April 10, 2020
Dear President, Rector, Vice-Chancellor,
Dear IFCU Friends
This year, Catholic universities will experience a different Easter. In many countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia and Africa, the COVID pandemic has prompted the closing of campi and the suspension of face-to-face instruction. This is a time of key decisions for universities, a watershed moment when institutions should rethink what they do, how they do it, the new constituents they serve and their future needs. Online education is being used as a solution to the current challenge, but it is wise to recall, that technology is a driver not an end in itself. For Catholic universities organized around a mission of mercy and contribution to the common good, this is a time for action, not fear or despair.
It has become painfully clear that the state of exception will not be over soon. The multifarious nature of the crisis, spilling over from health to the economy forces upon all walks of life a new normal. And universities are following suit. The map of solutions is being drafted just as societies navigate the maelstrom, but as Pope Francis has reminded us in his Urbi et Orbi meditation, the storm that has befallen us is strong. Yet “The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor : by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder : by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope : by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love.“
The International Federation of Catholic Universities has needed to adapt to the crisis by shifting its training activities online or rescheduling them to a post-COVID time. But we keep going. The World Catholic Universities Collaborative Platform, a key instrument to foster collaboration amongst our members has gone live (https://wcu.academy) and the Newman Social Responsibility Framework is helping our members enhance their performance.
In this hour of need, we stand with our members in Italy, the U.S., Spain and France, that have been particularly hit by the pandemic, but also with those in all the other countries weathering this unexpected storm. As universities we can only be part of the solution, and across the world, Catholic universities are relentlessly working and cooperating with health authorities, as well as in the support of fragile groups. Our mission is to guarantee there will be a future.
In the meantime, may this Easter inspire you to do better, adapt to new circumstances and continue to deliver top education and solid science. Education alone can combat fear.
I pray that you may all be safe.
Yours in Christ,
Dr. Isabel Capeloa Gil
President, International Federation of Catholic Universities