“No One Leaves Home Unless Home Is the Mouth of a Shark”

(Diary of Service Immersion Trip to Hope Community Center–Week of June 17, 2018)

Day 1: La Salle Academy students on service immersion trip at Hope Community Center in Apopka, Florida—such an important time to go beyond our own borders, to form relationships, and to hear immigration stories.

Day 2: Today we worked with members of the community in a local nursery, reflected on the power of each person’s story, and then were invited to eat dinner with families in Apopka who opened their homes to us.

I was reminded today that the antidote to bigotry, intolerance, fear, and hate is the sharing of stories, of getting to know ourselves in each other.

Day 3: I fell asleep thinking about the cries of young children along our Southern border, inconsolable and afraid, needing their parents. I have been heart sick and restless, not knowing what I could do, but needing to do something. I am not an attorney or a social worker. I am a teacher and what I can do in the face of injustice is to give my students the opportunity to see the human faces of oppression.

Today, our students continued to work alongside local migrants in Apopka, learned about DACA, and then heard from Evelyn, who shared her DACA story.  It does not feel like much. There is certainly so much to do. But it is a start.

Day 4: Another incredible day for our students. Today, we helped at Summer camp then spent the evening with local families as they opened their homes to us for dinner. The hospitality and generosity was not lost on our students. Given all of the legitimate reasons they have to be apprehensive and afraid, they trusted us, shared their homes, food, families, and stories with us.

On the van ride home, one student commented, “It is so humbling—how little I knew.”

How different our national discourse surrounding immigration could be if we all realized this, if we sought to listen and understand.

Day 5:

“No one leaves home, unless home is the mouth of a shark
You only run for the border, when you see the whole city running as well….you have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land. No one burns their palms under trains, beneath carriages. No one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck, feeding on newspaper unless the miles traveled mean something more than the journey. No one crawls under fences. No one wants to be beaten, pitied “
home by Warsan Shire

Today, our students were entrusted with stories of heartache, loss, desperation, and longing. They heard about the resilience of the human spirit and the universal desire of parents everywhere to want a better life for their children.

My hope is that my students will not forget the stories they’ve heard, that they will lean on one another in the months to come. Perhaps then, they can begin to amplify the stories, voices, and truths they’ve experienced this week.

Day 6:

“And then all that has divided us will merge. And then compassion will be wedded to power. And softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind…and then everywhere will be called Eden once again.” Judy Chicago

Thank you to Christopher Furino, Alejandra, Sr. Ann and all the sisters, and all the people that make up Hope Community Center. You are truly doing God’s work. Thank you for sharing that with us this week.

La Salle Academy students experienced a glimpse of God’s kingdom this week. We all have something to contribute to the human family; we all carry brokenness and need. But the journey is meant to be traveled together.

Students: Abigail Carr, Amelia Charleson, Emily DeCrescenzio, Ellie Eager, Patrick Hogan, Samantha Karlson, Mackenzie Moore, Joshua Philips, Elena Rouse 

Adults: Mark Carty (Social Studies Teacher) and Christine Estes (Director of Campus Ministry)

Diary written by Christine Estes

La Salle Chose You—Now You Must Choose La Salle

(Student Welcome Address at the Commencement Exercises for La Salle Academy on Thursday evening, 7 June 2018)

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 2018, welcome to the graduation ceremony of La Salle Academy.

After four years of hard work, dedication, and commitment, we have finally earned the right to be called graduates of La Salle Academy. This journey all began on a warm and sunny day in August of 2014. As we sat in the theater awkwardly looking around at each other for the first time, we had two things in common. The first was that we were all scared out of our minds and feared that none of the other students would want to be friends with us. The second was that we were all suddenly a part of the Lasallian community. At the time, most of us did not realize this.

