Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter | Friday, May 7, 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

This weekend we set aside some time to celebrate and honor our mothers and stepmothers, our grandmothers and our godmothers, to pray for them and give thanks to God for their presence in our lives. Often it is in their voices of love, concern, challenge, and acceptance we can hear the very voice of Jesus and, thus, experience his abiding care for us. And often it is through their example that we learn how to live Jesus’ commandment to love one another as he loves us: their sacrificial love teaches us what it is to lay down our lives for others. Almighty God, we thank you for these women in our lives, for their love and faith, and ask you to bless them with every good thing, especially good health and deep joy.

On another note, I was in a Zoom meeting the afternoon of April 20. One of the participants sent a one-word message through the chat function: “guilty.” Derek Chauvin had just been convicted in the killing of George Floyd. In the hours that followed, many spoke of justice being served. I was glad to hear many challenge that notion by saying he had been held accountable. To my mind, that describes the verdict more accurately, especially in light of the continued killings of Black people and the rise in our awareness of the often-mortal violence against the AAPI community. It’s clear that the road to securing justice for our sisters and brothers of color stretches out before us.

As you know, St. Ignatius Parish has been providing a wonderful series on racial justice since January. Thanks to Teresa Cariño, our Director of Faith Formation, and Lucas Sharma, S.J., an MDiv student at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, more than 900 participants are learning about the complexities of racial injustice and praying about them in order to hear how Jesus is calling them with regard to this issue.

Concurrently, our parish Antiracism Committee, in conversation with the Parish Council and the five parish Commissions, has developed an Antiracism Strategic Plan for St. Ignatius. This plan is an effort to live out more deeply our parish mission statement to be a “welcoming and inclusive Catholic community,” as well as be guided by the vision of the Society of Jesus, which calls us to a faith that does justice and to commit ourselves to walk with the poor, the marginalized, the excluded and those whose dignity has been lost. To become more antiracist is a means to those ends.

The purpose of the strategic plan is to provide for us as a faith community the opportunity to examine how racism functions culturally and structurally in our own parish and to commit ourselves to the radical inclusion preached by Jesus, as this Sunday’s Gospel reading reminds us: “Love one another as I love you.” Becoming antiracist helps us do as Jesus asks.

A next step is for the each of the five parish Commissions (Faith Formation, Mercy & Justice, Worship, Community and Administration) to determine how best to take concrete action steps to incorporate racial justice and broader understandings of justice into its work. Our goal is to move past accountability to authentic biblical justice – right relationships with one another and with God. So stayed tuned for forthcoming activities and programs geared to making us better followers of Jesus, both individually and as a faith community. In the meantime, let us pray for the success of our efforts, and

Oremus pro invicem.

Fr. Greg