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Statement on the Recent Separation of Families

It just struck me that 70 years ago, at the Commencement of 1948, Fr. Pat Donnelly, then President of the College, delivered a stirring address to our graduating class, calling for the universities of the South to break the silence over racial injustice. “Let Spring Hill College break that silence! Let the College that was the first institution of higher learning to raise the torch of education in Alabama also light and lead the way to full democracy in Alabama and the Southland. Civil Rights? Spring Hill College is for them! For ourselves and for every other citizen, regardless of creed or color.”

In recent weeks we have witnessed a growing attack on another population. National rhetoric has depicted undocumented immigrants as “animals,” an “infestation” and an assortment of rapists and terrorists. The rhetoric was followed by a policy of forcibly separating children and infants from their mothers, sending them to unknown destinations. Our mission and identity as a Jesuit and Catholic college once again call us to a vision of faith that works for a just society and nourishes a spirit of compassion for those who are “left out” or “thrown away.”

Last week, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) joined the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States to denounce the separation of families and unjust treatment of migrants at the U.S. southern border. I am writing you today to reiterate that Spring Hill College stands in solidarity with AJCU and with the deep rooted traditions of Catholic Social Thought.

As Pope Francis stated, “A person’s dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity.” As a Jesuit, Catholic college, we, too, must continue not only reaching out to the marginalized, but also speaking up for them when we believe they are wronged.

Whether you contact your representatives, make a charitable donation to a cause for reconnection of these families or say a prayer for those who are grieving and desperate to find their loved ones, I encourage you to act as “men and women for others” in the values that we hold dear as a Spring Hill family.

Rev. Christopher Viscardi, SJ
President Pro Tem

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