On that end of summer day, we were all anxiously waiting to begin our high school career and were definitely not thinking about or concerned with the larger community that we were about to join. When class dean Mr. McGinn told us “La Salle chose you, and it is now time for you to choose La Salle,” this may have gone over many of our heads. What he really meant was that the Lasallian community is something that is larger than ourselves with the ideals and values that have been set in place since St. John Baptist de La Salle opened the first Lasallian school to educate poor boys in Reims, France, and is carried on by La Salle Academy opening in Rhode Island in 1871. The fact that the class of 1968, students who graduated 50 years ago, still feel the sense of commitment and dedication to come and support us as we graduate shows just how important this school is to so many people, and how this is a truly unique community.

Similar to each class that has graduated from La Salle, over the course of four years, we have been instilled with the values of the Gospel, faith and zeal, the importance of respectful human relationships, and exercising a preferential option for the poor. One of the most important principles is having a concern and sympathy for “the working class and poor.” What separates La Salle, aside from an amazing education is how we take action rather than simply discuss issues. This is demonstrated by our commitment to serving those who are impoverished in our local and global community. Our class has been especially dedicated to this ideal as we have been greatly involved in various fundraisers, mission trips, service activities, and social clubs.

The idea that we must not forget as we continue past high school and pursue a higher education and career is that while we each have our own individual interests, we now understand that we have a responsibility to the world around us. The fine gentlemen from the class of 1968 understood this and they set a fantastic path for us to follow. Whatever path we choose, whether business, engineering, the arts, social sciences, or any other field, we all will have the opportunity to share the values that we’ve learned at La Salle. What is important is that we never forget to treat people with respect and love, especially when something may not seem to work in our favor. In a serious moment, comedian Conan O’Brien reflects on his life and observes that “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” While simplistic, it is with hard-work that we put into use the gifts that God has given us, and with kindness that we spread God’s love. These are the values we learned at La Salle Academy and they will serve us and our community well.

La Salle is a school where we have been continuously taught how to remain focused and dedicated to our school work and serving others. As a result, we must thank our teachers for all that they have done for us. Each teacher has been chosen specifically because they embody the 12 virtues of a good teacher. The virtues of gravitas, silence, humility, prudence, wisdom, patience, reserve, gentleness, zeal, vigilance, piety, and generosity is what holds this school together and elevates the education to another level. However, no person at La Salle embodies these ideals more than our class dean, Mrs. Richard. She has stood by us from the beginning and she has been a continuous presence in our lives throughout these past four years. The entire class of 2018 is thankful for everything that you have done, and we will never forget the love that you have shown to us. Lastly, we must thank our parents. They were our original teachers and without them, none of us would be sitting here. It is impossible to fully understand the love that our parents have for us. Whether it was helping us with our homework, driving us all around the state, or paying for our tuition, they have been there for us every step of the way. There is no way to repay you, but we love you and thank you.

To close, I would like to share with you a message from Father Pedro Arrupe, a well-known Jesuit Priest who dedicated his life to serving the poor. He says that “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love. Stay in love. And it will decide everything.” My older sister received a note-card with this message while a student at La Salle and my family keeps it on our refrigerator as an inspiration. We, the class of 2018 have chosen La Salle, and will continue to make this choice. Thank you all.

Matthew Carranza–Alumnus (Class of 2018)

Skipping Rocks—The Next Bounce

(Student Address at the Commencement Exercises for La Salle Academy on Thursday evening, 7 June 2018)

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 2018,

Growing up in New England has cultivated within me a longing to be by the water. Many would assume that I’m drawn there during the summertime, when the waves are crashing and the sun is beating down, but that is not the case. I love to be by the water during early to mid Fall, when all you can hear are the waves slowly brushing up against the sand. The water commands me to stop and reflect, then after awhile, I begin one of my favorite pastimes – skipping rocks. As a girl with little hand-eye coordination, my first time skipping rocks did not go well. However, as a girl who is also the textbook definition of inquisitive, I decided to look up not just how to skip rocks, but why rocks even skip on water.  About one hour and five articles later, I learned there’s a whole lot of physics behind it, that we don’t have time to go into tonight, but I did learn one thing about skipping rocks that has stuck with me. I discovered that every time the skipping stone hits the water, it hits it differently. Not only that but each time it bounces off of the water, it points upward, ready for its next bounce. Once I realized this, I could not help but think about the history of La Salle Academy. So tonight as we, the Class of 2018, get ready for our “next bounce,” let us reflect on those who came before us and most importantly the man who initially decided to pick up the rock – St. John Baptist de La Salle.

