Together in Mission

In the coming weeks, Mission Council members will be sharing their Together in Mission individual reflections via email with all faculty and staff on Mondays. Beginning Friday, March 27, you're invited to join Mission Council members every Friday at 11:30 a.m. for a 20 minute virtual Moment for Mission Zoom session where we will reflect on the message and any other mission-related topics. RSVP. You can also share your experience in this current environment through Smartsheet Forms. Other resources for reflection and prayer are available on this Mission Council myUSF webpage.

MAY 18, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Like many of you, I shook my head in dismay when I saw video footage of college students insisting that they had a right to “party” during their Florida spring break. Part of the reason I was shaking my head though was because I did not recognize these students. They certainly do not speak for USF students. This spring semester, I taught two sections of an undergraduate course called Psychology Practicum. Students earn 100 hours of service working with community partners. Our community partners often have clients who offer our students their knowledge, their life experiences, and a direct window into how many of them are underserved by our current social systems. Our students provide much needed assistance to staff members and companionship and direct care to clients. Many of our students plan to work in the mental health professions and past students have often described their course experience as transformative. As the world is changing right before us, my students are showing that their character and heart are in the right place and they will emerge as leaders in voicing what our new normal ought to look like. 

My students experienced an abrupt stop to their service when San Francisco ordered all of us to shelter in place. From a public health standpoint, it was no longer safe for them to go to their preschools, shelters, residential care centers, or to work face-to-face with older adults. As we continued class, my students mourned the drastic changes in their lives. We have many second semester seniors who looked forward to walking across the stage and receiving their diplomas as their loved ones proudly cheered them on. It is painful to think about their losses and yet, here is what they talked about the most: their grief in losing connections with their clients and staff at their placements. They expressed worries about how their family and friends are coping and what are the best ways to be supportive of others who may not have the same coping resources. What I loved the most is that when they shared these concerns, it was met with compassion and empathy.

Those students who were able to continue their work shared with us how they provided companionship and reassurance to older adults through phone calls, Zoom, and Facetime. Many of my students worked at the Institute on Aging’s Friendship Line. It is hard to believe but the Friendship Line is the only accredited crisis line in the country for people aged 60 years and older, and adults living with disabilities. You can only imagine the number of calls my students fielded during this crisis. Other students of mine worked at places such as a residential treatment facility, grocery store, at the airport as a first responder, and SF General. Some students reported wishing they could do more directly to help. We talked about how their helping may involve writing the story of our new normal and our new future. We reflected on how our old normal fooled us into believing that heroes were overhyped celebrities in costumes but how our real heroes are and always have been healthcare professionals, researchers, teachers, grocery and delivery workers, and so many more everyday people. Our students are also emerging as heroes in this larger story. They are asking the right questions, staying informed, expressing their fears and concerns, and they are also displaying courage and hope. Our students may not invoke words that we typically associate with the mission, but they are living the words of it deeply. The Class of 2020 should give us all hope for the new world.


Saera R. Khan, PhD
Co-Director, Center for Research, Artistic, and Scholarly Excellence
Professor of Psychology

MAY 11, 2020 

Dear Faculty & Staff,

The coronavirus has made us aware of our connection to all people—those whom we know and those we've not yet met. As such, it offers an opportunity to reflect on the call to solidarity at the heart of Catholic social thought and our Jesuit mission.

I was relieved to hear that my sister Jane has fully recovered from the coronavirus. She texted me a picture of our own St. Ignatius Church. It was featured on a half-page in The Daily Telegraph, a national paper in the U.K. It is of a wedding between Emily Manashi, BA’12, BS’15, and Parris Khachi that was my privilege to witness.

Why has this photo received worldwide coverage? Perhaps because, as Parris said in a KGO interview, it brought them back to basics. But perhaps it also has something to do with this headline from Australia “Couple marries in an empty church with the support of dozens of strangers.”

In our empty and closed church, Emily and Parrish found themselves surrounded by pictures of parishioners. They realized that their wedding was not just about them, their family and friends; but that they were connected even to people they don’t know personally. Perhaps in this time all of us are being brought to the realization that as humans there is no "us and them," there is only "us."

