Dear Malvern Community,
I am writing to you today, motivated by the words of St. Augustine: “Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.”
My life began in the wake of World War II. In my youth, I was made aware of the horrors of war and its aftermath. The “Greatest Generation” did not easily share the burden they carried with them when they returned home from war. What they saw, what made an indelible mark on their souls, did not have a vocabulary. Even in the company of fellow soldiers, the unspeakable was a silent language only they understood. Yet, I learned an unforgettable phrase from those who fought, died, and were forever changed by the evils of the Holocaust, which gave voice to their experience: “Never again!”
Today, I am shaken by the simmering, scapegoating sentiments reminiscent of what fueled the mid-20th Century massacre of humanity. I say “shaken” because history seems to be repeating itself. Being a bystander cost lives then, it has now, and unless we stem the tide, it, unfortunately, will again. The experiences I witnessed in my youth taught me a lesson I am still learning - “I notice and I respond.”
The Jewish Community lost eleven of its members in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA this past week. We lost eleven members of our Faith Community. The Christian Community believes that the Jewish People were the first to hear the Word of God. Judaism and Christianity are part of one spiritual family. Without Judaism, Christianity’s cherished legacy and inheritance would not include Jesus, the Eucharist, or the New Testament.
Just days prior to the synagogue massacre, a man in Kentucky fatally shot two innocent African Americans at a grocery store, after having tried to enter a Black Church. The Church was empty and locked at the time.
While I am saddened for our young people that despite the efforts of generations before them, our country continues to struggle with religious and ethnic hatred, I draw strength in knowing that our Malvern Family strives to live its Core Values of Truth, Unity, and Love every day. Let us say to one another and to all, we find no haven in hatred. We celebrate each others’ differences, and we welcome all to “A Place at the Table.”
Let us pray for those families who mourn the death of their loved ones. Let us resolve as a community to see and love in others, as difficult as it may be at times, what God sees and loves in us, His beloved creation.
Rev. Donald F. Reilly, O.S.A., D. Min.