All The Little Things

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 22 May 2018)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of a loving God.

The humid September breeze drifts lazily, and the sun begins to hide behind the trees. Loud music greets my ears, the beat shaking the bleachers beneath my feet. My hand grasps my friend’s tightly, and we look at each other, a look of exhilaration and anticipation in our eyes. We hold on for dear life even with sweat gathering between our palms. As I join in with my classmates, and scream “I believe that we will win!”, I’m overcome with a feeling that’s virtually indescribable. It’s a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for the moment, it’s pure awe of this unique tradition, and it’s love for my school and my fellow Lasallians.

Have you ever experienced a moment when – halfway through – you realize how much you’re going to miss it? At La Salle, I’m lucky enough to have had many of these moments, occurring especially often as my time here comes to an end.

Because yes, the big, important moments at La Salle have meant the world to me. But, sometimes everyday, seemingly insignificant moments deserve to be recognized and remembered too.

I’m talking about the afternoons spent laying on a couch in campus ministry, surrounded by friends. My stomach aches as we laugh through a game of catchphrase or just good conversation.

Walking into school in the morning and sharing a greeting and a smile with those locker buddies I’ve gotten so used to seeing every day.

Making a play in practice with my teammates that gets me so excited because it’s exactly what we’ve been looking for.

Opening up the outside cafeteria door to warm sun and a gust of wind, my gaze finding its way to my friends gathered around a table.

Walking down to the theater with the rest of my class to see the final theater production we will get to see at La Salle. Knowing it’s going to be amazing and feeling the overwhelming melancholy of seeing something come together so beautifully for the last time.

Seeing Mr. O as I walk to my locker and getting a hug – extremely rare, and the best surprise.

And finally, back to that football game. That warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you know you’re part of something bigger – a community full of people who will support you unconditionally.

In the future, big moments will inevitably be remembered. But, I know I will also remember the small moments, that happened on ordinary days, that made me feel overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel so thankful that I have these memories, big and small, in the back of my mind, as I move on to the next chapter of my life. I and the rest of the Class of 2018 are so lucky to have been blessed with such joyful moments that make us sad to leave. I hope as we hang out in campus min for the last afternoon, say our final greetings to locker buddies, play in our final minutes, or support our classmates in the stands for the final time, we feel gratitude more than sadness. Now that we have had the opportunity to enjoy all that La Salle has to offer, we get to move on to a new phase, hopefully with a newfound appreciation for the little things in life.

Let us pray. Lord, thank you for the people that unite the La Salle community, and thank you for providing us with the classmates that have become our closest friends. Help our seniors to take the golden memories from this chapter of life and chase more opportunities in the next chapter. Also, help the seniors to appreciate those who have led us to this point and recognize that they were sent from You. And lastly, guide the underclassmen to recognize the vital importance and impermanence of everyday moments here at La Salle, and be fully present in each of them. Amen.

St. John Baptist de La Salle. Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our Hearts. Forever.

Eliza Mahoney–Class of 2018

Passion

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 21 May 2018)

Let us remember we are in the holy presence of god.

As some of you may know, I am a musician. I have been playing music since I was a little child, and it has always been a huge part of my life. When I was a freshman here at La Salle, I was told a quote by a teacher and it has always stuck with me. It was said by one of the greatest musical figures to ever have lived, Ludwig van Beethoven. He said, “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” Now this quote has obvious meaning in music, that when you play music, you are always going to mess up. There will be times when you will completely bomb a performance or do things wrong that will inevitably be noticed by the audience. But the passion, the emotion, the drive that the performer gives is what truly matters. However, beyond this context of music, I feel like, at La Salle, this passion is transferred into every aspect of our community. It comes from two things: on the one hand, the faculty, staff, coaches, directors, and teachers, and, on the other hand, our fellow students.

