From our Pastors
When Fr. Mark was working at Regis HS one of his jobs was to help with the annual Martin Luther King Day prayer service. It was always an informative and inspiring day. The students and teachers were creative, often highly personal, honest, and challenging. Dr. King was undoubtedly a preacher of rare gifts, steeped deeply in the Gospels’ practical and poetic heart. For Fr. Mark, an immigrant, who became a U.S. citizen in his 40s, it was an opportunity to be exposed to the extraordinary writings of the man we celebrate on the third Monday every January.
Fr. Mark copied out in big letters one of MLK’s famous quotes, and hung it over his desk in the campus ministry room. The hope was its message would inspire him and the students who came into the room.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Students of color were in a clear minority at Regis and silence was a reality they seemed to know only too well. Hanging the quote prominently was one small way to break the silence. Speaking up for our brothers and sisters, particularly when it is uncomfortable, can be transformative for all involved in the conversation. In the words of MLK, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
These words came to mind as we contemplated what to say this commemoration of Martin Luther King, just before Inauguration Day. On the one hand we felt his words had something very important to add to our own period of conflict, tension and hope. Yet what gave us pause were a string of comments like this: “You can’t quote Dr. King on social media one day out of the year and live a life that runs counter to his words the other 364 days.” Or to quote Dr. King himself, “Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. “It is easy to get things wrong even when you are trying to get them right.”
Since late last summer, our parishes have been working to deepen our understanding and accountability about racism. Racism in our society, Church, parishes, and, indeed, in ourselves. Our anti-racism task force is currently conducting surveys at all levels and among all committees in the parishes. They will soon gather their findings and begin making recommendations. We are committed to an ongoing and thorough process that will lead to substantive and positive change. We will implement structural mechanisms for continued accountability and improvement.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy lives on, and his words seem as poignant and timely as ever. On the eve of Inauguration Day we will let his words speak for themselves. May they help renew our commitment to seek the ways of peace and healing together. May they renew our commitment to live the Gospel in truth, and with courage. May they guide us to break the silence and speak up for justice and equality for all our sisters and brothers every day of this New Year.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Fr Mark Lane, c.o. and Fr Michael Callaghan, c.o.