“You Did It For Me”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 12 January 2018—the 5th and final day of Haiti Solidarity Week)

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

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As we prepare to give our offering to the Hands Out For Haiti Campaign on the 8th anniversary of the earthquake, let us listen to the words of Matthew’s Gospel:

Jesus says to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

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Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

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Let us pray,
Jesus, our Lord and our brother, open our hearts today so that we might generously respond to the young people of Haiti who really are the least members of your family. Remind us that whatever we do for them, we do for you. Amen.

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Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Ryan Schwender–Class of 2018; Co-Captain of Boys’ Hockey Team

Making a Sacrifice—Who? Me?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 11 January 2018—Day 4 of Haiti Solidarity Week)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

De La Salle and Poor
It is the winter of 1683-1684 and the high price of food and the harshness of Winter turned the city of Reims, France into a huge poor house of starving people. To the three newly-started schools of the Brothers and to the Brothers’ House on Rue Neuve the poor came in droves, adults and children alike, many of them close to starvation. None of them went away unprovided for. John Baptist de La Salle, the wealthy priest and reluctant founder of schools for poor boys, now lived with the handful of new Brothers. He had decided after much prayer and spiritual direction, to hand over his wealth so that he too would be poor like his Brothers. So the daily distribution of food went on until there was nothing left; and then, De La Salle himself had to beg for the bread he could no longer afford to buy.

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Flash forward to the winter of 2010, January 12th, and the devastating earthquake that flattened much of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, killing an estimated 316,000 people, leaving 2.0 million people homeless, and making orphans of hundreds of thousands of children. Like its Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the Lasallian World could not just stand-by and watch the suffering of people that they had so long served in Haiti. Through world-wide donations, including a substantial gift from the faculty, staff and students of this school, the educational and health needs of hundreds of young people and their families is being met by our brother school, the St. Jean Baptiste de La Salle School in Cazeau, a small town on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Each January, since that initial gift, our community has donated about $10,000.00 annually through our Hands Out to Haiti Campaign—to help build the Health Center, to build additional classroom space, to build athletic fields and provide athletic equipment, to purchase uniforms and books, to hire native Haitian teachers of English, and to provide tuition help to the now 645 youngsters being educated in Grades pre-K to 9.

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Unlike John Baptist de La Salle, we are not being asked tomorrow to give away all our wealth and to go out to beg for food. We put in our $5.00, get a chance to dress-down for the day, and go home tomorrow night to a good meal and a warm house—with all our toys (cars, I-pads, X-boxes, etc.) to keep us occupied.

However, I ask you to find a few minutes during the rest of this day and tonight to be quiet and to reflect. What if the earthquake or another natural or man-made disaster happened here in Rhode Island? How would we feel if we were deprived of everything we take so much for granted? Well, that is how De La Salle and the starving of Reims felt during that bitterly cold Winter and that is how the students of the St. Jean Baptiste de La Salle School felt following the earthquake! I would never wish that feeling or those disasters on anyone, but it is good from time to time to ask ourselves: what really counts, what is really important, when it comes down to it, what do I truly need?

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Maybe, after some moments of reflection (if you dare), you might decide tomorrow to forego that Dunkin Donuts flavored coffee and bagel or those extra fries; maybe you might decide to skip the movie you are planning to go to over the weekend or to not buy the CD or DVD or Apple i-tunes you saved for with your Christmas money. Are those things REALLY necessary? Making a sacrifice is not something we hear about often. However, today I ask you to consider making a sacrifice, making a sacrifice like John Baptist de La Salle, making a sacrifice that hurts a little bit—making a sacrifice tomorrow when the envelope is passed in your classroom, as you sit comfortably in your dress-down clothes in a warm building. And as you consider this request, think about the young people of Cazeau, Haiti who are being clothed in school uniforms, and given medicine, and being taught because of the extra dollars that you contribute.

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They will not be able to thank you in person; but, believe me, your reward will be great when our loving and merciful Father welcomes you into his Kingdom, there to share eternal blessings with so many other generous Lasallians, like Saint John Baptist de La Salle. Jesus will say to you and me, as he did to his disciples on the Mount: “Come to me, you blessed of my Father—for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was without clothes and you gave me school uniforms, I was sick and you provided medication, I had no opportunity for education and you provided a school and you taught me.”

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Let us pray,
Jesus, our Lord and our brother, open our hearts today and tomorrow so that we might generously respond to the young people of Haiti who really are the least of your brothers and sisters. Remind us that whatever we do for them, we do for you. Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller

HAITI–Rich in Happiness and Joy

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 10 January 2018–3rd day of Haiti Solidarity Week)

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

What is the first thing you think about when you hear the word Haiti? The Caribbean? The major earthquake in 2010? Hurricane Matthew? How it is a poor third world country? Yes, these facts are all true, but what most people don’t know is the fact that it is the first black independent nation in the world and has a strong culture, beautiful beaches, amazing food, and bright and beautiful people. I traveled to Haiti this past summer and I experienced so much. I got to experience the fine beaches with the crystal clear water that allows you to see the ocean floor and aquatic life, the soft white sand and tall coconut trees The horizon can be seen at a very distance as well as the fleet of sailboats taxiing merchants from one end to the other.  It is common to have troubadour players drumming Haitian ballads at the beach.  It will not be a complete picture if I don’t put emphasis on the various delicious seafood dishes whose fresh smell is very enticing.   The popular grilled conch served with fried plantains,  with a side of onions, tomatoes, lettuce and slices of juicy avocado are to die for.   

