... As We Forgive
Connecticut deacon helps Elgin, Kankakee high school students learn from poor behavior at basketball game.
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
February 6, 2020
ELGIN— St. Edward Central Catholic High School and Bishop McNamara Catholic High School came together Jan. 24 for a day of healing. 
 
The sensitivity training, integration and reconciliation event was part of the apologies that St. Edward CCHS had offered to Bishop McNamara high school in Kankakee after a basketball game on Dec. 14, when the Joliet diocesan school reported discriminatory behavior against their girls’ team.
 
Deacon Arthur Miller, director of the Black Catholic Ministries of the Archdiocese of Hartford, gave a talk and led students and personnel in forgiveness activities. Attending the event were students and faculty from St. Edward Central Catholic High School and Bishop McNamara Catholic High School president Terry Granger, basketball coach Curtis Crossley and the girls’ basketball team. 
 
The reconciliation event took place in the same gym where St. Edward fans were reported to have “fat-shamed” a particular player by making whale noises and made monkey noises while a black student from Bishop McNamara made free throws.   
 
At the beginning of his speech Deacon Miller said, “We need to go right to the truth. If we don’t approach the truth then we never find the truth,” referring  to the  behavior reported to have taken place during the Dec. 14 game between the two schools. 
 
“I was in Connecticut (and) read what happened here,” Deacon Miller said. “What we do in secret is never going to be secret.” 
 
Deacon Miller invited the audience from both schools to work individually and together so the December situation “does not happen in this school anymore. 
 
“Everyone at one point or another was angry … the question is what you do with it … if you confront it and look at it and examine it, one outcome is to restore justice,” he said. 
 
At the end of his presentation Deacon Miller asked the students from Bishop McNamara School to go be seated among the students filling the gym from St. Edward and to shake hands.
 
“I believe justice was restored today,” Deacon Miller declared.
 
Some students from Bishop McNamara School said that before they came to St. Edward’s they were angry and upset with St. Edward’s students. However, at the end of Deacon Miller’s talk they accepted the apologies and forgave “as Jesus has said to forgive,” said student Trui Triviño. 
 
“I hope we overcome this and can be a better community,” said Brooke Began from St. Edward, who was playing the day of the incident. “It wasn’t the best moment, but I’m so happy that we can overcome this and come together,” she said. 
 
Brian Tekampe, St. Edward principal and superintendent, said Deacon Miller’s presentation was “a good chance to bring the communities together,” as part of the “healing process.” Now the schools and students are working to “move forward to make a change in both communities.”
 
“We definitely accept the apology” said Terry Granger, Bishop McNamara’s president.  “We have been in a situation like this, and we know exactly how St. Edward felt. We are not here to point any fingers, we are here to hopefully improve and make a positive outcome for all of our kids.” 
 
Granger added that “there is a lot of hate out there, but we need to be positive advocates,” and that, “hopefully both schools can take that message and make a positive change as we move forward.”
 
Curtis Crossley, basketball coach from McNamara, said the event was a “positive step in the right direction.” He said he found it “very inspirational” and that both schools are looking forward to a  game with “a more positive experience.” 
 
Bishop McNamara and St. Edward girls will have their next game on Feb. 8 at 3 p.m., on the basketball court at Bishop McNamara in Kankakee.