(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 1 February 2018—Catholic Schools Week)
Let us remember- that we are in the holy presence of God.
During my four years at La Salle, a phrase that stuck with me was “The Lasallian Mission is now in effect.” This saying was announced over the loudspeaker for emergency drills, a way of notifying everyone to shelter in place. In this situation, the Lasallian mission was only in effect for the people who were in this building and heard the message. But I’ve come to find out that the Lasallian mission spans so much further than this brick building on the corner of Academy Ave. and Smith Street. Being a student at La Salle Academy introduced me and everyone else who has walked through its doors to the Lasallian mission- one that has the potential to change the trajectory of your life like it has changed so many.
My Lasallian journey began just as yours did, with an acceptance letter and a new opportunity. I came to La Salle not knowing many people, and I did my best to get involved and make friends. I found my place here through athletics and service. I was part of a sports team in every season during my 4 years, proud to represent La Salle on the ice and on the field. My teams turned from friends to family, and many of my closest friendships were made during these seasons. I felt at home being a member of Lasallian Youth, taking part in coat drives, bake sales, service trips and more. My time at La Salle flew by, and it was filled with memorable times alongside great friends made here.
At first glance, my experience at La Salle sounds pretty typical. I’m sure there are many of you who have found your place at La Salle by being part of a team, whether that be through sports, performing arts, or math and science. And I know that so many of you are involved in community service at La Salle because helping those in need is a pillar of being a student here.
We all share those common high school experiences and that’s why we love La Salle. But when I take a more meaningful look at my four years, the impact that this school has made on me is what makes my experience so special. It is astounding all the ways that this school and its mission have become a part of who I am. For example, being a part of a team has taught me what it means to be united and work towards a common goal. Taking part in service has taught me the importance of putting others before yourself and doing God’s work where He calls you. My teachers and coaches taught me what it is like to feel supported and have someone believe in you. All of those small things that were part of my life each day here taught me more than any textbook ever could.
These lessons are so important and I am thankful that I learned them at La Salle. But I wasn’t satisfied with just harboring these lessons and memories. I felt that my obligation as a graduate of La Salle Academy was to pass these lessons and this mission onto someone else.
After college, I was chosen to take part in a post graduate service program called Lasallian Volunteers-a Catholic organization founded upon the 3 pillars of faith, service and community. As a volunteer, I spent a year of service in San Francisco, California. I taught 5th grade at a Lasallian School named De Marillac Academy, which was located in the Tenderloin, a part of the city that had a brutal reputation for drugs, violence and danger. It was here, as a part of this program and in this city, that I realized how far and wide the Lasallian mission spreads. It was here, in the Tenderloin, that I put those lessons learned at La Salle into place, passing them on to someone new. At school, I filled the hearts and minds of my 5th graders with knowledge and faith each day. I reminded them that their future was in their hands, that this neighborhood they lived in did not define them. I supported their dreams just like my teachers and coaches at La Salle supported mine.
In addition to my service site, Lasallian Volunteers also provided me with the opportunity to live in community with Christian Brothers, our home adjoining a Lasallian high school named Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. Living in this community gave me the opportunity to get to know the Brothers, and the stories of their journeys and where their Lasallian Mission had taken them inspired me to continue spreading mine. Sacred Heart reminded me so much of La Salle and that along with the sense of family that I gained from my community made me feel like home wasn’t so far away.
Each day while walking through the Tenderloin to and from school, I treated each person who was homeless on the streets of the Tenderloin with love and respect by offering a smile and saying hello, which was all that most of them were looking for. Here I felt myself going out of my comfort zone to do God’s work and make each of them feel like human beings, deserving of God’s love and life. In the moment, I didn’t realize the meaningfulness of what I was doing, but looking back on all these experiences, I see that my year of service was my own Lasallian mission in affect.
Statue of the “Homeless Jesus”
My journey of spreading the Lasallian mission has guided me to the place where I am meant by God to be right now. The mission became a part of what I do each day in my path of educating the next generation as a teacher, and now the question is where will it take you? How will the Lasallian Mission become a part of you, grounded in the beliefs of serving others? The Lasallian Mission can transform your future- but you have to make the effort to keep the Lasallian Mission in effect beyond your four years at the Academy. When you keep that mission alive in your heart, the possibilities are endless.
Let us pray:
Father in heaven, God of love, all I have and am is yours. Grant that I may become a living sign of your compassion in this world. Grant me the faith to live my life, always in the awareness of your loving presence. Grant me zeal to serve without thought of reward, those to whom you send me. Grant me charity to bear the burdens of my brothers and sisters. Teach me to seek your Son’s face, in the last, the lost, and the least. In whatever I undertake, may I seek above all things, to procure your glory, as far as I am able, and as you will require of me. Strengthen me by your Holy Spirit, to follow Jesus by living the commitment I make this day. Amen.
St. John Baptiste de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever!
Abbey Sorensen–Class of 2012