More than a Slogan

This was the final prayer during Catholic Schools Week–a prayer offered on the Public Address system on the morning of Friday, 31 January.

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

Enter To Learn Leave To Serve

Slogans, mottos, themes… they aren’t really things we think about on a regular basis, yet this week we have been hearing in prayer about La Salle’s motto, our theme.  “Enter to learn, leave to serve.”  We live this every day.  We come to school to learn.  But at the end of the day, when we leave La Salle, it is what we do outside of the walls of the building that stays with us and that impacts others.

LSA Science Wing

During the past few summers, a few students have realized what it really means, during the Lasallian Youth Summer Assemblies.  For a week during the summer, students from Lasallian schools all over the northeast gather to learn from one another and to serve others.

Two years ago, the Assembly was held in Buffalo, New York.  Each day groups went out into the community to places like soup kitchens and nursing homes.  The drive to one particular soup kitchen was scary.  The houses along the way were all foreclosed, and the line outside the soup kitchen formed at 9 in the morning even though lunch was not served until noon.  One person really stood out in particular.  This man would come in every day, eat lunch with his two kids, share his joy and big smile with the volunteers, and then leave.  One day as the van carrying the volunteers pulled up, the man could be seen standing outside looking through the dumpster.  He pulled out a bag of moldy bread that had been discarded by the soup kitchen staff the previous day.  The man opened the bag and started to feed the birds.  Here was a man who had nothing for himself, much less to give away, yet his concern that day was for the birds.  Even though they were birds, he put their comfort and well-being above his own.  In this one moment, it became clear what an amazing effect one human being can have on another.


Meanwhile, on the other side of town, my group was at a nursing home, beating the summer heat with an ice cream party.  After delivering bowls of ice cream to each resident, I sat down next to a lady, who was about 85 years old and wheelchair bound.  After just a few seconds, my own bowl lay off to the side, forgotten, as I observed the lady beside me.  I was watching her hold her spoon.  A simple thing, really, something we all do every day.  But all of a sudden, she dropped it.  She tried again, picking it up from the table, only to have it slip from her fingers again…and then a third time.  Finally, she looked at me, a little embarrassed, and told me, “I think you are going to have to feed me.”  Although she was nervous at first, she grew more and more relaxed with each spoonful of ice cream I fed her, eagerly enjoying every last drop, and having fun at the party as well.  As I pushed her back to her room when we were finished, I came to recognize that I was able to take something light and fun, like an ice cream party, and serve another, helping her enjoy it as well.

feeding woman

Now let’s fast forward a year.  Today’s dress down collection is devoted to supporting victims of a natural disaster that wreaked havoc in Haiti, but last October 2012 a disaster hit us all much closer to home.  Superstorm Sandy affected millions of people across the northeast, and months later New York was still recovering from its damaging effects.  That is why this year’s (2013) Summer Assembly was dedicated to serving those affected by the storm.  One group visited sites of wreckage on Long Island where, even in the 100 degree weather, hazmat suits, hard hats, and gloves were all necessities for the Lasallian volunteers.  Despite our discomfort, it was completely worth the heat and exhaustion to see the grateful looks on the faces of those who had struggled for almost a year as a result of the storm.  The weeks spent at Lasallian Youth Summer Assemblies not only grant us the opportunity to learn from other Lasallians, but also, and more importantly, to serve those who are most in need in our communities.

Lasallian Youth

Let us pray.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Saint John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.

Afternoon reflection: Today you came to school to learn something new. How will you use what you’ve learned to serve others when you leave?

Elise Hoy–Class of 2014 and Member of Lasallian Youth

catholic schools week


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