Continuing the Work for Justice and Peace

Dear Members of the USF Community,

The verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial was delivered this afternoon, and with relief we heard the voices of the jury declare him guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

Still, there is much work to be done in the fight for justice and peace.

As San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement issued immediately after the verdict, “Nothing we can do will bring George Floyd back, but we can do the work to prevent others from facing his fate in the future. That is the work we need to do. It’s ongoing, it’s challenging, but if we are committed we can make a real and lasting difference in this country.”

Thanks to the work of a campus-wide group led by Vice Provost Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, there will be a virtual gathering to promote community healing on Thursday, April 22 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Please watch for details and join the gathering to share reflections and prayer. Many members of our community are in pain and are suffering. Gatherings like this one are critically important for healing.

The racialized violence inflicted on people of color before and since the killing of George Floyd has been traumatic and horrifying: 13-year-old Adam Toledo shot and killed, with his hands up, in a Chicago alley. Daunte Wright, killed just miles away from the Minneapolis courthouse. The killing of eight people — six of them Asian women — in Atlanta. The mass shooting in Indianapolis that killed members of the Sikh community.

The Judeo-Christian tradition teaches us to believe that each human person is created in the image and likeness of God. This truth challenges us to encounter every person as a child of God, with inalienable dignity and worth. This revelation was given to humanity as a foundation and a goal, with opportunities for us to put it into practice. 

As a foundation, we are called to uphold and celebrate the divine spark in every human being. 

As a goal, it obliges us to continuously reform and renew our social structures and cultural norms to live out all the consequences of this revealed truth. 

And as a practice for us today, it means rooting out the structural sin of racism and of every other affront to human dignity.

At USF, the diversity of religious traditions and spiritual practices among the members of our beloved community further enriches our shared project to fashion a more just, humane, and sustainable future for all humankind. 

I want to acknowledge that USF is not immune from acts of injustice and racism, as we experienced recently when a noose was discovered hanging from a Loyola Village balcony. The troubling incident understandably caused a great deal of suffering in our own community as well as a call for change.

We all must do our part to end racism. As Mayor Breed said, with a commitment to working for real and lasting change, we can make a difference. We can change the world.

We live in a time when it may feel overwhelming to confront the virulent violence and racism that is affecting the lives of so many throughout the world. I hope and pray that each of us commit to the work of being anti-racist, to actively stand against injustice and hate, and to support all members of our diverse, inclusive community. It is essential that all our students, faculty, and staff experience our unwavering support. These are actions that will allow us to do the hard and necessary work to help our world heal. 

Please also remember to take advantage of resources and support available to students and employees, should you need them:

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is available to students if you would like to discuss how you are feeling with a professional therapist. Please call (415) 422-6352 during normal business hours to make an appointment. Students can also contact ProtoCall, our after-hours support and consultation line. You can speak live to an on-call counselor by calling (855) 531-0761. Counselors are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
  • Staff in the Dean of Students Office are available to meet with any student to support their individual needs. During weekends and after hours students can call (415) 422-4201 to be connected with an on-call staff member. During regular business hours students can call (415) 422-5330 or email
  • Dominique Broussard, in partnership with the Black Resource Center and CAPS, will host bi-weekly Healing Circles for Black students until the end of the semester. The dates are April 29 and May 13. There is more info on the Black Resource Center Canvas page. 
  • University Ministry support services are available to all community members and can be reached at (415) 422-4463 or
  • Faculty and staff members can contact CONCERN, the university’s employee assistance program, at (800) 344-4222.

Please know that I am praying for you and for our community.

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.