On Monday, Oct. 12, the Day of Reflection was held over a Zoom call with the purpose of bringing faculty and staff together to pray, give thanks and build stronger community bonds.
The faculty and organizing team, including Ann Holmquist and Mr. Bob Stephan, planned and met regularly since March to refine their vision for the day. On the day of the reflection, the organizers, faculty, staff and guest speakers convened on Zoom instead of in a common campus space that would typically include shared meals and spontaneous camaraderie.
Vice President for Mission Ann Holmquist said, “One of the new opportunities is that our guest presenters are able to join us from various places in the United States without having to travel, thanks to Zoom.”
The organizers opened with a prayer, the premise of which is always gratitude. Throughout the meeting, members of the faculty and staff reflected on themselves and the institutions they are a part of in regards to the current political climate surrounding race. Loyola has implemented an agenda centered on the theme of antiracism and reconciliation.
The guest speakers were members of the Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation Project based in St. Louis, Missouri. Throughout the event, the presenters discussed their research on the lives of Jesuit-owned slaves held in Missouri and other parts of the country. The presenters not only shared the history of Jesuit institutions but also illustrated that the legacy of slavery continues to this day.
Mathematics teacher Zachary Sandoval said, “The guest speakers shared how a history of slave ownership exists in our Jesuit background, and while we have learned from our previous sins, it’s still important to be aware of the impacts that slavery bears on African Americans within and among our communities.”Theology teacher Scott Johnson said, “By seeing such shadows and lights of our past it is believed we’ll be able to more hopefully and positively transition into the future, creating spaces of authentic justice and equity for all.”
The awareness of black history prompted faculty and staff to look into their backgrounds in order to reconcile the hardships lived by different races and cultures. Discussing one’s privileges proved difficult for some members of the faculty, but the discussion recognized the struggles of others and validated their experiences.
After the event, Director of Ignation Formation Robert Stephan stated, “As members of the Loyola community, we had the chance to learn and reflect, but also to begin to have conversations about Loyola can grow and improve together as we respond to the call to be an anti-racist institution.”