Prior to walking the halls of La Salle, many of us had a vague idea of the history and the legacy of La Salle Academy. During our early years here, we were educated on the life of St. John Baptist de La Salle, our founder, who was devoted to cultivating and educating the minds of young people with a special focus on service and compassion. We were educated on the mission of La Salle Academy – to unite men and women of diverse backgrounds in the pursuit of faith, service, and community. We were made aware of the people who had come before us and how they had left an imprint on La Salle. We were made aware of the wonderful facilities at the school due to the generosity of alumni and benefactors. We were
made aware of La Salle’s commitment to faith and service. We were made aware of everything relating to La Salle … well, almost everything. There is one thing that we were not told but had to learn through experience. La Salle Academy Class of 2018, the bonds that we have formed, the relationships we have nurtured, the tears that we have cried, and the laughs we have shared, sometimes when we were not supposed to, have all laid the foundation for a class that none of us could have ever imagined; nor will we ever be able to forget.

Coming to La Salle for many of us was a no-brainer, because of the school’s great reputation. However, as an incoming freshman, I was hesitant. Transitioning from a small, private middle school with a graduating class of 23, to La Salle was a dramatic change. Entering high school was a major skip against the water in each of our lives. We were all coming from different schools, each of us with different interests and talents; a multitude of differences, yet one thing in common – we had all chosen La Salle to be our new home for the next four years. As I conversed with my new classmates, I was left in awe of our similarities and also our strikingly different interests. This class was continuing the tradition of not only academic excellence but we were also continuing to cultivate a community rooted in faith and service. Regardless of how we all got here or what our driving force was for coming to La Salle, God had a plan for each of us.

It’s safe to say that we have all come a long way since we awkwardly sat in the Brother Michael McKenery Arts Center wearing our light blue shirts. As we sat there at Freshman-Spirit orientation, we didn’t have the slightest idea of all the wonderful things that would happen. We did not know that we would become best friends with the person sitting next to us. We did not know that we would not only make the team that we were in the middle of trying out for, but come senior year, we would be a starting player. We did not know that we would perform in the same theater in which we sat. We did not know that the person we spontaneously sparked up conversation with would end up assisting us in serving the community. As we sit here tonight, we cannot help but see all the providential interactions that have led to this moment. Biology lab partners who turned into best friends, Freshman Religion teachers who turned into mentors, and strangers who have turned into family.

La Salle has a funny way of taking the person walking into the school for the first time, and turning that person into the individual they were meant to become. The administration and faculty at La Salle believe in the idea that life begins at the end of your comfort zone and true growth comes from pushing yourself to do things that you had never imagined. Tonight, we are who we are, because of them. Therefore it is important to take a moment and appreciate the administrators, faculty, teachers, campus ministers, guidance counselors, and of course, our dean, Mrs. Richard for helping us grow into the young men and women that we are today. We cannot forget to thank our parents for the indescribable love that they have shown and continue to show us everyday. Over the years, they have not only supported us in our dreams, but have also carried them as if they were their own. They were our first teachers, our first coaches, our first directors, and they will always be our biggest fans. Tonight, as we are filled with gratitude for our administrators and faculty, let us, in the same way, be filled with appreciation for our parents, without whom, we would not be here today.

La Salle Academy is not just a building with four walls, it is the people who have walked, are walking, and will walk within its halls. It is the dedication of the administration and teachers to the education of young minds. It is the devotion of the campus ministers to serving the community. It is the loyalty of alumni to not only give financially but to give of their time. It is the freshman, sophomores, and juniors who will be continuing their education as we depart. It is the incoming freshmen who are unaware of the amazing memories they are bound to make. Four years ago, we were chosen and chose to come to La Salle Academy; the faculty and administrators believed that we would flourish here, and because of their faith in us, we have had some of the best years of our lives. Regardless of how far we are going for college, whether it is on the West Coast or right here in Providence, the Lasallian legacy remains with us.

