JFRC Director’s Statement about Ongoing Events in the U.S.
Dear Loyola Rome Center friends and colleagues,
Together in Loyola -- whether in Rome or Chicago or wherever we find ourselves “home” -- we stand united in the celebration of human diversity amidst the rich cultures and complexities of the world. As we all know, the JFRC was founded as an international center for expanding understanding and cooperation among the rich tapestry of human diversity to alleviate, through social and cultural analyses, myriad forms of human suffering in our local and global communities.
After serving in the British armed forces during World War II, John Felice, a native of Malta, saw the devastation wrought by war as the byproduct of a profound lack of understanding among cultures. In the spirit of global healing, he created the JFRC, a first-of-its-kind study abroad program, with a focus on fostering education and tolerance among people of various religious, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.
It is important to remind ourselves of our sacred duty to be the hands and voices of compassion and understanding in today’s complex world. As we join in prayer and solidarity with those who feel the tears of oppression, especially in the convulsive events currently sweeping across the United States, I wish to share with you Dr. Rooney’s recent letter to the Loyola community.
Over the next several months and into next academic year, we will be exploring strategic initiatives for the JFRC. The twin issues of racism and prejudice – whether felt in Chicago or Rome – are of importance to the JFRC and our Jesuit mission. The Loyola Rome Center sits at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Our unique curriculum and commitment to educate and empower students to engage the most complex issues facing humanity must respond to the real world of “here” and “now.” This is not a luxury for us. It is our mission.
As we move forward together in setting new goals and strategic initiatives for the JFRC for 2020-2025, let us remember that our past and future students look to us to help make positive change happen against forces of hatred and indifference, in Chicago or in other parts of the US, as well as in Italy and elsewhere in the world. As we watch with increasing concern and a heightened sense of powerlessness the violence and continuing oppression sweeping across the US, let us be reminded that we are also currently witnessing one of the largest migration events in human history here in the Mediterranean basin, even within our own city of Rome. Many of our students, faculty, and staff work directly with refugees and immigrants seeking basic human necessities and opportunities that we all too often take for granted.
Let us recommit ourselves, and our resources, to the intellectual and spiritual mission of finding God in all things, to what St. Ignatius Loyola called ad maioerem dei gloriam. The mission of the JFRC is to seek the integration of faith and reason, in which the suffering of human beings is made manifest in the God who suffers-with-us, and so calls us to respond with compassion, integrity, and resolve. Our mission requires nothing less.
With a faithful heart and the courage to believe in the audacity of hope,
Michael F. Andrews, PhD
Director, John Felice Rome Center
Loyola University Chicago