The gospel and our Ignation values calls upon us to be “men and women with and for others.” During a time of historic tension between so many communities within the United States, the Verbum Dei community took a big step in creating bridges between law enforcement and our communities.
After 3 months of careful and intentional planning, police officers from South Los Angeles and Verbum Dei students came together for a “Community RoundTable”. The event brought a total of 10 LAPD police officers, 17 Verbum Dei faculty/staff, as well as 65 Verbum Dei gentlemen. The event opened with an inspiring testimony from Officer Baker, who delivered a message highlighting the importance of a shared identity and shared vision between the police officers and students. Students then broke off into groups where each group had a Verb adult facilitator and two LAPD police officers. The groups tackled some very important questions such as: “What actions can law enforcement take to de-escalate potentially violent situations?”, “What requirements or guidelines should be in place for handling potentially violent situations?”, “What personal experiences have you had with the LAPD or any law enforcement agency that has shaped your opinion?” The conversations can be best described as being honest and respectful.
Throughout the event, smiles and gestures of understanding and comradery could be found permeating the campus. Side by side, our Verbum Dei gentlemen and local police officers expressed the gratitude they shared for one another. The event ended with students sharing some of the lessons they learned from their small group sessions. One junior student remarked, “This event helped me understand the role we all have in bettering our communities and has forced me to look inward and evaluate how I can contribute positively.”
Mother Teresa reminds us that, “if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” On that day, a bridge was built at Verbum Dei High School and we were all reminded that we belong to each other.