Unity and Racial Equity: More Work to be Done

A Message from Catholic Charities of St. Louis President Theresa Ruzicka


Like you, I am deeply saddened and troubled by the tragic killing of George Floyd. I pray for him and the consolation of his family and call upon our justice system to issue a proper verdict for those responsible for his inhumane death.

In our daily work at Catholic Charities, we accompany people who are in need, many who are particularly vulnerable. This includes a disproportionate number of our African American brothers and sisters, who have been individually and systemically marginalized. The killing of Mr. Floyd and subsequent civil unrest symbolize what we already know: there is still so much work to be done to stamp out hate, heal ongoing hurt, and achieve racial equity.

In his visit to St. Louis on January 27, 1999, St. Pope John Paul II said, “America will remain a beacon of freedom for the world as long as it stands by those moral truths which are at the very heart of its historical experience. And so, America, if you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace the truth – the truth revealed by God.”

It is my prayer that we can move beyond fears and biases that prevent us from getting to know each other; that we can share our different experiences and perspectives, as well as celebrate what we have in common. We are all made in the image and likeness of God. We all want to be loved, respected, understood and treated with dignity. 

At Catholic Charities, we will continue to speak for those whose voices are still not heard through our advocacy efforts, educating lawmakers and the public about life-affirming policies that protect the vulnerable and promote opportunity for all. We will continue, as well, to provide educational and experiential opportunities for our staff, board, and supporters that are designed to help us better understand the lived experiences of our neighbors and those we serve. 

Plans are already in motion to expand our North County-based Pathways to Progress program into North City. This program empowers families working toward economic stability and a better life through long-term, individualized support, including access to Catholic Charities and community partner resources to enhance individual strengths, develop skills, and build financial assets.  Programs like Pathways help people to overcome injustices as they begin to engage in their own communities to advocate for change.

I am hopeful and inspired by the final words of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church: “Social life is made by human beings. The society we live in is the outcome of human choices and decisions. This means that human beings can change things. What humans break, divide and separate, we can – with God’s help – also heal, unite and restore.”

As we move forward together, I invite you to join me to start the healing and promote the changes that need to take place in our hearts, community, state and country.

May Jesus’ message of peace be with each of you,

Theresa Ruzicka

President, Catholic Charities of St. Louis