News Story

November 02, 2018

President of La Roche College Leads Campus in Prayer

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 2, 2018 – President Sister Candace Introcaso, CDP, Ph.D. led the La Roche community in prayer today honoring those who were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday, Oct 27. 

Sister Candace gave the following speech:

Good morning and thank you for being here.

We gather this morning to remember the victims of last Saturday’s attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill and to honor the lives that were taken.

We gather today to join our voices with those of so many others in demanding change. Change in the tone of public discourse. Change in the ways we address all forms of bias and discrimination. Change in the climate in our nation that tolerates bias and violence against individuals and groups.

At La Roche, our mission statement and the vision of our founders have guided and inspired us “to foster global citizenship and create a community of scholars from the region, the nation and around the world.”

This commitment to inclusion, to justice and peace, has made La Roche the diverse and special place that it is. A place where students, faculty and staff from Pittsburgh and the region live and learn alongside those from more than 30 countries beyond North America – from Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, from Europe and Asia. La Roche is a place where differences are celebrated, not resented.

Where diverse cultures are valued, not feared. A place where service to those less fortunate is expected, not abhorred.

We are La Roche. We are stronger than hate.

This special place – with its mission of embracing diversity and of serving others – has become La Roche. It has become who we are. What we stand for. What we want our city and our nation – indeed, our world – to be. And it has inspired the change that is necessary – the change we demand – to bring about a more respectful, more caring, more peaceful way of life that everyone deserves.

We are La Roche. We are stronger than hate.

Some years ago, a summer workshop was developed by a group of faculty and staff, as a way for the La Roche community to engage each other through a common text and meaningful conversation. We read and discussed the book, “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder. It is the story of Dr. Paul Farmer and his work to cure infectious diseases in Haiti, Peru, Cuba and the prisons of Russia.

The title, “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” is inspired by the Haitian proverb that reads, “Deye mon gen mon” (beyond mountains, there are mountains). The five words of this proverb describe the impact of poverty, hunger and disease on the poor of Haiti.

The proverb recognizes the struggle of the poor as they face and attempt to overcome one life-threatening challenge (one mountain) after another.

Beyond mountains there are mountains … as you solve one problem another appears, and so you try to solve that one, too.  And another.  

And another.

It strikes me that there is some wisdom in that Haitian proverb for us today, as we absorb the horror of the synagogue attack and reflect upon the struggles of combating and rejecting anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination.

In the brutality of last Saturday’s attack, we see the power of one individual … one negative decision … one evil act. But as we recoil from this attack, we must also understand and appreciate the power of every single one of us … every positive decision we make … every hope-filled step we take in this battle for justice and equality. We must acknowledge and use our power to bring about change. To make this world a more peaceful place – one word, one decision, one action at a time.

We must pledge to remove every obstacle that keeps us from celebrating our differences and promoting social justice for all. We must continue to confront, to challenge discrimination and injustice each time we encounter it.

We must commit – as individuals and as a campus community – to move mountains beyond mountains. Until one day, when there are no more mountains standing in the way of justice. 

We are La Roche. We are stronger than hate.

Let us pray this morning for the 11 women and men who lost their lives last Saturday in this senseless act of hatred – and for their families who are left with such tremendous voids in their lives.

Let us pray for those who are recovering from their wounds, both physical and psychological.

Let us pray for the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and beyond, and for an end to all forms of religious discrimination.

Let us pray for the Squirrel Hill community, that it will heal and continue to reflect and advance the cultural, demographic and religious diversity it has so long been known for.

Let us pray for the first responders and all those who dedicate their lives in the service of protecting us and our neighborhoods.

Let us pray for each other, that we will not lose hope in the face of evil – but rather, that we boldly confront it in whatever form, and wherever, it appears.  

And this morning, let each of us use the name of God with which we pray to ask for blessings over our efforts in this cause of justice.  We seek God’s guidance and wisdom in this endeavor and we acknowledge that we are not alone but work together for all that is right and good. 



About La Roche University: A private liberal arts college in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, La Roche University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors, six graduate degree programs and one doctoral program, with particular strengths in education, business, criminal justice, psychology, and health and medical sciences as well as interior design and graphic design. This residential college provides a vibrant campus community for more than 1,400 men and women enjoying 30-plus student organizations and an exciting NCAA Div. III athletics program. Founded by the Sisters of Divine Providence in 1963, La Roche University embraces its Catholic heritage while welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds. With a legacy of social justice and a commitment to international exchange, La Roche University educates students to be lifelong learners and achievers in an increasingly diverse and global society.