Me? You Want Me?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address System on Monday morning, 30 September)

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

Two weeks ago, as many of you know, Pope Francis gave an extensive interview to an Italian magazine. During the interview he talked about how, as a young priest, whenever he visited Rome, he would always avoid the bigger touristy churches and instead visit the lesser known Church of St. Louis of France. Within that church building there are three murals depicting the life of St. Matthew painted by the famous artist Caravaggio. The painting is based on a scene from the 9th chapter of Matthew’s gospel. “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.” That’s it. Easy-peasy-one-two-threesy. Matthew just ups and leaves, according to the evangelist. But Caravaggio paints a different, more complex story.

Call of St. Matthew

Look at the painting. Jesus and St. Peter are on the right, with Jesus pointing his finger at Matthew, reminiscent of God and Adam in Michelangelo’s painting of creation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Seated at the table are 5 men of various ages. The two on the left are too busy counting their money to even notice Jesus. The two on the right are young boys, possibly apprentices of some sort. And in the middle is the man who most scholars believe is St. Matthew, pointing at himself with a stunned look on his face, a mixture of fear and uncertainty, as if he’s thinking: “Me? Are you sure you have the right guy? You want me to do what?”

The following is an excerpt from the interview: “That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew,” Francis said. “It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.”

Pope Francis

I love it! Now, I would have expected a man who became pope to identify with St. Peter, the confident man standing with Christ. But no. He feels like Matthew. Pope Francis experiences doubt and uncertainty just like us! The great part about this painting is that it invites us, like Francis, to put ourselves in Matthew’s position. Because we are all being called by God for something. And like Matthew, we’re all hesitant to follow. Maybe we’re scared of losing something. We fear the sacrifices or the possible loss of comfort. Or we’re scared of the uncertainty of going where Jesus goes. So we try to hide. Or hold on tight to our possessions. Me? You want me? It can’t be. I’m too small. I’m too young. I’m too settled. I’m not good enough. But God calls us still. Don’t be afraid, he says. And he calls us by name. Shioban, follow me. David, follow me. Daniel, follow me. Anthony, Matt, Jada, Megan, follow me. Don’t be afraid, Molly, Joshua, and Dmitri. Follow me. Nick and Ashley, follow me. Eric and Steve, follow me. I need you. The world needs you. Ellen and Alexa, follow me. James and Amanda, follow me. Stephanie and Jonathan, follow me. Alicia and Jeremy, follow me. How will we respond?

Finishing up his reflection on the painting, the pope whispers in Latin: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, give us courage to listen closely for your soft, still voice fighting through the noise around us. And when we meet, please give us the courage to follow you.


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

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever,


Matthew Daly (Director of Campus Ministry)

Resilience and Learning: And Still I Rise

The most recent Educational Leadership (a journal published monthly by the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development–ASCD) is dedicated to the topic of resilience and learning, i.e. how one’s ability to cope with failure and adversity is related to learning. Schools can either enhance and foster resilience in young people or they can perpetuate in young people an inability to deal with the struggles of life.  Educational Leadership offers 7 Secrets of Resilience.

The lead article is an interview with the poetess Maya Angelou.  Overcoming a very difficult childhood and extraordinary obstacles, including poverty and racial prejudice, Dr. Angelou (now 85 years old) has made significant contributions to literature, the arts, civil rights, and women’s rights.

In the interview she is asked:

If you could leave our readers with one thought about how schools can best support kids and foster resilience, what would it be?

I would ask the teacher to be sure that this is the program—this is the job—that he or she is called to do. Don’t just teach because that’s all you can do. Teach because it’s your calling. And once you realize that, you have a responsibility to the young people. And it’s not a responsibility to teach them by rote and by threat and even by promise. Your responsibility is to care about what you’re saying to them, to care about what they’re getting from what you’re saying. If you care about the child and care about the information, you’ll handle both with care, and maybe with prayer. Handle them both with prayer.

