Dear Fairfield Prep Community,
I send greetings and peace during my first days of leadership at Fairfield Prep. It is so good to be back home on North Benson!
First, I thank my friend and Ignatian brother Father Tom Simisky, S.J., for his leadership of Fairfield Prep from our 75th anniversary to the present. His work has been a labor of love and an expression of the Jesuit Magis in every way. None of us will forget the gifts of his service and I will forever be indebted to him for his personal and spiritual guidance during this extraordinary time of transition.
I also wish to thank the Fairfield Prep family for your warm expressions of welcome and support. It has been a joy and consolation to hear from Prep Alumni, many of whom were my fantastic students and "Ignatian Spiritual Warriors," to faculty, staff, our board of governors, parents and friends alike. Finally, I offer thanks to Dr. Mark Nemec and the Fairfield University team for extending a generous hand of welcome and partnership.
As I begin my tenure as the 17th Head of Fairfield Prep, I am profoundly aware of the giants, both Jesuits and lay leaders alike, who have built the foundations of Prep. I am also thinking of the generations of Prep Alumni who continue to make our mission possible. Without this support we could not sustain our effort to educate young men of conscience, competence and compassion. Thank you to all who give so generously of your resources to safeguard our Prep mission!
I am keenly aware that I return to Fairfield Prep in a time of epic historical challenge. Certainly, I would not have expected my early days of leadership transition to be centered upon re-opening Prep in the midst of a global pandemic, and during a time in which our nation is convulsed from coast to coast over the fundamental promises and values of our democracy. The work before us is both profound and urgent.
In my recent reflection I have reminded myself that in 1540, Ignatius of Loyola and his companions founded the Society of Jesus with a holy boldness and profound sense of God's grace. For nearly five centuries, our Jesuit schools have endured pandemic, famine, suppression, world wars, civil wars, economic depressions and the full historical and social impact of two hundred and thirty years on American soil. Fairfield Prep has fit within this larger story as a truly remarkable apostolic work of the Society of Jesus for nearly eighty years. And so I want to assure the Prep community, that our sacred bonds as a Jesuit school are as strong as they have ever been. We have all the tools of faith, reason, ingenuity and holy boldness that Father Ignatius bequeathed to us for just such times as these.
Soon, we will be communicating a plan for re-opening Fairfield Prep in September that puts Jesuit cura personalis – safe care of the individual student, faculty, staff and parent — at the forefront of our planning and delivery of a world class, Jesuit secondary education. Our leadership team has also been reflecting prayerfully on the great societal challenges that face our community and our nation. Since our founding in 1942, Fairfield Prep has placed the value and the dignity of the human person at the very core of our Catholic, Jesuit mission.
Therefore, the Prep leadership team will soon introduce a community discernment process that relies deeply on our Jesuit mission and values to address the issues surrounding racial tension and injustices perpetrated against our black brothers and sisters. As a hallmark of our Ignatian way of proceeding, our reflection and dialogue will seek to strengthen our awareness and openness to all those who find themselves unheard and on the margins. In this way, we follow the mandate of our teacher Jesus who admonished us in Matthew's gospel, "whatever you do for one of these suffering ones, you also do for me."
Saint Ignatius once wrote, "Where there are many contradictions, one should expect a great spiritual harvest." In the days and months ahead, may the beloved community of Fairfield Prep, far and near, produce a bountiful spiritual harvest. May we continue to be an authentic example of how "men and women for and with others" address the concerns of a needy world. I join you now in this mission with my whole heart, my faith and my deepest commitment. I pledge my service to Fairfield Prep and ask God's grace to strengthen and guide us all on the path of discernment, never merely for ourselves, but Ad majorem Dei gloriam!
In gratitude and peace,
Christian J. Cashman
- Homepage news