That’s the thing about La Salle Academy, yes it is important what you do throughout your four years at this school, but it is equally as important what you do after. When I think of the endless possibilities for this class in the future, I cannot help but be filled with excitement for what is to come in each of our lives. I see our next bounces leading to lives dedicated to medicine, business, music, politics, art, teaching, and so much more, but what I see in all of our futures is a life rooted in the beliefs instilled in us at our home for the past four years on the corner of Smith and Academy. Each bounce prior to tonight has laid the foundation for us, and now it is our time to continue the tradition of past graduates. St. John Baptist de La Salle initially picked up the rock and it has bounced from France to Rhode Island. It has bounced through 147 graduating classes, and right here tonight, to us. So tonight, as we sit here, ready for our next bounce, let us reflect on the past four years we have spent at La Salle and let us look forward to the Lasallian legacy we will have the privilege to create.

Thank you.

Christine Dapaah-Afriyie–Alumna (Class of 2018)

Life Moves Pretty Fast

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 29 May 2018)

Let us remember that we are in the Holy presence of God. Good morning La Salle and De La Salle.

Ben: Our last days as middle school students are fast approaching. Our years at De La Salle have been fun, adventurous, and full of life-shaping experiences, from decorating someone’s locker for their birthday to last minute cramming for a quiz and morning meetings.  Middle school has taught us many lessons, whether it be preparing us for high school to helping us realize and appreciate how precious time is.

Andrew: As we move on into our high school years with enthusiasm we will always remember how our middle school experience has shaped us into the people that we are. Teachers at De La Salle have worked very hard before, during and after school to give us the tools that we need to advance into high school and to become good, responsible, educated  people in society. You probably have heard this quote by Ferris Bueller before but I feel that it is appropriate to say it in this prayer: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while… you could miss it” …

Let us pray, God give us the strength that we need to face fear head on and to stop and look around at life before we miss it all and ponder upon how fast time goes by.

Ben : St. John Baptist De La Salle…Pray for us.

Andrew : Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Ben Hjort and Andrew Medeiros—DLS (Class of 2018) and LSA (Class of 2022)

We Can Always Come Back Home

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday afternoon, 23 May 2018)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of a loving God.
So, this is it. I don’t think there are any words sufficient to describe what this school has meant to me. It’s been the best three years of my life and I’ve met the most incredible people, so I’d like to start by thanking you all for that.
Nonetheless, I’ll see if I can give it a shot by starting this off with a short story.
When I first started driving, I had a terrible sense of direction. Ask me to get from my house to a nearby landmark, and I probably wouldn’t have a clue. My friends often got aggravated when I didn’t associate roads by names foreign to me like “95-north” and “route 1.” To me, those were just the roads to the beach and the highway you took to La Salle Academy, the place we’ve all called home for the past couple of years.
This past summer, my phone died on my way back from Westerly, and I was a fish out of water. I took any and every detour, exit, and back-road on the long haul back to my house, yet somehow, some way, I was able to find my way home. I think that’s a distinctly human quality. Regardless of where we are, who we’re with, and what we do, we will, inevitably, always find our way back home.
My mom used to tell me that life is kind of like a highway– some people are in the high speed lane, some are in the travel lane, some are in the breakdown lane, and there are those who choose to ride a bike. Regardless of what we rode in on, as we all cruised along, somehow, some way, we all took the right route to end up at 612 Academy Avenue. We were all a little lost. We didn’t know who we were yet. But we found our home away from home, and while doing it, we became the people we are today.
Today, of course, was our last day of classes. It’s the day on which most of us will bid farewell to 612 Academy Ave. and the day we all hop back on the highway en route to our next destination, our next adventure on this journey we call life. For some, that next adventure may be hundreds of miles away. For others, it may be just down the road.
Some of us will live life in the fast lane, cruising on along from destination to destination with ease. Others will cruise on in the travel lane steadily, going about their lives; others might find themselves in the breakdown lane at different points in their life, and who knows? We might even ride a bike from time to time.
But, regardless of where we go, what we do, and who we become, there will always be a piece of La Salle Academy with us. Somehow, someway, we’ll be able to take 23 detours in life before finally finding our way back to La Salle Academy, because regardless of how we choose to lead our lives, we can always find our way back home.
La Salle has given us the most incredible friends, knowledge, memories, and a family we can call our own. I will be forever grateful for my second home, a place filled with such joy and life.
From the bottom of my heart, I’m so lucky and grateful to have gone to school with each and every one of you. It is the people that make this place special. Thank you La Salle for being our second home.
To the underclassmen, The A is in Good hands..make us proud.
To my classmates..It’s a big world out there…Lets go explore.
Dear God, we thank you for giving us La Salle Academy and our teachers, friends, and family. May we continue to carry a piece of the Academy with us forever. We have been given the most incredible gift– we can always come back home.  Amen.
St. John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.
Kevin Daley—Class of 2018

