In its pastoral letter, Open Wide Our Hearts: An Enduring Call to Love (USCCB, 2018), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops insists that “racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love (Mt 22:39).”
Good Shepherd Children & Family Services recognizes that the issue of racism must be addressed explicitly if it is to be eliminated. Until such time that race no longer predicts socioeconomic status, access to basic systems and resources, and full participation in our society—including equal treatment under the law, Good Shepherd’s commitment to helping the poor and marginalized is simultaneously a commitment to calling out and working to eliminate implicit and explicit forms of racism, both in its own culture and practice, as well as in the wider community.
The killing of George Floyd and the unrest that has followed are painful reminders of a deep and unacceptable racial divide that continues to exist in this country and in our local community. We join those who are outraged by the senseless end to yet another black life, and we stand with all those who seek justice and equitable treatment for our black and brown brothers and sisters. We know that we have much work to do in building a society that lives out fully Christ’s call to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we are committed to being part of that work, for we know that unless black lives matter, all lives cannot matter.
In 2019, the Good Shepherd Board of Directors unanimously approved a commitment to racial equity policy that commits us to viewing ourselves and the impact of our work through the lens of racial equity. We’ve also commissioned a Racial Equity Council, which reports to our Board, to hold us accountable to this commitment. For the second consecutive year, we’ve disaggregated some of our key performance indicators by race as a means to measure the success of our efforts to close racial gaps in well-being experienced so often by those we serve. We’ve also begun to have difficult conversations about race in our own agency—listening more deeply to the lived experience of our employees and identifying opportunities for healing and meaningful changes in practice that we hope will eliminate race as a meaningful predictor of employee experience at Good Shepherd. Perhaps most importantly, we have launched an effort to educate ourselves, to adopt a common a language, and to use whatever privilege and voice we have to stand alongside those who for too long have had neither.
As we move forward, we invite you to join us in this uncomfortable, but very necessary journey toward healing and a more equitable society, and we call on our community leaders and political representatives to do the same.
May the God of endless love and mercy continue to bless you,
Michael P. Meehan, Ph.D.