What Can I Possibly Do?

(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 25 February 2015 as part of Poverty Week)

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


Hi Everyone. If you’re anything like me, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the stories and statistics that you hear about poverty or social justice. It can be disheartening to read the paper or watch the news. It’s easy to think of the problems you see or hear as “elsewhere problems.” You start to feel detached from the things you read or watch. There is a situation in SYRIA or a crisis in SUDAN or a shooting in MISSOURI. These problems are taking place far away from little Rhode Island. You can also feel helpless to make a change. It seems like poverty is such a huge global issue that there is no way to combat it. I used to think to myself “What can I possibly do?” Sometimes trying to tackle global issues feels like beating your head against a wall. I used to get discouraged in the face of poverty or injustice, with the same question always coming up, “What can I possibly do?”


The answer to this question comes in two parts. The first part is awareness. Not just listening to statistics or watching the news, letting information go in one ear and out the other. But rather become aware of the poverty that exists in our own communities. It’s not a far off global issue. It’s a problem that is affecting our neighbors and friends. It’s about seeing poverty with your own eyes and through your own experience. You are all given a fantastic opportunity for awareness through your Christian Service projects. In fact, my own Christian Service at McAuley House was the first time I was able to put faces to the statistics I had heard. I didn’t have to travel to the Philippines to see those in need. I only had to go to Elmwood Ave. If you are currently doing your Christian Service, I urge you to see the humanity of the people you serve.


The second part of the answer to the “What can I possibly do?” question is to commit yourself to the good. Decide what is good and what is right and commit yourself to aligning your actions with this awareness. For me, that meant committing to a year of service. The Lasallian Volunteer program I am part of offers me the opportunity to “put up or shut up.” It is a great first step to be aware of issues like poverty, but it is not enough. We need to commit ourselves to action. You’ve all probably heard the expression “actions speak louder than words.” St Francis says it another way. “Preach the gospel—use words if necessary.” We’ve all been blessed with special gifts and talents. Be grateful for the many gifts you have received from God. These gifts and talents are your tools for action and service.


Let us pray-
Dear Lord,
At the Passover meal you washed the feet of your disciples. With this great example of service in mind, let us wash each other’s feet. Help us to be, not only like Jesus, but like the disciples as well, willing to let our own feet be washed. Allow me to transform others with my actions. Let me be both teacher and student, allowing myself to be transformed by the people I come into contact with. AMEN.


Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Thomas Darnowski–Class of 2008 and Lasallian Volunteer (The San Miguel School)

Poverty Today Is a Cry

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 23 February 2015)

Let us pause and remember we are in God’s holy presence.

Let us keep in our prayers any special intentions we may have this morning.  And let’s also pray that the eleven students serving in Apopka, Florida with Ms. Doyle and Mr. Ciccone have a safe journey back to Rhode Island.

This week we start our first full week of Lent, the forty day period of prayer and sacrifice that prepares us for our celebration of the Easter Triduum. For the second year in a row, in addition to our Lenten Rice Bowl collections to raise money for our twin school in Kenya, we will start our Lenten observation by celebrating Poverty Education Week. This week, modeled after a program at St. John’s College High School, a Lasallian school in Washington, DC, is meant to tie all classes and all disciplines together around a theme that is central to the mission of the De La Salle Christian Brothers and all their schools and agencies around the world – to understand poverty in all its forms; to grow in empathy and compassion for those living in poverty, whether financial, emotional, educational, or of values; to be inspired to use our gifts and talents to help in bringing about God’s kingdom here on earth; and to explore practical ways to fight poverty in our lives. In addition to morning reflections on poverty in all its forms, you will touch upon the topic of poverty in all of your classes during the week. And we will see that each subject, in its own way, can offer a chance for deeper reflection and understanding about poverty in our school, our community, our country, and our world.


The following is an excerpt from the first blog entry of Nicole Carloni, a La Salle graduate currently in month two of a six month stint in Sierra Leone where she is joining the fight against the Ebola virus.


“I recently heard someone speak about what it means to receive a calling in life. Often times when people find a job they love they refer to it as their calling. But in reality, no matter how much you may love it, a job is just something temporary. A calling is something much greater, something eternal and when you receive it, you’ll know. When this mantle is thrown to you, you have a choice to make about the kind of faith you will live from that moment on. You can sit at home and be safe or you can go out and live your faith. When Isaiah heard God’s call he willingly and freely said, “Here I am! Send me!” Isaiah was never forced into doing anything. Nobody is forcing me to go to Sierra Leone. In fact, people I love and respect have asked me NOT to go. But I can’t do that. I know that this isn’t going to be the easiest thing in the world, but I trust that I can overcome any anxiety I may have or any obstacles I may face if I trust fully in God.”


“I’m grateful to play a tiny role in a major effort to stop Ebola. I’m grateful to my family and friends for their support, encouragement and prayers. I’m grateful for the incredible educational opportunities I’ve had at La Salle (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much reading “The Hot Zone” in 9th grade has crossed my mind since this outbreak started). I’m grateful for the people of West Africa, many of whom have lost family members and friends to Ebola, who serve alongside their counterparts from all over the world in the fight to stop this outbreak. Most importantly, I’m grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to serve the people of Sierra Leone in the best way I know how.”

Hot zone

Let us pray, in the words of Pope Francis from a meeting with high school students in June 2013:


“The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”

Heavenly Father, open our ears so we hear that cry. And open our hearts so we do all in our power to answer it.  Amen.

