Social Justice

“If you want peace, work for justice.” – Pope Paul VI

Holy Family Catholic Schools Equity Statement

Holy Family Catholic Schools is committed to providing all students and staff with a safe educational and working environment and a welcoming culture supportive of intellectual and spiritual growth.

Our Catholic faith embraces each individual as a gift from God, worthy of love and respect. Therefore, we affirm the rights of all students, staff and guests of our community to be treated with respect and protected from bullying actions of any kind. Such actions include discrimination, intimidation, physical harm or harassment, or interfering with academic performance, community participation or wellbeing.

In alignment with Catholic Church teachings, Holy Family believes all members of our school community are responsible for advancing an understanding of and respect for diversity as it includes, but is not limited to ability, age, belief, ethnicity, family structure, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Therefore, Golden Eagles will hold one another accountable to behavior worthy of our Catholic environment.

Our Commitments

  • In all Social Justice work, Holy Family will keep Catholic Social Teachings at the core of our focus.
  • Holy Family will enact professional development for existing faculty and staff to support a greater acceptance and understanding of diversity and inclusion.
  • Through real-world educational opportunities and authentic curriculum, students will more fully understand human rights, civil rights and the history, stories, and experiences of diverse communities.
  • We will strive to enhance the diversity of our student body through purpose-driven student recruitment efforts.
  • Holy Family schools will welcome and support students and families of all backgrounds with love and respect.
  • We will strive to enhance diversity among faculty and staff through purpose-driven employee recruitment while supporting the professional growth of those who aspire to leadership.

Ongoing Education Initiatives

Training and Professional Development for Faculty, Staff and Leadership:

Holy Family Catholic Schools Faculty and Staff

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are based on principles of effectiveness for people of all ages. The 7 Habits can support us as we strengthen our school community to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Learn how to build a more inclusive and equitable class and school culture through the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. 

Teaching Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through the 7 Habits outline

Board of Education and Holy Family Leadership
February 2022

School leaders have studied this pastoral letter as a guiding resource in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Open Wide Our Hearts, the enduring call to love

Wahlert Catholic High School
Facilitated by HACAP Dubuque in partnership with Sisters of the Presentation, Sisters of Charity and Sisters of St. Francis
August 2021

HACAP Dubuque provided curriculum and hosted a poverty simulation to support the school’s 2021-2022 focus on socio-economic issues. The demographic representation at Wahlert Catholic poses the strongest element of diversity among our students, leading to important questions about how can we ensure all students have access to all that we offer, curricularly and extracurricularly? 

During the training, staff members were assigned an identity and a "family" or "single” status and positioned in a space in the gymnasium that represented their dwelling. Around the perimeter of the gym there were tables that represented the food pantry, medical clinic, bus station, courthouse, childcare, employment services, homeless shelter, jail, pawnshop, etc. Women religious and Loras College social work students staffed stations supported by materials to provide context on each role within the experience.

Wahlert Catholic High School
Facilitated by Brenna Cussen Anglada from St. Isadore Catholic Worker Farm
June 2021

Faculty and staff attended a presentation on diversity and equity in an effort to reflect and move toward more inclusive classroom spaces in our building. Cussen Anglada’s presentation included data gathered from our Holy Family DEI survey, taking staff through materials that explain and contextualize racial microaggressions to support reflection on current practices in their classrooms and a commitment to cultivating inclusive spaces. 

Wahlert Catholic High School
Facilitated by Associate Principal Mariah Reeves
August 2020

A cultural competency professional development session was offered as a whole-staff in-service training at Wahlert Catholic at the beginning of 2020-2021 school year. To begin the conversation on implicit bias, faculty and staff viewed a TED Talk given by Dushaw Hockett, founder and Executive Director of Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity (SPACEs). Faculty and staff members completed an inventory of their reactions to various scenarios that could take place in a school setting. Staff engaged in an open and powerful discussion, in which many reflected on their experiences in the classroom and times when they could have approached a situation differently. The curriculum for this reflective activity was provided through Learning for Justice (formerly known as Teaching Tolerance). The session was concluded by leading teachers through Social Justice Standards for grades 9-12 through the lens of Catholic Social Teachings. Teachers were asked to form a personal goal based on the standards, and continued to revisit established goals in ongoing professional development throughout the academic year.

Student-Focussed Educational Initiatives:

As an extension of our response to social justice education and our efforts to reach the larger Dubuque community, Wahlert has integrated an ongoing service-learning model that helps students come to understand and feel empowered to fulfill real-world community needs. Through community service requests, year-round, student mentor groups respond to neighbors and community organizations that have expressed a need for assistance. This initiative has served as an intentional step toward cultivating a tangible understanding of what it means to serve others and to foster empathy. 

Wahlert administrators are partnering with student leaders in the school's Social Justice Club to establish a grassroots, student-driven path to a more inclusive and welcoming community.

Communications & Outreach

As long as we are committed to growth and improvement and we humbly acknowledge our imperfections, we recognize that will continue to face events that challenge our understanding of ourselves and shed light on our errancy. When we find situations that could be handled in a more loving way, we will listen, we will strive to better understand the perspective of those who are harmed, and we will accept those challenges as opportunities for learning and growth within our schools at all levels, among leadership, staff, and students.

In our commitment to accountability, we share the following communications as examples of such opportunities:

System Communications

March 11, 2022

A year and a half ago, Holy Family made a public commitment to social justice as called for through our Catholic Social Teachings. Recent events in our community have served as an inflection point and reminder of the importance of these commitments we established before the pandemic. Holy Family remains committed to those goals and will henceforth rededicate our focus to this critical calling.

Overt, targeted hate speech and bullying are not tolerated at Holy Family. Harmful words and actions, however, are not always so obvious. They might come in the form of poor humor, a line from a movie or song lyric, or an insensitive meme or post. It could be a dirty look, an off-hand remark about another student’s clothing or appearance. It might be a stereotypical assumption made about a friend or classmate or the use of derogatory language surrounding race or gender in casual conversation. Injustice takes many forms.

The damaging and dangerous effects of dehumanizing one another through harmful words and actions are profoundly important to recognize, as the most extreme forms of bullying and harassment result in violence and self-harm. We know children are inherently good, and brain health and bullying have a strong correlation affecting self-esteem and leading to negative impacts on an individual’s mindset and behavior. We believe that by supporting and nurturing the souls, hearts and minds of our students – together as parents and educators – we will combat these issues from every angle to protect their physical safety, spiritual well-being and brain health.

As we step back and take a look across our system, we are thankful for our shared foundation in our Catholic faith and the lens it provides as we conduct our work to combat all forms of hate and mistreatment. It is through this lens that we will engage our staff, students and parents in identifying a system-wide and comprehensive leadership model and restorative practices that are steeped in our Catholic Social Teachings. Already, through satisfaction surveys and their demonstrated leadership in this effort, our high school students have expressed their collective desire to create a more inclusive and socially/emotionally supportive school environment. Working together, we will embrace a common set of expectations for all Golden Eagles.

It is unacceptable to think that any student or family should ever have to question their decision to choose Holy Family. As a community – faculty, staff, students and families – we must be vigilant for injustice, and we must be advocates for one another. Stepping forward to do or say the right thing is not always the easiest path, but it is the Golden Eagle way.

Visit Our Website to Learn More About This Work

Yours in Christ,

Phil Bormann and the Holy Family Board of Education

March 1, 2022

Holy Family Catholic Schools has been made aware of social media posts concerning an ongoing investigation into alleged racist and inappropriate student behavior including racial epithets and racist memes and offensive remarks. Please know that Holy Family and Wahlert Catholic take this matter, and any similar situation, very seriously and condemn all forms of racism and bullying. Administrators are continuing to investigate these situations with sincere effort and heartfelt concern in order to stop it and to educate students and our HFCS community about the insidious nature of these occurrences. For the protection of students and victims of bullying, we will not publicly address the specifics of this or any bullying investigation.

In the past two weeks, we have taken action in communicating to our students what it means to be a Golden Eagle through a written statement that was shared with every grade level, middle through high school, condemning all forms of hate and encouraging students to stand up for one another. We have convened our student leaders in the Wahlert social justice club to partner with our administration in this work. Following Ash Wednesday Mass today, the Wahlert administration addressed the student body about the need to set our Lenten focus on spreading the love Jesus provides by treating one another with care and compassion.

