A Pastoral Letter to the Georgetown Community

To the Georgetown Faith Communities:

Racial intolerance and discrimination are significant realities in many students’ experience at universities across the country. The protests against prejudice and injustice at The University of Missouri and the threats at Howard University are poignant reminders that these ongoing racial tensions not only pervade our national climate, but are also a painful part of our life together at Georgetown University. On our own campus, students have struggled with insensitivity and racial intolerance, and shared these experiences at recent demonstrations, including last night in Red Square.

As faith communities at Georgetown University, we are fully committed to supporting all of our students as we grow in our shared pursuit for peace and justice as expressions of our faith. And yet, even as we strive to be our best together and seek to be an example of how we can live together in the brilliance of an affirming diversity, we often fall short. While we endeavor to build a culture of inclusion, mercy, and love, we often find ourselves in a climate that embodies hurtful, insulting language and behavior that stands against the deeply held Ignatian principles of faith, justice, and community in diversity that are at the root of our identity.

In his book, A Strength to Love, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “But just as we must avoid a superficial optimism, we must also avoid a crippling pessimism. Even though all progress is precarious, within limits real social progress may be made.” The long work of reconciliation starts with each and every one of us doing our own work. We truly believe that the hope of justice and reconciliation are possible and we in faith, as expressions of different traditions, are committed to endeavor toward that vision.

We pray for comfort. We pray for justice. We pray for greater understanding. We pray for hope.


Rev. Kevin O’Brien, SJ, Vice President for Mission and Ministry

Rev. Khristi Adams, Interim Protestant Chaplain

Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Director for Jewish Life

Imam Yahya Hendi, Director for Muslim Life

Rev. Bryant Oskvig, Director of the Protestant Chaplaincy

Rev. Greg Schenden, SJ, Roman Catholic Chaplain

V. Rev. Constantine White, Director of the Orthodox Chaplaincy

Mission and Ministry