Dear Members of the USF Community,
For many of you, the next few days will involve travel, treasured time with loved ones, rest, and relaxation. I hope the Thanksgiving holiday also brings you time to reflect on the gifts we may sometimes rush past in the busyness of life.
This has indeed been an eventful semester, and it has not been without challenges — in the classroom, in our work, and in our responsibilities to family and friends. And, of course, there is the stress that stems from the current political and economic environment, including the violence and injustice we experience and witness in our neighborhoods and around the world. In just the past few days, the hate-filled attack on a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub left five dead and dozens injured. Campus communities at the University of Idaho and the University of Virginia are still processing the recent violent deaths of students.
I know that these and other headlines have a profound effect on us all. I remind you that if you find you need additional support at this time to please reach out. Resources for students include Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), your Dean of Students, and your mentors across campus, including the Gender and Sexuality Center. Faculty and staff can contact CONCERN, the university’s Employee Assistance Program. University Ministry support services are available to all community members.
I am exceedingly proud of our university community’s deep commitment to working for positive change in our troubled world. I also believe that Thanksgiving is an invitation to pause and reflect. We have much to be grateful for as we head into the closing weeks of this semester, including the people we see every day and how they support us, cheer us on, invite us, inspire us, and teach us. By sitting with the gratitude we have for them this Thanksgiving, we gain a new appreciation for how faith, hope, and love shape our lives.
This is my Thanksgiving prayer for all of you. I wish you happy, joyful times with your family and friends. Whether you are staying close to campus or traveling afar, please stay safe and take care of one another. You are each very important to our beloved community and to our collective project to change the world from here.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.