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August 23, 2019 — Jesuits West Provincial Scott Santarosa, SJ, today reached out to students at the start of their school year to offer a message of hope.

“I want you to know that I am praying for you,” he noted. “May you know that adults in your lives love you: your parents, teachers, administrators and priests.… Your lives are so important to us!”

His letter, his first ever to all Jesuit students at the 18 schools across the 10-state Province, was motivated in part by the recent spate of mass shootings around the country, that “can make us feel the opposite of what I believe God wants us to feel, which is that each and every one of our lives is important and valuable. In truth, we mean everything to God, and yet we can be tempted to think that our lives do not matter. That is not the case! Each and every one of us is loved infinitely by God!”

He also stressed the violence that specifically targeted people based on their heritage. “In Texas recently, a man chose to drive more than 10 hours from his home to El Paso to shoot people who are of Mexican and Latino descent—people with last names like Garcia, Benavides, Campos, Hernandez, and Flores. How many students and parishioners at Jesuit Schools have last names like these!”

Fr. Santarosa added that “we believe that the diversity of people reflects the beautiful face of God” and asked that students resist the temptation to despair.

He also reminded them that they, along with the entire Jesuit family, stand for “love in the face of hate; kindness in the face of violence; forgiveness where there is hurt; welcome where people want to leave others out; and courage to speak out in the face of injustice.”

These qualities are “what Jesus stood for. He walked this earth to remind us that God loves us all, and he called us to be loving of all people. There was no one who was outside of his love. May you, may we, all be loving like Jesus to everyone we meet.”

The full text of his letter, in both English and Spanish, is available here on the Jesuits West website.

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