How to Be a Good Father

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 19 March 2018)

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

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers and the universal church. He is the foster-father of Jesus and husband to the Virgin Mary. It would be appropriate for us to remember our own fathers this morning, both living and deceased. If your father is deceased, we pray that he finds comfort in knowing God face-to-face, and experiences everlasting peace in heaven; may you be aware that he is watching over you today. If your father is still alive, wish him a Happy St. Joseph’s Day. Tell him that you love him, in person, by skype or by phone. Try to do that in the next 15 hours, maybe over a shared zeppole for dessert tonight. Don’t wait… before it’s too late.

My own father is turning 90 years old this August. In his own quiet way, he taught me how to be a father. When I was growing up, he taught high school Spanish in Winnetka, Illinois. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, he was serving as my role model for my own teaching vocation, even though I swore I would never be a high school teacher during my teenage years. Your Father in heaven will surprise you sometimes, in his Divine Providence.


Anyways, together with my mom, he helped me develop a love for learning and dug deep into his pockets to let me attend my first-choice college (Northwestern University), which was more expensive than the state university that my parents attended in Champaign-Urbana. He exhibited great patience as he taught me how to drive a car with a stick-shift. He dragged me out of bed during the summers to play tennis at 6:00am every morning. And still to this day, he mails me weekly envelopes filled with practical advice on health, wealth, and what Pope Francis did last  week, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Catholic, the New York Times, plus every coupon you could imagine.


My father, John Martinez, taught me how to be a father. You really can’t buy a book or watch a video called, “How to be a good father.” If you believe there is such a magic-wand, you’re a fool! You have to watch and learn from fathers–your own, your grand-fathers, my father-in-law, any father worth his salt–often by trial and error–what I call experiential learning. And so as I reflect back on my own 5 children–Michael, Christina, Marianna, John and James–I’m proud of how they turned out (due mostly to the influence of my wife), and ask their pardon for any deficiencies or shortcomings I exhibit as their Dad.


However, the best part for me has been becoming a grandfather. I love watching my oldest son, Michael, raise his two young children–my grandson Zachary, 20 months old, and my grand-daughter, Elsie, who turns 6 months old on Palm Sunday. It’s a sign to me that I did okay as a dad, and that I gave my own son the greatest gift he could possibly ask for–the tools necessary to become a good Dad, himself.

Let us pray:

St. Joseph–you accepted God’s plan for you in a dream, that you should enter into marriage with the Virgin Mary, and raise lovingly the child Jesus, the Son of God, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. May you watch over all couples experiencing difficult pregnancies. Because you were attuned to Divine Providence, you whisked your child and wife away from Bethlehem, becoming refugee immigrants in Egypt, to protect them from the wrath of King Herod. St. Joseph–may you grant hope to immigrants today, who are escaping from terror and violence in their father-lands. And may you watch over all our fathers, both living and deceased. Watch over the young men in our student body. Guide and strengthen those who will marry and become fathers some day. May they imitate you St. Joseph, in the same way you cared for Jesus and Mary.

St. John Baptist de La Salle, PRAY FOR US.

St. Joseph, PRAY FOR US.

Live Jesus in our Hearts! FOREVER!

David Martinez—Religion Teacher

A Profile in Courage

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 28 February 2018)

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

Alyssa. Scott. Martin. Nicholas. Aaron. Jaime. Chris. Luke. Cara. Gina. Joaquin. Alaina. Meadow. Helena. Alex. Carmen. Peter.

These are the names of the 17 victims of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018. A day that should have been filled with love and appreciation was soon filled with terror and panic for the students and teachers of Douglas High School.

When I first got the news, I was obviously heartbroken, but I don’t think any of us can honestly say we were shocked. In 2018 alone there have been 7 school shootings resulting in injury or death. Something that should be a tragedy has turned into a normality in America.

But this morning I want to talk more about the survivors of the Parkland shooting. In tragedies like this, one would expect the survivors to quietly live out the rest of their lives with the burden of trauma, too heartbroken to ever speak out about the matter.

But the students of Douglas High School are fulfilling the exact opposite of this expectation. The students, some as young as 14, have taken the opportunity to step up and speak out about what they believed needs to be changed. Just one week after the shooting a group of students took center stage to be a part of a CNN Town Hall, demanding action from their state legislators. One student in particular, Emma Gonzalez, gave a powerful speech at a Fort Lauderdale rally just three days after the shooting, stating, “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks.”

As Romans 12:21 states “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The students of Douglas High School have responded to this tragedy with resilience and determination, bringing their community together to heal and build change. No matter where you stand on this issue, I believe we could all learn something from the extraordinary students of Parkland, Florida.

Let us pray.

Dear God, we pray for the victims of the Douglas High School shooting, in hopes that their families find a way to heal from the loss of loved ones. We pray that You bring strength to the survivors of this tragedy. And lastly, we pray for the courage to create a world that is safe for all of its children.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle – pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts – forever.

Lauren Campbell–Class of 2018

“I Am Equal—I Am Equal—I Am Equal”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address and intranet systems for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 27 February 2018—Black History Month)

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

I’ll be reading a poem written by M, called “equality”,

do not talk down on me like I am less of a soul

less of a point of the whole universe observing itself

less of an intelligence than you are; I am

equal, I am equal, I am equal, I am equal

and how long have we been trying to prove it?


Let us pray,

Oh Lord you created us in your image and likeness.

Help us create a world where people are not afraid of being who they truly are, no matter where they come from, what they believe in, who they love or the color of their skin; where people are not racially profiled, killed, or mistreated because of their race. But instead let us live in a society of acceptance, peace, and knowledge, where people understand each other and fight for equity to make the world a better place.

Saint John the Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Alejandro Jimenez—Class of 2018

Uplift Our Narratives

(Prayer offered on the Public Address and intranet systems for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 26 February 2018—Black History Month)

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

Given the introduction of these poems throughout the span of this month, I’ve decided to read a piece named “These Poems” by June Jordan.

“These poems

they are things that I do

in the dark

reaching for you

whoever you are


are you ready?


These words

they are stones in the water

running away


These skeletal lines

they are desperate arms for my longing and love.


I am a stranger

learning to worship the strangers

around me


whoever you are

whoever I may become.”


When I first read this poem it struck me as very subtle but also very powerful. Poems are meant to reach out to you and connect you to the poet as if you were next to them while he or she was writing it. A sense of freedom and liberation should come to mind as you hear these prayers or poems because that was their intended purpose. Poems represent the free nature of putting a pencil down to paper without having anyone else to tell you what to write or how to write it.

As Black History Month comes to an end, let us remember that these poems and prayers are calls to freedom from a population that has been historically marginalized for generations. We must uplift their narratives, we must derive lessons from the words they have bestowed onto us. As a society, the only way we can move forward is by looking back and analyzing our own history.

Let us pray,

God, we say thank you for those who shared throughout the course of Black History Month. Let the impact of these poems and prayers remain within the hearts of those at La Salle Academy and let us ensure that the efforts of those who fought for the cultivation of Black History Month have not been done so in vain.


St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever

Kenny Demola–Class of 2018

A Chance To Chase Our Dreams

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system and via the school-wide intranet for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday, 16 February 2018—Black History Month)

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

Today I will be reading a poem called,


BY Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Let us pray,

For a promising future where we unite as human beings and strive for a community that provides equal opportunity to all regardless of race or socioeconomic status—a community where everyone is entitled to the chance to chase their dreams. Allow those who wish to make a positive impact in our world the opportunity to make their dreams become a reality.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Beah Cyrus–Class of 2018

“I Recognize All of You, Every Creed and Color….”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system and via the school-wide intranet for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 15 February 2018—Black History Month)

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

Kendrick Lamar once rapped:

I’m African-American, I’m African

I’m black as the moon, heritage of a small village

Pardon my residence

Came from the bottom of mankind

My hair is nappy, my nose is round and wide

In the popular media today there seems to be a line drawn  somewhere; for some people the sky is the limit to be whatever they so choose. While the best way to succeed as a black person more blatantly put by J Cole is:

They tellin’ kids “sell dope, rap or go to NBA,” (in that order)/It’s that sort of thinkin’ that been keepin’ kids chained.

While Childish Gambino once said:

The black experience is black and serious / ‘Cause being black, my experience, is no one hearin’ us / White kids get to wear whatever hat they want / When it comes to black kids one size fits all.

We live in a society where the topics of race and racism are sometimes forgotten, misunderstood or ignored.  With hate crimes, derogatory words and racial profiling becoming an everyday norm, now more than ever it is time to acknowledge the issue. The thing is—your friends and peers sitting right next to you may have faced these issues in their day to day lives and you may not even be aware.  You may live in a blissfully unaware life where race does not affect you. But as once said by Kendrick Lamar:

I recognize all of you, every creed and color…

We gon’ talk about a lot of things that concern you, all of you

Now I don’t care if you

black, white, asian, hispanic

And he has a point, the conversation about racism does not mean that only one race should be concerned and discussing it. Instead we as a community must come together to see how we can strengthen ourselves and keep ideas of hate away.

Let us pray..

As once said by Tupac:  It ain’t easy, being me, will I see the penitentiary, or will I stay free? As time passes by, society begins to realize the black experience is a hard one. May we never forget the sins of the past and that history still affects us today.  Lord, let us realize that we are all equal even though at times it does not seem that way. Let us remember that when the odds are stacked against us there are those who are always there willing to lend a hand.  Let us be judged on our virtues not our color.  Amen.

 Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Dariana Espaillat—Class of 2018

Question for after video: Are you ever conscious of how you act in public because of your race?

Love Hurts

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday, 14 February 2018)

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

Love. What is love? The radio tells me that love is a warm and fuzzy feeling that someone gets when they see an attractive person on the other side of a crowded room. But that’s not love. Love hurts too much to be that.

That’s right … Love hurts. If it doesn’t hurt, you’re doing it wrong. Love isn’t a warm and fuzzy feeling we get when someone sends us flowers or a card or takes us out to dinner. Those things feel too good to be love. Love hurts.

The greatest example of love that has ever existed is Jesus dying on the cross for us. Take a quick look at the crucifix in your classroom or office. Does that look like it felt good? Of course not! Love hurts.

The word compassion literally translates in Latin to “I suffer with.” True love means entering into the lives of others and walking with them – through their joys and their sufferings. Whether that means listening for hours to our brother who is struggling with addiction even though it means we’re going to miss the big game. Or opening up our home to our sister who doesn’t know how she’s going to support her unborn child. Or even sharing our table with a stranger who has no roof over his head or food in his stomach.

We’re probably not called to suffer on a cross. Thankfully, those days are pretty much over. But we are called to love … to love until it hurts, oftentimes in the most inconvenient ways.

Today, we Christians begin our forty-day retreat of Lent. My challenge to you is this – instead of giving up sweets again, why don’t you reflect on whatever is standing in the way of you loving until it hurts… loving especially those who we think are undeserving of our love. And then reflect on how you can “give up” those barriers this Lent.

Let us pray…

Lord God, you have made us in your image and likeness.

You have made us to love.

Teach us how to love as you love – to love until it hurts.


St. John Baptist de la Salle … pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts … forever.

Charles da Silva—Religion Teacher

“The Eyes However Are The Mirror Of The Soul”

(Prayer offered over the Public Address system and the school-wide intranet for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 13 February 2018—Black History Month)

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

In honor of Black History Month at La Salle Academy, I will be reading this poem called “The Laws of Motion” by Nikki Giovanni…

The laws of science teach us a pound of gold weighs as

much as a pound of flour though if dropped from any

undetermined height in their natural state one would

reach bottom and one would fly away


Laws of motion tell us an inert object is more difficult to

propel than an object heading in the wrong direction is to

turn around. Motion being energy—inertia—apathy.

Apathy equals hostility. Hostility—violence. Violence

being energy is its own virtue. Laws of motion teach us


Black people are no less confused because of our

Blackness than we are diffused because of our

powerlessness. Man we are told is the only animal who

smiles with his lips. The eyes however are the mirror of

the soul


The problem with love is not what we feel but what we

wish we felt when we began to feel we should feel

something. Just as publicity is not production: seduction

is not seductive


If I could make a wish I’d wish for all the knowledge of all

the world. Black may be beautiful Professor Micheau

says but knowledge is power. Any desirable object is

bought and sold—any neglected object declines in value.

It is against man’s nature to be in either category


If white defines Black and good defines evil then men

define women or women scientifically speaking describe

men. If sweet is the opposite of sour and heat the

absence of cold then love is the contradiction of pain and

beauty is in the eye of the beheld


Sometimes I want to touch you and be touched in

return. But you think I’m grabbing and I think you’re

shirking and Mama always said to look out for men like



So I go to the streets with my lips painted red and my

eyes carefully shielded to seduce the world my reluctant



And you go to your men slapping fives feeling good

posing as a man because you know as long as you sit

very very still the laws of motion will be in effect

Let us Pray,

Dear Lord, as we begin this week please help us all to use the power that we possess individually to wield power together in unity. Let us all get past barriers of ignorance that are blocking our capacity to love, and let us focus on what we all want on the inside, which is peace and community. Help us to do this today, and everyday.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts…. forever.

Caroline Akanji–Class of 2018

Celebrating Our Cultural Diversity

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system and over the school-wide intranet for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday, 9 February 2018)

Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God—

Being a senior at La Salle, I have been in the America for four years. These have been the most unforgettable four years of my life, because I started to imagine studying in the US when I was a kid. It is the most powerful country in the world, so I thought everything here is going to be perfect. The people here are more open and friendlier. After so much effort and getting the support from my parents, I ended up here eventually.

The years I spent in America taught me that there is no such thing as a perfect place. It is not easy to be a part of the community made up of others who were born here. The loneliness is the biggest suffering for me and all the international students. Especially when the most important festival, the Chinese New Year comes around, the lack of family makes the situation worse. Luckily, this year everything began to change. I realized the best way to pull each other closer is to open up yourself. The best thing I can think of is to introduce Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, to the community. Next week, there is going to be a Chinese New Year celebration at La Salle. Hopefully, it will show the community a general idea of the Chinese culture. Hopefully, it will bring all of us closer. Hopefully,  it will give everyone a  joyful week of experiencing the Chinese culture.


People have asked me: “Do you think there are people that really care about this or that it will have a meaningful result?” I think I have the answer right now. Regardless how many people care about this, doing this thing itself is meaningful. Moreover, I truly believe people care.

Let us pray,

May we all be welcoming of the different traditions and celebrations that others hold dear. May we respect one another and the cultural values we hold. And may we one day come together to celebrate the cultures that make us who we are.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Grace Chen—Class of 2018