 

All The Little Things

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 22 May 2018)

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

The humid September breeze drifts lazily, and the sun begins to hide behind the trees. Loud music greets my ears, the beat shaking the bleachers beneath my feet. My hand grasps my friend’s tightly, and we look at each other, a look of exhilaration and anticipation in our eyes. We hold on for dear life even with sweat gathering between our palms. As I join in with my classmates, and scream “I believe that we will win!”, I’m overcome with a feeling that’s virtually indescribable. It’s a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for the moment, it’s pure awe of this unique tradition, and it’s love for my school and my fellow Lasallians.

Have you ever experienced a moment when – halfway through – you realize how much you’re going to miss it? At La Salle, I’m lucky enough to have had many of these moments, occurring especially often as my time here comes to an end.

Because yes, the big, important moments at La Salle have meant the world to me. But, sometimes everyday, seemingly insignificant moments deserve to be recognized and remembered too.

I’m talking about the afternoons spent laying on a couch in campus ministry, surrounded by friends. My stomach aches as we laugh through a game of catchphrase or just good conversation.

Walking into school in the morning and sharing a greeting and a smile with those locker buddies I’ve gotten so used to seeing every day.

Making a play in practice with my teammates that gets me so excited because it’s exactly what we’ve been looking for.

Opening up the outside cafeteria door to warm sun and a gust of wind, my gaze finding its way to my friends gathered around a table.

Walking down to the theater with the rest of my class to see the final theater production we will get to see at La Salle. Knowing it’s going to be amazing and feeling the overwhelming melancholy of seeing something come together so beautifully for the last time.

Seeing Mr. O as I walk to my locker and getting a hug – extremely rare, and the best surprise.

And finally, back to that football game. That warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you know you’re part of something bigger – a community full of people who will support you unconditionally.

In the future, big moments will inevitably be remembered. But, I know I will also remember the small moments, that happened on ordinary days, that made me feel overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel so thankful that I have these memories, big and small, in the back of my mind, as I move on to the next chapter of my life. I and the rest of the Class of 2018 are so lucky to have been blessed with such joyful moments that make us sad to leave. I hope as we hang out in campus min for the last afternoon, say our final greetings to locker buddies, play in our final minutes, or support our classmates in the stands for the final time, we feel gratitude more than sadness. Now that we have had the opportunity to enjoy all that La Salle has to offer, we get to move on to a new phase, hopefully with a newfound appreciation for the little things in life.

Let us pray. Lord, thank you for the people that unite the La Salle community, and thank you for providing us with the classmates that have become our closest friends. Help our seniors to take the golden memories from this chapter of life and chase more opportunities in the next chapter. Also, help the seniors to appreciate those who have led us to this point and recognize that they were sent from You. And lastly, guide the underclassmen to recognize the vital importance and impermanence of everyday moments here at La Salle, and be fully present in each of them. Amen.

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts. Forever.

Eliza Mahoney–Class of 2018

Passion

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 21 May 2018)

Let us remember we are in the holy presence of god.

As some of you may know, I am a musician. I have been playing music since I was a little child, and it has always been a huge part of my life. When I was a freshman here at La Salle, I was told a quote by a teacher and it has always stuck with me. It was said by one of the greatest musical figures to ever have lived, Ludwig van Beethoven. He said, “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” Now this quote has obvious meaning in music, that when you play music, you are always going to mess up. There will be times when you will completely bomb a performance or do things wrong that will inevitably be noticed by the audience. But the passion, the emotion, the drive that the performer gives is what truly matters. However, beyond this context of music, I feel like, at La Salle, this passion is transferred into every aspect of our community. It comes from two things: on the one hand, the faculty, staff, coaches, directors, and teachers, and, on the other hand, our fellow students.

When sitting in class, there is a vibe that radiates off each and every teacher at La Salle. They could easily be a teacher at any public school in Rhode Island, but they chose La Salle (shout out to Mr. Finn), and every student knows that their teachers want to be there. But the fact is, the teachers’ passion for educating the whole person extends outside the classroom. The amount of teachers that are moderators for clubs and coach teams always astonished me. They spend their time before school, after school, at night, on service trips, just to enhance the lives of their students. This passion that they exude is felt by every single member of the La Salle community.

On the other hand, the passion that I have felt in these four years that will never leave me is the passion of our students. When the football team runs out onto the field with the cheerleaders surrounding them, you can feel the passion in the hearts of the athletes. Seeing the hockey players throw their gloves into the air after hearing the final buzzer, you could feel the passion of the players on the ice, and even the fans in the arena. Seeing one of our classmates giving a winning speech in Academic Decathlon, you could feel the passion in their voice. All throughout our musical performances, visual art pieces, theatrical production, passion is seen through our students. Whenever I think of La Salle, it is absolutely impossible to forget the emotion we put into everything we do, and in my opinion, this is what defines La Salle. Not once did I feel that someone gave half effort in what they love. And in all honestly, this tangible energy of effort in all of these different fields will be truly missed by each and every graduate here today. So what I want to say to all the seniors, as we start our final week, is to live our lives with the passion that we have been given from this amazing place.

Let us pray. Dear Lord, thank you for all of the teachers and staff of La Salle Academy. Thank you for the amazing class of 2018 and all the gifts you have given to each and every one of us. We hope that we never forget La Salle Academy and that La Salle Academy never forgets us.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Benjamin Boyarsky–Class of 2018

I Met Jesus Once

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 17 May 2018)

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

I met Jesus once in a small church in Browning, Montana.  I didn’t expect him to be dark skinned, round-faced, with long greasy black hair, a Blackfoot Indian.  He squeezed in near to me, though the church was far from filled. He smelled of dirt, and sweat, and booze.  His clothes were ripped and worn, caked with mud. I didn’t expect him to make me so uncomfortable, so nervous, so afraid.  He asked me to pray with him.  I did.

I spoke with Jesus in a kale field in Apopka, Florida.  The sun blazing, a 90-degree day with no shade.  We worked silently side-by-side, eyes fixated on the leafy greens we ripped from the ground.  Then, in broken English, he told me how he had come to this place—his father taken hostage, his family threatened, and violent gangs pushed him from his native home.  With no resource or support or rights or assistance, he worked here, barely making enough to feed his family, while picking food for the rest of the country.  His eyes welled up.  We were the same age.  Our focus returned to the earth.

I’ve seen Jesus on a street corner, holding a sign that read “God Bless You.”  Sometimes I give him a dollar, sometimes…most times, I don’t.  Sometimes I am overcome with sympathy, and heartache, and compassion, sometimes confusion, disgust, and contempt.  Most times, I try not to make eye contact.  I don’t know why.

I pass Jesus in our hallways and he sits in our classrooms.   With our world here at La Salle moving at a drastic pace, it’s easy to miss him.  But if I slow down, I find him—waiting for me in Campus ministry, at a cafeteria table nearest the grotto, in the passion of my colleagues, in the company of a Christian Brother.

I am comforted by his warmth when I hold my nieces, nephews and Godchildren and I suffer his pain wherever my brothers and sisters are denied their human dignity because of the color of their skin, religious beliefs, or creed of their lives.  I feast with him in his grace at my dining room table and hunger with him when others go starving.  I recognize him easily in my friends and family, those whom I love.  I struggle to understand him in my enemies, those I judge and condemn, but should love.

I’ve searched for him on Kairos and in the celebration of the Eucharist and I’ve ran from him in times of weakness towards temptation and indulgence.  Jesus drove me home to Connecticut one cold and dark night in January.  Then he sent me cards, and plants, and well wishes, and food; he visited me in my office when I was most in need.  I’m not sure how I could ever thank him enough for that.

Yes, I met Jesus once!  He wasn’t what I expected, but it’s how I know he lives.  I spoke with him too; it’s how I heard his call and why I listen closely, trying to learn more.  I strive to be like him and because I often fail, my life is filled with challenge.  I experience Jesus all around me, so I trust I am always in his holy presence. I sense him in my life, so I believe.

Let us pray,

Dear Lord, Everything I am today is a gift from you; help me to discover you in that gift.  Everything I can be tomorrow is my gift to myself; help me seek you there.

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

 

 

 

A Haitian Diary

(Some random reflections from Ms. Christine Estes during her visit to The Saint Jean Baptiste de La Salle School in Cazeau [Port-au-Prince], Haiti)

What an incredible day! Day 1 of my visit to our school in Haiti. Met Richarde and Kiki who showed me their classrooms, witnessed a gathering of about 60 parents of 3-4 year olds who will soon begin at the school, then got to meet the most incredible group of sisters who run the health and nutrition center. In the middle of Haiti, how surprising and wonderful that they spoke Portuguese of all things!

I’ve been teaching in Lasallian schools since 1998 and I’ve always known that we are a global family. But what a remarkable and humbling experience it is to be here. What began in a corner of Reims, France stretches around the world, even here in Port-au-Prince.

On being in Haiti for 4 days—-
For as long as I’ve been aware of these things, I’ve always believed that all people deserve a share in the goodness of life and God’s creation. Growing up, it was never about just going to church. My models of faith extended themselves in service and in justice to those around them. All God’s children deserve to live in dignity, to be able to go to school, to have access to clean water, to be raised by families who care and can provide for them. If your faith does not speak to this, then I’m not interested in that kind of Christianity.

In Haiti, I saw a level of poverty and devastation I certainly knew about but had never really seen. To see, to experience is a whole other matter. And perhaps, I, we, grow only in direct measure to how much I, we, choose to see, to how close we are willing to get to human suffering. In the words of a man who had gotten really close, how proximate are we willing to get to the human face of injustice?

So many sights, sounds, smells—the roosters beginning the wake up calls, goats, chickens, and dogs just roaming, so many street vendors, the paintings for sale, the tap-tap (public bus bulging with bodies), crazy traffic chaos, monster size roaches (thank you Alan for killing the one in my shower), lice, plantains, make-shift soccer balls that are really just empty water bottles, mountains of garbage, nuns who are so mission-driven they risk everything to bring medical care to villages near and far.

The crazy thing though is that for all this devastation, I experienced a clarity and simplicity in Haiti that I haven’t felt in a while. The taste of Coca Cola from a glass bottle, sharing granola bars with Pilo on the steps of the Brothers’ residence, the look on Pilo’s face when he got his new shoes, the sound of families—the young and old really singing at mass on Sunday—music from their souls, the bongo drums. It might sound trite and sappy, but I felt closer to God these last four days in Haiti than I have in a while.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to return, to take a hot shower and sleep in a real bed and hug my loves. But I return energized in a belief that education changes lives, that we cannot act or help until we are first willing to see, that all human beings deserve a place at God’s table because the food is so good. Most of all, these days in Haiti have reminded me that we need one another. I am grateful that I work in a global community that discerns solutions to poverty. So grateful for that work.

I will bring these children to my own children and to my students because now they are in my heart.

Christine Estes–Director of Campus Ministry