July 23, 2020
A message to our community from Father Sicard
“…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
Dear members of the Providence College community,
The words of the Prophet Micah, from the first reading of this Monday’s Mass, speak eloquently to what we are experiencing currently at Providence College. Our Mission Statement demands that we work tirelessly to promote the common good and human flourishing of each member of our community. Justice, mercy, and humility are fundamental ideals that lie at the heart of our faith and our College mission—ideals to which we should always aspire, but which we have not always attained.
Ours is also a community that is dedicated to truth – veritas. Truth undergirds all else to which we aspire, and without truth, these ideals can never be realized. To recommit ourselves to the pursuit of justice, mercy, and humility therefore requires us to rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of truth as well.
With this in mind, it is with great sorrow that I have seen so much of the recent discourse about racism that reveals the injustice and the deep-seated pain that members of our community have experienced, and continue to experience. The hurt and anger expressed by many at last week’s Faculty Senate meeting, as well as on social media, is real, and I recognize that it is rooted in the failure, often unintentional, of many of us over many years, to recognize and address injustice and systemic racism.
It is crucial that every member of our community should have the opportunity to speak of their experiences, to be heard by those in positions of authority, to have their stories honored, and to be believed when they speak. Neither I, nor any member of my administration, will make efforts to police or stifle the free expression of any member of the Providence College family. To do so would be contrary to the pursuit of truth that we prize so highly.
At the same time, and in the absence of all the facts, we should avoid the temptation to judge and condemn, and refrain from presumptions of guilt or innocence. Our dedication to truth requires due process and a fair hearing for all, something that cannot be achieved through social media or through anonymous postings. Truth, painful though it may prove to be, carries with it the promise of healing and unity that we as a community, and we as a nation, so sorely need.
Over the past several days, I and other members of my administration have heard the voices of many who are hurt and angry. Some have demanded that we take up the cause of those leveling accusations against community members; others have demanded that we defend and support those who have been accused. All deserve to be taken seriously and to have their voices heard, and opportunities in the coming weeks will be provided. But as one entrusted with the leadership of this College, it is my responsibility to seek the truth before all else and avoid hasty conclusions of guilt or innocence.
Together with my cabinet, I recognize the failures of the past and the ongoing challenges we face. I pledge to work toward creating a more just, equitable, and loving community here at PC. I am eager to partner with the Providence College Chapter of the NAACP and other student organizations; the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the Office of Mission and Ministry; and above all with students, faculty, staff, and alumni to address the systemic racism that exists on our campus and in our society, and to expand our efforts at PC to become the Beloved Community that God is calling us to be.
Rooted in truth, we can embrace the words of the Prophet Micah. We can do justice in ensuring that every member of the Providence College family is treated with dignity and respect. We should strive for mercy and the ability to forgive the mistakes that we inevitably will make. And we should walk humbly with our God — and with one another — as we admit our failures, both past and present, and admit that the Lord is asking us to do better.
May God bless us all and give us the grace we need to bring to completion this most important work that he has begun in us.
Rev. Kenneth R. Sicard, O.P. ’78 & ’82G