With one month remaining of the 2019-20 school year, eLearning goes on for the nearly 1,200 students of Fenwick High School. Admittedly, virtual classrooms have a vastly different look and feel than the ones that have stood the test of time for 91 years in our hallowed halls at 505 Washington Blvd., but our Dominican brand of education continues nonetheless.

I am proud to report that a combination of Fenwick students, teachers, nurses and alumni are donating personal protective equipment (PPE) — N95 masks, gloves and face-shield frames — to local hospitals and first responders. Numerous shield frames are being manufactured on our school’s 3D printers.

We Friars are a resilient and resourceful lot. Remember, the Dominican Order first opened Fenwick’s doors during the late summer of 1929. Those visionary friars weathered the stock-market crash and the Great Depression that soon followed. This COVID-19 storm, too, shall pass, expedited by modern medicine, of course, and also by faith and prayer, which are as powerful today as they were nine decades ago.

Returning students, faculty and the administration alike look forward to reuniting this coming August — and to welcoming our incoming Class of 2024. Also, the new Michael R. Quinlan ’62 Parking Center will be completed this summer. We are extremely grateful that the village of Oak Park has allowed our construction contractor to continue working during the health crisis. The village has been a valued partner in helping Fenwick to provide safe, accessible, on-site parking for our students and staff, while taking nearly 300 cars off of nearby streets, which I know our neighbors will appreciate.

Social distancing is love

In the meantime, my thoughts turn to St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), whose feast day is celebrated April 29. This great Dominican spiritual leader (named Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970) taught that all growth in virtue — and, conversely, all descent into vice — comes about in and through our relationships with one another. As she says, “Every virtue has life through charity.” Succeeding at love produces virtue; vice is a failure to love.

Simply put, the good we do for one another redounds to our own good; failing to do good hurts ourselves as much as our neighbor. At this time, our own good and the good of others means that we must maintain social-distancing. We must continue to shelter in place out of love for those most vulnerable to the virus’ ravages. In the end, our compliance with the directives from local and state government is an act of loving social solidarity. We give witness to the fact that we need each other by our willingness — for now — to be apart.

Once this pandemic comes to an end, I’m sure our communal celebrations will be all the more heartfelt, all the more appreciative of the bonds of friendship and citizenship that make us who we are.

Rev. Richard Peddicord, O.P., is concluding his eighth year as president of Fenwick High School.

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