An important message from the Administration at St. Pius X
Dear St. Pius X Family,
One of the great strengths of this school since its inception has been its strong combination of faith and family. At the senior event held last evening, I was once again reminded of that fact when many of our seniors displayed on their cars slogans of support for the black community and messages of concern for the issues of racism facing our nation. Many of the slogans expressed the need for social justice and the dignity of each person. I thought to myself, "How the years of Catholic education have reaped such caring individuals, a validation of the teachings instilled by their parents and reinforced by years of Catholic education."
As a white man, I cannot know the depth of the hurt and fear the black community is experiencing. As a Catholic, I do believe we can all fully come to the realization that we acknowledge and value the dignity of the human person, and that every member of our St. Pius X family needs to feel loved and supported during these challenging times. When one member of our family struggles, we all struggle.
An opportunity exists for us all, as individuals and as St. Pius X Catholic High School, to support those that are struggling. The need to confront racism and long-standing injustices is a task for everyone. It cannot fall solely on people of color. Many in the past have given their lives to bring social justice to all, and it is incumbent on each of us to be a force of change for our country, our city, our school, and our families.
As Catholics, we need to imitate Christ and combat racism with love. We need to lift people of color up with our actions, our support, our prayers, and with our hearts.
May the St. Pius X family continue to be a beacon of faith, hope, and love for all.
"Racism is a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father."
The above quote is taken from a pastoral letter titled Brothers and Sisters to Us issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Despite its incredible relevance to our current situation of racial injustice, these words were written over 40 years ago in hope that they would help advance the cause of justice and peace for our brothers and sisters of color. It is saddening that it has taken the murder of George Floyd and numerous other instances of horrific injustice to remind us that our mission to eradicate the sin of racism and discrimination is far from over. It is especially disheartening that it seems we have made little progress at all.
Our school hopes to bring students to a greater awareness of God's love and our mission to proclaim that same love for all people. Still our children are not exempt from living in a world where sin is real, and we must constantly challenge them to rise above anything that would betray the Divine commandment to love one another. As someone who has often had to cling to hope throughout my own life, I urge our students, especially those who are personally affected and traumatized and outraged by recent events, to stand firm in hope. This is not an empty request. Being witnesses to hope demands that we admit that we can do better. More importantly however, we must willingly accept the responsibility and burden of fighting for justice in our broken world.
This task must begin by looking inward and noticing in our heart the times we've not done our best by each other and then make a determined choice to confront our fears even if it means surrendering the false comfort of ignoring the issue and remaining silent.
We must embrace this task because it is our sacred duty to look at our suffering brothers and sisters and see in them the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. As our motto proclaims, "We are the Lord's." All of us. This is the very impetus for our renewed commitment to each other during this tumultuous time. St. Mother Teresa said it beautifully, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."
For generations Atlanta has been the setting where many courageous men and women have become icons and champions for civil rights. We celebrate that as our heritage but now we must also acknowledge that our black brothers and sisters can no longer bear the burden of resolving systemic oppression and injustice alone. Eradicating the sin of racism is difficult because of the way it is deep-seated in human history, but it is for this same reason that now more than ever we each do our part to uproot it from our society. This is a time when we must pray, but more importantly complete our prayer by the way we live.
I continue to be grateful to our administration, faculty, and all my colleagues who invest and sacrifice for the wellbeing and formation of our students. I am especially grateful to our families who support our mission and urge us to remain true to it. You are seen, heard, and loved.
One of my favorite traditions at St. Pius X is that every Friday before our students are dismissed, we invoke the Holy Spirit for protection and guidance. As we navigate the tension between peace and conflict, sadness and hope, I invite us to embrace that tradition with a new vigor as we pray that our efforts to love and support one another are accompanied with God's gift of grace.
+ Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. +
Fr. Rey Pineda