As I look out on my garden, I see my veggies begin to grow as they reach for the sun. The wide variety of green, purple and yellow leaves demonstrate the beauty of nature and the gifts that God has given us to tend. Together individual varieties of lettuces, kale, artichokes and more make up the bounty and splendor of my small urban garden. Each different but together a magnificent harvest. In many ways, I see my garden as microcosm of our world today: people of all ages, colors, cultures and more working together to build God’s Kingdom – and it’s beautiful. Yet, at the same time, we are faced with the sad reality that not everyone is recognized, celebrated and loved for their God given gifts and talents. Sadly, many of our black and brown brothers and sisters still face daily prejudices and racism.

Last year, I urged people to address racism in our hearts by not turning a blind eye, but responding to incidents of racism in one of my early statements. This year, the Bishops encouraged solidarity with our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, writing, “Each of us can make choices to demonstrate how we stand together in love and solidarity against racist acts of hatred.”

I continue to reflect on these appeals and how each of us can best respond to incidents of racism – including those incidents that we may not even be aware of. We all play a role, but often, many of us aren’t sure what to do or say. Even I am learning more and more.

To help equip our Catholic community, I’ve created a new Racial Justice & Cultural Diversity Commission. (Read the news release here.) This diverse group of Catholics from across the Archdiocese of Seattle will act as an advisory group dedicated to racial justice and intercultural competency. They’ll help us develop a common language, standards of behavior and training for all employees. My hope is that this group will help guide us in how we can address the sin of racism and spread more unity and love across our communities.

This new commission is a long-term commitment. The fruits of their work will be shared with all our parishes and ministries, in hopes that together we can build a community free of racist attitudes and behaviors. I pray you’ll join me to foster belonging, dignity, and justice for everyone.

Let us commit ourselves to treating every person as a brother or sister in Christ.