We invite any students and families with concerns or experiences of bullying or racism that have occurred within our schools to reach out to their mentor, counselor, teachers, or school administrators. Please also speak with your children about the importance of treating others with love and kindness, be active and aware of their social media activities, and pray for our community. All of us together can thwart racism in our community.

The Holy Family Board of Education has tasked the administrative team to form our next steps in the process of becoming a more welcoming and inclusive community. These steps will be shared as an extension of the work that has already begun. For those wishing to learn more about Holy Family’s social justice initiatives or to read what has been shared with our students, please visit our website.

Feb. 21, 2022
To Waterloo Community School District and Holy Family Catholic Schools parents, faculty and staff.

In the past two months, leaders from Holy Family Catholic Schools and Waterloo Community School District have been in close communication. In this time, we have had the opportunity to further reflect on the events of the Dec. 21 girls basketball game which was, in many respects, not a positive experience for either school community, as it should have been.

In recognition of the seriousness of the allegations and in our desire to respond quickly, we missed an opportunity to acknowledge the pain experienced by the Waterloo East community. So, we find ourselves embracing a simple but important reminder from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Those who support the values of our Catholic schools are likewise bound by them. We are committed to continuing to grow in reflecting a Christ-like love for all. We recognize that we live in a culture with a history of division, and we apologize for our lack of empathy for the feelings and trauma experienced by the Waterloo East community.

It is deeply important to us that no person, whether guest or Golden Eagle, should ever experience feelings of discrimination in our schools. Holy Family remains committed to fostering a safe and welcoming environment in which to learn and grow. We condemn hate, exclusion and discrimination in any form.

Holy Family looks forward to future opportunities to connect, learn and compete with all Waterloo schools. We will continue to grow and learn from this experience and benefit from the fruits of an evermore welcoming and inclusive community.

This message has also been shared with the Waterloo East community. In this time of reflection, we have found the pastoral letter "Open Wide Our Hearts – the enduring call to love" from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to be an excellent guiding resource. We share this with you, too, as we believe others will, perhaps, enjoy and appreciate its loving message.

Yours in Christ,

Phil Bormann and the Holy Family Catholic Schools Board of Education

Feb. 15, 2022
A message read to 6–12 students

What does it mean to be a Golden Eagle?

As we prepare to welcome athletes and guests from Waterloo West tonight, and as we enter tournament season, this is an important question to ask ourselves.

We must start by acknowledging the hurt that exists among both communities – the Waterloo East/Wahlert Catholic women’s basketball game in December, in all respects, was not a positive experience for the players, coaches, students, or fans of either high school, as it should have been. High school athletics are an important part of the educational opportunity, and as Golden Eagles, we must protect these invaluable experiences.

In December, members of the Waterloo East community felt they were the subject of racist remarks and chants that were hurtful. Wahlert Catholic felt it was subjected to allegations from which it is difficult to defend itself. No matter its source, acknowledging the pain each has experienced is a first step in mending relationships.

Fostering a welcoming environment – whether for guests or members of our own Golden Eagles family – is paramount in upholding a strong community and the Golden Eagle way. And while addressing expectations of a healthy competitive atmosphere for tonight’s game is the first-line goal, this is also an opportunity to raise awareness of our conduct in all facets of our lives as students and representatives of Holy Family Catholic Schools.

Today and every day, as a Golden Eagle, you are called to be exemplary. The values you establish and represent today will form the foundation of your character, and – whether positive
or negative – will have an impact on the rest of your life.

This call is transcendent. We must carry ourselves in private as we do in public settings – whether it be conversations in the hallway, casual interactions at lunch, or socializing with
friends outside of school. Our words and actions have the power to bring communities together or create division and pain.

Social media, in particular, can be a powerful tool for good. These platforms were created as connectors, and there are countless examples of Golden Eagles stepping up and living out positive Catholic values. Sadly, these platforms have equal capacity to create feelings of division and isolation, and it takes only one or two poor choices to cast a shadow on an entire

Please take a moment to pause and consider your participation and the purpose of platforms that are known to perpetuate hate and intolerance and which represent you and the Golden
Eagles community poorly. Some examples include WCHS Barstool and other anonymously-created social media accounts. It is in the protective veil of anonymity, hate and bullying have the space to grow and thrive.