How remarkably similar is this to the injunction of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the Founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, who in speaking to his first teachers tells them: “The more loving you are to the young, the greater will be the effects of God’s grace.” (Med 134.2—on St. Barnabas)

Brother Frederick


Lasallian Prayer for Peace

We offer you the Lasallian International Prayer for Peace to be used between September 21 and October 21, 2013.  Young Lasallians around the world are promoting peace prayers and activities under the theme: Peace is Possible.


In the words of Pope Francis on Sunday, September 22: “The path of peace is the only one that builds a better world! But if you do not take that path yourselves, if you yourselves do not build, no one else will! This is the problem, and this is the question that I leave: “Am I willing to take a road to build a better world?”

Peace is Possible

(Prayer offered on the public address system at La Salle Academy on Friday, 20 September 2013)

Good morning.

Tomorrow, September 21st 2013 marks the United Nations day for peace, which is a day where the world community specifically focuses its energy on peace making.  It also marks the beginning of the Lasallian Days for Peace, a month long observance for peace in our Lasallian ministries through prayer services, peace activities, education, and demonstrations.  Our theme this year is “Peace is Possible.”

Peace is Possible

With that in mind, let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

When I was pondering the theme of “Peace is possible,” I began to think about Jesus’ teaching on loving our enemies.  It is one of his most extreme teachings and one that human beings struggle with the most.  Our natural inclination to sin sometimes keeps us from recognizing the human dignity of the other person and therefore, we operate out of hate instead of out of love.  When I looked up the word enemy in the dictionary, it had words like violence and hostility and war, which are correct, but I think in a high school setting, most of our enemies come in the form of students or teachers that are just different from you or me.  Because we crave uniformity in our peer groups, we judge from afar instead of trying to get to know a person’s true heart.


Jesus mandates that we love our enemies and when I think about that teaching, I immediately think about my friend Stephanie.  Wait, Ms. Naughton.  Didn’t you say ENEMY?  Good paying attention, kids.  From an outside perspective at our friendship, Steph and I don’t seem to match up as friends.  Let me explain.

Stephanie loves dresses and thinks that my clothing choices are a crime against humanity.  She thinks my slacks and button downs should be thrown into a fire pit and burned and the “What Not To Wear” people should come to my house and do an intensive boot camp on fashion with me.  In fact, she spends the month of May wearing a different dress or skirt for Our Lady.  When she found out I thought Lululemon was an ice cream flavor, I believe she gave some thought to ending our friendship.  My favorite pope is John XIII, hers is Benedict XVI.  She has 4 siblings, I have one brother.  She’s a vegetarian and lectures me about how corrupt the meat packing industry is and how I need to stop eating so many delicious steaks.  We have spent at least 45 minutes arguing over who was more of a feminist: Sarah Palin or Ke$ha.  I had Ke$ha in that argument, in case anyone was wondering.  For my part, I have spent much time lecturing Steph on being nicer to her family, not being so uptight about everything, and that she is not actually always right about everything.  The traits we do have in common aren’t things that normally bring women like us together.  We are both extremely bossy, opinionated, and we like things done our way.  People who know both of us are baffled at how close we are, especially when they see the way we carry on hugging and practically crying when we see each other again after she comes home from law school and I haven’t seen her in a while.  She is by far one of my most favorite people.  I love her with all of my heart and thank God every day that we are friends.

In truth, the reason our friendship is so strong and can sustain the amount of arguing we do is because of our ability to see past the superficial.  We both see each other’s human dignity and that is all Jesus is asking us to do.  He asks us to see past political party, religious affiliation, fashion sense, sexuality, hometown, extracurricular activity, etc.  Underneath everything we identify with are just people who have so much in common, but we just have to take steps to realize it.  It is then and only then that peace is possible.

Let us pray.

Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, that we may walk the paths of the Most High.  And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks.  Nation shall not lift up sword against nation—neither shall they learn war any more.  And none shall be afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.

St. John Baptist de La Salle, Pray for Us!

Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Pray for Us!

Live Jesus in our Hearts Forever!

Margaret Naughton (Campus Minister and Young Lasallian Coordinator, La Salle Academy)



“The Blood of Martyrs…”


signum fidei

When people hear the name De La Salle Christian Brother they often think about a monk who lives in a monastery (like a Trappist monk or a Benedictine monk) or they think about a male religious who does community work (like cooking or taking care of the physical needs of the group).  Some do think about the De La Salle Christian Brother as a teacher, as indeed their Mission is: to give a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor.  However, it is rare that people connect De La Salle Christian Brother with MARTYR.

John Baptist de La Salle told the earliest Brothers: Let it be clear, then, in all your conduct toward the children who are entrusted to you, that you regard yourselves as the ministers of God, carrying out your ministry with love and a sincere and true zeal, accepting with much patience the difficulties you have to suffer, willing to be despised by men and to be persecuted, even to give your life for Jesus in the fulfillment of your ministry.

Little did some of the men who became Brothers know that the Founder’s words were not just theoretical conjecture or pious platitudes.  The Lasallian Martyrology is not simply a list of names, but it is rather the living witness of members of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools who have shared in the fate of the disciples of Christ, even to the point of shedding their blood.  Death by martyrdom is not something that is improvised.  It is prepared for by the daily martyrdom of an everyday life lived generously in the service of God and others.  The Brothers’ acceptance of death through martyrdom was the culmination of a long period of preparation—and when the moment arrived, they went to their death not with the resignation of the condemned but with the joy and exultation of the victorious!!

In 1936 there were 1,087 Brothers of the Christian Schools in Spain.  During the religious persecution 165 Brothers were killed (15.7% of the entire number!!).  We know the stories of their heroic lives because we have the testimonies of direct witnesses, sometimes the executioners themselves.


On October 13, 2013, 74 Spanish Brothers and one lay person will be beatified in Tarragona, Spain.  These are the last of the 165 Brothers.  In announcing the beatification, Brother Alvaro, our Superior General, notes: I believe that it is worth it to underscore, at this time when we Brothers and lay partners share the same mission, the fact that one of the martyrs, José Gorostazu, died alongside the Brothers in the house of formation in Griñón, where they valiantly witnessed to their faith.

These martyred men join their Brothers from Turon, including Brother Jaime Hilario, their Brothers from Almeria,  their Brothers from Valencia, their Brothers from Barcelona, their Brothers from Santa Cruz de Mudela, and their Brothers from Lorca.

The early Christian writer Tertullian has penned: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”  May the blood of these martyred De La Salle Christian Brothers be for all Lasallians a seed, a sign of faith, a Signum Fidei!!

(Video by J. Edward Sirois)

Brother Frederick

“Angels” of Mustard Seed

(Morning Prayer offered by three students on the public address system —Wednesday, 11, September 2013)

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

          Take a minute to think of your favorite thing. Is it an electronic device, maybe a game you play constantly like Candy Crush?  Maybe it’s your car or a pair of shoes. This summer 14 students accompanied by Mr. Daly and Mrs. Misiaszek traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, to work with the orphans at Mustard Seed Communities, and these residents of Mustard Seed shared with us some of their favorite things.


          Latoya loves sunglasses. After receiving a pair, Latoya ran around, smiling from ear to ear, showing everyone her new glasses, going to each person and asking if they liked them. “YOU LIKE EH THE GLASSES? I LIKE EH THE GLASSES!” But don’t worry, she’d be back in a few minutes to ask you again.

          Natty loved picture books. He especially loved the book about the solar system. His whole face would light up as you brought the book over. With each turn of the page, he would jump up with excitement in his chair. Just the simple act of reading a book about the solar system – which still included Pluto – was enough to fill him with so much joy. One couldn’t help but be filled with that same joy.

          The teenage mothers at Mary’s Child love painting nails. Though they can’t do their own nails because of their chores like cooking and washing dishes, they loved painting our nails and hearing about our favorite pop stars. Aliya’s favorite color to paint was neon green. She made sure all the boys had at least one of their hands done in that color.


          Takiesha loves bracelets, and hearing everyone’s gossip, especially if it has to do with the boys. She could not contribute to the conversation, but she could listen intently from her chair and giggle if the person you were talking about walked by. But don’t worry, she wouldn’t blow your cover. If a boy came in, suspicious that you were telling stories about him, she’d just grab his hand and distract him with her beautiful bead bracelets.

          Paul loves his big literature text book. Even though he is only about 6 or 7 and can’t read or say anything himself, he loves sitting on your lap, nestled under your chin, listening to the stories in the book. After a while he’d fall asleep and you’d have to carry him, with the book, back to his cottage for a nap.


          Mary loves food. Being one of the tallest and most active residents, Mary eats much more than the others. While eating her huge bowl of bread and water, she has to stop after every bite to sing and clap. Even though it could get tiring feeding her bite by bite, you can’t help but smile and laugh along with her. Mary was so happy and so genuinely enjoyed every second that one couldn’t help but feel the same way, couldn’t help but smile and sing with her. It would take more than a half an hour, but once the bowl was completely finished, you would ache all over—your arms from holding up the bowl and spoon for so long, and your cheeks from smiling and laughing with this girl who had love radiating out from her.

          Tyrone loves soccer. He can’t run around and score goals with you, but he can kick the ball from his chair like a pro.  I spent hours over the course of the week tossing him the ball, then catching it as he kicked it straight back to me.  He was so excited every time someone came by to watch. His enthusiasm is just so contagious.


          Cedric loves helping out and holding hands. As I walked down one of the dirt paths, he was carrying a bucket, going to the pump to fill it with water. He saw me walking alone and immediately took hold of my hand and brought me on his errand with him. We couldn’t have a conversation during our walk, but sometimes the quiet says more than words ever could.

          The kids at Mustard Seed Communities love, and they don’t just love their toys, books, or songs. They loved us. They taught us how to love all the gifts God gives us, no matter how big or small, and how to love one another. They taught us to see people for all that is good within them, and how important they are in our lives.


          There is a quote that says, “This person holds within them an angel—one sent to you for some higher purpose; to teach you an important lesson or to help you in a perilous time.” The children of Mustard Seed had God within them, and showed us how God is present in all of us. They were our angels for a week, and now we must follow their example and be angels for others, hold God within us, and make Him visible in everyone we meet.

Let us pray. Dear Lord, help us to see the goodness and gifts with which you have blessed us. Help us to find the angels in our lives, and to love and care for others as we wish to be loved.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever.

 Afternoon Reflection: What angels have you encountered today? Did you try to be an angel for somebody else? In whom did you see and feel God’s love?

Ordinary People Doing Ordinary Things in an Extraordinary Way

Morning Prayer offered on the public address system for the school community on 4 September 2013

Good Morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

Let me invite you to take a trip back in time with me (221 years ago).  The date is September 2nd 1792 in Paris at the time of the French Revolution.  A middle-aged Brother, Brother Solomon Leclerq, an ordinary man, who assisted the head of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (the group to which we Brothers at La Salle belong), was assassinated in the garden of a former Carmelite convent that had been transformed into a prison.  Brother Solomon had been taken from his workplace by a gang of citizen soldiers.  He was imprisoned because he refused to renounce his beliefs—he refused to take an oath that would have made him deny his Catholic faith.  So he was guillotined—his head was chopped off.  An ordinary man doing an ordinary job but called to make an extraordinary decision.  Brother Solomon was the first Christian Brother martyr and is recognized by the Catholic Church as Blessed Brother Solomon.

Five more Brothers ranging in age from 50 to 75 years old were also arrested and imprisoned over the two year period of 1792 -1794.  Three of them were jailed in an old prison ship, the Rochefort, and after spending months of captivity, enduring suffering and oppression, they died of mistreatment and starvation.  Another was guillotined before a cheering crowd that shouted insults and blasphemies, his guillotined head raised by its hair like a trophy for the jubilant crowd.  The fifth Brother, an older man sick in his bedroom cell, was beaten in bed and his body thrown out the window.  Ordinary men—doing ordinary things—most of them teaching poor kids in elementary schools—called to make an extraordinary decision.