What truly amazes me to this day is the joy the children had making kites out of broken pieces of wood, string, and black plastic bags. I got to witness what truly makes Haiti a beautiful country: its people. The friendly people who greet you with a smile, the people willing to help who ever in need, the people who know they have less and make the best out of each day.  This is what truly makes Haiti beautiful. Though Haiti itself is a poor country, the people are rich in happiness and joy.

Let us pray:

God of all people,

This morning we pray for the people of Haiti.

Although they lack material wealth, there is much we can learn from their joy and their simplicity.

And help us all to work together so that all your children can enjoy the abundance this world has to offer.  Amen.

 

St. John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for Us.

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Sara Gedeon–Class of 2018

One Lasallian Can Change the World

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 9 January 2018—the 2nd day of Haiti Solidarity Week)

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

Every weekday morning, in the Cazeau neighbor of Port au Prince, Haiti the roosters crow to welcome the rising sun over the mountains that surround the city while students and their families arrive to the gates of College de Saint Jean Baptist de La Salle. By the time the school bell rings to begin the day, over 650 students line up according to grade in their neatly pressed white and blue uniforms and they too begin their day with prayer, “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.”

Over 300 years ago, our Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle realized the transformative power of education. Being well educated himself, he was fully aware that to give a child, a young person, an adult the gift of an education was to unleash human potential—the potential to transform a person, a family, a neighborhood, a community, a society and yes, a nation.

That is why, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 the Brothers of the Christian Schools along with an Order of Sisters from Argentina, fondly referred to as the “Blue Nuns” because of their blue colored habits, began the project of building a school and a health and nutrition educational clinic in this section of Port au Prince, Haiti. What were once barren fields welcomed a small endeavor and what began with one building is now a thriving educational compound with 5 buildings that include a wing for pre-kindergarten classrooms, a main building for Kindergarten-8 grade classrooms, a new building for the developing secondary school, the Health and Nutrition educational center and the Brothers’ residence. It is a source of great hope in this neighborhood and a source of great hope for the future of the students who attend, indeed for the future of Haiti.

Permit me to share with you a story or two. Within walking distance to the school is an orphanage, New Life orphanage. It is supported by a Protestant denomination and the Director, a woman named Miriam, hails from Newtown, CT. One day, when I was visiting the orphanage she told me the story of how after the earthquake the number of children in the orphanage doubled within 72 hours. One of the concerns that was keeping her up at night with worry was the thought of how were all the children, especially those newly orphaned by the earthquake, going to receive an education? These children had arrived at her orphanage from all over the Port au Prince area with little or no information about themselves. It was clear to Miriam that many of them had not attended school before the earthquake and the ones who had received a minimal education at best.

Then one day Brother Nicholas, a Brother from the school community who was in charge of overseeing the construction of the first school building and the Health and Nutrition center visited the orphanage to tell Miriam about a new school that was being built within walking distance. When Miriam explained that she had children who should be in third or fourth grade but they had never learned to read or write, she shared “what Brother said next were miracle words, his words answered my constant prayer.” She continued, “Brother replied in response to my concern, don’t worry, we will take the students where they are at, regardless of age and steadily bring them up to grade level so they can successfully continue their studies with us.” Miriam’s eyes were filled with tears as she expressed her gratitude to all who made this possible.

You helped to make this possible…by your support and generosity throughout these past years- you have given the miracle of education to hundreds of young boys and girls and by extension their families. You have given them hope and the possibility of a brighter future.

Last spring when I was visiting the school, I attended the seventh grade English language class. Remember: for most of the students their first language is Creole and then French. Therefore, learning English would be their third language! The students were very interested in hearing about the Lasallian schools in the United States. They had many questions about your school day and what you are studying and the various sports and co-curricular activities you have here at La Salle. One young man raised his hand and said “whenever you can please let the Lasallian students know how grateful we are for all they are doing to help us receive an education. We are so proud to be part of the Lasallian family and we work very hard in our studies, please tell them thank you.”  So let me now say “thank you.”

Right now, this morning at the school, there are 15 Lasallians from La Salle University on a service immersion trip. They are engaged in tutoring students, organizing art classes and coordinating athletic activities. There is also a delegation of nurses from La Salle University who are working with the Sisters at the clinic to provide basic health care to the students, their families and those in need from the neighborhood. Let us keep them in our prayers.

By your generosity over the years you and other Lasallians have assisted in providing classroom resources, computers, an English teacher, the construction of new classrooms, sports equipment, a van for school transportation and an incredible transformation of the school’s aquifer into clean drinking water for the school and the neighborhood-just to mention a few items.

