Precious Memory

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 26 September 2016)

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


Each morning, and before each class, we are invited to remember that we are always in the presence of a loving and merciful God.

One morning, as I was driving to school last week, I was contemplating the vital role that memory plays in our daily lives.  For the past three years I taught an introduction to psychology course and our unit on memory was always one of my favorites to teach, and a student favorite as well.

We have all been left in awe by an amazing feat of memory, such as when one of my former students, Natalie, won the Pi memorization contest by reciting over 350 decimal places without making an error.


We have all experienced the anguish of the all too familiar tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon.  It can be frustrating when you realize that you know that person’s name or the answer to that test question but are unable to recall the information in the moment of need.

Many of us may have experience with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.  It is heart-wrenching to witness the impact of such illnesses on the people we love and hold dear.


As teachers, one of the most important aspects of our vocation is getting to know our students and that begins by learning and remembering each one of our students’ names.

As students, memory is essential in order for us to remember what we study and succeed in school and beyond.

Memory is so intricately tied up with our identity and our emotions.  Sometimes memories can cause us pain as we recall past hurts, humiliations, and rejections.  It never feels good to remember that time we failed the big test, made an error that cost our team the game, or were rejected by our peers.

On the other hand, memories can also serve as a source of happiness as we reflect on our past accomplishments and joyful occasions such as the day we passed our driver’s test, high school graduation, and our wedding day.  Ultimately, these experiences, and the memories of them, comprise a significant portion of who we are, and God can use all of them, the joys and even the hurts, to bring us closer to Him.

Over the summer my wife Melissa and I took our two children, Gracie and Kallan to see the movie Finding Dory.  The very popular film was a sequel to one of my favorite movies, the 2003 hit Finding Nemo.  As we were watching the movie, it struck me that Dory’s forgetfulness was an obstacle that impacted her sense of identity.  But despite Dory’s memory struggles, she begins to remember her origins. Dory remembers that the environment she is in is not her true home.  In bits and pieces she remembers her parents and her childhood home and this awareness sets her soul on a mission to find her true home.  Of course, she cannot make this journey without the help of her friends, including Nemo and his dad, Marlin.


I found this to be symbolic of our lives as Christians here on earth.  When we remember who we are and where we come from, our lives are transformed.  The realization that our origins are in God and our destiny is to return to Him for all eternity, can set our souls on fire with passion and purpose.

Ok, Spoiler Alert: Dory is determined to find her true home and she just keeps swimming until she makes her way there.  When she finally reaches her home, she realizes that her parents have set out a trail of shells to help guide her way.  God provides us with so many shells, or signs, to help guide each of us home to His loving embrace.  God guides us through His Holy Word, the Bible, through His Church and the Sacraments, through the gifts and talents He has blessed us with, and through the everyday acts of kindness sent our way through family, friends, and even strangers.  And just like Marlin in the original film, God relentlessly pursues His children until He brings them back to His fold.


The Islamic tradition teaches its followers that human beings are forgetful creatures.  While that forgetfulness can be very useful in helping us to make room for new information or even to aid in overcoming affliction, it is the forgetfulness of our true spiritual nature and connection to God that is especially harmful.  Hence the ritual prayers five times a day are a helpful reminder to be conscious of our true selves in relation to almighty God.

In the Christian tradition, St. Paul exhorts us to pray constantly in not only our thoughts but in the actions we take and choices we make.

Ultimately, Jesus asks us to remember Him in the most profound and mysterious of ways when He invites us to communion with Him through the reception of His Precious Body and Blood in the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist.  He asks us to do this in memory of Him because He wants us to share in his joy and He knows that a relationship with Him is the true path to happiness.

Let us pray…

Let us pray that we be conscious today of all the signs that God is sending our way to help us remember His amazing love.

Let us pray for all those who suffer from illnesses that rob them of their identity and for their loved ones who suffer helplessly by their sides.

Let us pray for all those who have forgotten their true identity and have lost their way.

Let us pray that no matter what challenges or obstacles we encounter, we may remember to just keep swimming with perseverance and purpose.

Let us pray that we may always remember that we are all children of a loving and merciful God Who longs to share His life, His love, and His joy with each and every one of us. Amen.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Anthony Russo–Campus Minister

Our Voices of Mercy Are Calling for Peace

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 21 September–the start of the International Lasallian Days for Peace [21 September-21 October 2016])

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

Most people in the building know that I have two children–a ten year old daughter named Madeleine and a thirteen year old son named John.  Up until a couple of months ago, the hour I dreaded most was the time after school and  before dinner.  Everyone arrived home, hungry, tired, and cranky.  Inevitably, one of the kids would start a fight with the other—Why are you in my room? Did you drink all the milk? Are you talking to a girl?  I’d keep my distance and hold my breath.  As their voices got louder, eventually I would intervene and send each kid to his /her room until dinner.  And I hated intervening.  I hated being mom cop.  One afternoon, while this was happening, my husband nonchalantly suggested, “Why don’t you let them work it out?” It was an aha moment for me.   All this time, because I didn’t like conflict, I stepped in.  But this robbed both kids of the opportunity to negotiate, compromise, in short, work things out.


Today marks the beginning of the 10th annual International Lasallian Days for Peace—a month long peace awareness project that ends with all of us wearing white for peace on October 21.  Lasallians around the world will be participating through opportunities for prayer, study, and action.  The theme for this year is “Our Voices of Mercy are Calling for Peace.”

As we think and pray about peace, it’s important to remember that peace is not about the absence of conflict, but rather about the ways human beings can understand, reach out, and connect in the midst of disagreements and strife.  Pope Paul VI famously stated, “If we want peace, then we must work for justice.”  And the Catholic church has long held the belief that together—charity and justice make up the two feet of Catholic Social Teaching.  Building peace requires difficult conversations, taking chances that one might be wrong, lots of patience, even more humility, and the ability to just listen.  Building peace requires work.


During this month, I’d like to challenge each of us in the La Salle Academy community, to seek peace by trying to dialogue and to reach out to those we may not understand well.   Perhaps it is stopping by the interfaith group or the diversity club and just listening.  Maybe it is getting to know what the work of Best Buddies entails or stepping out of one’s comfort zone and going to Mary House on Mondays.  There will certainly be opportunities for this in campus ministry and in religion classes throughout the next month.

How will you build bridges, seek to understand, and listen attentively?


How will you build peace?


Let us pray:

God of all Love and Mercy

You want all of your children to live in joy and in abundance.

We pray in a special way for places in our Lasallian ministries

That are torn apart by violence and strife.

Give us the courage to be agents of your peace,

In our families, in our school, in our workplace.

Help us to put aside our desire to be right and

Instead give us the desire to understand.

Where there is hurt, conflict, and betrayal,

Help us to bring the balm of your mercy and healing.  Amen.
St. John Baptist de La Salle:  Pray for Us

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!


Christine Estes–Director of Campus Ministry

Moving Out of Our Comfort Zone

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 14 September 2016)

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

Throughout high school and college I participated in track and field, specifically the throwing events. Practices and workouts were always focused on being as quick and explosive as possible. As I’ve gotten older and further removed from my college days, I’ve been searching for different types of exercise that are less taxing on the body and more holistic in nature. This led me to yoga. I’ve only gone a handful of times so I am definitely not an advanced yogi who is doing headstands; my skill level is still very basic.


So last week when Ms. Frega and I were looking for a way to relax a bit after the busyness that comes with the start of a new school year, we decided to go to a yoga class together. We hit some traffic on our way over to the downtown yoga studio so we ended up arriving just as the class was getting underway. As soon as we walked into the room, my heart skipped a bit. My hands started sweating and I felt a ball of nerves form in my stomach. The only available spots left in the room were in the very front.  This terrified me. I am always one of those people in group exercise classes that likes to be in the back or on the side so I can watch other people to make sure that I am doing the correct move or exercise. So as I walked into the yoga class and placed my yoga mat down in the very front of the room, I was feeling very, very far out of my comfort zone. I knew that I wouldn’t have anyone to look at when the instructor called out different poses, especially since there are no mirrors in this studio, so I started to doubt my abilities.


When the first pose that the teacher called out was “cow pose” it took all I had to not MOOO-ve on out of the room and head home. But I knew that I should stick it out. I had already paid for the class and I was Ms. Frega’s ride so I knew that my only option was to try my best and hope that I would be able to calm down and relax a bit. Thankfully as the class got going I quickly realized that most of the other people were beginners as well, so the instructor was descriptive when calling out poses and I ended up feeling pretty confident by the end of the class. I was definitely thankful that I had stuck it out… I left feeling relaxed and more confident in my abilities. So much so, that Ms. Frega and I are planning to go back again this week.

Now the purpose of this prayer is not for me to share a story about my new affinity for yoga. But rather to remind us that it is good to try things that get us out of our comfort zone. It is normal to feel some sense of nervousness when you are trying something new, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. The beginning of a new school year always brings lots of opportunities for us to try something for the first time. There are new clubs, sports, plays, service opportunities, bands…. the list could go on and on. There are so many different activities for you to get involved in… even if it means trying something out of your comfort zone. This could even be something on a smaller scale… like raising your hand in class or sitting with someone new at lunch. We may feel some butterflies in our stomach at first… but then they will hopefully go away and we can enjoy all the opportunities that La Salle offers.


And the great thing about all of this… is that if we try something new and it doesn’t work out… God is always there to catch us when we fall. He will be there to give us the courage and support that we might need to feel confident in our abilities and talents.


Let us pray,

Loving God, help us to remember that we were all created in Your image and likeness. Therefore, we all possess special talents and gifts that we should explore through the different opportunities that are available to us. Please help ease our nerves so that we can have the confidence to live fully and faithfully. Amen.

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts…Forever.

Megan Carey–Mathematics Teacher

Seize the Opportunity

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 9 September 2016)

Good morning!

(This is the first year I do not have a child in the building and so I’d like to dedicate this prayer to my colleagues who took wonderful care of and left a lasting impression on my three children these past eight years — even the past two – when, truth be told, I spent entire days literally hiding from some of you!)

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

As this summer drew to a close, I found myself writing a eulogy for my father. In doing so, I had a disturbing epiphany – which was — if one of my children found themselves with a similar task, they would be forced to… well, lie!

What choice would they have? Consider just a couple of examples, comparing the content of my father’s actual eulogy with material for my sendoff:

On his 18th birthday, my father decides to leave high school to sign up for World War II so he could follow in his older brother’s footsteps and defend his country.

On my 18th birthday, I am a freshman at the University of Rhode Island… I gather together with a collection of knuckleheads and we decide to ….oh, never mind!

My father – despite being seasick every day for three months, steers a landing craft that carried soldiers to the beachfront at Normandy on D-Day.


Then there’s me — despite a painful stomach ache because I had to eat that fifth clam cake, I steer my family through Route 4 beach traffic.

I think you get the idea.

My father was part of the Greatest Generation. He and my uncle referred to their service as a job that had to be done — simple as that. They did not see what they did as courageous – to them it was no more dramatic than locking the doors and turning out the lights at night.


But what should not be lost – is that when the opportunity to be courageous presented itself, they answered the call. They made a difference.

I guess my generation and others who have followed that Greatest Generation have a challenge. How will we leave our mark? Sometimes I think we fall into the temptation of waiting for some dramatic opportunity to present itself. I am reminded of the words of the poet, Thomas Petty, who said: “It’s the waiting that’s the hardest part…”


No it isn’t. Waiting is easy. Waiting is comfortable.

Our challenge is to recognize the meaningfulness in the more subtle opportunities that come our way.  We all need to seize those opportunities – and in doing so, maybe we can be remembered as a generation of kindness and empathy.


Our seniors will have that opportunity through Christian Service — the opportunity to leave a mark on the life of a child with special needs, or an elderly woman, alone in a nursing home because she has outlived her family. Ms. Estes has already invited all of us to join her at Mary’s House, the soup kitchen run out of St. Patrick’s Parish just a mile up Smith Street. There is Best Buddies – an organization that does immense good.

So there are opportunities. I am determined to take advantage of them this year. I hope you will too.


I also hope my children are not working on my eulogy anytime soon – I need more time to provide them with some material to work with.

Let Us Pray

Dear God, help us to discover ways in which can do your work here on Earth, by using the simple tool of kindness that we all possess, to touch the lives of those around us.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle… pray for us

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever!

Michael Pare–English Teacher

Ordinary People–Ordinary Things–Extraordinary Way

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 7 September 2016)

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 (224 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 murdered 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, in a little more than a month on October 16th in Rome, will be canonized by the Catholic Church as Saint 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 or Snapchat or whatever 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, maybe a new student or a transfer student, 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 soon-to-be Saint Brother Solomon and those other Brothers 224 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.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC