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A Message from incoming principal, Mr. Tony Harris
  Posted: 6/3/2020

Dear Cristo Rey Atlanta Community,

 

Over the past few days, Mrs. Naughton and I have been speaking about all that is going on in our community and wanted to reach out to you, our Cristo Rey family. We rose again today to encounter a world fighting to regain its sense of balance; to communities – and perhaps even households – struggling to find handholds of security and safety. 

 

We greet you in the name of Christ our Brother, whose death and resurrection provide hope for the journey ahead, and we pledge to remain in solidarity with all who strive toward justice.  The word “solidarity” comes to us from the French language and has, in its roots, a meaning that focuses on our “communion of interests and responsibilities.”  The past few days have been especially challenging for us, and on so many levels.  It is clear that our “communion of interests and responsibilities” continue to intersect as we watch friends, family, and neighbors in the streets of Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.  Though this is not the first time that we have protested injustice, it is the first time in our lifetimes that our call to action has occurred in precisely the moment when we have also been cautioned by our mayor and other civic leaders to isolate.

 

This very real tension simultaneously cautions us to stand, to be heard, to engage injustice by being the voice for those who have been silenced, while also urging us to remain distant so as to thwart the spread of a deadly virus.  What are we to do?

 

Our consciences and Jesuit tradition demand that we not sit silently.  Indeed, our characteristics of the graduate at graduation compel us to “commit to doing justice” in the service of others.  Mr. George Floyd’s voice was not heard, and so we stand to speak against the culture of violence that, unchecked, will only continue to devalue the humanity within us all.  We stand to unite our voices with those of the family of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor whose cries of shock, and horror – in her own home – were ignored.  We question any claim to a justice that abrogates our constitutional right to liberty; our freedom to safely walk or jog our streets, to travel through neighborhoods, to shop, or eat, or live unencumbered by bias, racism, and any proposition that one person’s life is less than another’s or that one person’s rights are privileged over another’s.

 

As one of Cristo Rey Atlanta’s newest community members, I stand with you and denounce the culture of oppression and prejudice that have once again fueled the fires and looting across America.  I stand with all who demand justice for Mr. Floyd, Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Arbery.  We know too well the history that made the devaluation of their lives possible, and we work to challenge corrupt systems and to change them.

 

To say we stand in solidarity with others seeking positive change is to understand that when we embrace our “communion of interests and responsibilities” we become the change agents who will not let the silence go unbroken.  We stand on courage and conviction.  We stand on our genuine care for community.  We lean into our Faith and into a legacy of community-builders.  Our conscience and just plain good sense guide our actions.

 

What are we to do?  In the short-run we can walk peacefully raising our voices with others seeking justice.  We can support our mayor knowing our alliance with her efforts only strengthens the cause for right and makes it more possible to effect change.  In the longer run we can throw our time and talent into worthy causes and institutions with the belief that our labor furthers the cause of what is just and right and good.  This is not limited only to the service we might provide in our communities or to the care we might show in our churches.  It extends also to our civic responsibility to thoughtfully and purposefully elect leaders who we believe have our best interests at heart and whose integrity is proven through demonstrated care for their constituents.  And in perhaps the longest play of all you might commit yourself to become the civic leaders of your own communities, infusing all that you do to build those communities into bastions of equality, justice, and accountability. 

 

What are we to do?  We must act at all of these levels because engaging today or only for a few weeks allows the focus to fail and the silence to reign.  We must see that our individual threads, when woven with intention and purpose, create garments whose properties of protection are unparalleled, and we must appreciate that the weaving takes time and effort.  We must labor for today and for tomorrow.

 

In the midst of our mourning, our anger, and our incredulity we should prayerfully cement our resolve to be the builders and to nurture even the smallest seedlings of what is right and good.  We must commit ourselves to a patient and persistent fanning of the embers that become the warming flames of a hearth and not simply the blazing spectacles we see on the news.  In the midst of our mourning let our right and good and true action inspire commitment in others. 

 

We do, indeed share in a communion of interests and responsibilities.   When we echo, “Viva Cristo Rey!” let it not be out of habit, but with the knowledge that WE give life to Cristo Rey just as Christ, our King, ensures life for each of us.

 

Viva Cristo Rey!

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Mr. Tony Harris

Incoming Principal