OPINION: Fostering an inclusive community

By John Donato and James Gallagher | February 19, 2022 6:06pm

Photos courtesy of Fr. James Gallagher, C.S.C. (left) and Fr. John Donato, C.S.C. (right).

As Holy Cross priests and brothers, we walk side by side with all on this beautiful UP campus. We live in residence halls, serve in campus ministry, share our classrooms as instructors and professors, and work within administration. As leaders on the bluff, we want to make it clear that we value the presence of the LGBTQ+ members of our community. 

So often we realize there is a great deal that we do not understand about what each individual might be struggling with each day. Do we really know our neighbors? It is not a simple task, is it? A quick stroll up toward St. John’s will reveal the striking needs of our community. Some in our community live without houses to keep them warm and dry. Others stand in front of our local Fred Meyer with signs declaring their struggle to sustain themselves and their families with sufficient food and other resources. 

Our national and international tensions give us grave concern and cause us to pause. There is constant gun violence in our communities, taking loved ones from their families and increasing our fears for safety. We learn of the staging of an invasion into Ukraine by Russia and fear a new conflict that can bring devastating war and fleeing refugees. 

Conversations on our digital platforms have called into question members of our community causing unnecessary hurt. Assuring that the LGBTQ+ community has a respected place in our society is not a new story. It is an old one, a violent one, and one that can cause some people to lose hope. Disrespect and loss of hope for any individual in our local community is unacceptable. We see a way forward that is rooted in listening to the stories of our fellow Pilots. Can we honor one another’s experience as unique, sacred, and to be treasured? It is because we are Catholic that our Statement of Inclusion has such power. 

Catholics unabashedly uphold the inherent dignity of each person, from the moment of conception through every stage of one’s life until the natural end. This is how communities are built and sustained: by upholding everyone’s dignity. Let’s begin there and listen to the stories of love and struggle each person brings. This includes every member of our LGBTQ+ community, for indeed all are beloved children of God. Only as an inclusive and listening community, rooted in the radical love for every person, will we come to cherish one another and heal our divisions.

Fr. John Donato, C.S.C. is the Vice President for Student Affairs at UP. He can be reached at donato@up.edu.

Fr. James Gallagher, C.S.C. is the Director of Campus Ministry at UP. He can be reached at gallaghe@up.edu

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