To Go To The Margins

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 15 May 2018–Feast of Saint John Baptist de La Salle)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Happy Feast Day!

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

May 15th is a very special day throughout the Lasallian world.  It is the day on which we Lasallians celebrate our Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle.

On this day in 1950, the Catholic Church declared him the Patron of all Teachers, having named him a saint fifty years earlier in 1900.

This saint is pretty special to this school as well—we are named after him; his statues stand at the top of the stairwell near Room 213 and in the Campus Ministry Center; a brief pictorial biography graces the walls of Heritage Hall near Room 111; his picture is in many classrooms and offices; his name is invoked and called upon to pray for us many times during the day.

From studying about him, most of you know how he was born into a wealthy family, became a priest, lost both parents while in his late teens and became responsible for his brothers and sisters; how he helped with a school for poor boys, got more and more involved in helping to instruct the teachers how to best teach; how he founded more and more schools throughout France; how he experienced some successes and many failures; and, how he left a legacy of schools and Lasallians throughout the world.

We know that during his life he made a series of choices that led him out of his comfort-zone, that moved him beyond what he thought were his personal limits, to go to the margins, so to speak.  And that is his charism, the gift left to those who follow him.

But, we might ask—so what?  Does his charism, his spirit still live on or is he just a dead saint whom we politely remember?

Well, his charism lives on in Brother Andres Porras, a young Brother from Mexico who left his teaching position and his homeland to go to Lebanon to help found a program for refugee children from war-torn Syria and Iraq—a program that, after only a few years, services close to 500 children and their families at 2 sites in Lebanon.  He left his comfort-zone and went to the margins!

And the charism lives on in Brother Bill Firman, an older Brother, who left his native Australia and his chief administrator’s position to answer the call to start a teacher training school in South Sudan—a war-torn area in one of the poorest countries of the world.  Despite the violence, poverty and hunger the college trains native teachers.  He left his comfort-zone and went to the margins!

Closer to home, Brother Lawrence Goyette  took a similar risk 25 years ago, leaving his position as a teacher, to found the first San Miguel School here in Providence, a school to serve middle school age boys who needed an educational chance.  Hundreds of young people are now Miguel Men and Women here and across the country because Brother Lawrence allowed De La Salle’s charism to inspire him.

And even closer to home Ms. Maggie Naughton and Ms. Amanda Proulx, former Religion teachers and Campus Ministers here at La Salle, left the comforts of home—Ms. Naughton to travel across the country recruiting Lasallian Volunteers to serve in Lasallian schools that work with large numbers of poor kids and Ms. Proulx to go to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Pakistan to work with young Lasallians.  The Charism is alive in them!

So too the charism lives in our teachers, coaches, counselors, Campus Ministers, Deans, Administrators, activity moderators, nurse, cafeteria workers—people who go to the margins, beyond the “simply required”—to advise an athlete who is struggling or to encourage a fledgling actress to try out, to provide help before or after school to a student afraid of failing or to help a Senior choose a college, to guide a student through a tough time at home or to work with a group of students to plan Spring Fest, to comfort a student grieving a loss or to cook breakfast for a Kairos Retreat!

Or maybe we look to you our students—those who leave their comfort-zones, give up a vacation, and take a chance to go on a Mission Service Trip to the Mexican border or to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, or those who work at Breadlines or Mary House or Amos House or at Kennedy School or at Fruit Hill, or those who give up an evening to run a Christmas or Easter Party at McAuley Village, or our De La Salle Middle School students who visit Scalabrini Villa for the elderly.  How about our Seniors who leave their comfort-zone to go on Christian Service and deal with Alzheimer’s patients (among other service sites) or our Best Buddies members dealing which physically and mentally challenged young people!  How about the student who comforts an ill classmate cradling his head in his lap, or gives a hug to a classmate hurting from a broken relationship, or willingly shows a visitor where to go, or takes a chance to try out for a team or a play or to raise a hand in class—or the student who shares something about him or herself on the PA in morning prayer or risks planning an event like Intercultural Night!  Yes, there is much evidence that the charism of Saint John Baptist de La Salle lives on, that his faith and zeal continue to inspire us to take risks, to leave our comfort-zones, to go to the margins, to go beyond what we might think are our own personal borders or limitations.

And so we pray, paraphrasing the words of Father Greg Boyle, the Founder of Homeboy Industries:  Lord, help us to go to the margins—not to make a difference, because then that’s about us; but rather to go to the margins so that the folks at the margins will make us different.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

Moms In Prayer

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 11 May 2018)

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

I would like to tell you about some people of whom you probably have never heard.

More than 20 years ago, when my sons were students here at La Salle Academy, two mothers came to a PALS meeting to talk about a prayer group, called “Moms in Touch,” now “Moms in Prayer,” which they hoped to start at La Salle.  “Moms in Prayer” is an international, non-denominational group.  Although comprised mostly of mothers, it can include others.

The purpose of the group is to pray for the school, its administration and faculty, staff, and, most importantly, its students.  They pray that God be with us, blessing all the school’s endeavors, whether academic, extra or co-curricular, sports, or social events.  They pray that each of us is here because we want to and should be here, and that we become an integral part of this wonderful community. They pray that each of us recognize the path God wants us to follow, and that He send His Holy Spirit to guide us into and keep us in that path.  They pray that we are granted the courage to endure the hardships we face, and be grateful for the gifts we are granted. They pray that Jesus is with each and every one of us, students, and adults as well, on this campus.

That is its sole function, and I can attest to the truth of this from personal experience.  Given the ever-changing nature of a school population, of course, many different mothers have come and gone over the last decade. But, for 23 years, there has ALWAYS been a group of moms who is willing to devote a bit of time each week on our behalf.

My past days as a part of “Moms In Touch” have left me with a very strong and vibrant image of Jesus, dressed in brilliant white flowing robes, a beaming smile on His face, arms thrown wide, as He strides through the school’s halls, peeking into classrooms, stopping to rest His hand on the shoulder of each person here who needs His loving touch at any given moment.

When you are having a particularly difficult time, or day, or just bad moment, as we all do, remember that there is always someone “extra” here, praying for your constant well-being.

Let us pray.   Lord, Jesus, help us to remember that we are loved and cared for, not only by You, not only by our families and friends, but also by loving and generous people who don’t even know us as individuals.  We pray for them in turn, and ask that they may always be a force of love, of strength, of compassion, though their identities may remain unknown to us.

JOHN BAPTIST DE LA SALLE… Pray for us.

LIVE, JESUS, IN OUR HEARTS… forever.

Connie Ciampanelli–Secretary (Office of Guidance and College Counseling)

A Day To Celebrate Our Teachers

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 8 May 2018—Teacher Appreciation Day)

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

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day, a time to celebrate the guidance of all of the teachers in our lives. Members of Student Council have chosen eight words that encompass what our teachers mean to us.

The first word is gratitude: Today is a time for us to step back and thank God for giving us teachers who not only work persistently to ensure our academic success, but who genuinely care about our development as people. We are grateful to our teachers for all of their hard work.

The second is faith: In the Lasallian community, especially, our teachers show us what it means to live out our faith in and outside of the classroom.

Next, is compassion: Today we celebrate the compassion our teachers have for us, understanding and helping us through the challenges we face. They are examples to us of how to be compassionate to others.

Inspire: Sometimes we all have those moments where something clicks. We understand that difficult concept in class or we discover something we love or we’re good at. Many of these moments come at the hands of our teachers.

Create: Teachers help us to use what we learn to create projects or form ideas that we can be proud of.

Motivate: When we begin losing our motivation, as many of us are at this point in the school year, our teachers are always there behind us offering us a push to follow through.

Determination: Teachers always seem to have the remarkable determination to help us learn in any way they can, because they are passionate about what they teach and want us to be too.

Finally, success: When we reach our goals, we can be proud of all that we have accomplished. And standing right behind us is an equally proud teacher, happy that they could guide us to success.

Looking to the examples of Jesus, St John Baptist de La Salle, and the Brothers of the Christian Schools, we as Lasallians have a special connection to all of our teachers. Yes, this includes those teachers in the classroom, but also those other teachers in our lives: like our parents, coaches, club leaders, and anyone else who acts as a guiding presence for us.

Teacher Appreciation Day is about reflecting on our teachers’ impacts on us. With this in mind, let us pray.

 

Heavenly Father,

Grant our teachers an abundance of your wisdom. Prepare their hearts to welcome all of their students and families, and remind us to show them love and respect in return. Give them grace as they guide their students, courage to say what needs to be said, and strength when they feel weak. When they feel unappreciated, remind them that their efforts do not go unnoticed. They are shaping the future by nurturing our generation through their actions, large and small. We are thankful for the knowledge that they share with us. Bless them, Lord, and may they understand how their hard work and faithfulness have impacted us, their students.

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

Live, Jesus, in our hearts… forever.

Katie Kerr–Class of 2019

The Student Council invited teachers to choose a smooth stone with one of the eight words inscribed upon it from its display (see picture above).

Are We Really Connected?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 26 April 2018—Intercultural Week)

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

Nowadays, we are constantly connected to our phones, laptops, and other devices, which have great chances of causing many negative differences in our social lives. Especially when communicating with other people, we can easily use our texts to avoid problems in the long run. Sometimes, we even use words less sincerely than we would if we were talking to someone face to face. We should not hide from true reality. Lots of people post pictures of themselves and others usually comment with a “heart eyes emoji” with the intention of showing support saying “You look great” or “This is a really cool picture,” but would the commenters have the courage to walk up to the person in the picture and say, “Wow, I thought your recent Instagram post was really cool” or “You looked really pretty in the picture you just posted”? Many people act in a specific way over text but may act completely different in person. Once in a while, we may build what we believe is a “friendship” over texting, but in real life, the most we say to each other is a simple greeting when passing by each other in the hallway. This frequently occurs because many would agree that sending a text message is much easier than talking to another in person. We should identify the areas of our social lives with which we struggle due to how we depend too much on technology. In what ways can we use texting, snapping, and other sources of technology to help us build more sincere relationships with others?

Let us pray: Dear God, Please help us to not only identify the areas of our social lives that we struggle with, but also help us to use our technology appropriately to improve our relationships. Guide us to understand the fact that tapping a few buttons and hitting send is much easier than communicating with others in person.  However, in order to build strong, healthy relationships, we must bond with those who are close to us by speaking face to face. Let us not hide our identities and problems through texts and messages. Give us the courage and strength to be sincere with those who are close to us and to find a balance between our use of technology and the relationships we choose to build.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Megan Chan–De La Salle Middle School–Grade 8

Mission into Creed

(Prayer offered for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday, 27 April 2018–Intercultural Week)

Good morning….

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

You are who you are when no-one is watching.  If you have had the pleasure of working alongside Coach Marcone or as one of his players you have probably heard this saying before or something quite similar.  Mr. Pacia shared a prayer with us in the past centered around this idea and I would like to make a connection as well as it relates to mission. Mission is not a catch-phrase, slogan, or marketing campaign.  Mission is not words; it is action. As Lasallians we are called to live our mission each day. I was recently reminded of a school in Chicago that transformed its mission into a creed. Each morning the faculty, staff, and students recite this creed as a reminder of who they are and wish to be.  I would like to share this creed with you as I have altered it slightly.

Your homeroom teachers will have the words displayed on the SmartBoard and I would ask that you silently read along.


Let us pray,

We are the young men and women of La Salle Academy.

We are exceptional—not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.

We will not falter in the face of any obstacle placed before us.

We never succumb to uncertainty or fear.

We are dedicated, committed, and focused.

We never fail because we never give up.

We make no excuses.

We choose to live honestly and with integrity.

We respect ourselves and, in doing so, respect all people.

We have a future for which we are accountable.

We have a responsibility to our families, community, and world.

We believe in ourselves.

We believe in each other.

We believe in La Salle Academy.

We believe.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…..pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…..forever.

Stephen Emerson–Math Teacher

The Beauty of Every Culture

(Prayer offered for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 25 April 2018—Intercultural Week)

Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God

It may come as a surprise to many that I’m Mexican, but I am. Both my parents came to the United States about 20 years ago from Mexico. My mom is always telling me stories of when she first came to the U.S. One story I’ll never forget is the one she told me about visiting a store in her early days in this country.  One time she went to go buy food and the cash register guy charged her more than she was supposed to pay because he saw that she didn’t know English. Luckily, there was a nice lady who saw what was going on and stood up for my mom. Today my mom knows some English, so when she sees someone struggling to communicate with someone else because of the language barrier, she’ll step in and help.  This story has stayed with me and reminded me of the need to use our knowledge to help others in need.

Let us pray—

Dear Lord, we thank you for making every culture beautiful in its own unique way. We thank you for the opportunities we get to enjoy the beauty of every culture. We ask that you give us the strength to overcome challenges we may face and the courage to help someone who may need our help.

Amen.

 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for Us

Live Jesus in our Hearts…Forever

Emiliano Moreno—Class of 2019

We Are An Evolving Fabric of Diversity

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 23 April 2018—Intercultural Week)

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

The United States of America holds the reputation of being  one of the greatest countries in the world. But it is also known as the multicultural center, because of the wide variety of people with different cultural, racial and ethnic identities. Immigrants from all over come here holding their own ideal of the “American Dream.”  We have the opportunity to share in how other people experience the world differently. Much of today’s society has forgotten that. “So God created mankind in his own image,” yet on the news we see  discrimination and violence all over the world against people who are considered other. The Diversity Committee has organized Intercultural Day this week so that everyone can express themselves and witness that within our own community we are an evolving fabric of unique threads, colors and textures.

