The reforms and soul-searching that are underway within the Church is ongoing and will continue to deepen and evolve. While as a lay person, I am not in a position to speak for the Society of Jesus or for the Professed Religious, as the President of a Catholic and Jesuit institution I am keenly aware of our obligation in stewardship to work in solidarity with the Society and to work through our own academic and administrative units on this matter, and we have an obligation to be of service – in humility – to the people of God, and to serve as an agent of social transformation. That is the highest articulation of our mission, and so we must find the way as a university that we can best serve in the process of examination, empathy, problem solving, debate, discussion, and reconciliation within the Church and the broader culture, all of which are called for at this time.
Recently, in July, Rev. Gerry Blaszczak, S.J., the University’s Vice President for Mission and Identity and I had the opportunity to gather with the leaders of close to 200 Jesuit institutions of higher education at a General Assembly in Bilbao, and at that meeting the Superior General of the Society, Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J. called on the Jesuit network of institutions of higher education to serve as instruments of reconciliation, and to coordinate our efforts across scholarship, ministry, and service in order to be a vehicle for the transformative work of the Holy Spirit. We are institutionally oriented toward this effort through own academic efforts and in concert with the Fairfield Jesuit community. We also join the Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, the Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano in service in whatever way we can as a community partner to help in the process of reconciliation with our neighbors. In his recent letter of Aug 22, 2018 to the diocese he described this moment “as a time to ask God to heal those who have been wounded by sin, to turn our hearts away from anything that is evil and to renew our commitment to holiness.”
Fairfield University will continue to serve these efforts in any way that we can, but most specifically as a University should, by encouraging dialogue, research, respectful conversation, and scholarship – and by holding ourselves as a community to the highest standards of humble self-examination and openness to true conversion of heart, so that we remain true to our mission to serve the faith and promote justice.