David Brooks in a recent article in The New York Times states that this time is forcing us to ask why we tolerated so much social division before? “Why didn’t we cultivate stronger social bonds when we had the chance? Solidarity is not a feeling; it’s an active virtue…Some things you do not for yourself or another but for the common whole. This concept of solidarity grows out of Catholic social teaching. It starts with a belief in the infinite dignity of each human person but sees people embedded in webs of mutual obligation – to one another and to all creation. It celebrates the individual and the whole together, and to the nth degree.”

This time of crisis highlights what Catholic social teaching has taught all along. As David Dark argues; “The American economy, as it is currently arranged, is not an economy that keeps it possible for everyone to access what they need to simply live, let alone thrive. But now, maybe more than ever, we can see with brutal clarity the pain of this arrangement and what it costs us…we see that the arrangement we have settled for is not just.”

As a Jesuit Catholic university, our mission is even clearer in such a time. As a university, we must pursue the truth in complete freedom. At the same time, as a Jesuit university, we are passionate in pursuing a different, more just, honest, equal, and compassionate world.

In a recent homily, Pope Francis suggested a universal basic income and said; “We are all frail, all equal, all precious. May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us. The time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family… Let us welcome this trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future. Because without an all-embracing vision there will be no future for anyone.”

When I taught courses based on Catholic social teaching both at USF and at Loyola University Chicago, even Catholic students expressed surprise at the radical nature of these teachings. I long for my church to take a similar approach with regard to issues related to gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation!

Some call Catholic social teaching the “best kept secret of the Catholic church.” I believe the Catholic intellectual tradition, which includes social teaching, will make a significant contribution in our search for an all-embracing vision.

As a Jesuit university, people of many beliefs and faiths come together as equals and engage our students so that they become people who work to create a better world, a more humane and just one. That is what changing the world from here means. Emily and Parris were grateful for the unexpected presence of strangers at their wedding, and for unexpected greetings from all over the world. Their wedding photo is iconic of this time.

I hope that the secret of Catholic social teaching will become as well known as their wedding. I hope for the day when all people can live with the dignity inherent in being human.


Dónal Godfrey, S.J.
Associate Director for Faculty and Staff Spirituality, University Ministry

MAY 4, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I became a librarian because I wanted to make a holistic impact on a community, and when I interviewed at Gleeson Library at the University of San Francisco in the spring of 2016, I knew by the end of the day that I had found the right place. I had never heard or said the phrase “social justice” so many times in an interview! It was clear that I was joining an institution that cared about each individual person as well as the greater good. 

Working with my colleagues at USF has only strengthened this conviction over time, but also tested it in equal measure. This is in large part due to the current presidential administration, and the suffering – and deaths – that have resulted from its policies and actions. What does it mean to practice cura personalis when my neighbors are experiencing injustice? My fellow members of the Mission Council have heard me express this before – this feeling of being complicit by simply existing and being well. The poem that has best expressed my frustration and sorrow at this double bind is by writer and educator Clint Smith: 

When people say, “we have made it through worse before”
— Clint Smith

all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones
of those who did not make it, those who did not
survive to see the confetti fall from the sky, those who

did not live to watch the parade roll down the street.
I have grown accustomed to a lifetime of aphorisms
meant to assuage my fears, pithy sayings meant to

convey that everything ends up fine in the end. There is no
solace in rearranging language to make a different word
tell the same lie. Sometimes the moral arc of the universe

does not bend in a direction that will comfort us.
Sometimes it bends in ways we don’t expect & there are
people who fall off in the process. Please, dear reader,

do not say I am hopeless, I believe there is a better future
to fight for, I simply accept the possibility that I may not
live to see it. I have grown weary of telling myself lies

that I might one day begin to believe. We are not all left
standing after the war has ended. Some of us have
become ghosts by the time the dust has settled.

I lived in New York for most of my 20s and have several close friends who are healthcare workers. My friends tell me that the only sound in Queens is the sound of sirens. My mother tells me that the girl in our church who grew up to be a doctor is flying to New York to volunteer, to join her sister who is a nursing student at Columbia. My college roommate in Palo Alto tells me that her hospital has been out of PPE since February. My best friend in Massachusetts tells me that anyone in their situation – she and her husband are both doctors – has to be prepared for the possibility that they might not see their children grow up. The fear and anxiety that I experience is second-hand, both constant and distant, as I check my email, roast vegetables for my family, take social distance walks in the Panhandle, and try to keep my baby from completely disrupting my Zoom meetings. What does it mean, to live such a mundane and safe existence while people are struggling with the reality of death, with the reality that there are people who won’t make it, who haven’t made it? 

