President’s Easter Message of Hope
As I sit down to write this, a newsflash informs me that a suspect has been apprehended in connection to the subway shooting in Brooklyn, New York, which left at least twenty-nine people injured, including five in critical condition and ten with gunshot wounds. This news comes on top of a host of other tragedies, including the senseless, unprovoked attack on Ukraine, and the horrific legacy of the Canadian residential schools. Suffering is all around us. While this may seem like a strange way to start an Easter message, it does point to an important existential question – why is there so much suffering?
Harvard professor Gordon Allpart does not have the answer to this question, but in his preface to Man’s Search for Meaning (1959), Victor Frankl’s best-selling account of his experience during World War II as a prisoner in Nazi death camps, he remarks poignantly that “to live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering”. As we come to the end of the season of Lent, the period of fasting and penitence for Christians as they prepare for the hope of the resurrection on Easter Sunday, we are reminded of how meaning can be found in suffering.
Easter is the most sacred season on the Christian calendar (something I did not grasp as a child – how can anything be more important than Christmas?) precisely because it comes with the message that suffering can be redemptive. The message of the empty tomb is really one of hope – for all people. And while we should never turn our attention away from the suffering around us, including the trials that everyone has experienced after two years of pandemic, Easter should encourage us to look to the future with a new spirit of hope and optimism - for St. Jerome’s University, and for the vitally important ways we are working to contribute to a more hopeful future.
I wish you and your families a peace-filled and a joyous Easter!
President and Vice Chancellor
St. Jerome’s University