Let us pray,

We thank You God, for the diversity we see all around us. You created all people in your image. We rejoice in the astonishing variety of races and cultures in this world and within our own community. Help us celebrate the wonderful blend of skin colors, languages and customs and teach us to accept one another, and to realize that our differences are what makes us unique.

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Alejandro (Victor) Jimenez–Class of 2018

 

NUMBERS

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 13 April 2018)

Good morning La Salle.

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

Today is Friday the thirteenth. People get nervous about this, because thirteen is unlucky. But how much should we let this number dictate how our day will go?

I remember when the first SAT scores for my grade came out some time early last year. People were asking each other what they got. For some reason, this number mattered to us. To the kid who got an almost perfect score, it wasn’t good enough. To the kid who got just what they needed to get into their dream school, it was their saving grace. Some people’s numbers inspired them to study harder and do better. Others were happy with what they got. Each number can mean something different to everybody. They can be motivating. But they can also be destructive.

I run competitively. Sometimes I’ll have a race that just doesn’t go my way. I might be off my time by a few seconds. Those few seconds can be the difference between confidence and self-doubt. It’s hard for me to remember all the good races I have had when I have a bad one.

Everyone does this sort of thing. Like when you get a bad grade on a test, you immediately forget about getting all-honors last semester, because YOU JUST BOMBED IT! But, you have to take a step back and think about it. Are people going to be at your funeral saying, “jeez, they were a nice person and all, but they failed that history test in junior year, what a failure”? NO! People are going to remember you for who you are. And who you are is not defined by your grades or any other number.

I recently deleted Instagram. I have about a thousand followers on it. For some people, that’s a lot. For others, it’s not even half of what they have. But what really stresses me out is the amount of likes I get on a photo. I’m sure I’m not alone when I think about deleting a post because it got a poor amount of likes. You know that first half hour after you post a photo, and you’re constantly refreshing the amount of likes you have? If it’s too low, you get anxious. And then you also have to worry about what time you post, because you’ll get more likes if you post in the evening. If I don’t get a lot of likes, I immediately assume that something is wrong with me, or people don’t like me.

We have to remember that numbers are nice to use as tools, to see where we are, or to quantify goals. But numbers are not our self worth. We are more than our grades, our SAT scores, or the amount of colleges we got into.

Could we instead focus on numbers that make us feel good? How about the number of people that smiled at you today? Or the number of good deeds you have done? I like these numbers a lot better. Each one represents a positive impact on someone’s life. And we should be striving to make that impact as big as possible.

So before you judge someone who did worse on a test than you, or someone who doesn’t have as many followers as you, stop and think. If you are more than those numbers, then they are more than those numbers, too. Each person is too unique and amazing to be summed up by a bunch of numbers. It is all these qualitative, not quantitative, ideas, about humanity that makes us awesome. So let’s keep being awesome.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts…. forever.

Grace Connolly–Class of 2018

Give and Give More

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 11 April 2018)

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

 “Give and Give, even and especially when you don’t think you can give anymore.”  The first principal who hired me years ago–a Christian Brother by the name of Thomas Casey—had those words on a poster in his office.  I remember thinking how foolish and silly they seemed when I first read them over a decade ago.  After all, everything about our society tells us to measure our actions and choices by how we will benefit from them or not.  So often before we give, we think…how will this affect me?  How much time or money will it cost me? Or emotionally, is this worth it for me?

 My favorite example of “Give and give more” happened a couple of years ago on my first service trip with La Salle Academy students.  We were volunteering at the De La Salle Blackfeet School in Browning, Mt.  Most of the students there are poor.  Often, their parents struggle with alcoholism or drug dependency.  All of the students receive free breakfast and lunch.  Anyway, one day at lunch, I sat at a table of fifth graders to eat with them.  I remember finishing the granola bar I had packed and mumbling something about still being hungry.  In an instant, the boy seated next to me reached for his cookie and offered it  to me.  Without hesitation or calculation, he shared the little he had.  He taught me something that day about giving, about generosity, and about purity of heart.

That boy was like the poor widow for me—reaching into his need and sharing all that he had.  I wonder if this kind of generosity is what is meant by the Scripture verse  “Unless a grain of wheat dies, it will not bear fruit.”  Maybe it’s that when we give without thinking of ourselves, we die to our own interests and let God’s will and unconditional love and mercy fill our lives.

Let us pray:

Loving God, we give ourselves to you–our gifts and talents, our time, our energy, all that we are and have.  In those moments when we are tempted to be selfish or stingy, when we are tired or lazy, give us pure, generous hearts so that we may give without counting the cost.   You, O God, are all we need.

St. John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for us

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Christine Estes—Director of Campus Ministry