But this reality isn’t new. It has always been with us. Clint Smith wrote this poem for Wildness in May 2019, and I discovered it in March of this year, at the beginning of the lockdown in San Francisco. This reality has, however, been more difficult now that I am working from home, and physically away from the library and the wonderful people who work so hard to build a holistic community of service with me. I miss everyone so much, but I’m also thankful that we are all very much present online for each other and for the university in this transition – answering reference questions, teaching and troubleshooting, supporting our student workers, sharing pictures of our pets (and sometimes babies!) on the dedicated pets Slack channel. It’s a comfort to know that if I reach out to my colleagues, the community that we’ve built together will answer.      

I hope you will join me this Friday, May 8 at 11:30 a.m. connecting through our Zoom screens to reflect on these questions together:

What does it mean to build community in a holistic way?
What does it mean to sit with the reality of death and suffering in our communities?
How are you receiving or giving comfort from our community? 


Charlotte Roh
Scholarly Communications Librarian
Gleeson Library | Geschke Center

APRIL 27, 2020

“Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.”
– Fred Rogers

Dear Faculty and Staff,

By now, many of us are getting accustomed to walking in our own neighborhoods, whether they are in San Francisco, the greater Bay Area, or in another state or country. My walks around my Outer Richmond neighborhood in SF have started to include lyrics to an old favorite song of mine playing in my head: “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine? Could you be mine?” It is the opening theme song from the children’s television show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I grew up watching Mr. Fred Rogers on TV as a kid and so did my parents. Even though Mr. Rogers was an intergenerational celebrity, I understand that this particular TV show may have been limited to an American audience and may not be known to international audiences. However, I chose to share his quote above because it is a great reminder of the work we are all doing at USF to be people for others as we care for the whole person, whether they are students, staff, faculty, or alumni.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a show that comforted me as a child and now even more so as an adult. Whether it was his calming way of addressing his viewers each episode, the wisdom he shared in finding the extraordinary in day-to-day life, or the positive affirmations he always stated to children watching his show, Mr. Rogers consistently upheld the dignity of every human person in every episode of his program. In my opinion, he was a contemplative in action who taught his viewers to slow down and be kind to one another. I find it fascinating that he was able to not only share valuable lessons with youth audiences, but also cultivate and sustain a vast community through the use of a TV screen. Through the screen, he made all of his viewers feel like they were important, valued, and connected. He also reminded viewers to look for the good in everything and everyone, everyday. This to me is the most important lesson I remember from his show.

Looking for the good in everything is not always easy. One of my favorite aspects of Mr. Rogers’ show is how he highlighted the ordinary things and happenings in his neighborhood as a way of looking for the good. He would often have “guests” on his show such as the mailman, the delivery person, or other neighbors who would talk about their daily routines, job tasks, or simply share their points of view. I have been inspired by Mr. Rogers to look for the good in my own neighborhood. My walks now consist of me noticing architectural differences between houses, saying hello to others from a safe distance, and appreciating sidewalk chalk art that families are displaying in their driveways. I am fortunate enough to see Ocean Beach from various viewpoints on my neighborhood walks like the scene pictured above. Although I don’t know many of my neighbors, I have intentionally been supporting my neighbors who own businesses by purchasing delicious baked goods from my neighborhood bakeries or shopping for produce at the local markets that remain open.

I hope you will join me this Friday, May 1 at 11:30 a.m. connecting through our Zoom screens to reflect on these questions together:

  • What are some things you have observed about your neighborhood?
  • What do you enjoy most about your neighborhood?
  •  Who are your neighbors and how have you been able to connect with them?
  • What are some ways you have found community through the screen during these times?

I look forward to hearing about the good you have found in your new routines.

Your friendly USF neighbor,

Monica Doblado
Program Manager, Honors College

APRIL 20, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff:

While relatively new to USF, I feel strongly connected to our community, and to you.

I feel especially grateful to Dr. Clarence B. Jones, director of the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice, for introducing me to our Jesuit university, an extraordinary commonwealth of learning and fellowship.

USF is dedicated to convey and nurture “the values and sensitivity necessary to be men and women for others.” I feel bound together in this mission.

