(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 30 January 2018—Catholic Schools Week)
Let us remember we are the holy presence of God…..
My name is Annie McGunagle and I graduated from La Salle in 2012. I loved my time here at LSA, but never expected my experiences here to have such an impact on my day to day life.
I remember coming to this school not knowing what to expect. I worked hard in my classes and auditioned for roles in plays and musicals; I did my best to engage in this incredible and overwhelming community around me. Never before had I been around religion in an academic setting. During my first two years here, I had to learn the Hail Mary in Spanish and pray before every class. I didn’t think much about my faith. But that was about to change.
Between my sophomore and junior year, my mom was diagnosed with a serious illness. Going through that experience with my family that summer and into the following year really made me question my faith in God. I had a hard time believing that this all knowing being could exist if something this horrible could happen to me and my family.
During those first couple of months of my junior year I heard about a new retreat that campus ministry was starting, called Kairos. It was incredibly intriguing so I immediately wanted to apply and was accepted to attended the 3rd implementation of this retreat, also known as K3.
K3 changed my perspective of myself and those around me. I learned more about my strength as well as the strengths of others in ways I couldn’t imagine. I was overwhelmed with the love and compassion I received from my fellow students. This weekend allowed me to understand that God didn’t give my mom cancer—life did. It allowed me to reframe my negative thoughts and become aware of all of the positivity and support I was receiving in that retreat, but also from family, friends, and strangers who knew what my family was going through.
Fast forward another year, my mom was free of cancer and I was a leader on K8. This was the first time I was allowed to lead a group of peers in honest and real conversations. I was terrified, but I helped build a space of love and respect which allowed me to openly share my struggle with faith. It also allowed the students I led to be open and honest with the challenges in their own lives.
Fast forward to now. I am a licensed clinical social worker after graduating with my masters of social work. La Salle prepared me not only academically for my Bachelor’s and Master’s in social work and maintaining a 4.0 at an Ivy League institution, but spiritually.
My relationship with God was informed by Lasallian values, specifically concern for the poor, social justice, and respect for all persons. This relationship supports my ability to offer intensive therapy to youth ranging in ages from 3-18, many of whom have experienced repeated trauma and poverty. My faith based experiences and the academic rigor of LSA prepared me for what I experience daily–facing the realities of the world with care, compassion, and an open mind.
Let us pray—
God help us use our Lasallian values to become not only aware of the injustices around us, but to take action and help arrive at solutions for them.
St. John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for Us.
Live Jesus in our Hearts…Forever!
Anne McGunagle—Class of 2012