June 4, 2020
To the members of our O’Hara family,
We are reaching out to you—our O’Hara family—because we know that many in our community are hurting right now. We are horrified and heartbroken by the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. We continue to pray for our nation and for those that are suffering.
Recently, we shared a statement from Archbishop Pérez about the tragic events impacting our nation. He is the moral voice of our local Church. If you have not already done so, please take time to read his words. We both echo and fully embrace his sentiments and his call to action. As the Archbishop reminded us, “Racial hatred has no place in our world, including here in the United States, or in the hearts of people. Every life is a precious gift from God. Racism is a mortal sin and an attack on that gift. All of us share a responsibility to bring an end to this evil and to do so in a way that seeks justice and peace. The perpetual cycle of pain and anguish must end.
May God give all of us courage and solace as we work together for social justice and to preserve our land as one of equality and opportunity for every citizen. May He bring peace to Minneapolis and to our Philadelphia region and may He rekindle within each of our hearts true love and respect for our fellow human beings.”
Some incidents that have been shared on social media have been brought to our attention. Those that were brought to our attention when they occurred were addressed at the time. Others were unknown to us until we viewed these social media posts. The pain that these members of our O’Hara family are expressing is real. We are sorry. While we cannot change the past, we will move forward together and we are committed to holding our community accountable.
There is an adage that says that the best time for new beginnings is now. Mrs. Vice and I have always encouraged open communication and discussion about issues in our school community. And today it is vital that we work together to be the change that we want to see in the world. We will work together to ensure that O’Hara continues to live up to the ideals of pride, excellence and tradition that have sustained us for decades. We will LISTEN. We will LEARN. We will TAKE ACTION. We owe this to each member of our O’Hara family (students, parents, employees, alumni and the future members of our family) and our country.
Our Action Plan
This week Mrs. Vice, in conjunction with the leadership team, worked to create an action plan that includes:
- An Equity Leadership team comprised of administrators, faculty, staff and community members. This group will develop resources and professional development programs for our faculty and staff as well as work in conjunction with our student team;
- A Cultural Responsiveness Team (CRT), which will commence their efforts on Friday. This group includes 11 students and will expand to include more student representatives;
- A young alumni group that will meet with our CRT to share their experiences, insights and advice; and
- A continued open line of communication with all of our constituencies to discuss these issues candidly and freely. While this can be painful at times, it’s crucial to our school community moving forward.
We make this promise to you: we must do better and we will do better. We will work as one family to bring about the change we want to see in our world starting right here in our community. It is the right thing to do and it is the only way to truly live as Jesus wants us to: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
Please pray for us as we continue to pray for you. May God bless you and your family today and always!