St. John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Matt Daly–Director of Campus Ministry

Because We Are Lasallian

(Morning Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 10 February 2015)

PRAYER- World Day of Prayer to End Human Trafficking

We pause and we remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

I grew up with the security of having someone in my life, my Nana, who sheltered and guided me and loved me every minute. Therefore, I was oblivious to the troubled situations in the world where women and children live with dangerous problems. Despite having attended and taught in Catholic schools, it is only since I have come to La Salle that the problems of violence against babies, homelessness, poverty, and, recently, human trafficking, have been brought to the forefront. I believe that Lasallians, staying close to the mission of De La Salle, engage, not only in debate, but action for the plight of those who are suffering. Why should we care? Because we are all Lasallians!

Human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world, generating more than $150 billion worldwide! It’s estimated that 27-36 million women, children, and even men are victims of some form of trafficking. In our country of such freedoms, it’s hard to believe that people’s liberty is denied, and they undergo abuse of their body, by mutilation or sexual exploitation. With those statistics, it almost seems futile to try. But, we are Lasallians.


Today, we celebrate the World Day of Prayer to End Human Trafficking. As we celebrate the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold many times into slavery in Sudan and Italy, we try to imitate her voice against slavery.


We pray today for all those who are currently trapped in what Pope Francis has described as a “crime against humanity” and “an open wound on the body of contemporary society.” And do not be misled that these crimes are only in those less-educated countries. In fact, this occurs in both cities and rural areas of America and also right here in RI where scores of vulnerable young women and children are forced into prostitution by unspeakable physical and psychological abuse. This leads to drug abuse, homelessness, and sometimes death. Those who are trafficked and enslaved feel as though no one cares. But we care, because it is our duty to care- because we are Lasallians.


Let us pray.

As we unite with those around the globe today to pray for an end to human trafficking, what Pope Francis calls, “a scourge upon the body of Christ”, we implore God to inspire those in governments around the world to pass and enforce laws to protect the lives of victims of human trafficking. We pray that the victims feel solace and faith that they will be freed and that we will tell their stories to raise awareness of their plight. We commit to spreading this message, because, we are Lasallians.


View video from US Bishops’ Conference

St. John Baptist De La Salle, pray for us.

Live, Jesus, in our hearts, forever.

Leslie Martinelli–Science Teacher

Hands Stretched Out

(Morning Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 5 February 2015)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

I have a question for you this morning.  What part of the human body has 27 bones, about 123 ligaments–those bands of tissue that connect the bones–34 muscles, 48 named nerves and 30 named arteries. If you guessed your hand, you are correct!  (I invite you to put your hands on your desk and look at them. Flex your fingers and thumb a few times. Now make a fist. Can you feel the bones and muscles? Study your knuckles for a moment. Then notice the arteries on the top side of your hand and on your wrist. These supply nutrients to your hand 24-hours a day and yet we barely notice them.)


Hands are used primarily for physically manipulating the environment, like grasping a large box or picking up a dime on the sidewalk–if people still do such things.

Our thumb adds unparalleled grip, grasp, and torque to the human hand. It enables us to grab a glass of water, hold a can of soda, sign our name, play a guitar, catch and throw a baseball, swing a golf club, hold a book to read, strike the space bar on a keyboard, wring out a wash cloth, wield a weapon, and send text messages to our friends.

Look at your finger nails. They are made of a tough protein called keratin. Finger nails protect the fingertip from injury. They also serve as tools, for example, untying a knot or pulling out a splinter from your finger. The fingertips themselves have the densest area of nerve endings on the entire body. Their extreme sensitivity is known by anyone who has ever petted a dog or banged their finger with a hammer. It is the fingers’ sensitivity that enables people to read Braille.


What a tremendous creation are our hands!

You can tell a lot about a person by their hands. You can gain great insight into a person’s self-image by their handshake. The confident person has a solid grip. The arrogant person has an overbearing handshake that seems to say, “You know, I can take you if I want.” The shy or self-conscious person gives the limp “dead-fish handshake” in which they are saying, “You won’t like me…I just know you won’t.”

You can also gain insight into the kind of work a person does by their hands. A person who does physical labor usually has rough and calloused hands. Others do office work and so their hands are smooth and sensitive. You will hear it said of athletes that they have “soft hands.” This is the opposite of someone who has stone hands. You throw the ball to the one with stone hands and they will drop the ball. You throw the ball to one with soft hands and they seem to welcome the ball like they are holding a newborn baby.


Hands can destroy—a punch, a strangle-hold, a knife held ready to strike, a finger on a trigger, a thrown firebomb or grenade.  Hands can also give life—a surgeon’s hand helping to deliver a baby or perform delicate surgery, a mother’s or father’s hand gently holding their child’s hand as they take their first step or cross the street, a friend’s hand comforting and holding the hand of another, a healing hand, like the hand of Jesus reaching out to the leper as we heard in Mrs. Kelly’s prayer a few weeks ago.


Likewise, we can decide to keep our hands in our pockets or to extend them in generosity.

This morning we are being asked to use our hands to reach deeply into our pockets, pocketbooks and wallets; this morning we are being asked to reach deeply into our hearts.  Then we are being asked to extend our hands in generosity, to give of our wealth, as much as possible, to those with much less—our younger Lasallian brothers and sisters of the Saint John Baptist de La Salle School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Every dollar is for them an opportunity, as Mr. Daly told us a few weeks ago—an opportunity for them to break the cycle of poverty in which they are trapped.  I humbly ask you this morning:  Stretch out your hands to Haiti in generosity!

hands for world

Let us pray:

God our Father—with your hands you created woman and man from mud and gave us life.

Jesus—with your hands you healed and blessed.  At the very end you stretched your hands out in love as you were crucified.

The Hands of Jesus

Holy Spirit–help to make our hands today the hands of Christ as we reach out with care and compassion to friend and stranger alike.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller