Being Instruments of Peace in These Challenging Times

The University of St. Francis (USF) began this year in celebration of our founding 100 years ago. The past months and weeks have reminded all of us – students, faculty, and staff – of why we exist and how important it is to continue the University’s mission of “preparing women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership”…now more than ever before.

On behalf of everyone at USF, we condemn racism and violence.  We deplore bigotry, intolerance, and hatred in any form against anyone.  Bias and discrimination have no place in our society, our communities, or our University.  Indeed, USF was built on the Catholic foundation of respect for the dignity for all.   As Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi modeled 800 years ago, we, too, are called to be examples of compassion and problem solving through dialogue – as “instruments of peace”.  Our University continues to strive to be a “welcoming community of learners” rooted in values that are core to who we are: Respect, Compassion, Service, and Integrity.  May they guide us and focus our work for personal and systemic change.

As a peace site and in concert with our founding and sponsoring congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, we support those who – as instruments of peace – take a non-violent stand against injustice, who peacefully protest inequality and injustice, and who demand that institutions implement changes that are needed for a better society.  Considering the events of the past week, it is more important than ever to reflect upon and loudly proclaim our values in order to be clear about where we stand.  And, so, as USF begins this Year of Compassion, we continue to acknowledge the importance of dismantling racism in all its forms, and we implore you to do the same by demanding change and equal justice under the law for our most vulnerable populations.

Even before the events of the past week, USF has seen students, families, and friends displaced by floods, impacted by a worldwide pandemic, and battered by massive changes to the economy.  Our Centennial Celebration has become a year of challenges – calling us to join together as a University community even as we are pulled apart by isolation.  Let us humbly join in prayer to heal the hurt, fear, and resentment that promote conflict in these troubled times.

Make us instruments of Your peace, O God!

Our plans for the next 100 years include our Franciscan values of Respect, Compassion, Service, and Integrity because they are going to remain important – indeed, are indispensable – as we move forward in continuing the legacy of “Our Sisters”. 

Being instruments of peace in these challenging times is not easy, but this is “what is ours to do”.  Let us work to “preach” the Gospel through our values and by the example of our lives, as we work for a true and lasting peace…in solidarity with all of our sisters and brothers.

Arvid C. Johnson