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COVID-19 Update April 7: Tradition and Opportunity for this Holy Week

Dear members of our Saint Louis University community,   

As we enter into the celebration of Passover and the Easter mysteries in this extraordinary Holy Week, I ask that you reflect with me about tradition. As I told my leadership team today, it is important to acknowledge that our traditions – many of which we hold close to our hearts – are being disrupted.   

During a normal year, Fran and I would be packing today. And tomorrow, we would be heading back home to Ohio to see friends and family for a few days, stopping to see loved ones along the way. We would participate in the celebration of Easter morning Mass at St. Dominic Church in my hometown of Shaker Heights. And come Monday, we would return to St. Louis with minds and hearts renewed, feeling rejuvenated and all the more ready for the joys and challenges of the last weeks of the semester.  

This year, Fran and I will stay home. We will instead celebrate Mass remotely a few times between now and Sunday, thanks to the graciousness of SLU’s Office of Mission and Identity and College Church’s Sunday livestream. Later in the day, we will likely Facetime (maybe even Zoom!) our loved ones whom we would typically visit and share a glass of wine or some Easter chocolate. We will do whatever it takes to make the miles that separate us from family and friends disappear.  

I implore you to do the same. Wherever you are in the world, reading this message, I encourage you to stay home during this holy season and to use every means — permitted by our public health guidelines — to connect with those you love and, most especially, with those who may find themselves alone or burdened by these uncertain days.  

Find ways, as Fran and I plan to do, to keep traditions alive, particularly with the extra time you might have during Easter break. It is important that we pay attention to ourselves and our loved ones, and embrace the joy that Easter represents and our many blessings. Yes, even in these difficult days, I do believe that we are living in a time of grace. 

Hear me when I say that this is not easy. I grieve when I think that I will not be able to hug my siblings, clink glasses and share a toast with treasured friends, or turn and shake hands with those in nearby pews I worshiped in as a child.  

But we may still have an impact. We may make a difference. We may still serve the world as OneSLU, spreading light and love. That is what this Holy Week calls me to do. I hope you join me.  

Finally, there are many in our SLU community whose commitment to service is made clear by their dedication to their patients, neighbors and fellow citizens. Perhaps, on Friday, you might offer this prayer which Pope Francis added to the Liturgy of Good Friday: 

Almighty and merciful God,

source of all life, health and healing,

look with compassion on our world, brought low by disease; protect us in the midst of the grave challenges that assail us and, in your providence,

grant recovery to the stricken,

strength to those who care for them,

and success to those working to eradicate this scourge. Amen. 

May God bless you and Saint Louis University. 

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.
President 

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