Beyond these examples, each of our own social interactions carries weight. Let us challenge and remind each other to be better; to hold each other accountable when we hear the “n” word or other racist comments; when we witness bullying related to who someone loves, or any situation when a person is made to feel less than what Christ has created each of us to be. As Golden Eagles, we must stand up against these actions and seek opportunities to do the right

As a community, we’re strong and powerful in so many ways. So, let’s make it our mission to use our interactions and social media personas as powerful instruments for good: Let’s build
each other up and welcome each other in. Let’s band together to take very intentional steps, starting with ensuring a welcoming environment for tonight’s game.

Being a Golden Eagle means being Christ for others. It means being part of a community that is proud to strive for and live up to expectations of excellence in everything that we do – whether that be in the classroom, on the court, or in our community.

In every corner of America, social injustices, harmful words and actions, and prejudices of all sorts persist – but we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. When we witness hurtful
activities, it is not enough to remain neutral, we must be vigilant for injustice, and we must be advocates for one another. Let us be judged for how we treat others when nobody is watching. Stepping forward to do or say the right thing is not always the easiest path, but it is the way of Golden Eagles.

Feb. 26, 2021

Thank you to all who have taken the time to participate in our school climate survey. This survey allows us to look inward and broaden our understanding of perceptions related to our work and school community.

The data collected by our research team will be provided to our internal social justice coalition made up of teachers and administrators. This team will set goals and make recommendations for improvement. These recommendations will be vetted by our Religion and Mission committee and will ultimately be approved by both our School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) and the Holy Family Board of Education. These checks and balances ensure our work builds upon our foundation of truth in Christ and our Catholic Social Teachings.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit our website. Here you will find a link to the family/household survey, which closes on Monday, March 1, the faculty and staff involved in our social justice coalition and an introduction to the research team.

Thank you for your support as we aim to foster a welcoming Catholic community for students, families, faculty and staff.


DEI Climate Study Report | Spring 2021

Feb. 16, 2021

As you may recall, in 2020, Holy Family committed to looking inward and taking action toward fostering a more socially just climate within our schools and community. We promised to enhance professional development on diversity, equity and inclusion – this work has begun, and it will continue. We also promised strides toward improving and supporting diversity within our faculty, staff and student body. To implement these initiatives, we must first fully understand the diverse experiences and perceptions held among members of our Holy Family community.

Holy Family has formed a social justice coalition encompassing school administrators, teachers, staff and students, as well as volunteers from our community, who will aim to keep these commitments on-task and our Catholic Social Teachings at the core of our focus. Here's where we need your help!


With the guidance of a third-party research group, Holy Family has created a diversity, equity and inclusion climate survey, and we hope you will share your perspective with us. Your feedback will be critical in helping Holy Family to shape policies and make plans to fulfill our strategic goals of a stronger, more welcoming, and inclusive teaching and learning environment.

Versions of this survey will be conducted among students, staff members and families. Participants' answers will remain anonymous. Data collection and analysis will be completed by the third-party research team, ensuring privacy is maintained.

Please read each item carefully and mark one choice for each response. This survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes. The survey will remain open through Monday, March 1, 2021. Please submit only one response per family/household.


DEI Climate Study Report | Spring 2021

June 10, 2020

The unjust death of George Floyd has again shed light on the persistent scourge of racial injustice dwelling in our society. As a Catholic educational community, we have an obligation to our faith to uphold the Christian values of love and respect for all of God’s creation.

It is Holy Family Catholic Schools’ mission and ministry to form disciples of Jesus Christ through Catholic educational excellence. How can we be, and teach others to be, like Jesus? The answer is love.

