On Thursday, January 16, Regis students and faculty gathered in the auditorium to reflect on the life, legacy, and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Students had the opportunity to pray and listen to classmates' reflections on interpersonal relationships.
The prayer service coincided with the end of "No Name-Calling Week" — a school-wide effort to rethink the ways in which we engage with those around us to continue to become better Men for Others.
"Martin Luther King’s message of radical inclusion and solidarity offers us a clarion call to build up our community and foster a culture of inclusive brotherhood here at Regis," said Fr. A.J. Rizzo, S.J., Director of Mission and Identity. "We gather each year to pray for the strength, courage, and resilience necessary to make Rev. King’s dream a reality. Taking his message to heart means intentionally living out the Gospel values at the heart of Jesuit Education."
Obi Nwako '20, who spoke at the event, concluded his talk by advocating for a greater focus on brotherhood in the Regis community. "I urge you to remember what Dr. King said: 'We may have all come on different ships but we’re in the same boat now.'”
You can read the entirety of Nwako's remarks below.
I still remember being a freshman sitting in the auditorium and receiving our version of the “what it means to enter the Regis community” speech. From that moment on I could tell that one of the biggest themes of Regis is brotherhood. When I describe Regis to others now one of the first things that I talk about is the brotherhood and bond that you can find at Regis. And I’m sure many of us feel the same way. I wonder now if we have taken that idea for granted. Has brotherhood become a buzzword that we all say now just because it was said before and it’s a good thing to say? I can’t speak on how all of you feel but I can tell you what the brotherhood I’ve found at Regis means to me.
While writing this I thought back on my time at Regis and I tried to choose a memory, one moment that made me realize the brotherhood that is emphasized at Regis. I thought about talking about Quest but not all of you have gone on it and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything. I wanted to use other moments but they felt small and this would end up being a very quick speech. But then I realized that this brotherhood we should all feel didn’t come from only one thing. It was the culmination of all the large and small shared experiences that every Regian goes through. Playing in intramurals with your advisement, scarfing down donuts in the morning, cramming the night before a mid-year. There have been times when I have been stressed out for a test, but the guys in my advisement were feeling the same way and we helped each other out. There are connections and bonds that are formed between Regains that cross grade divisions. After seeing some of the alumni who came back last week I was able to strike up conversation with them instantly and I think that is a testament to the brotherhood that Regis gave me the opportunity to form with them. I’ve talked to a lot of people to write this and I got that there was something about Regis that causes this feeling to happen. There is a trust that develops in us that makes you feel comfortable with your advisement, your grade, and with other Regians past or present. And honestly this is a great thing which I find makes Regis special. It does scare me that this can go too far. That brotherhood can turn to cliques and that can turn to making people feel excluded. Which is what I see now.
What if I told you there are some who don’t see any brotherhood in Regis at all? Or if they did see brotherhood they do not feel included in it or they don’t associate it with anything positive? How would that make you feel? For me, honestly, I would be disappointed. Not in the person who has those feelings, but in the fact that this community somehow made anyone feel like that. The question that I came to is what to do with that information.
I started asking myself: is Regis brotherhood as inclusive as it should be? Is it just propaganda? When a Regian feels alone as he walks down the halls or sits at lunch, what should I do? When I hear something hurtful, how should I react? If Regis were a true family, made of flesh and blood, and I learned that my brother or sister felt that deep loneliness, what would I do?
But I’ve been lucky. I have always felt that the community here at Regis was welcoming and I have made so many close bonds that it surprised me to hear about people who did not feel the same. There’s something about Regis that has always felt like home, like family. Perhaps the secret is the shared experiences that we have all gone through that I talked about before. There are many examples of this like veterans who often refer to each other as “brothers in arms” or people who have been through profound spiritual experiences together emerging as “brothers or sisters in spirit.” Or those in the civil rights movement, who suffered beatings, persecution and hatred, said: “I might not have made it were it not for my brothers and sisters.” They knew, as Dr. King did, of the importance that a bond between people could be whether they are going through successes or harships. I look around this room, through the halls every day, and I feel that brotherhood. And I am thankful for it.
But sometimes, brothers disagree, they fight. They may snipe at one another, use slurs, even if they don’t mean it, or think it’s a joke. They may exclude someone for the way they look, how they dress, or for the things they like. And when this happens they need to confront one another, even if it means conflict and consequences. True brothers are patient and forgiving, direct and honest with one another. True brothers use respectful words, treat each other with the dignity they would expect themselves. True brothers welcome the shy boy, the sad freshman sitting alone at lunch, the Regian who needs a kind word in his darkest moments.
And so today I ask you to pray. Pray for the same brotherhood that has carried me through these years. Pray for the strength to call out the slurs and names. Pray for the courage to speak up for the Regis brother too afraid to speak for himself. Pray for the will to be inclusive, to pass along that sacred feeling of brotherhood to every single Regian, that feeling that never leaves you, years and years after your time here is gone. I urge you to remember what Dr. King said: “We may have all come on different ships but we’re in the same boat now.” So I’ll leave you all with this. Regis is what we make of it. So make it good. Make it good for all of us. Thank you.