Message to the Campus Community: Spring 2021

January 29, 2021 BK LI

I want to welcome all our students, faculty and staff back for the spring semester. Although this semester will resemble our fall semester in some ways, there is an important difference — this spring marks the beginning of a new and more hopeful period for St. Joseph’s College, and for our nation.

Last December, Pope Francis proclaimed that this year will be dedicated to Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. His reasons for doing this were quite profound and grew out of the Holy Father’s desire to speak out amid the pandemic in recognition of how “our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television shows, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety.” Pope Francis could have just as easily included all of you in this list of important people — students, faculty, staff — those who have made the heroic decision to learn, even in a time of crisis, and those who provide the essential services necessary for this process to move forward.

But why honor Saint Joseph in particular? Pope Francis offers many compelling reasons, but the one which struck me the most was that Saint Joseph was not just a tender mentor and loving father, but also someone who worked in the background, quietly yet effectively, to provide the necessary support and loving environment for his family. In doing this, he provided a model of creative courage of how to endure hardship, and of how to rise above any crisis. In a sense, St. Joseph’s College is like a parent to all of us — providing the environment we all need to deal with the current crisis, and preparing us all for a brighter future. 

We welcome and encourage all faiths at St. Joseph’s, but that openness to all, the desire for a sense of unity and reconciliation through inclusive love, is an approach which comes directly from our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph. I am proud to say that St. Joseph’s College will also be a part of this year-long celebration of the spirit of Saint Joseph, and we will be creating a special webpage and other materials to highlight the amazing work and success, and the impressive dedication of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. Indeed, we have already started down this path, with several stories on mentorship and how critical mentorship can be in times like these.

I know that this has been a challenging year for all, and that our students and faculty have had some unique challenges. Learning, sometimes in isolation, sometimes during illness, is not always easy. Teaching virtually, when one is accustomed to the physical classroom, requires immense effort. It is natural to feel overwhelmed given these circumstances, but I assure all of you that St. Joseph’s is here for you, and we will remain with you, not only throughout this unique time in your lives, but beyond.

Although we are in the dark days of winter, I know that each day brings us closer to the time when we can, together as one community, once again celebrate the success of our students, the brilliance of our faculty and the amazing dedication of our staff members. I think that Pope Francis sums up my own feelings best when he said, “If the first stage of all true interior healing is to accept our personal history and embrace even the things in life that we did not choose, we must now add another important element: creative courage. This emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties. In the face of difficulty, we can either give up and walk away, or somehow engage with it. At times, difficulties bring out resources we did not even think we had.”

I am convinced that you have all the creative courage necessary to succeed in your goals this year, and in future years. My heartfelt congratulations to our new students, and an equally heartfelt welcome back to all of our returning students, our faculty members and our staff members.