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