewing student behavior policies aligned with restorative practices. In addition, we’re going to hire a Director of Diversity and Inclusion, engage in curriculum review, and create opportunities for current and former Falcons - especially those of color - to discuss their La Salle experiences, and amplify the purpose, meaning, and urgency of our equity work.
On our website, we have created a page where the community can learn about what we have done and what we plan to do to address diversity, equity, and inclusion at our school. The page includes links to some of the resources informing our efforts to create a holistic Lasallian education - rooted in critical thinking, dialogue, and our Catholic Lasallian mission - that engages all students, respects all cultures, and values all individuals.
Thank you for partnering with us in this work and trusting La Salle to deliver a Catholic education to the students in our care. We - the teachers, staff, and administrators of the school - are as dedicated as ever to helping young people recognize God in all, to see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and to take action to protect the dignity and sanctity of all creation.
It is a tall order, but a necessary aim.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts,