In the wake of an unprecedented year, Regis College is adjusting the programming for one of its most revered traditions, but not the spirit.

Thursday, September 24, is Founders’ Day, the annual tradition that marks the arrival of the Sisters of St. Joseph to Boston in 1837. Typically, the day pays homage to the Sisters’ core value of serving “the dear neighbor without distinction” as students, faculty, and staff perform community service in the Greater Boston area, Weston, and Lawrence.

Health and safety guidelines related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will prevent the Regis community from going out, so the day will be spent looking inward.

Inspired by calls both within Regis and across the country for an end to systemic racism, this year’s Founders’ Day will be a virtual dialogue about racism, inequality, and social justice. And not only will students, faculty, and staff participate, but an invitation was also extended to trustees, alumni, students in the Lifelong Learning at Regis program, and the entire Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston community.

“While Founders' Day will look different than previous years, it will still personify the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston," said Regis College President Antoinette M. Hays, PhD, RN. "Their commitment to activism and service, and the life and legacy of Congressman John Lewis, will guide our discussion on racism, equity, and social justice. This is an incredible opportunity to engage with the entire Regis community on how our voices and activism can help put an end to racism.”

The theme of Founders’ Day is taken from the words of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights titan who in his lifelong fight for social justice implored people to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” As a tribute to Lewis’ legacy, Regis College students Dimitri Stewart, ’22, and Rashell Mezquia, ‘23, will read The New York Times op-ed Lewis penned that was published the day of his funeral.

“Planning for the day has been a very collaborative and engaging community-wide effort,” said Mary Lou Jackson, special assistant to the president for mission effectiveness. “Together we will learn about, reflect upon, and react to systemic racism in a way that the late Congressman John Lewis has asked of us by taking on his call to action and committing to getting into ‘good trouble.’”

This focus on racial injustices during Founders’ Day was laid out in President Hays’ “A Commitment to Do Better” message this summer that pledged real, purposeful steps to address systemic inequalities on campus and in the community.

The Founders’ Day kick off will include a history of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston and their mission of service from Sister Mary L. Murphy, CSJ. Most of the day will revolve around two panel discussions. The morning panel, moderated by Audrey Grace, associate vice president for inclusive excellence and chief diversity officer, is titled “The Stories We Learn, The Stories We Are Taught, The Stories We Unlearn.” It will explore the role that racism has played in people’s understanding of themselves and their relationships.

The afternoon panel, titled “Anti-Racism and Good Trouble,” will be moderated by Anabella Morabito, assistant dean of student affairs. This time will be spent examining how to go from talking about the injustices of racism and inequity, to doing something to stop it.

After both panels, participants will break out into small groups to reflect further on the topics.

Founders’ Day is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Zoom. Check out the complete Founders’ Day program here.