When sitting in class, there is a vibe that radiates off each and every teacher at La Salle. They could easily be a teacher at any public school in Rhode Island, but they chose La Salle (shout out to Mr. Finn), and every student knows that their teachers want to be there. But the fact is, the teachers’ passion for educating the whole person extends outside the classroom. The amount of teachers that are moderators for clubs and coach teams always astonished me. They spend their time before school, after school, at night, on service trips, just to enhance the lives of their students. This passion that they exude is felt by every single member of the La Salle community.

On the other hand, the passion that I have felt in these four years that will never leave me is the passion of our students. When the football team runs out onto the field with the cheerleaders surrounding them, you can feel the passion in the hearts of the athletes. Seeing the hockey players throw their gloves into the air after hearing the final buzzer, you could feel the passion of the players on the ice, and even the fans in the arena. Seeing one of our classmates giving a winning speech in Academic Decathlon, you could feel the passion in their voice. All throughout our musical performances, visual art pieces, theatrical production, passion is seen through our students. Whenever I think of La Salle, it is absolutely impossible to forget the emotion we put into everything we do, and in my opinion, this is what defines La Salle. Not once did I feel that someone gave half effort in what they love. And in all honestly, this tangible energy of effort in all of these different fields will be truly missed by each and every graduate here today. So what I want to say to all the seniors, as we start our final week, is to live our lives with the passion that we have been given from this amazing place.

Let us pray. Dear Lord, thank you for all of the teachers and staff of La Salle Academy. Thank you for the amazing class of 2018 and all the gifts you have given to each and every one of us. We hope that we never forget La Salle Academy and that La Salle Academy never forgets us.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Benjamin Boyarsky–Class of 2018

I Met Jesus Once

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 17 May 2018)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of a loving God.

I met Jesus once in a small church in Browning, Montana.  I didn’t expect him to be dark skinned, round-faced, with long greasy black hair, a Blackfoot Indian.  He squeezed in near to me, though the church was far from filled. He smelled of dirt, and sweat, and booze.  His clothes were ripped and worn, caked with mud. I didn’t expect him to make me so uncomfortable, so nervous, so afraid.  He asked me to pray with him.  I did.

I spoke with Jesus in a kale field in Apopka, Florida.  The sun blazing, a 90-degree day with no shade.  We worked silently side-by-side, eyes fixated on the leafy greens we ripped from the ground.  Then, in broken English, he told me how he had come to this place—his father taken hostage, his family threatened, and violent gangs pushed him from his native home.  With no resource or support or rights or assistance, he worked here, barely making enough to feed his family, while picking food for the rest of the country.  His eyes welled up.  We were the same age.  Our focus returned to the earth.

I’ve seen Jesus on a street corner, holding a sign that read “God Bless You.”  Sometimes I give him a dollar, sometimes…most times, I don’t.  Sometimes I am overcome with sympathy, and heartache, and compassion, sometimes confusion, disgust, and contempt.  Most times, I try not to make eye contact.  I don’t know why.

I pass Jesus in our hallways and he sits in our classrooms.   With our world here at La Salle moving at a drastic pace, it’s easy to miss him.  But if I slow down, I find him—waiting for me in Campus ministry, at a cafeteria table nearest the grotto, in the passion of my colleagues, in the company of a Christian Brother.

I am comforted by his warmth when I hold my nieces, nephews and Godchildren and I suffer his pain wherever my brothers and sisters are denied their human dignity because of the color of their skin, religious beliefs, or creed of their lives.  I feast with him in his grace at my dining room table and hunger with him when others go starving.  I recognize him easily in my friends and family, those whom I love.  I struggle to understand him in my enemies, those I judge and condemn, but should love.

I’ve searched for him on Kairos and in the celebration of the Eucharist and I’ve ran from him in times of weakness towards temptation and indulgence.  Jesus drove me home to Connecticut one cold and dark night in January.  Then he sent me cards, and plants, and well wishes, and food; he visited me in my office when I was most in need.  I’m not sure how I could ever thank him enough for that.

Yes, I met Jesus once!  He wasn’t what I expected, but it’s how I know he lives.  I spoke with him too; it’s how I heard his call and why I listen closely, trying to learn more.  I strive to be like him and because I often fail, my life is filled with challenge.  I experience Jesus all around me, so I trust I am always in his holy presence. I sense him in my life, so I believe.

Let us pray,

Dear Lord, Everything I am today is a gift from you; help me to discover you in that gift.  Everything I can be tomorrow is my gift to myself; help me seek you there.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brian Ciccone–Social Studies Teacher and Assistant Director of Admissions

 

 

 

A Haitian Diary

(Some random reflections from Ms. Christine Estes during her visit to The Saint Jean Baptiste de La Salle School in Cazeau [Port-au-Prince], Haiti)

What an incredible day! Day 1 of my visit to our school in Haiti. Met Richarde and Kiki who showed me their classrooms, witnessed a gathering of about 60 parents of 3-4 year olds who will soon begin at the school, then got to meet the most incredible group of sisters who run the health and nutrition center. In the middle of Haiti, how surprising and wonderful that they spoke Portuguese of all things!

I’ve been teaching in Lasallian schools since 1998 and I’ve always known that we are a global family. But what a remarkable and humbling experience it is to be here. What began in a corner of Reims, France stretches around the world, even here in Port-au-Prince.

On being in Haiti for 4 days—-
For as long as I’ve been aware of these things, I’ve always believed that all people deserve a share in the goodness of life and God’s creation. Growing up, it was never about just going to church. My models of faith extended themselves in service and in justice to those around them. All God’s children deserve to live in dignity, to be able to go to school, to have access to clean water, to be raised by families who care and can provide for them. If your faith does not speak to this, then I’m not interested in that kind of Christianity.

In Haiti, I saw a level of poverty and devastation I certainly knew about but had never really seen. To see, to experience is a whole other matter. And perhaps, I, we, grow only in direct measure to how much I, we, choose to see, to how close we are willing to get to human suffering. In the words of a man who had gotten really close, how proximate are we willing to get to the human face of injustice?

So many sights, sounds, smells—the roosters beginning the wake up calls, goats, chickens, and dogs just roaming, so many street vendors, the paintings for sale, the tap-tap (public bus bulging with bodies), crazy traffic chaos, monster size roaches (thank you Alan for killing the one in my shower), lice, plantains, make-shift soccer balls that are really just empty water bottles, mountains of garbage, nuns who are so mission-driven they risk everything to bring medical care to villages near and far.

The crazy thing though is that for all this devastation, I experienced a clarity and simplicity in Haiti that I haven’t felt in a while. The taste of Coca Cola from a glass bottle, sharing granola bars with Pilo on the steps of the Brothers’ residence, the look on Pilo’s face when he got his new shoes, the sound of families—the young and old really singing at mass on Sunday—music from their souls, the bongo drums. It might sound trite and sappy, but I felt closer to God these last four days in Haiti than I have in a while.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to return, to take a hot shower and sleep in a real bed and hug my loves. But I return energized in a belief that education changes lives, that we cannot act or help until we are first willing to see, that all human beings deserve a place at God’s table because the food is so good. Most of all, these days in Haiti have reminded me that we need one another. I am grateful that I work in a global community that discerns solutions to poverty. So grateful for that work.

I will bring these children to my own children and to my students because now they are in my heart.

Christine Estes–Director of Campus Ministry

To Go To The Margins

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 15 May 2018–Feast of Saint John Baptist de La Salle)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Happy Feast Day!

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

May 15th is a very special day throughout the Lasallian world.  It is the day on which we Lasallians celebrate our Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle.

On this day in 1950, the Catholic Church declared him the Patron of all Teachers, having named him a saint fifty years earlier in 1900.

This saint is pretty special to this school as well—we are named after him; his statues stand at the top of the stairwell near Room 213 and in the Campus Ministry Center; a brief pictorial biography graces the walls of Heritage Hall near Room 111; his picture is in many classrooms and offices; his name is invoked and called upon to pray for us many times during the day.

From studying about him, most of you know how he was born into a wealthy family, became a priest, lost both parents while in his late teens and became responsible for his brothers and sisters; how he helped with a school for poor boys, got more and more involved in helping to instruct the teachers how to best teach; how he founded more and more schools throughout France; how he experienced some successes and many failures; and, how he left a legacy of schools and Lasallians throughout the world.

We know that during his life he made a series of choices that led him out of his comfort-zone, that moved him beyond what he thought were his personal limits, to go to the margins, so to speak.  And that is his charism, the gift left to those who follow him.

But, we might ask—so what?  Does his charism, his spirit still live on or is he just a dead saint whom we politely remember?

Well, his charism lives on in Brother Andres Porras, a young Brother from Mexico who left his teaching position and his homeland to go to Lebanon to help found a program for refugee children from war-torn Syria and Iraq—a program that, after only a few years, services close to 500 children and their families at 2 sites in Lebanon.  He left his comfort-zone and went to the margins!

And the charism lives on in Brother Bill Firman, an older Brother, who left his native Australia and his chief administrator’s position to answer the call to start a teacher training school in South Sudan—a war-torn area in one of the poorest countries of the world.  Despite the violence, poverty and hunger the college trains native teachers.  He left his comfort-zone and went to the margins!

Closer to home, Brother Lawrence Goyette  took a similar risk 25 years ago, leaving his position as a teacher, to found the first San Miguel School here in Providence, a school to serve middle school age boys who needed an educational chance.  Hundreds of young people are now Miguel Men and Women here and across the country because Brother Lawrence allowed De La Salle’s charism to inspire him.

And even closer to home Ms. Maggie Naughton and Ms. Amanda Proulx, former Religion teachers and Campus Ministers here at La Salle, left the comforts of home—Ms. Naughton to travel across the country recruiting Lasallian Volunteers to serve in Lasallian schools that work with large numbers of poor kids and Ms. Proulx to go to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Pakistan to work with young Lasallians.  The Charism is alive in them!

So too the charism lives in our teachers, coaches, counselors, Campus Ministers, Deans, Administrators, activity moderators, nurse, cafeteria workers—people who go to the margins, beyond the “simply required”—to advise an athlete who is struggling or to encourage a fledgling actress to try out, to provide help before or after school to a student afraid of failing or to help a Senior choose a college, to guide a student through a tough time at home or to work with a group of students to plan Spring Fest, to comfort a student grieving a loss or to cook breakfast for a Kairos Retreat!

Or maybe we look to you our students—those who leave their comfort-zones, give up a vacation, and take a chance to go on a Mission Service Trip to the Mexican border or to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, or those who work at Breadlines or Mary House or Amos House or at Kennedy School or at Fruit Hill, or those who give up an evening to run a Christmas or Easter Party at McAuley Village, or our De La Salle Middle School students who visit Scalabrini Villa for the elderly.  How about our Seniors who leave their comfort-zone to go on Christian Service and deal with Alzheimer’s patients (among other service sites) or our Best Buddies members dealing which physically and mentally challenged young people!  How about the student who comforts an ill classmate cradling his head in his lap, or gives a hug to a classmate hurting from a broken relationship, or willingly shows a visitor where to go, or takes a chance to try out for a team or a play or to raise a hand in class—or the student who shares something about him or herself on the PA in morning prayer or risks planning an event like Intercultural Night!  Yes, there is much evidence that the charism of Saint John Baptist de La Salle lives on, that his faith and zeal continue to inspire us to take risks, to leave our comfort-zones, to go to the margins, to go beyond what we might think are our own personal borders or limitations.

And so we pray, paraphrasing the words of Father Greg Boyle, the Founder of Homeboy Industries:  Lord, help us to go to the margins—not to make a difference, because then that’s about us; but rather to go to the margins so that the folks at the margins will make us different.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

Moms In Prayer

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 11 May 2018)

Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of a Loving God.

I would like to tell you about some people of whom you probably have never heard.

More than 20 years ago, when my sons were students here at La Salle Academy, two mothers came to a PALS meeting to talk about a prayer group, called “Moms in Touch,” now “Moms in Prayer,” which they hoped to start at La Salle.  “Moms in Prayer” is an international, non-denominational group.  Although comprised mostly of mothers, it can include others.

The purpose of the group is to pray for the school, its administration and faculty, staff, and, most importantly, its students.  They pray that God be with us, blessing all the school’s endeavors, whether academic, extra or co-curricular, sports, or social events.  They pray that each of us is here because we want to and should be here, and that we become an integral part of this wonderful community. They pray that each of us recognize the path God wants us to follow, and that He send His Holy Spirit to guide us into and keep us in that path.  They pray that we are granted the courage to endure the hardships we face, and be grateful for the gifts we are granted. They pray that Jesus is with each and every one of us, students, and adults as well, on this campus.

That is its sole function, and I can attest to the truth of this from personal experience.  Given the ever-changing nature of a school population, of course, many different mothers have come and gone over the last decade. But, for 23 years, there has ALWAYS been a group of moms who is willing to devote a bit of time each week on our behalf.

My past days as a part of “Moms In Touch” have left me with a very strong and vibrant image of Jesus, dressed in brilliant white flowing robes, a beaming smile on His face, arms thrown wide, as He strides through the school’s halls, peeking into classrooms, stopping to rest His hand on the shoulder of each person here who needs His loving touch at any given moment.

When you are having a particularly difficult time, or day, or just bad moment, as we all do, remember that there is always someone “extra” here, praying for your constant well-being.

Let us pray.   Lord, Jesus, help us to remember that we are loved and cared for, not only by You, not only by our families and friends, but also by loving and generous people who don’t even know us as individuals.  We pray for them in turn, and ask that they may always be a force of love, of strength, of compassion, though their identities may remain unknown to us.

JOHN BAPTIST DE LA SALLE… Pray for us.

LIVE, JESUS, IN OUR HEARTS… forever.

Connie Ciampanelli–Secretary (Office of Guidance and College Counseling)

A Day To Celebrate Our Teachers

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 8 May 2018—Teacher Appreciation Day)

Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God.

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day, a time to celebrate the guidance of all of the teachers in our lives. Members of Student Council have chosen eight words that encompass what our teachers mean to us.

The first word is gratitude: Today is a time for us to step back and thank God for giving us teachers who not only work persistently to ensure our academic success, but who genuinely care about our development as people. We are grateful to our teachers for all of their hard work.

The second is faith: In the Lasallian community, especially, our teachers show us what it means to live out our faith in and outside of the classroom.

Next, is compassion: Today we celebrate the compassion our teachers have for us, understanding and helping us through the challenges we face. They are examples to us of how to be compassionate to others.

Inspire: Sometimes we all have those moments where something clicks. We understand that difficult concept in class or we discover something we love or we’re good at. Many of these moments come at the hands of our teachers.

Create: Teachers help us to use what we learn to create projects or form ideas that we can be proud of.

Motivate: When we begin losing our motivation, as many of us are at this point in the school year, our teachers are always there behind us offering us a push to follow through.

Determination: Teachers always seem to have the remarkable determination to help us learn in any way they can, because they are passionate about what they teach and want us to be too.

Finally, success: When we reach our goals, we can be proud of all that we have accomplished. And standing right behind us is an equally proud teacher, happy that they could guide us to success.

Looking to the examples of Jesus, St John Baptist de La Salle, and the Brothers of the Christian Schools, we as Lasallians have a special connection to all of our teachers. Yes, this includes those teachers in the classroom, but also those other teachers in our lives: like our parents, coaches, club leaders, and anyone else who acts as a guiding presence for us.

Teacher Appreciation Day is about reflecting on our teachers’ impacts on us. With this in mind, let us pray.

 

Heavenly Father,

Grant our teachers an abundance of your wisdom. Prepare their hearts to welcome all of their students and families, and remind us to show them love and respect in return. Give them grace as they guide their students, courage to say what needs to be said, and strength when they feel weak. When they feel unappreciated, remind them that their efforts do not go unnoticed. They are shaping the future by nurturing our generation through their actions, large and small. We are thankful for the knowledge that they share with us. Bless them, Lord, and may they understand how their hard work and faithfulness have impacted us, their students.

St. John Baptist de La Salle… Pray for us.

Live, Jesus, in our hearts… forever.

Katie Kerr–Class of 2019

The Student Council invited teachers to choose a smooth stone with one of the eight words inscribed upon it from its display (see picture above).

Are We Really Connected?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 26 April 2018—Intercultural Week)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

Nowadays, we are constantly connected to our phones, laptops, and other devices, which have great chances of causing many negative differences in our social lives. Especially when communicating with other people, we can easily use our texts to avoid problems in the long run. Sometimes, we even use words less sincerely than we would if we were talking to someone face to face. We should not hide from true reality. Lots of people post pictures of themselves and others usually comment with a “heart eyes emoji” with the intention of showing support saying “You look great” or “This is a really cool picture,” but would the commenters have the courage to walk up to the person in the picture and say, “Wow, I thought your recent Instagram post was really cool” or “You looked really pretty in the picture you just posted”? Many people act in a specific way over text but may act completely different in person. Once in a while, we may build what we believe is a “friendship” over texting, but in real life, the most we say to each other is a simple greeting when passing by each other in the hallway. This frequently occurs because many would agree that sending a text message is much easier than talking to another in person. We should identify the areas of our social lives with which we struggle due to how we depend too much on technology. In what ways can we use texting, snapping, and other sources of technology to help us build more sincere relationships with others?

Let us pray: Dear God, Please help us to not only identify the areas of our social lives that we struggle with, but also help us to use our technology appropriately to improve our relationships. Guide us to understand the fact that tapping a few buttons and hitting send is much easier than communicating with others in person.  However, in order to build strong, healthy relationships, we must bond with those who are close to us by speaking face to face. Let us not hide our identities and problems through texts and messages. Give us the courage and strength to be sincere with those who are close to us and to find a balance between our use of technology and the relationships we choose to build.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Megan Chan–De La Salle Middle School–Grade 8

Mission into Creed

(Prayer offered for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday, 27 April 2018–Intercultural Week)

Good morning….

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

You are who you are when no-one is watching.  If you have had the pleasure of working alongside Coach Marcone or as one of his players you have probably heard this saying before or something quite similar.  Mr. Pacia shared a prayer with us in the past centered around this idea and I would like to make a connection as well as it relates to mission. Mission is not a catch-phrase, slogan, or marketing campaign.  Mission is not words; it is action. As Lasallians we are called to live our mission each day. I was recently reminded of a school in Chicago that transformed its mission into a creed. Each morning the faculty, staff, and students recite this creed as a reminder of who they are and wish to be.  I would like to share this creed with you as I have altered it slightly.

Your homeroom teachers will have the words displayed on the SmartBoard and I would ask that you silently read along.


Let us pray,

We are the young men and women of La Salle Academy.

We are exceptional—not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.

We will not falter in the face of any obstacle placed before us.

We never succumb to uncertainty or fear.

We are dedicated, committed, and focused.

We never fail because we never give up.

We make no excuses.

We choose to live honestly and with integrity.

We respect ourselves and, in doing so, respect all people.

We have a future for which we are accountable.

We have a responsibility to our families, community, and world.

We believe in ourselves.

We believe in each other.

We believe in La Salle Academy.

We believe.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…..pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…..forever.

Stephen Emerson–Math Teacher