Jesus Himself is the embodiment of God’s unconditional love for all humankind. As children of God, we are benefactors of His love; as Catholics, we are called to share it with our neighbors – but also with those who are strangers to us. We enact this calling through our commitment to the Catholic Social Teachings of our global Church. God’s love is shared in many ways:

  • In respect for life and the dignity of all people – from conception through natural death – and every day in between
  • In solidarity with one another – as we are, and no matter who we are
  • Through care for God’s creation and every being that represents it
  • Through family, community, and participation – not as bystanders but engaged citizens
    In offering preferential treatment for the poor and vulnerable – by meeting the immediate needs of our brothers and sisters and by creating systemic change
  • By supporting each other’s rights as people and embracing our responsibilities to one another
  • In recognizing the God-given gifts we all share through the dignity of work and the rights of all workers
  • In His plan for all of us

There is no room for intolerance or inequity amidst God’s love. It is our obligation to teach and model discipleship. And in the following ways, we are prepared to substantiate our commitment to this calling.

Holy Family is committed to social change:

  • By enhancing the diversity of our student body through purpose-driven student recruitment efforts
  • By welcoming and supporting students and families of all backgrounds with love and respect
  • By enhancing diversity among faculty and staff through purpose-driven employee recruitment, while supporting the professional growth of those who aspire to leadership
  • By enacting professional development for existing faculty and staff to support a greater acceptance and understanding of diversity and inclusion
  • By developing real-world educational opportunities for students to more fully understand human rights, civil rights and the history, stories, and experiences of diverse communities
  • By understanding this statement is just the beginning

Please join us in committing to social change in our schools, community and world. And pray for all who have suffered injustice and oppression of any kind.

System Surveys and Community Feedback

HFCS Student Ethnicity

Wahlert 2% 2% 3% 1 92%
Mazzuchelli 3% 3% 5% <1% 89%
Our Lady of Guadalupe 2% 8% 9% 1% 80%
Resurrection 2% 5% 2% 1% 90%
St. Columbkille 1% 3% 3% 93%
System 2% 4% 4% 1% 89%

Frequently Asked Questions

Faith families in elementary grades and mentor groups in secondary levels provide a core team of support and friendship for every student. These groups work together for multiple years encouraging new relationships and deep connections. Together, they learn to work and socialize in mixed-age teams while growing in their faith. At Holy Family, a community focus on service-learning is facilitated through Faith in Action hands-on team-building experiences, which provide opportunities for exploration of students’ God-given skills and interests. And finally, through a wide variety of clubs and activities, and over 90 percent participation, our adolescent students have many outlets to bond and explore common interests.

In every class, Holy Family aspires to infuse Gospel values as we are all led by the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sometimes these lessons relate to the seven Catholic Social Teachings, and sometimes the corporal and spiritual Works of Mercy. In all cases, Holy family educators use a Catholic lens to assist and guide this Catholic curricular infusion. 

Our Shared Catholic Lens:

Holy Family Catholic Schools will approach decisions related to the past, present, and future of our ministry to educate all in the faith through a Catholic lens. We must make every attempt to answer a question or need with a sound Catholic approach before we move outside our faith and into secular materials and programs to serve our students and families. If there is a need to go outside our faith for materials and experiences, a strong and intentional Church teaching should accompany it so all may understand the Catholic harmony of both faith and reason.

No. Iowa law (house file 802) prevents schools from teaching critical race theory.

The law does not prohibit the teaching of sexism, slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, or racial discrimination. However, the bill does ban the following 10 concepts from being taught:

  1. That one race or sex is superior to another.
  2. That the U.S. and Iowa are fundamentally racist or sexist.
  3. That someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist or sexist.
  4. That someone should be discriminated against because of their race or sex.
  5. The members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.
  6. That someone's moral character is determined by their race or sex.
  7. That someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of that race or sex.
  8. That someone should feel psychological distress (like guilt) because of their race or sex.
  9. That meritocracy or trains such as hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.
  10. Any other form of race or sex scapegoating or any other form of race or sex stereotyping.

Holy Family’s curriculum does not cover these tenets nor pose any challenge to this law.

Yes! Catholic Social Teachings and our desire to create an inclusive and welcoming community for all are at the core of Holy Family’s social justice work. We believe the social teachings of the Church empower and demand us to pursue this work in accordance with our mission to form disciples of Jesus Christ through Catholic educational excellence and reminds us of the important role that we play in inviting all to participate in Catholic education. The seven Catholic Social Teachings provide the perfect roadmap to guide this important work!

Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching

Learn more at USCCB

The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.

The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society -- in economics and politics, in law and policy -- directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.

A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.

The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God's creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.

We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice.1 The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.

We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.