Fast forward in time to us.  Ordinary people—doing ordinary things.  We go to school to learn or to teach; we play sports and we coach; we spend time with friends; we work.  Ordinary things.  However, each of us, in the course of his or her day, is called upon to make decisions: Do I cheat on homework by copying my friends’ work or on a test by having cheat notes or information on my phone or Ipad?  Do I join the group of my friends who are spreading rumors about another or speaking ill of another or bullying another—Twitter at its worst?  Or maybe I just stand quietly there and do nothing, a silent accomplice?  Do I reach out to a classmate that seems down and out, maybe lost, or do I rush by?  Do I prejudge a classmate or a teacher on how he or she looks or talks or dresses?  Do I manipulate my friends, use my girlfriend or boyfriend for my own purposes and pleasures?  Do I ignore others because of their color, or racial or ethnic background, or economic status, or sexual orientation (I just don’t mix with that kind of kid)?  Each of us, in the course of his or her day, is called upon to make decisions—decisions that are extraordinary.

O, we are not standing before a judge or an angry crowd; we are not facing imprisonment or beheading.  However, we are facing the judgments of others; we are facing the pressure of the crowd of our friends or the pressure of our culture to conform—to deny what we really believe is right—and to go along with the mob.  To do what is right and good and honorable and just and caring—in the face of adversity—is truly extraordinary.

So, as we begin this school year—ordinary people doing ordinary things, let’s think about Brother Solomon and those other Brothers 221 years ago who themselves were ordinary people doing ordinary things.  Let us be reminded that each day offers challenges for us—and the choice is ours.  To follow the crowd or to follow our consciences—to do the extraordinary.  Ordinary people doing ordinary things in a truly extraordinary way.


Let us pray:  Good and gracious God, be with us today as we face whatever challenges may come our way, be they large or small.  Give us the courage to respond in an extraordinary way.  AMEN.


Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live, Jesus, in our hearts…forever.

 (Videos created by J. Edward Sirois, chairperson of La Salle Academy’s Religion Department)

Brother Frederick

Hope And Anticipation

Morning Prayer offered on the Public Address System for the Opening Day of School (30 August 2013)


Good Morning.

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

The Holy Presence of God!  Have you thought about that statement lately?  Living in the Presence of a loving God provides much hope and anticipation.  Have you noticed that we are surrounded by HOPE & ANTICIPATION as we start the new academic year at La Salle Academy?

I have attended numerous meetings and orientations with students, parents, teachers and staff over the past few weeks.  It is amazing how positive, bright, alert, and attentive we all are as the thought and feel of a new academic year is at hand.  Our new seventh graders, ninth graders, and transfer students are full of anticipation, hope and probably some anxiety as they meet new friends and new teachers.  Our seniors are full of hope and anticipation not only for the upcoming year here at La Salle, but also the process of applying to college and all that that entails.


Hope and anticipation are very good feelings and thoughts.  They tend to be very positive, life-giving, future oriented, and therefore motivational to all of us.

As I looked out at the parents of the freshman class August 21st , I could see in the faces of new parents – that same look and spirit of hope and anticipation.  Their most positive thoughts concerning you, their children, was most evident.  I could see in the faces of those parents sending their second, third, fourth and fifth child to La Salle, a knowing look that their children are in a wonderful place.  Along with two sisters, I was the fifth son of Edward and Mary Thelma Kavanagh to attend La Salle Academy.  I have seen the hope and anticipation from all sides and it’s a wonderful thing.  I hope that all of our students and their families, our faculty and our staff, keep that hope and anticipation alive throughout this school year.


We ask the Founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, St. John Baptist de La Salle, who taught children the Good News of the dual spirituality of salvation here on earth through learning –- attaining the ability to provide for and support a family — and when we come eye to eye with our Creator in the hope and anticipation of eternal salvation, that he intercede on our behalf and pray for us each and every day of our lives.  And God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

serenity prayer

St. John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us

Live Jesus in our hearts – FOREVER

Donald Kavanagh