A Message of Peace and Care
God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence.”Pope Francis, February 25, 2022
March 1, 2022
Dear members of the SLU community,
Civil war and international conflict plague many areas of our globe, from Somalia and Libya, to Mexico, Syria, and Yemen. All of these violent conflicts cause enormous human suffering. When the Russian government ordered the invasion of its neighbor last week, Ukraine became the latest addition to a long list of countries at war.
Saint Louis University’s Board of Trustees met last Friday, February 25. As the meeting came to a close, we had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Professor Monica Eppinger, a faculty member in the School of Law and in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. Professor Eppinger was once a U.S. diplomat stationed at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine. She later conducted dissertation fieldwork in Ukraine, and since joining the SLU faculty in 2010, has spent many of her summers conducting field research in Ukraine and deepening her personal and professional relationships there. At Friday’s meeting, Professor Eppinger offered an astute, historically-informed analysis of the current conflict. Her account of this past week in Ukraine and the uncertainty of what will come next was unnerving. She shared stories of fearful people, friends and colleagues, whose homes were being shelled. Who had taken shelter in subway stations. Who have had family members called into military service. We are grateful that she was willing to share her perspective with the Board of Trustees and other SLU leaders.
With Pope Francis, we encourage our Saint Louis University community to fully embrace the call to be peacemakers. Regardless of your position or stance on war anywhere, we must recognize that we are all connected in this global community. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Though the aggression occurring in Ukraine may seem distant, we know that we are all connected. There are members of the SLU community whose homes or loved ones are in Ukraine and Russia; our hearts go out to them in this time of fear and uncertainty. Many in the SLU community have also experienced uncertainty, even violence. So, let us continue to care for one another and to pray for those who have been directly impacted by the unjust aggression witnessed in Ukraine and other places where war has been waged.
May we keep our minds focused on our connected humanity at this moment. May we extend care, support, and love to members of our SLU family who are suffering. May we do whatever is in our power to mitigate suffering and to foster a place where curiosity guides our thoughts and becomes a salve that heals. May we learn from each other and from history, and forge a way forward that sparks healing, dialogue, and justice. May mercy, compassion and comfort come upon Ukraine like the dewfall and may achieving a lasting and just peace be the deepest desire of all leaders of nations.
Please know that support is available if you need it. For students, the University Counseling Center and Dean of Students Office can offer support for navigating campus resources and managing health and well being. Faculty and staff can arrange professional counseling through SLU's Employee Assistance Program. The Eckelkamp Center for Campus Ministry is also a resource for all.
May God bless you.
Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., President
Members of the President’s Cabinet
SGA Executive Board