A Message from CBU President, Dave Archer

Posted By: Brian Kusek On: 2023-12-21
Posted On: 2023-12-21
President Dave Archer has shared his earlier community message with us as thanks for the novena offered by the Saint Mary’s community for Christian Brothers University. We extend our ongoing support and care for the good, albeit difficult, work of our sisters and brothers in Memphis. Knowing the hardships of these decisions, we ask for continued prayers, trusting that the Prince of Peace, whose coming we await at Christmas, will enliven us with hopeful trust for the many good works to come.
From the Office of the President

November 21, 2023


I am typically focused on gratitude and celebration during the months of November and December. Christmas decorations hit the stores by mid-October, and it’s hard to not get caught up in the deck-the-halls excitement of the holidays. Yet, while I am still full of gratitude and looking forward to celebrating, the word that continuously speaks to me this year is sacrifice.

The situation in which we currently find ourselves is a time where sacrifice is required, and I see it happening in so many ways already. The restructuring of our University, which will serve our students and save needed funds, has required everyone to take on extra work for no additional compensation. The work of retrenchment has been hard and will continue to be so. Much of the gratitude I feel this Thanksgiving season is directed to you, my friends and colleagues, for these sacrifices that you are making to benefit our students and our mission.

No doubt CBU has experienced times of great sacrifice before. The first Christian Brothers risked their very lives to stay in Memphis during the Yellow Fever epidemic. Brother Terence sacrificed his position as president of CBC when he chose to admit the first African American student to the high school. In the Church, Advent, like Lent, is a season of penance and preparation. Advent calls us to sacrifice by quieting and disciplining our hearts for the full joy of Christmas. The Gospel of John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… [a]nd the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14). How can one comprehend the sacrifice that God made in becoming man? God loves us so much that He took the form of a baby and came to live our life, knowing the suffering and rejection he would face, and eventually die our death. Jesus tells us of His sacrifice that “Greater love has no one that this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

As an institution of the Catholic Church, how could we expect anything less than to participate in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice so that we might also participate in His triumph? The Christian Brothers have always chosen such a life, from St. John Baptist de la Salle who gave up a comfortable life to found the order in 1680, to Blessed Brother James Miller who was martyred in Guatemala for his faith in 1982, to our own Brothers Community who recently presented me with a sacrificial gift from their own building fund, believing that what we do for our students and for Memphis is worth more than themselves. The Brothers have always followed Jesus’s command to take up their own cross and follow Him. Those of us who choose to join their fight for the souls and minds of students who need an opportunity have no choice but to also heed this call.

God is pruning us down to the very ground for the winter. I believe, though, with all my heart, that we will come out of this pruning. We will look different. We will be different. But as I have stated on more than one occasion, it allows us to re-center on our original mission and purpose. It is too early in this process to know exactly what CBU will look like coming out of it, but here is what I do know. The scripture referenced above from the Gospel of John also states, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” CBU is a light in the darkness. We proclaim the name of Jesus, holding Him up to our community. Our founder created the Brothers’ schools to preach the gospel to the poor and to provide them with the education that would allow them to escape the shackles of poverty. That is what we do, and it is what we will continue to do.

I invite all to join me in preparing for the work that lies ahead. We celebrate Mass daily in Stritch Chapel at noon. Please join us for that if you are able. The opportunity to worship Our Lord every day is life-changing and life-giving. As a campus, we need to put on the full of armor of God if we are going to have any chance in the spiritual battle being waged in our city. You do not need to be Catholic to attend Mass; we have colleagues and students who participate daily from other denominations, and everyone is welcome from any faith background.

Similarly, Eucharistic Adoration allows us to sit in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Currently, Adoration at CBU occurs following Mass on Mondays in Stritch Chapel. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to come and experience the life-changing presence of Jesus in community. CBU was built as a faith community. Community has always been our way. It will continue to be so.

I know that this semester has been difficult and painful, and it will continue to be so. We have not completed our walk through the valley, and we must acknowledge that. There are significant sacrifices yet to come. Even still, I am honored and humbled to make this journey with all of you. I pray for God to bless all of you with His peace that surpasses all understanding during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you for what you do for and mean to Christian Brothers University.

Together and by association,

Dave Archer
President of Christian Brothers University