There is a famous quote from the young Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai “one child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

Permit me to add, one Lasallian caring for one Lasallian can change the world as well.

So on behalf of Brother Dennis Lee, Visitor of the District of Eastern North America, Brother Lanes, Principal of College de Saint Jean Baptist de La Salle School and especially the students and their families: Thank you, to each of you for being that one Lasallian changing the world…together.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us

Live Jesus in our hearts forever.

Maryann Donohue-Lynch–Associate Executive Director, Office for Mission and Ministry (District of Eastern North America)

Glad Tidings to the Poor

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 18 December 2017)

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

As we began the third week of Advent, we read in the book of Isaiah:

God has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.

This passage is quite powerful especially if you think of it in relation to how our founder reflects on Saint Nicholas.  Saint John Baptist de La Salle wrote of Saint Nicholas long before the legend of Santa Claus spread across the United States.  He describes Saint Nicholas’s love of the poor and he specifically writes of four young people that Saint Nicholas encountered who were enslaved, treated as captives and prisoners.  Through great personal sacrifice Saint Nicholas freed each prisoner from their captivity, he helped to heal their broken hearts, and through his devotion to God brought glad tidings to the poor.

In my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.

In today’s Gospel of Matthew we are reminded that Joseph is visited by an Angel of the Lord in his dreams and commanded to name Mary’s Son Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.

The Gospel of Matthew reminds us that the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy :

They shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

Glad tidings in deed, that God is traveling this journey with us.

Today and tomorrow as we celebrate Christmas within our Lasallian community be mindful that God is with us, present in every person we encounter.

Let Us Pray,

God, we beg of you, to lead us on the way to heaven by the path you have traced out for us. Help us to embrace the perfection of your state that you have brought us into. Help us remember you have always and will always desire that we find in it the way and the means to be sanctified.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for Us.

Live Jesus in Our Hearts…Forever.

Mark Carty–Social Studies Teacher

Lasallian Virtues—Habits of the Heart

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday, 13 December 2017)

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

Each semester in our Christian vocation classes, we ask our seniors to write an essay that describes an individual teacher, coach, or fellow classmate that really demonstrates one or more of the 12 Lasallian virtues.  Virtues are simply good habits that build one’s own character while also serving the needs of others.  This semester, one of our senior students interpreted the assignment in a unique way and I would like to share some of that essay with you now.

She begins…

“In my mind, being Lasallian is not embodied by one person, but by the entire community of La Salle.  There are individuals who make La Salle great, but I think that as a whole, the true identity of La Salle is reflected really clearly.  A couple of times a year, the entire school gathers for Mass.  Even though the student body can be rowdy and loud at times, during Mass the whole student body gathers and feels a sense of togetherness.  Each person feels a sense of dignity and belonging as they stand in the crowd with hundreds of other Lasallians who share similar ideals. The environment of a Mass is never compromised and even though it is often held in a field house or on a football field, I still feel like I am at a Mass where people are respectful.

The quiet dignity of Mass is replaced at football games with the prudence of the Beehive.  Even though there are hundreds of students cheering on the football team and tailgating, the Beehive is a respected cheering section at games.  I have been at countless football games over my four years at La Salle.  Never once have I seen an official of the game come up to the fan section and kick someone out or yell at them for unsportsmanlike conduct.  Prudence can be defined as the ability to control one’s actions.  As an avid fan, it is not always easy to control one’s emotions during a game.  Sometimes during a difficult play or quarter, it is easier to just lash out against the other team instead of cheering for our own team.  I have witnessed the Beehive handle these situations with prudence.  Students are able to control and present themselves in a manner that can be respected not only by other fans, but by the players on the football teams and parents.  It is clear to me that those who come to the games are trying to help the team do better while having a good time.  

Finally, the La Salle community shows vigilance at lunches.  One definition of this virtue is “the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.”  High school lunches are often stereotyped as the worst part of the day for those who are not lucky enough to have a large group of friends.  The only time I ever saw someone sitting alone at a La Salle lunch was this year.  One sophomore was unlucky enough to have senior lunch and had no one to sit with.  Within five seconds of her sitting alone, a group of seniors asked her to sit at their table, and they became friends.  Lasallians look out for one another, and have the best interests of everyone at heart.  This vigilance is shown especially in the lunchroom, but also around the school when someone drops their books and someone helps pick them up or when someone holds the door open for another.

Overall, being a Lasallian means having a faith that guides you to help and respect others.  La Salle is able to foster these virtues because of the leaders and teachers who set positive examples and live these virtues in their own lives.  It would be easy for someone to crack a joke in the middle of Mass, start booing the opposing team, or allow someone to sit alone in the lunchroom, but at La Salle it is not about taking the easy way.  It is about taking the way that will lift the community up instead of just one person.”

 

Let us pray…

As we continue to prepare for the birth of our Savior, let us also strive to develop these habits of the heart, i.e. virtues, that build our own character while building up our community as well.

And in the Christmas spirit of humility and generosity, let us continue to be gifts to one another all year round.

 

Saint John Baptist de la Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Anthony Russo–Campus Minister

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