Over the last month, Chicago and our nation have seen that which we have always known in our heart: Racism is a sin that runs deep and wide in our society. It is antithetical to the teachings of Christ and no individual or institution should ever think it is impervious to its evil clutches.
The Saint Ignatius community is heartbroken to hear of the experiences of intolerance endured by some current and former students. These reflections of racist behavior devastate us and compel us to redouble our efforts to do better.
We are a diverse community, grounded in our Jesuit and Catholic values, dedicated to educating young people for lives of faith. To reflect the values of Jesus, we must lead with words and actions in the fight to be a welcoming and respectful community.
Saint Ignatius has much to be proud of in this fight. We should neither be afraid to recognize this nor allow it to make us complacent. In the 1940’s, Saint Ignatius led the charge to reverse the inexcusable practice by Chicago private schools of excluding African Americans. Today, nearly a third of our student body are young people of color. We continue to strive for a community that reflects the Chicago area and Archdiocese. Each year, Saint Ignatius provides more financial aid to economically disadvantaged families than any other private school in the Chicago metro area. These positive attributes of our past and present should inspire us to keep moving forward.
It begins with listening and dialogue. It follows with action. Conversation and understanding are critically important but cannot, alone, create the change we all seek.
To this end, Saint Ignatius is developing an Initiative that will take a 360 degree view of our entire institution. This Initiative will examine what we are currently doing and what we need to do in the future to address these issues. This will not be a top-down initiative. We will seek to involve the community in the examination, planning and implementation of our work. It will be organized into five key areas.
We hope the entire Saint Ignatius community will support this work and lend your voices, experiences and opinions to the progress we all seek.
We all love Saint Ignatius. We all want the future of this special place to be an even more powerful force for good. Let us go forward with trust in God, guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ and inspired by our Jesuit heritage for social justice.
John J. Chandler Sterling Brown
Overview of the Five Point Plan: