They Are Our Brothers and Sisters

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 17 November 2017)

Good Morning!

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

This Sunday is the First World Day of the Poor as established by Pope Francis. All week we have been focusing on instances where we see God in the marginalized. Today, I’m asking you to remember those who have to stand in line at soup kitchens to get enough food to eat and those who have to go each day to find a place to sleep at night at shelters. Who are “these people”? They’re just like you and I. Many years ago I was fortunate enough to do a Lasallian Social Justice week on homelessness in San Francisco. The first day we stood in line with those waiting at a soup kitchen to get food. To my surprise, there were teenagers in line, one who had a stack of books she had just gotten at the local library. There were elderly people like your grandparents, men in business suits, and families with little children. The little children brought tears to my eyes as I thought on a time when my own children were young and if they had had to go to a soup kitchen to get food, how that would’ve made me feel. The gospel asks us to not only give out of our surplus, but to give from our want. Think of all of the money that we waste in a week and if we could just sacrifice one trip to get a drink or sweet, what that would mean collectively to the soup kitchens and shelters. They could give a little more to those waiting in line and to allow second helpings for the little child who says they’re still hungry!

So, on Tuesday, for our Thanksgiving Dress Down Day, please be generous. Give not only the $5, but perhaps there’s a little more that we can sacrifice for those most in need. Let’s listen to the words of Pope Francis:

Let us Pray.

“I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father. This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounterso that we can become an even greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.” –Pope Francis

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

Live, Jesus, in our hearts, forever.

Leslie Martinelli–Science Teacher and Co-Moderator of Social Concerns Committee

I Am Lasallian

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 16 November 2017)

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

Good morning! My name is Karen Clements and I am a teacher at The San Miguel School.  Thank you for inviting me to join with you today in prayer. As a member of the La Salle Academy class of 2003, I have to say that it feels good to be back home with “family.”  Now some of you already know me, either as your sister, your friend, your colleague, your former classmate, or perhaps your former student and to the San Miguel alum out there, you know me as your 5th grade teacher.  However, to the majority of you, we’ve never met. So why is it then that I say we’re “family”?

A few years back, one of my students at San Miguel wrote an essay entitled, “What it Means to be Lasallian.” Although he was only 11 years old at the time, his words inspired me in the way I think about our Lasallian family. In his essay he wrote, “I am Lasallian. I am a part of the Lasallian family. I am loved, supported, valued, cared for and I belong. To be Lasallian means to do whatever it takes to help others in need. I receive so much at San Miguel and I’m grateful. Now it’s my turn to pay it forward.”

My Lasallian journey began as a student at La Salle in 1999, and now, 18 years later, I am a teacher at a neighboring Lasallian school.  Throughout these years, I have had the privilege to witness the power of the Lasallian family.

One of my favorite times of the week is on Wednesday mornings when students from La Salle, who are completing their Christian Service course, join my 5th graders and me in our classroom.  These seniors act as my assistant teachers. I love having the extra set of hands in my classroom, but more than that I love to watch the bonds that develop over the course of about 6 weeks.  Earlier this year, at San Miguel, we had a special prayer service in celebration of International Lasallian Days for Peace. At this prayer service students created “peace rocks.” On each rock they wrote a peaceful quote or positive message. These rocks now circulate around our school as ways to support one another in times of need. At this prayer service, our Christian Service helpers were there to participate. Every once in a while a rock passes by that is signed, “From, Your Brother, at La Salle.” To me, this rock is a symbol of the strength of our two communities joined together as one.

Thank you to Ethan, Daryl, Nick, and Braedon and to all Christian Service students, past, present, and future, who have served as friends and role models to my San Miguel students and others in our community.

There are many times throughout the year in which students at San Miguel and La Salle show support for one another, but nothing tops the way in which De La Salle Middle School and La Salle Academy take care of their brothers at San Miguel during the holidays.  Thank you for the time, energy and thoughtfulness that go into putting together Thanksgiving food baskets and Christmas presents each year. These selfless acts of caring for your neighbor are what make our Lasallian community so strong.

Over the years I’ve discovered that being Lasallian doesn’t end once you graduate from La Salle Academy.  Being Lasallian is a way of life.  As Lasallians, we are here “to do God’s work.”  Each of our Lasallian journeys may look different, but we must be open to the unexpected ways in which God is knocking at our door.

Let us pray.

Loving Father,

We turn to you with grateful hearts for what we have, and with great anticipation for what is yet to be.

Bless us with a sense of unity, a spirit of cooperation, and generous hearts as we embrace the responsibilities and challenges that face the Lasallian Family.

Guide us; strengthen us; bless us with your presence; and help us serve you faithfully now and through the ages to come. Amen.

– adaptation of St. John Nepomucene Parish Prayer

 

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

San Miguel, Pray for us.

Live Jesus in Our Hearts, Forever.

Karen Clements–Class of 2003

Change Is Inevitable—Progress Is Optional

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 9 November 2017)
Let us remember we are in the holy presence of a loving God….
As I was getting ready last night to head to the boys’ soccer game, I had to dig around in my basement for our box of scarves, hats, and gloves. When I came home and there was a fire going in our wood stove, I was reminded that the colder weather is probably here to stay. My favorite mountain is already making snow for the upcoming ski season and most of the leaves have fallen off the trees in our yard. Change is happening, whether we see it or not, and whether we like it or not. Around this time of the year I always think of the quote “change is inevitable, but progress is optional.”
Let us pray…
Just when we settle into a pattern,
things change far too quickly.
One door opens; and another one closes.
We rise, we eat, we sleep.
We smile, we laugh, and we cry.
Change itself is ever changing and if I’m truthful, I don’t always like change,
Because I desire the control.
Will you forgive my lack of understanding that Your creation of seasons is exquisite?
Would you remind me that the ebb and flow of life is rippled by the gifts of love and laughter?
And that life is measured by memories, not minutes?
May the season of change fuel me forward
with renewed perspective.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Morgan Kane–Math Teacher

Courage—-With a Smile!

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 8 November 2017 [Grandparents’ Day])

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

Good morning La Salle and a special welcome to our grandparents that are visiting their grandchildren today at the Academy.  We hope you enjoy your day and can get a glimpse of the great things your grandchildren are doing.

Take a moment to think about a five year old that may be your daughter, son, niece, cousin, friend, sister, brother, or for all our grandparents here, your grandchild.  Think about what they spend their time doing and what is adventurous to them.  I would assume whatever comes to mind is something that may include running, jumping, dancing, or playing outside.

Last year I had the privilege to be an assistant teacher in a class with a five year old named Addie.  Addie was born with achondroplasia and suffers from the struggles of dwarfism.  However, this did not stop Addie.  In our dance class, she was far from a complainer and held a contagious smile on her face.

Towards the beginning of the summer I found out Addie would be having surgery on both of her legs due to tremendous pain she was in.  I was shocked.  I had no clue the pain Addie was in behind the smile she was showing all of us.  I had assumed Addie would not be in class for the first two months of the dance season, due to being in full casts and being in a wheelchair.  However, to my surprise on the first day of classes, in walked Addie’s mom holding a very happy Addie tight in her arms in her cute ballerina outfit.

No, Addie could not walk, but this did not stop her one bit.  I placed her on the floor of the classroom and for an hour Addie and I played games, stretched, and helped clean up after her friends.  Using the strength in her arms, Addie crawled around the room picking up bean bags and racing with her friends.  When her friends were doing leaps and jumps, Addie and I sat to the side and I played the games Addie made up with her beautiful imagination.

I was mesmerized by her strength, and the composure she held throughout these two months of classes where she had to accept she was not physically capable to do what her friends around her were doing.

The day Addie walked in without casts was a beautiful day, but it was not much easier. Although, to no surprise, Addie did not back down.  Addie was learning to walk on two new legs.  Her ability she had acquired to walk (around the age of one and a half) had been taken away from her and she had to relearn.

The Saturday mornings that I spend with Addie are very special to me.  They open my eyes to something I would have never imagined would have to happen to a sweet little five year old girl.  But more than that, I am truly inspired by the perseverance that Addie has to not give up and to make herself better and stronger to get through this battle she is fighting.

I ask you again to take a moment to think about the five year old you thought of at the beginning of this prayer and imagine if you had to witness this happen to him or her.  It is amazing what you can learn from young children and how much they can teach us when they are not even aware.

Let us pray—

Please let us acknowledge all that we have to be thankful for and the simple thanks of having the God- given gift of having two legs to walk on.

And more than that, let us pray for the beauty of children and all that they can teach us on a daily basis.  And of course, a special prayer for Addie who deserves praise every day for what she continues to fight through.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Courtney Caccia–Class of 2018

To See the Bigger Picture

(Prayer offered for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 7 November 2017)

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

In 2001 I was a newly-minted teacher looking for a job. I put my name on sub lists at all the local schools and had some interviews that summer. As September rolled around I was still unemployed. And then I was hired for a long term sub position at St. Raphael Academy. Now understand that I am not a native Rhode Islander.  Living first in Newport and then Tiverton, I am pretty sure I had never been to Pawtucket. I had never heard of St. Ray’s and I most certainly had no idea who St John Baptist de La Salle was. But it was a job and so off I went.

Now the life of a sub is such that someone shows you a classroom and says ready, set, go!  And you just hope and pray that your education has prepared you to teach. I was, however, not prepared to learn. On day two, a student said to me, “Mrs. Chapman we are supposed to pray.” Oh, of course… I’m in a religious school. So the next day I had a prayer. Then a student says, “uh… Mrs. Chapman you are supposed to say ‘Let us remember we are in the Holy presence of God’.” So I did then read my prayer. Then I hear…”uh, Mrs. Chapman what about the end? The response prayer? St. John Baptist de La Salle… Pray for Us.”  I got it right after a few tries and the students and I laughed together but truthfully I was still so confused. Who was I asking to pray for us? I kept messing up and saying John the Baptist. And who are the Christian Brothers anyway? I was clueless.

As fortune would have it when my sub position ended, a job opened up here at La Salle. As Mr. Kavanagh gave me a tour I noticed how clean the building was—how Mr. Fortin shared all his teaching materials with me even if they were from the 1950’s—how Mr. Skelly made me laugh every day. And although I still had no clue who St John Baptist de La Salle was, and I was still pretty fuzzy regarding the Christian Brothers, I stayed.

I did eventually learn the history and mission of La Salle. But learning and understanding can be very different. I was part of something so much bigger than just the buildings of the academy. It’s bigger than a button down, a tie, a gray skirt. It’s bigger than me wearing my ID, chaperoning Harvest Ball, or grading DBQ’s. It’s about community and respect and a million other things you don’t realize until much later. It’s former students who get married in the chapel; it’s former students who come back to teach; it’s students who become Lasallian volunteers, or who leave La Salle ready to serve the bigger community. Our community is easy to take for granted but the culture of care and respect is everywhere. I challenge all of us to look beyond the immediate to see the bigger picture that is La Salle.

Oh God–

Let us learn to love our neighbors more deeply, so that we can create peaceful and just communities.

Inspire us to use our creative energies to build the structures we need to overcome the obstacles of intolerance and indifference.

May Jesus provide us the example needed and send the Spirit to warm our hearts for the journey.

Amen

—adapted from Being Neighbor: The Catechism and Social Justice

St John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our Hearts…Forever.

Kristine Chapman–Social Studies Teacher

We Remember Them

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 2 November 2017)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

Today, All Souls’ Day, the Catholic Church remembers in prayer all those who have died.  In the Chapel of the Brothers’ Community is a book containing the names of beloved deceased given to us to pray for during this month of November by families, faculty, friends and alums of La Salle Academy.  Last Tuesday evening as I wrote out my list I did not simply print their names.

As I wrote my mom’s name I remembered her last day of life—how she called me to her bedside, held her two weakened hands around my chin and cheeks (as she had done when I was a child, bending down to me, and later on as I grew taller and older stretching up to reach my face).  She pulled me close to her and whispered that each day of my life had been a special blessing for her.  Although that happened almost 34 years ago I relived that memory last Tuesday evening as if it were yesterday.

So too I remembered my dad—a strong, tough man, a World War II vet, a steel worker, a weightlifter into his 70’s—I remembered how, from my youngest days, heading off for bed, he would plant a gentle kiss on my forehead and sign it with the sign of the cross with his rough thumb.  He did this the last time I saw him alive, as he had done every time we parted—a few days before his sudden death saying Goodbye not knowing it would be our last.

I remembered my Auntie Rita, married, but with no kids of her own.  How she loved amusement rides and the Red Sox and French fries!  She never denied that I was her favorite and on those days when I visited her as a young kid she shared with me her love of those things—and they became the things I liked and still like.  She spent 8 years in a nursing home after the death of her husband and one Christmas Day a few years ago I spent the morning with her at her bedside, holding her hand until it became cold and she breathed her last.  It was the least I could do to return the favors she had shown me!

And Mrs. Ann Morsilli, my colleague, dance partner and our dance teacher—how I remember those jitterbugs and cha-chas with her in her 5 inch spiked heels, never tiring, full of exuberance and life!

And so many more!

Why don’t you close your eyes now for a moment and picture someone who is gone from your life.  Listen closely for their voice, for their quiet giggle or boisterous laugh; smell the unique fragrance of their perfume or after shave, the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking in their kitchen or the smell of fresh cut wood in their workplace; feel their gentle kiss and tender touch or their firm handshake and crushing hug.  In some mysterious way they are present; in faith we believe that they have passed from this life to another but still they care for us and they love us, and now they intercede before God for us—asking Him to welcome us gently when our time comes.

I ask you tonight to turn off your i phone or cell, your computer and TV and other electronic devices just before you go to bed and remember them, remember those who have loved you and cared for you and made you the person you now are today.  Allow their memories to flood your mind and your heart.  There may be a moment of grief but there will be many more moments of gratitude.  And not just tonight!  How about during the rest of this month of All Souls—remember them, pray for them, and ask them to pray for you.

Let us conclude with a prayer taken from the Judaic tradition—one of my favorite prayers:

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.

In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.  Amen.

 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

When The Lights Go Out

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 27 October 2017)

On Thursday morning an accident in the neighborhood (lightning strike) destroyed a transformer and caused an electrical outage in the area, including the school.  The building was in darkness for more than an hour, except for emergency lights.  Students were dismissed early.

 

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

So sometimes the lights go out.  One second the world is bright and warm, then suddenly it’s not.  Perhaps you have experienced this recently.  Yesterday when La Salle went dark something very interesting happened, but maybe you didn’t see it, and perhaps you missed something special.

As I walked the hallways of the dimly lit school and peered into classrooms what I saw was, well, illuminating.  With cell phone flashlights and white boards, teachers continued to teach.  Students huddled around laptops, faces a glow from their screens in cooperative learning.  Your deans and administrators ran from floor to floor, room to room, building to building to ensure the safety of our community.  One dean stood in the rain to ensure that buses arrived; parents came to the call of their children without hesitation; and, student drivers left the campus, their cars filled with friends in need of a ride home.

You see, the darkness didn’t really stop us.  Yes, maybe it ended our day a little early, but it didn’t stop us from learning and could not stop us from caring for one another.   And life is like this, our mission as Lasallians is like this, and our faith is like this.

The struggle between light and dark is as old as time itself.  God himself drove out the darkness at the beginning of time.  Later he would send us his only son to be the light of the world.  And just think back to your Civics class and Plato’s Cave.

Darkness can be scary; it is filled with chaos and the unknown.  However, no matter how pitch black the darkness can be, there is always a glimmer guiding and urging us to find our way out.  And yesterday reminded me how important it is to be that light for one another.  In little ways, we were able to show our own sense of goodness, and those little actions lit our school with a glow that required no generator.

So I wonder, are you ready to be the light of the world, as Lasallians and Christians? When the gloom of loneliness and cruelty descends, are you ready to be the light of kindness and friendship for those in need?  Where justice is obscured by intolerance, will you be a beacon of hope for those marginalized, abused, and forgotten?  When the dusk of hate and violence falls upon us, will you be brave enough to shine a light of love, empathy and compassion, even when it is for your enemy?

And if all seems lost, when it feels as though everyone and everything has abandoned you, will you be wise and faithful enough to know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has never left your side?  Walk closely then with him and you will never find yourself in the darkness.  And as quickly as the lights sometimes go out, they just as quickly turn back on.

 

Let us pray,

Our Founder, John Baptist de La Salle said in his Meditations, “In the light of faith you see things quite differently.”  Father in heaven, help us to seek out the light of knowledge and love from those in our community.  Strengthen us to brighten the path for others who may be lost in the gloom of night.  And when all that is left is your grace to hold fast to, be with us oh Lord, our light and our way.  No darkness can ever consume us with you at our side.

 

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