“Christ Has No Body Now But Yours”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 8 September 2017–Help Houston Day)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

 

In the Gospels we read the account of the disciples being tossed about on the stormy lake with Jesus nowhere in sight.  It is dark, the winds are howling, and the disciples cower in fear in the back of their small fishing boat.  All of a sudden they see what they think is a ghost approaching them on the water, and they cry out in even greater terror.  Peter jumps out of the boat to approach this ghost that identifies itself as Jesus; but, as soon as the strong winds buffet Peter he loses his courage, he loses his faith and begins to sink beneath the waves.  Jesus reaches his hands out to him, leads him back to the safety of the boat, and the storm subsides.

Two weeks ago today on the Gulf Coast of Texas a mighty storm, Hurricane Harvey, brought destructive winds, enormous storm surge, and torrential rains to millions of people in Texas and Louisiana.  People cowered in fear on the second floors of their homes as the waters rose; some people ventured to their rooftops, their courage ebbing, yelling for help as their neighborhoods became lakes.  In the midst of this chaos and destruction, Dr. Stephen Kimmel, a pediatric surgeon and a graduate of La Salle Academy (Class of 1981) ventured out in the dark at the height of the storm in a canoe to paddle to a nearby hospital where a 16 year old young man needed emergency surgery.  Dr. Kimmel performed the successful surgery—yes, through his hands holding a paddle and a scalpel, Jesus reached out to that young man and saved him.

Matt Maloney, a La Salle grad (Class of 2005), an all-state athlete, a teacher at Saint Michael’s Academy in Austin, Texas, and the brother of Mrs. Megan Maloney Carey of our faculty, joined with his fellow members of the Texas Search and Rescue Team and went into the face of danger in Port Aransas, Texas, to save people both by amphibious vehicle and by boat—yes, through his strong hands and arms, Jesus reached out and saved many.

Three high school students from Strake Jesuit in Houston, a school much life our own, took their boat through their neighborhood to rescue those who were cut off from the rest of the world; and, workers in a Mexican bakery surrounded by flood waters and unable to escape did not cower in fear—they baked 2 tons of bread to feed the homeless in the shelters of Houston.  Through the hands of those high students and the hands of those bakers, Jesus reached out to those in need.

I have no doubt that were such a catastrophe to occur here in RI (God forbid!) members of the La Salle Academy community would find ways to reach out to those needing assistance, much as Dr. Kimmel and Matt Maloney, our fellow Lasallians, did.  Being 1,500 miles away from Houston should not stop us from being the hands of Jesus that reach out to our brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana, people who are desperate for assistance and still are fearful about their future, people like the Lasallian Sisters of Vietnam (a group of religious women associated with the De La Salle Christian Brothers) whose convent, chapel, and educational center serving Vietnamese children in Houston were completely destroyed.

This morning we too are invited to allow our hands to be the hands of Jesus.  We use our hands today to reach deeply into our pockets and pocketbooks to give not only the minimum donation but to go above and beyond that, as Dr. Kimmel and Matt Maloney did.  Through our hands and our sharing some young people in Houston might be able to get clothes to wear to school when they start in a few weeks; through our hands and our sharing some families might be provided a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving in a shelter because they have no home to return to; through our hands and our sharing some kids might get gifts for Christmas to have a little joy as they live as displaced persons; through our hands and our sharing the Lasallian Sisters might be able to re-open their educational center.  Through our hands and our sharing, we allow Jesus’ hands to reach out to save the thousands drowning in desperation and hopelessness.

And, after we have given, we use our hands in another way, clasping them in prayer that God might look with favor on our brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana and now in the Caribbean islands and soon in Florida as they face the devastation of Hurricane Irma.

So, let us pray now in the words of Saint Teresa of Avila:

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”  AMEN.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

What Inspires You?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 6 September 2017)

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

What inspires you?

There are many things that can provide inspiration: Witnessing individuals or groups of people accomplish great things, even a seemingly small random act of kindness, a majestic sunset, a beautiful piece of art, a song that speaks to you, an individual who strives to overcome adversity, all of these and other inspirational experiences seem to strike to our very core. There seems to be something inside of us that yearns to be inspired. When inspired we seem to work toward becoming the very best version of ourselves with an extra dose of enthusiasm and energy.

So I ask again, what, or who, inspires you?

I want to share two experiences of inspiration I have had during the past week.

Watching the news a few short nights ago, I saw a story about Bert Ramon. Ramon is a Houston police officer who has helped to rescue over 1,500 people over the last week in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Ramon also happens to be undergoing treatment for his stage 4 colon cancer. His positive attitude and selfless action in the face of personal and national adversity, really touched me. Ramon said himself that he is hoping his story will inspire others and witnessing Bert’s courage certainly inspires me to to be a better person, to minimize my complaints and negativity, and to strive to be a man for others no matter the circumstances.

Over the long weekend, our children were gathering their school supplies and trying on their first day of school outfits. When our Gracie’s dress didn’t fit, my wife took her to find an outfit that did. Not too long after they had left, I received a text from my wife telling me that they had driven by a man who was homeless and Gracie was in tears because she wanted so badly to help that man. They ended up bringing him a meal and making his day a little bit brighter. I was so touched by the compassion demonstrated by Grace. Like any other 9 year old diva, she can certainly be a handful at times, but she has a heart for others and showed me in that simple action of mercy what it means to have a heart like Jesus.

I am inspired every day. I am blessed with an amazing wife who is constantly putting our family’s needs before her own in big ways and small. I have two children who awe me with their genuine goodness and love. I get to work with amazing colleagues who inspire me with their endless supply of kindness and generosity. I am privileged to work with young people who inspire me with their multitude of gifts and talents.

Inspiring others always involves some level of sacrifice—sacrificing one’s time and talent to make someone else’s day a little brighter. Let us continue to inspire one another this year. We all have gifts and talents to share and with God’s grace working in and through us, we can provide the inspiration that others are yearning for.

Who can you inspire today?

Let us pray,

Holy Spirit, we ask that You inspire our thoughts and our actions this day and every day. Open our hearts, our minds, and our eyes to see the inspiration all around us.

In moments of doubt and discouragement, inspire us to rise above adversity.

Lord Jesus, we continue to pray for all those affected by the hurricane in Houston and we pray for all those who may be impacted by Hurricane Irma. Comfort all those in need, and continue to raise up heroes to inspire those in despair.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Anthony Russo–Campus Minister

 

Life Is Hard

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 5 September 2017)

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

At the beginning of any new undertaking, spirits are high, expectations are higher and life is grand! Whether it be the start of a new theatrical season, a new sports season, a new school year, a new job, or even a new life as a newly married couple, or a new life with a newborn baby, the high can be exhilarating! But as some many of us discover, the grand beginning, the “high” of a new life can be laid low….FAST! For some this reality can be made apparent; not doing well in an audition, suffering an early defeat for a team, or an injury to a key performer – like Julian Edelman for the Patriots. These “downs” can bring even the strongest among us… crashing down. And what a crash it can be.

Life for all of us is HARD! There are highs and lows, good times and hard times, times when we feel like we can conquer the world, times when it’s a struggle to get out of bed in the morning. There are times when school is going great, and times when everything is going wrong, times when everybody is your friend and times when nobody knows your name.

Up and down, up and down, up and down. And no YouTube video can bring you out of it, no funny cat video, no instagramming with friends, nothing.

 

Perseverance and faith are virtues that ALL of us must pray to possess to deal with the ups and downs of this life. Just like all theatrical seasons, sports seasons, school years, new courses, jobs and marriages, babies, persevering and trusting in all those scary “downs” are essential to finishing the ride. Sometimes I find most sinister about our current culture is the illusion painted that life can be one big HIGH. Funny shows, cool songs, entertainment, entertainment, entertainment paint that picture EVERY DAY. But it’s not real.

Life is hard. Life is a roller coaster, no matter our best attempts to control it. What is needed MOST is a realization of this fact; and perseverance and trust to get us through those ever dreaded down times.

Let us pray:

Almighty God,

We come to you with a heavy heart for Houston and all those communities affected by this storm. While it’s tempting to ask you “Why did this happen?”, we humbly submit to your will and instead ask, Lord, for you to be a beacon of hope among the wreckage.

Grant safety to the men, women, and little children navigating the dangerous flood waters. Strengthen local the citizenry as they provide shelter and aid for their communities. Specifically, give wisdom and present resources to workers to provide for the physical needs of those who have lost homes, precious belongings, and are possibly separated from their loved ones. Give them courage to minister to the spiritual needs as well.

No doubt considerable fear and anxiety haunt those in affected areas. Grant unshakable peace and rid this storm’s victims of the spirit of fear. Show us all how to respond to the needs of those struggling with frustration and fear, that we may serve you well through your son Jesus Christ.

Guide us Lord as we attempt to help the victims of this hurricane from afar by our efforts this coming Friday as we celebrate Maroon and White Day in the High School and Blue Day in the Middle School.   Help direct the funds we raise to help alleviate some of the stress in Texas.  AMEN.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Donald Kavanagh

“Get Up Because You Are Too Old To Sleep”

Reflection offered to faculty and staff at the Opening of School Retreat (Monday, 28 August 2017)

When asked if I would situate the theme of our retreat in a Lasallian context, I readily volunteered.  I figure that after 46 years of getting up for school (a greater length of time than many of you have been on this earth) I had better know what gets me going, keeps me going, gives me energy, and enlivens my ministry.  You may have heard the story about the person badgered by his mother to get out of bed and go to school with her attempts and his hemming and hawing until finally the mother said: “Wake up, son, it’s time to go to school.” “But why, Mom?  I don’t want to go.” “Give me two reasons why you don’t want to go.”  “Well, the kids hate me for one and the teachers hate me also.”  “Oh that’s no reason not to go to school.  Come on now and get ready!” “Give me two reasons why I should go to school!”  “Well, for one you are 52 years old.  And for the other you are the Principal!”

Hopefully, something more than our position as teacher, counselor, administrator, coach, staff person motivates us to face the school day.  For John Baptist de La Salle the forces that motivated him were faith and zeal—and he set these as the Spirit of the Institute, thus our spirit as Lasallians.  He considered faith as the gift of seeing all things through the eyes of God, that is, viewing ourselves, our colleagues, our students, our world as good, of worth, lovable.  And the consequence of that faith is acting with zeal, with burning love, with passionate dedication.  For De La Salle and for us Lasallians, we are inspired by faith in the loving God AND we zealously act upon God’s call to us.  To see and to act—faith and zeal!

So upon rising, as I shave, I have prayed for more than 35 years e.e.cummings’ poem “I thank you god.”

 

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

At 69 years of age I am indeed grateful for another day of life, and the gift of another day comes with the challenge to live the day with ears awake and eyes opened.  Ears awake and eyes opened to hear and see God present in all the events of the day—from a colleague’s complaint or request for prayer to a student’s angry outburst or expression of gratitude.

This is what gets me going and keeps me going; this is what gives me energy.

Let me conclude with a short passage sent to me a few months ago by the Brother who was my Assistant Novice Director 52 years ago, now in his late 80’s.  It is an excerpt from Making all things new by Ilia Delio: “Get up because you are too old to be asleep, lest you die in your sleep and the world dies of neglect.  Grow up because it is time to move on.  The world is begging for new and more abundant life.  The life of the world is your life, and your life belongs to the whole of life.  Stop trying to preserve yourself; lose yourself in something more than yourself because you have the power to christify life, to help unify it, to raise it to a new level….”  I hope he sent this to me as an affirmation and not because I can’t get out of bed!  This is Lasallian zeal—this is our Lasallian birthright—to lose ourselves in the salvation of young people, just as De La Salle did, because we believe, we have faith that what we do each day does count!

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our Hearts…Forever.

Brother Frederick C. Mueller, FSC

How Is Your Heart Today?

A Reflection for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Friday, 23 June 2017)

(The following was a prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday, June 4, 2009)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

Tomorrow is the First Friday of June.  I am not sure how many of you know that on each First Friday of the month a good number of faculty and staff members sign up to spend time in the Meditation Chapel of Campus Ministry during their free period to pray for the school community.  During the hours of the school day there will always be a person there praying for the rest of us!!  This practice is part of a long tradition in the Catholic Church of perpetual adoration on First Friday—a day dedicated to the Sacred Heart.  Now you might be saying—why are we honoring a part of the body as holy and sacred?  The Sacred Heart is the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  You may have seen a statue or a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (maybe in your home or in your grandparents’ home or in your parish church)—often the picture is of Jesus from the waist up with one hand pointing to or touching his heart which is outside of his clothes and is wounded or pierced and surrounded by a crown of thorns.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a reminder of God’s great love for us—“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son”—and Jesus’ great love for us—“Greater love than this has no person that one lay down one’s life for a friend.”  And Jesus did lay down his life for us—for each of us—Scripture telling us that after his death on the cross one of the Roman soldiers pierced his side with a lance, pierced his heart to make sure he was dead, and immediately blood and water flowed out.  Jesus gave his last ounce of blood for us.  It is that heart so filled with love that we remember and honor on First Friday’s and indeed, in a special way, during the month of June which is dedicated to the Sacred Heart (as November is dedicated to the Holy Souls and May is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth).

 

The heart we see depicted in the pictures and statues might look like a Valentine’s Day heart or the cartoon heart that pounds and flutters to depict a budding romance; however, the heart of Jesus is far different from the sentimental, sugary, saccharine sweet heart of commercialism and pop culture.  It is a heart of expansiveness, a heart of courage, a heart wounded but still welcoming.  And it is this heart that we are challenged to make our own.  Each day we Lasallians pray that Jesus live in our hearts forever—we pray that the heart of Jesus come to life in our hearts, that the heart of Jesus become our heart.  Now that is a challenge!!

How expansive, how open is our heart?  Do I welcome the stranger, the outcast, the classmate who is different?  Or am I closed-hearted, letting in only those like me?  Do I allow my heart-strings to be tugged or am I so hard-hearted that I reject anyone or anything that might deeply touch me?  I know that many of you Seniors opened your hearts to those you served in Christian Service.  I know that those of you who went to Jamaica opened your hearts to the young people at Mustard Seed—your reflections clearly indicate that.  Will I, will you, open our hearts today and allow them to be tugged on or will we close them off—make them  hearts of stone, impenetrable, unable to be wounded?

How courageous is our heart?  When the lion in the Wizard of Oz sought a heart he was looking for courage.  Am I willing to stand up for what I believe?  Am I willing to be a leader in my group and put an end to rumors, scandalous talk, bullying, etc.?  Or am I weak-hearted and faint-hearted, afraid to say or do anything that might call attention to me?  Am I lion-hearted and a brave-heart or am I chicken-hearted and a cowardly heart?

How willing am I to allow my heart to be wounded?  A sign that we are alive is that we suffer heartache and even suffer heart-break.  If our heart does not ache after a heart-breaking loss (as last week in the lacrosse or baseball games) or after a poor performance in our school work, then our heart was never in it—it was not important enough.  Heart ache measures the strength that we desire something or want something or love something or someone.  One need only experience the loss of a close family member through death or the loss of a friend through moving away or the loss of someone we love because our paths move in different directions (as will happen over the next week of so with our Seniors and those of us who have come to care deeply for them)—one need only experience that to know that hearts can break and hearts can ache.  Yet, it is in the very woundedness of our hearts that we can become stronger and welcome another dream, another challenge, another person to love.  The heart grows stronger when we live through the wounds that inevitably come in life, when we welcome them as part of life, when we welcome them as gift.

So, how is your heart today? Expansive and open, courageous, willing to be wounded for the sake of something or someone you love dearly?  Will Jesus find in your heart, in my heart, a resting place today for his Sacred Heart?

Let me suggest that tomorrow you make some time to visit the Meditation Chapel of Campus Ministry during part of a free period or during part of lunch.  Be quiet, check your heart beat and see if the Heart of Jesus is beating within you.  Pray for the school community, pray for your classmates, pray for the Seniors who will be experiencing some heart ache, if not heart break, over the next week as they leave a place they have called home to venture into places they do not yet know.  And pray that they have an enjoyable and safe Prom tomorrow night.

 

Let us pray: Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love.  Have mercy on us!  Heart of Jesus, source of all life and love.  Have mercy on us!  Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful.  Have mercy on us!  Heart of Jesus, make our hearts like yours—full of life and love, holy and pleasing in God’s sight.  AMEN.

 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

May the Heart of Jesus live in our hearts…Forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

Have Faith in How Far You Can Go

(Student Address delivered at the Commencement Exercises of La Salle Academy on Thursday evening, 8 June 2017)

Your Excellency, Bishop ­­­Evans; Brother Thomas; Mr. Kavanagh; Representatives of the Diocese and the Brothers of the Christian Schools; Members of the Board; Faculty; Alumni; Parents; Guests; and fellow members of the graduating Class of 2017.

Everything we’ve worked for the past four years has led to this very moment. A moment where we take time to reflect on what an incredible journey it has been. It’s a lot to absorb. If it’s too intense, just pause, and think about Mr. McGinn’s basketball skills from beyond the three point line.

It takes a lot of courage to send an email of yourself shooting an air ball to a class of 326 students. But that captures what our dean represents. Humility, humor, and so many other virtues. That’s Mr. McGinn. Someone not afraid to sing karaoke at the Christmas movie night, nor someone afraid to walk around during every lunch and ask if everyone’s “hangin’ in.” He was a dean who, during a class assembly in the theater or the auditorium, could transition so effectively from the crux of a serious message to calling out an unsuspecting student about dress code in the back row. He deserved the video our class made of 100 reasons why we love him. And so with the acknowledgement of one of our strongest mentors, role models, and leaders over the past four years, let’s now move to our class- what this class has done, what this class will do, and what this class’ legacy will be.

Here at La Salle, our mascot is the ram. And I think that the ram is so appropriate to describe our class and our journey. For example, there were times when we butted heads. We butted heads with each other, our teachers, our parents, and even ourselves. But all the hardships we faced were a necessary part of high school. Hardships ranging from growing up, to changing relationships, to resisting an increasingly materialistic culture, to frustration about schoolwork, to difficult losses on the athletic field, to waking up to that same blaring alarm on a cold morning that only an iced coffee from La Salle Bakery could fix.

But after every hardship we faced as a class — we bounced back like the Patriots in the second half of Superbowl 51. The times when we butted heads with each other, our teachers, our parents, and our alarm clocks didn’t stop us from climbing the tallest of mountains. What defined this class was doing more than 8:30 – 2:30 every day. Every single person in this class found something they cared about at the Academy both during and outside of classes…they found a place where they were happiest. This class achieved extraordinary feats in the classroom, was involved in clubs, won countless state championships, put on successful plays, performed in distinguished concerts, showed wild school spirit, and served our community.

As rams, the difficult terrain we navigated didn’t stop us from keeping a resilient sense of humor and positivity. It didn’t stop us from dancing on top of lunch tables, having tailgates before a big game, or just laughing with friends until our stomachs hurt. As seniors, we’ve enjoyed a senior-only parking day, movie nights, a dodgeball tournament, and free Palagis during lunch. And throughout these four years we’ve learned to be comfortable with one another. It’s clear we came a long way since awkwardly singing the La Salle fight song in bright yellow t-shirts with Mr. Finnegan during a sunny freshman orientation.

Every individual in our class is just that-an individual. Over the past four years, we have met and interacted with people who come from unimaginably different backgrounds and cultures. And at La Salle we are encouraged to celebrate that diversity-that diversity of thought, culture, and religion. But paradoxically while we’re all different, while we’re all individuals, we’re also all the same because La Salle is something bigger than all of us individually. As members of the La Salle Academy Class of 2017 we represent the classes that came before us, and pave the way for every class that will come after us. Together, we pay tribute to our identity as a Catholic school which executes the vision of St. John Baptist de La Salle-to unite men and women of diverse backgrounds in the pursuit of faith, service, and community.

Our journey up this mountain of high school allowed us to fulfill the essence of our collective Lasallian mission. Just like rams sacrificed in the Old Testament, we were called over these past four years to be, and continue to be, living sacrifices for those who need us most in our community through our service. As a class we have touched the lives of others in our local community through Lasallian Youth and Christian service, our national community through service trips, and our international Lasallian community through partnership with our sister school in Rongai, Kenya.

The world needs young men and women like us.

And in such tumultuous times, the world needs us more than ever. Today is the day we stop to take in the incredible view we have worked to achieve and to give thanks for each other and every person that helped get us here. As rams we look back at the mountain we just climbed. We remember the beautiful moments when we stayed up long nights talking with a friend, performing in a play, winning a state championship, acing a test we worked for, attending mass together, making a difference for others in our community through service, taking senior privilege, or one of my personal favorites, getting a call the night before a snowstorm at 7 o’clock sharp with a friendly “Good Evening. This is Mr. Kavanagh calling from La Salle Academy.”

But we also remember the less glamorous moments-frantically trying to submit an essay on Google classroom 10 minutes before midnight, cramming late into the night for an exam the next day, or matters more serious like getting in a fight with a close friend, or losing loved ones.

But let’s not be complacent with our achievements, nor dwell on the hardships of the past. We look back, but we also look ahead to the sprawling landscape ahead of us, and marvel at all the other mountains in the distance yet to be explored and conquered. But we won’t just stand here and take in the view. In the words of a beloved teacher at La Salle I’ve had, “Take pride in how far you have come, but likewise have faith in how far you can go.”

Let’s not underestimate ourselves.

No matter where we go after this point- whether we go to college, take a year off, start a business, serve in the military or the Peace Corps, pursue a religious vocation, work to provide for family, whatever we do- Let’s strive to learn more, to achieve more, and to serve more, each and every day. That’s what we’re capable of, and that’s what La Salle calls every one of us to do now and forever.

But I’m not worried about our class- a class that’s been defined by doing whatever it takes to make it happen instead of just taking in the view. So in the same zealous spirit with which we have approached these past four years, congratulations to us, the La Salle Academy Senior Class of 2017.

Alexander P. Philips–Alumnus, Class of 2017

La Salle—Our Family Name

(Welcome Address delivered at the Commencement Exercises of La Salle Academy on Thursday evening, 8 June 2017)

Family and friends of the class of 2017, welcome to La Salle Academy’s 146th graduation ceremony

Let me start of by thanking the amazing faculty and staff at La Salle Academy for giving me the opportunity and ability to stand before all of you today. It is very humbling to be here overlooking a crowd of people who have contributed so much to the last four years at La Salle and all of their loved ones.

For those of you whom I have never personally met, “Hi. I’m Abby Almonte.”

This is one of the first things I say when meeting someone new. You’ve got to start somewhere, and more often than not, it’s with a name.  And I’ve just added one more to the average list of 80,000. Yes that’s right. The average person will meet nearly 80,000 people in their lifetime—80,000 different names, 80,000 different stories.  Yet, how many of these names do people really hear? Do they really remember?

We’ve all got a name, heck some of us even have nicknames. However, every name comes with more than a few syllables. It comes with a reputation attached. Different emotions, associations, memories and reactions stem from each person’s individual nature. The name they’ve made for themselves these past few years through their everyday actions can prove a lot about someone.

It is important to remember people’s names. I will never forget an exercise assigned to my Religion class freshman year. Every student was to pick a word that alliterates with their first name. By the end of the week, we were to have everyone’s names memorized for a quiz. It was my teacher’s way of introducing us to one another. I was lucky enough to sit near Ballin’ Brenden and Jogging Joe–two guys I still talk to today.

There are common names like Jack and Jill.  Then there are the famous names like Beyonce or Madonna. There are names of masterpieces such as “The Quesarito” or “The Big Mac” and then there are names of places,  my personal favorite is the one and only… La Salle Academy.

The name of my school, my home away from home, and the place I am so saddened to be leaving today.

With this name comes emotion so deep, memories so fond and connections so strong, it will be impossible to forget. La Salle is more than just the name of our school, it’s a family name. Similar to any family name, the community here encourages us to wear it well, to wear it respectfully and most importantly to wear it with pride.

In the eighth grade, my parents gave me the choice of which high school I would like to attend. For me, listening and seeing people talk about La Salle with such a positive connotation and perception, it was a “no brainer.” These people were proud of the name they wore, and I have been too since I decided I wanted to be a Ram.

Over the years I have built up quite a large stack of La Salle gear. In fact I have a whole drawer of my Pottery Barn set dedicated to all of the items I’ve collected. I tested a theory that began my sophomore year, when I was convinced my La Salle crew neck was a magnet. No matter where I was, Stop and Shop, a Gwen Stefani concert, the Fort Lauderdale airport, people always seemed to recognize the name written across my chest,  and came to speak to me about their glory days.

They would introduce themselves, tell a story or two and say something along the lines of “Incredible school, that La Salle Academy.” It was then I realized that La Salle has certainly done an unbelievable job not only distinguishing but maintaining our name, our reputation, both being equally important because as mom always says, “It can take a lifetime to build a reputation, and only a few minutes to break one.”

That starts from within. It is the people inside this building tonight who have contributed to La Salle’s name. It is the 146 classes before us who have done their share, and will continue with the thousands of students, families, and faculty members years from now who will do theirs when the time comes.

Anyone who has ever looked in a baby book knows each name has both a meaning and an origin. In terms of origin, this school was founded in 1871. However, the Lasallian mission began with Saint John Baptist de La Salle hundreds of years prior. His main goal was to cultivate and educate the minds of young people with a purpose of service and compassion.

You could interpret La Salle Academy’s name several ways though. For you could argue La Salle represents many things and being Lasallian comes with countless qualities. However, I want to share with you my own personal meaning and interpretation of what it means to TRULY wear the  Lasallian name.

As high school comes to a close, often times you’ll hear people ask a student about their plans for after graduation. “What do you want to do? Where are you going? What are you majoring in?”

Although I have learned endless lessons here, the most powerful one I took out of this school comes from the quote I saw painted on the wall of the cafeteria the day I shadowed. It reads, “Enter to learn, leave to serve.” I studied that wall, and have referenced it daily, promising to be grateful for all that I was about to learn and apply when the time came.

So now that the time has come, and when people ask me what I’m doing next year, I tell them that I’ll be attending Loyola Maryland as a Marketing major. Because well that’s my plan. But you see, it doesn’t really matter what I do or where I go if I don’t take what I learned here AND if I don’t  take the La Salle name with me.

I have come to the realization that the best way to achieve success is to dedicate my life to things that don’t come with a price tag or a degree. It is more important to be open to God’s gifts of faith, hope, and love, and always major in, or practice the concept of service with compassion.

These are the things that will truly make us wiser, make us happier and allow us to impact the world.

There is so much potential in all of us, just waiting to be unleashed.. So much exploring to do. From our potential, we have an opportunity, and we need to establish our names.

So think about yourself and your own journey. How have you carried our  Lasallian name from 2013 to today? Our name, La Salle Academy Class of 2017. We did that. We contributed to that name, and today we wear it well.

But when today is over, and the graduation celebrations end, how do you plan to honor the family name, the Lasallian name and most importantly, when all is said and done, how do you want people to remember your own name? Maybe it will be in lights on Broadway, or on the door of an elementary school classroom. Wherever it may be, never forget that your name is yours alone and you have the power to make it anything you would like.

I know many of you are thinking that years from now there will only be a handful of people from high school whose names you will remember. But quite honestly, if you can look back twenty, thirty, even fifty years from now and remember just one friend or one teacher whose name remains influential to you, then  consider that a success. And always remember there’s a man no student here will forget. Saint John Baptist de La Salle—the saint who continually prays for us, the name that we will remember from the place that we will never forget.

Congratulations to everyone here tonight.

The class of 2017, that’s our name.

God bless and welcome to graduation.

Abigail C. Almonte—Alumna, Class of 2017

We Belong to God AND to One Another

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 2 June 2017)

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

Recently, I heard a former professor of mine tell a story from his family that moved and inspired me.  I’d like to share that story with you this morning as our prayer this last official day of classes at the academy this year.

Michael—my professor—had been visiting his elderly mother faithfully and routinely in the nursing home every week for the last year of her life as she struggled with the ravaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease.    Two or  three times per week, he would visit with her, help feed her, tell her about his day, and read to her as she dozed off to sleep for the evening.  One night a couple of months before her death, Michael’s mom seemed particularly agitated, disoriented, and anxious.  She wouldn’t eat, she refused to sit with him, and kept asking him to go home.   Not sure how to proceed or what to say, Michael reached for his mom’s hand and asked her, “Do you remember who I am?”   Michael’s mom stood very still and stared at him for a long time.  In a soft voice, barely above a whisper, she told him, “I’m sorry, darling.  I don’t know that I could remember your name but I do know that you are someone I loved very much.”

In the Christian tradition, God’s love is referred to as agape—a complete, unconditional, “no holds barred” kind of love.  It does not depend on anything we do or do not do.  Agape is freely given.   And it is that love to which we are called, each day, every day.

As we wrap up the 2016-2017 academic year, I’d like us to consider the most fundamental of all questions—-How well have we loved this year? In a school the size and magnitude of La Salle, it is easy to get lost in the minutiae, in the details.  If you’re like me, the most honest way to answer that question is to say that sometimes I get it right—I act selflessly and give as Jesus would want me to.  But often, I fall short.  I miss the mark.  I rush to judge another, react out of fear or self interest, and count the cost of loving.

Day in and day out, in our classrooms, hallways, athletic fields, locker rooms, theater, cafeteria, and cars—we have opportunities to learn how to give of ourselves bravely and courageously to one another.   In doing so, we learn that we belong to God.  We learn that we belong to one another.

 

Let us pray

Good and gracious God,
We believe that you are present wherever love is.
Help us to remember that we are not called to success.
We are called to be instruments of love and mercy.
Alone and together, in this Lasallian community, may we discern that call daily
So that we may see where and when and how
We can give of ourselves freely, selflessly to one another.
And when everything else fades away, may it be said that we loved one another.

St. John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for Us

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Christine Estes–Director of Campus Ministry

“Just Keep Swimming”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 8 June 2017)

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

“Fish are friends, not food.” This is a quote from one of the greatest movies of all time, which has taught us some great lessons. And yes, that movie is Finding Nemo.

There are some pretty powerful words in Finding Nemo that convey a greater message. A couple of these include, “When I look at you, I’m home,” and when Dory says, “Trust, it’s what friends do.”

Trust- it’s truly what friends do. It might seem cliche, but trust is the foundation on which friendship is built. Along with trust, mutual love form the pillars of true friendship.

Jesus says the following about friendship in the Gospel of John: “This is my commandment: that you love one another, even as I have loved you. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13: 34-35.

Jesus commands that we love our neighbor- a task that seems rather easy. Being a good friend, student, son, and so on are parts of the way in which I can live out Christ’s command to love my neighbor. But then again, I did talk about my friend behind his back, and copied another friend’s homework because I was too tired to do it last night. Oh, and I also didn’t do the chores at home and neglected to tell my mom that I love her when I left the house this morning.

It happens, though. We are humans and we are prone to make mistakes and sin. But Jesus is calling us to make a conscious effort to avoid gossiping about our friends and to discourage gossip among those we are with. He also calls us to be honest with our friends and family- especially when it is really hard. We will need to do things that we don’t want to do: like chores, or going to work, or doing homework. But wouldn’t our good friend Dory tell us, “when life gets you down do you know what you’ve just gotta do? Just keep swimming.”

Let us pray: O God, source of all goodness, you have blessed us with friends and have given us the commandment that we should love one another. Keep us faithful to your command and keep us mindful of the people with whom we need reconciliation. Help us to grow in friendship with you, who is the greatest example of friendship. We ask all of these things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

Nathan Ledoux–Alumnus, Class of 2016