In a time of global pandemic, who can deny Martin Luther King, Jr.’s insight: We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.   

Who does not feel the fierce urgency of now?  

Dr. King envisioned the Beloved Community to which we aspire, “a society in which all men [and women] will be able to live together as brothers [and sisters] and respect the dignity and worth of all human personality.” Together in mission, we are united in creating our own Beloved Community here at USF. In doing so, we model relationships of mutual care, dignity, discernment, and reconciliation in the larger society around us.

How can we sustain and carry forward our Beloved Community –– and remain closely bound together in mission –– in this painful time of social isolation, suffering, and fear? How can we sleep well at night, and remain awake when we are up?

I find myself sleeping more than usual. Some nights my dreams have been intense and disturbing, full of turbulence and anxiety I try my best to avoid when awake. If this is happening to you, don’t be concerned. On the contrary, if you treat your unconscious mind with respect, even a touch of awe, your unconscious mind will treat you with respect in return. It will help keep you centered and balanced through the real-life storms raging around us, and help you to reduce the temptations of your iPhone-fueled night owl. Well rested, we protect ourselves and our loved ones.

On March 30, 1968, five days before his assassination, Dr. King delivered his final sermon, at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., entitled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” He spoke about Rip Van Winkle, who as you remember fell asleep for twenty years. The important part of the story, Dr. King emphasizes, is that Rip slept through the American Revolution.  

Living life half-asleep is a dangerous thing any time; it’s especially dangerous in a time of profound global change, like the human rights revolutions of the 1960s, or the pandemic and radical global transformations of 2020. In this epochal turning point for the human species, our duty is to remain awake, so we can participate in human history with agency and moral engagement, and change the world from here.

Remaining awake requires moral imagination, remembering every day that our relative safety is a privilege many do not share. The pain and sorrow of these times, economic hardship, dislocation, and expulsion, disproportionately slam the most vulnerable people in our society: those who have become unemployed, or forced to take jobs that expose them to danger; those who face eviction, homelessness, racism, nativism, xenophobia; those in overcrowded and unsafe prisons, jails, shelters, and elderly-care facilities; those in African American and Latinx communities who are sick and dying in disproportionate numbers; and people of every race and nationality living in overcrowded refugee camps and slums in the world’s poorest countries who will soon face the pandemic in its most terrible form. We can keep all of these people in our hearts and prayers: we can make masks, deliver food, keep paying those who would otherwise clean our homes, contribute to food banks and humanitarian organizations, actions that we would not otherwise do if our waking attention failed to include them.

Vulnerable members of our USF community are especially on our minds. Some of our students can no longer afford to pay tuition, room, and board. Some who have been living in their cars, or on friends’ sofas, cannot safely shelter in place, and have no regular access to Wifi to join online classes. Students who were struggling at the margins have fallen into calamity. Staff colleagues who take care of our campus, clean our classrooms, and serve us meals are helping sick family members, or are themselves at risk. These students and colleagues are our sisters and brothers. USF leadership has very thoughtfully established a COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to enable us to help our community in this moment of need. This fund is a great gift to all of us; contributing to it, in any amount, is an act of remaining awake in this time. 

Finally, we must take care of ourselves emotionally and spiritually so that we can retain “the values and sensitivity necessary to be men and women for others.” We can take walks, alone or with family members. We can find time for reflection, meditation, and retreat, as Father Fitzgerald counseled in his Holy Week message. We can read books we have been waiting to read, books that can help wake us up, in the spirit of Kafka’s admonition: “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” We can discover hidden gems in the labyrinth of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. We can listen to music that nurtures our souls. And each of us can begin to envision the Beloved Community that we can create together in the new world that will emerge following the widespread dissemination of a successful Covid-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, as we remain in physical isolation, we must redouble our efforts to remain emotionally connected to each other. If you are not sure whether or not to reach out to a colleague, friend, or family member, please reach out.

In a one-two punch, the first week of April, we learned of the loss of two of our greatest artists: Bill Withers, from heart trouble, and John Prine, from the coronavirus. Knocked out by their deaths, I spent days listening to their songs.

From Withers:

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

From Prine:

So if you're walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes,
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello."

