(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 14 February 2019—Black History Month)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of a loving God.
How wonderful it has been these past few mornings to pause and pay tribute to writers, poets, activists, and political leaders – in recognition of Black History Month.
We don’t do that often enough – pay tribute to those who have come before us.
I believe that when people leave a lasting impression—God helps us to remember them with a sense of clarity years do not fade. In such a way, I remember Madeline Rogers – with whom I crossed paths some 35 years ago.
It was the summer of 1984, between my junior and senior years here at La Salle. I got a job as a lifeguard at the Camden Avenue Pool in Providence. I never knew the pool existed. I had driven through the Smith Hill neighborhood – but I had never stopped.
You walked through the elementary school to get to the back, and there was the gigantic pool, glistening under the summer sun. Before it opened each day, a line formed – kids arrived on bikes, teenagers sauntered in – mothers pushed baby carriages.
Miss Rogers welcomed everyone into her orbit – some with a warm hug, others with that stern, motherly look. She made sure that pool was ready every day. She made sure the boxed lunches were in order – and that everyone received one. She tended to skinned knees. She calmed hurt feelings. She nipped potential incidents of drama in the bud. And she treated everyone – everyone – the same!
She made sure the only reason one would feel uncomfortable was the blaring sun. And it was, as I recall, an oppressive summer. Miss Rogers said if any of us lifeguards wanted a day off, she would have to close the pool. She said this with a smile – so we worked seven days a week.
I wish I had thanked Miss Rogers at the end of that summer for her kindness. I never did. As it turned out, my instinct was correct – she was a special person. Years later, when she died, the newspaper ran a story about her.
And while she may not have written a book or rallied thousands against an injustice, she did something every one of us could – she made a difference and left a mark in her corner of the world.
Let Us Pray
Dear God, help us to lead with kindness and respect for others – and just maybe, the rest will take care of itself!
Saint John Baptiste de La Salle – pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts – forever!
Michael Pare–English Teacher