Dear IMS community,
With so much turmoil happening in our world and in our country, it is troublesome to have to live and grow up in a place where so much hatred exists. However, it is good to remember our mission in the world is to be patterned after Christ’s. (John 20:21). Here we find the connection between our commissioning and the commissioning of the Lord Jesus Christ by His Father. He is our model, pattern, and example. Our labors are to be conducted like His. IMS must be a place where our children can see God in us and in one another.
While we’re on the eve of school starting this year, we cannot ignore how awful and unconscionable the events in Charlottesville and Barcelona have been over the last several weeks. The consequences of this human evil are devastating. God did not create evil, he created freedom. There is nothing but equality, harmony, and greatness in His plans. By neglecting to accept what God has deemed good, we stray from the God-given path that leads to this greatness.
We must acknowledge the terrible hatred that is happening in our world, both in large ways – like the racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic rally in Charlottesville- and in small ways, every day throughout our city and our country. To not do so is to ignore the realities of our diverse community of children and their families. I don’t have the perfect words of course, but I know that now, more than ever we will need to invite God into our lives and ask him to help us take care of ourselves so that we can build family through IMS and defend our children. Now, more than ever, we must teach them what Christ has taught us – to love one another as He has loved us. The Gospel mandate is not a program, it is a relationship with a person.
Some of our children will be emotionally affected by these overt and public acts of racism, and we must be ready to provide the love they need as they grapple with this. Our work may have gotten harder considering these events, but it didn’t change. It is our responsibility to keep our children safe and reassure them of that safety, starting on day 1 and throughout the school year. I encourage you to utilize resources to help you do this. The United States Conference on Catholic Bishops has resources, prayers, and statements from Catholic leadership on combatting racism. Many external groups are providing suggestions for how to address these issues with students – the National Education Association, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, Teaching Tolerance, National Public Radio, and many more. If you need additional resources like these, feel free to reach out to us at the central office.
While this hatred is not going away, we can use our faith and our teaching to begin to chip away at it. We can teach our children to read and do math and think like scientists. We can teach them to treat one another as they wish to be treated. We can teach them to express themselves through writing, poetry, visual arts, and music. We can teach them that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to Christ. We can teach them our world’s history so they aren’t destined to repeat it. We can teach them to pray and be peacemakers, for peacemakers shall be called children of God. We can help them explore their vocation in life, their call to greatness, which in part is a duty to defend and serve the Kingdom of God. We can teach them that God gives us our dignity and that no person is capable of taking our dignity from us.
I want to thank our IMS family for all that you do to build the Kingdom of God in our schools and for our children and families. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you want to discuss this issue more.
Rick Auletta, President, Independence Mission Schools