The month of April is the beginning of deep religious reflection through Passover, Easter, and Ramadan, celebrations of rebirth, social responsibility, and gratitude. So we are excited to invite you to share your reflections and connect across distance on Friday, April 24, 11:30 a.m. for a virtual Moment for Mission Zoom session.

With gratitude and care,

Jonathan Greenberg
Senior Associate Director and Scholar in Residence
USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice

APRIL 13, 2020

We belong to a university community with a mission that calls us to be “persons for and with each other."  The COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders and campus closure have challenged our ability to do this physically. These circumstances offer us an opportunity to reflect on the way community engagement has enriched our institution and ourselves –– how community can be reimagined while we practice physical distancing, and in the future, when we enter the new world that awaits us after this pandemic passes. As we all learn to adjust to this uncertain time when our communities are dispersed, we invite you to consider the following poem by Laura Kelly Fanucci, writer and mother of a one-month old. Let yourself take time and truly dwell with it, identifying and sitting with the words, descriptions, or moods that it strikes in you:

"When this is over, may we never again take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine checkup
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
Life itself.

When this ends
may we find
that we have become
more like the people
we wanted to be
we were called to be
we hoped to be
and may we stay
that way — better
for each other
because of the worst."

What specific individuals, groups, actions, feelings, etc. do you “never again [want to] take for granted”? Why? What do those people/things bring to your life? 

How do we as a university distinguish ourselves and live the values of the mission to be persons for and with others –– in the Western Addition, in the city, and elsewhere –– through a faith that does justice? How can this current moment strengthen, challenge, and transform who we are as a community in service? If you were to write a poem that started “As we wait for this to be over,” what would it say?

The month of April is the beginning of deep religious reflection through Passover, Easter, and Ramadan, celebrations of rebirth, social responsibility, and gratitude. So we are excited to invite you to share your reflections and connect across distance on Friday, April 17, 11:30 a.m. for a virtual Moment for Mission Zoom session. RSVP. You’re also invited to share your experience in this current environment. Other resources for reflection and prayer are available on this Mission Council myUSF webpage.

In solidarity,
Evelyn I. Rodriguez and Angeline Vuong 

APRIL 6, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we navigate this difficult time, social media is filled with advice on how to create psychic and social structures as some people, whose jobs allow this capacity, are able to work from home during this time of physical distancing. Included in these commentaries are the unique perspectives of astronauts who have spent considerable time in outer space, and individuals who have spent time in solitary confinement.

Their insights lead me to recall groups in the Church who, as part of their daily routine, practice physical distancing while living, praying, and working in community. This paradox of being solitary and communal at the same time is one of the many gifts the centuries-old witness of contemplative orders gives to the Church and the world.

In the fall, I had the great privilege of spending some days in retreat at Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, Massachusetts. The abbey is the home of approximately 40 Trappistine Nuns, members of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance, founded in France in the year 1098.

Trappistines, like other orders of nuns and of monks, order their days toward God around the Church’s several periods of communal prayer, as well as spending time in personal prayer, spiritual reading, rest, meal preparation, and physical labor. In the case of this abbey, the nuns operate a candy factory and tend sheep to provide income in order to meet the community’s needs.

I participated in all of the daily periods of prayer of the abbey while I was there, among them — vigils at 3:20 a.m., lauds at 6:30 a.m., vespers at 5:30 p.m., and compline at 7:10 p.m., with Mass and other periods of prayer also woven throughout the day. I experienced the rhythm of the Trappistines’ days.

The coronavirus now demands a new rhythm of our days — a rhythm of prayer and work and rest unlike our usual routine. How do we draw upon the witness of those who have built life-giving spiritual structures that guide their days and their lives? What life-giving daily structures do we need to build as we create a new rhythm for ourselves and for those for whom we care?

Due to Holy Week and the Good Friday holiday, we will not be holding our weekly virtual Moment for Mission this week. Please mark your calendars for our next virtual Moment for Mission Zoom session on Friday, April 17, where we will reflect on the weekly message and any other mission-related topics. 


Mary Johnson SNDdeN, PhD
LoSchiavo Chair
Joan and Ralph Lane Center for Catholic Social Thought and the Ignatian Tradition
University of San Francisco

MARCH 30, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I recently reached out to David, a former student who is now an emergency room physician at a hospital in New York City. I wanted to thank him for all he was doing during the pandemic to care for our vulnerable neighbors. He was exhausted but grateful. When I asked him what I could do for him from sheltered-in-place San Francisco, he replied, “Please send dog or child or nature pictures frequently…It helps me remember what we’re fighting for.”

