We are getting a taste of spring today. It is a beautiful day to be outside. But even as I walked around campus and greeted those of you hurrying to classes or heading for a bite to eat, I was thinking of Caitlin Nelson and the tremendous loss to our community. I am sure that all of you experienced a similarly bittersweet day.
Last night, more than a thousand students, faculty and staff gathered at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit for a Mass in remembrance of Caitlin. Most were forced to stand outside the doors of the building. I don’t believe I have ever seen as big a turnout at the Chapel. I say it all the time—this is an incredibly special community. I love the way we welcome visitors with such warmth, smile at strangers that we pass on the walkways and hold the doors open for one another. But we are at our best in times of loss—whether we are helping the victims of a hurricane, providing food for needy families at the holidays, supporting community members who may feel disenfranchised or mourning the loss of one of our own. We come together to offer prayers, console each other and remind ourselves of the preciousness of life.
Many of you who did not know Caitlin, but you consider her family anyway. Here at SHU, when one of us is hurt, we all hurt; when one of us excels, we all celebrate. Whether you knew Caitlin or not, you came together to express your love for her, your love for each other and your love for SHU.
I want to take a moment to thank you all for the way you have taken care of each other. That includes those of you had a role to play professionally. So many folks in so many departments worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to care for all the members of the SHU family and are continuing to do so. I want to remind everyone that counselors from the counseling center and from Campus Ministry are available to any student, faculty or staff who want to avail themselves of those services.
Finally, if you are looking for another way to honor Caitlin’s memory, I have a suggestion. Caitlin was the philanthropy chair for her sorority and had set a goal to raise $15,000 for their national charity event called Shamrock the Runway for Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA). PCAA works to promote the healthy development of children and prevent child abuse before it can occur with the goal of helping children grow up and contribute in their communities. The event takes place on April 11, and Caitlin was already 2/3’s of the way to her goal. If you would like to remember Caitlin in this way, you can click here to make a contribution.
Please also continue to remember Caitlin, her family and friends in your prayers. Thank you.