As a new academic year begins, a reminder: words matter.
This week, St. Catherine University faculty and staff came together in preparation for the new academic year. In her opening plenary address to faculty and staff, President ReBecca Koenig Roloff ‘76 raised the importance of St. Kate’s Values:
“Values are the how: how people experience us as individuals and as a community, as well as how we treat each other.”
Looking to the year ahead, Roloff observed, “we are all going to be called to another level of helping our students keep their focus on why they are here, for their education.”
A St. Kate’s education is not just measured in terms of intellectual content, Roloff reminded, but in terms of how to reflect and choose community, integrity, and social justice.
“How will we assume that responsibility for spreading hope and belief that the people we are educating is our contribution to a better world? The Sisters of St. Joseph have shown us the path we can all embrace.”
A statement issued by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in July this year at their congressional chapter meeting observed the growing polarization in all levels of discourse, and called for a return to civility and respect when discussing differences.
“We join our voices with theirs,” said Roloff. “Each of us can be the example in whatever our role, wherever we find ourselves, whatever discussion we are in, to set the tone for civil and respectful discourse to address the differences that are natural among us and between us.”
This statement was echoed by the annual Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who sent a letter – signed by more than 600 members – to the President of the United States.
“While I believe and hope that [practicing civility] is what we are already doing, we can all do it with more intention and mindfulness,” concluded Roloff.
Full Statement: A call for civil and respectful discourse
We, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and our partners assembled for our Congregational Chapter, make public our concern about the disturbing state of politics in the United States. We are appalled and saddened at the growing polarization, which is intensified by incivility, bigotry, racism, intolerance, and deception.
Our Catholic faith calls us to live in right relationship with all peoples and with creation. We join our voices with all others who desire a world where every person is treated with respect and dignity. This is a responsibility from which no one is exempt. We intend to use our resources and energy to work toward a society built on unity and reconciliation.
Words matter. We challenge President Trump, members of Congress, all elected officials, and all persons to cease using rhetoric and language that belittles and disrespects the sacredness of any person and group. We call for civil and respectful discourse to address the differences among us and reach just solutions.