I happily obliged with pictures of my joyful and affectionate dog, Harriet. David asked how Harriet got her name so I described the heroines who inspired me to choose this name. As silly as it sounds, every time I call to Harriet, I think of these women. Reflecting on these role models again with David, I discerned some wisdom provided by their examples that might help us now.

Harriet Jacobs was the author of the first female authored slave narrative. Her remarkable story of hiding and escape to freedom, followed by an active life in service to the Union cause, teaches me patience. To elude her slaveholder and protect her children, Harriet hid for seven years in a small attic. Her patience in enduring the physical and emotional hardships of confinement, of persisting despite the dangers of discovery and the uncertainty of the outcome demonstrate that she did what she had to do to survive the circumstances and prepare for a new life for herself and her children.

Harriet Tubman, the better-known abolitionist who, like Frederick Douglass was from my home state of Maryland, demonstrated a fearless ability to lead, inspire, and support others in the face of seemingly intractable and dangerous circumstances. She resisted the idea that confinement was a permanent condition; she kept her eyes on the prize. However long it took, freedom was where she was always going and she seldom walked alone.

Harriet Powers was a formerly enslaved Georgia folk artist who lived a hard life in the South while farming and raising nine children. But she made time to quilt, to use whatever scraps she could muster to bring beauty to her world and peace to her life. Of the few quilts that survive, one is in the Smithsonian collections. Combining biblical, African, and southern folkways in a visual representation of her view of the world, Harriet always knew where she stood, no matter what was happening in the world around her.

Harriet the Spy gave me hope, as an awkward young girl who wasn’t sure what the future held, that maybe one day my strange ways would make a good story, too. Harriet is called a spy, but what she really does is pay attention to the world around her that doesn’t pay attention to her. And she writes about it all and that gets her in to trouble but it also helps her find her voice and her way and find her friends, all while hanging on to her truth of life as she sees it.

If we can be like the Harriets, all shall be well.


Kimberly Rae Connor
Faculty Chair for Mission Integration, Lane Center for Catholic Social Thought and the Ignatian Tradition

March 24, 2020

“It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life (2004)

Dear Faculty and Staff,

This quote consoles me during these weeks as I scramble to work from home and care for my five year old child. This time has increased my already immense gratitude for his preschool teachers and the magical learning environment they create each day. And I am disappointed and worried that he is missing out, that I am not getting him ready for kindergarten, especially when I hand him an iPad to start a Zoom call.

But what I hope he remembers about this time are the ways my husband and I taught him about the common good. When he asks why he can’t have a playdate, I remind him we are all doing our part so everyone, especially people who are older or sick will be safe. When we check in on our neighbors, his grandparents, our friends working in hospitals, I hope he sees that solidarity is built through actions, even small and simple actions, that remind us we need each other. I’m pretty sure he can catch up on letters and numbers. I hope this fleeting time will help him grow in compassion and resilience for and with his community.

I know many of you are scrambling too. Faculty, many of whom have never taught online, have reimagined their courses and are finding ways to embody cura personalis from a distance. So many staff have gone the extra mile to figure out how to work remotely, how to stay connected to students and each other in meaningful ways. I have seen such patience, flexibility, and dedication to the university. And I’m sure we are all worried that it won’t be enough for our students, especially our graduating students; that they’ll miss out on the transformative learning environment we create daily for them.

But years from now, our students will remember the lessons of this time. They will remember the faculty member who reassured them that it will be okay; this will pass. They will remember the staff member who stayed on campus, even from a distance, to let them know — you are not alone. You are still offering a transformative education that will make our students the compassionate and courageous change-makers of tomorrow. Your work is so important and even if perfection is hard to find in this moment, grace is abundant, and that is always enough.

In Community,

Erin Brigham, PhD 
Executive Director
Joan and Ralph Lane Center for Catholic Social Thought and the Ignatian Tradition Chief Mission Officer
University of San Francisco

Other Resources

Prayers and Devotional Tools from USF University Ministry 

Resources from Xavier University 

Ways to Help

COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

Volunteer to Distribute Food to Newcomer Students and Their Families