Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan and an attorney, spoke to students, faculty, staff and alumni at the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law on Feb. 16 when she delivered her annual Distinguished Dominican Lecture. Her lecture was titled “Veritas: Pursuit of Truth and Justice in the Dominican Tradition” and the event was sponsored by the law school’s Mission Effectiveness Committee.
Following is an excerpt of her remarks:
Within its Catholic Dominican tradition, the School of Law values matters of faith through religious freedom and acceptance of diversity.
Timothy Radcliffe, a rather famous Dominican scholar, says that we “have lost our confidence to seek truth together, and so to build a common human home in which we may recognize ourselves in each other.”
We stand in a narrative of Dominican tradition (All creation, all being, IS GOOD). The ADS have a narrative, a story, a vision and set of values that we want expressed in the law school and through future Barry graduates. Here is what we expect:
1. To serve the underserved. To be known as a school of public service and place where students claim their inner call to contribute to the healthy future of the wider community
2. To stand for justice with the oppressed, even in corporate and business practices
3. To be an inclusive community; to be together, to care about each other
4. To be reflective, contemplative requires a waiting, taking time for silence, listening to self, God and others; to look on others with love
5. To study—not only for personal success but to pursue the intellectual and imaginative traditions
6. And as Dominic calls us: To preach—to witness with our lives, our practices, our policies.
So as a Dominican law school then we need to look carefully and always ask in the light of Veritas:
n What are our development practices, priorities?
n How do we market ourselves? What do we emphasize about ourselves? What do we see as our strengths?
n What drives our admissions, recruitment, retention?
n What are our budget priorities?
n What are the foundational principles of our curriculum, centers, clinics, certificate programs?
n How do we define academic success?
n What are the goals of our professional evaluation processes; our self-assessments?
The Catholic law school and the Catholic University of which it is a part, at their very best, draw on centuries of Catholic learning and intellectual tradition, and here at Barry, I would hope the centuries of Dominican tradition in our search for truth. My hope is that as a Catholic Law School, like the Catholic University of which you are a part, you recognize there is truth, not simply ideas, perspectives, and arguments. My hope is that each of you and your students experience truth in your encounter with the living God in every person you meet each day and in all of God’s creation. Only when we trust each other will we overcome our fear and be blessed with visible signs of invisible grace.
I would like to finish with a Blessing from John O’Donohue. John saw leadership in everyone. We are all leaders if only we have the courage of our convictions.
May the gift of your leadership awaken in you as a vocation,
Keep you mindful of the providence that calls you to serve.
As high over the mountains the eagle spreads its wings,
May your perspective be larger than the view from the foothills.
May you have the wisdom to read time clearly
And know when the seed of change will flourish.
In your heart may there be a sanctuary
For the stillness where clarity is born.
May your work be infused with passion and creativity
And have the wisdom to balance compassion and challenge.
May your soul find the graciousness
To rise above the fester of small mediocrities.
May your power never become a shell
Wherein your heart would silently atrophy.
May you welcome your own vulnerability
As the ground where healing and truth join.
May integrity of soul be your first ideal,
The source that will guide and bless your work.