Enter To Learn….Leave To Serve

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 28 February 2017)

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

Over Christmas break my 10 year old granddaughter asked me if I ever told people about her disease. I generally don’t but Clara, my sassy little gymnast and young advocate, wants to bring attention to her condition and to the complicated world in which she thrives. So today, which has been designated Rare Disease Day, I’ll tell you about my little cutie pie. She has a disease that only 200 people worldwide have been diagnosed with. The condition is known as Cloves Syndrome. It is caused by a mutation in the Pic3a gene and generally manifests itself in overgrowth and vascular malformations. Simply put, she is bigger on one side of her body than the other. She has extra bones in her cheek, arm, leg, and foot as well as some extra veins that had to be surgically closed in a 12 hour surgery in December of 2015. She has already had three major surgeries and will most likely have dozens more. One of Clara’s deepest wishes is that someone will develop medication or other treatments for Cloves syndrome, and for the other 7000 identified rare diseases.

An enduring theme here at La Salle Academy is “enter to learn, leave to serve”  and I often wonder how broadly we define that. We serve in soup kitchens, read to underprivileged children, volunteer with the Special Olympics, we walk for ALS, and ride for cancer. We give generously to our adopt a family program, our twinned school in Rongai, Kenya, and our young Lasallian ministry in Haiti. Our community is strengthened by our convictions and by the compassion we show in our service to others.

Clara has a different perspective of service. For her, service encompasses the doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital who give freely of their time to answer phone calls or texts from a ten year old kid. Or the woman in the billing department who educated herself, on her own time, about Cloves Syndrome so she could go to bat for Clara when my daughter’s insurance company wouldn’t pay for a surgery.

Clara’s disease may be rare but all human needs and dreams are common. Our communities are full of people that are easily ignored or marginalized because facing the truth can be painful. It is humanity’s generosity of spirit and love that makes life’s hardships bearable. And service is about giving of yourself in any way you can. Our communities, our lives, our humanity, depend on it.

Let us pray…

Dear God, teach me to be generous, to give without counting the cost, to fight without care for my own wounds, to labor without seeking rest, to spend myself without looking for any reward other than that of knowing that I what I do is right and just. Amen

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

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever,

Kristine Chapman—Social Studies Teacher

Memories—Not Mementos

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 16 February 2017)

Good morning.

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

My father was always taking us fishing. We had a few rusty poles, a chipped tackle box filled with a mix of fresh and saltwater lures (selected by my brothers based not on function but on appearance), and extra line that was never NOT tangled. We’d have to stop on the way down to where ever we were headed (the breach-way in Charlestown, or the rocks at East Matunuck, or across the channel on the docks at Galilee) and procure our bait. For this, my father selected sea worms, which always reminded me of the creatures in Kevin Bacon’s cult classic film, Tremors. My brothers and I were hesitant to bait our own hooks with the worms so by the end of the morning my father would often find his hands caked in crusty worm.

We would spend hours trading poles and switching spots while my dad helped us perfect our casting. He’d tell us stories of fishing during his childhood with his own father on Stump Pond in Smithfield. We’d snack on the donuts we’d never tell our mother we’d eaten. And we’d never catch any fish.

Once, my brother Patrick got a bite and struggled to reel it in. He handed it off to my father and we all cheered for what we anticipated would be a striped bass or bluefish. But what emerged terrified us. “No, dad, cut the line.” “Dad don’t touch it!” we all shrieked. “That’s a sting ray! It’ll kill you!” My dad feigned terror and then burst out laughing. It was only a harmless skate.

Another time, while on the docks off Galilee, I felt something on the end of my line. I couldn’t believe how heavy it was and, with a mix of trepidation and incautious triumph, yelled to my father, “Dad! I got something! I really do!” My brothers dropped their lines and ran over with my father who assisted me in reeling in my catch. On the end of the line, a giant tangled mess of rocks and seaweed emerged from the water. As it landed with a thud at our feet, out darted literally hundreds of crabs of all shapes and sizes that scurried in every direction on the dock. We kids ran screaming and my father, as he always did, just stood there laughing.

My father taught me more lessons in life that I’m sure I even realize at this point. From our fishing expeditions alone,  I could tangle out at least five things my father taught me, but let me share with you just one.

Those times we caught the skate and the seaweed crab bomb, my brothers and I all freaked out while my father laughed. And my dad could laugh because he wasn’t out there to catch fish. He was out there to go fishing.

For my dad, it was about the experience, the time spent, the memories made. And while we didn’t realize it at the time, going fishing could have been replaced with a number of other activities and my father would have been just as happy. He always got what he was looking for – time with his kids.


Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, guide us through life’s disappointments and teach us that sometimes it’s okay to smile at defeat if we can see the bigger picture. Help us to recognize the love that surrounds us in our families and friends.  Help us to slow down in life and focus on the moments and not the mementos. And bring us always closer to understanding the lessons you, our Father, teach us every day through your love.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us

Live Jesus in our Hearts…forever.

Emily McLean–English Teacher

Love—A Gift to Be Received and Shared

(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 3 February 2017—the 5th and final day of Catholic Schools Week)

Let us remember that we are in the Holy presence of a loving God:

Today marks the end of Catholic Schools Week.  Each morning, we have heard people reflect on what their Catholic, Lasallian education means to them.  This morning, I hope to do the same.

I’d like to start by telling you about Avery, Bella, Lux, Aria, Kendall, AaQuil, Yeilin, and Amit. These are the names of the beautiful children I got to spend each Wednesday with while out on service. I was fortunate enough to visit Beautiful Beginnings, on Elmwood Avenue in Providence for Christian Service. The first two times I went, I was uncomfortable. I felt a language barrier between the teachers and myself. I didn’t get to connect with the children the first two times I went because I was put to work with infants, who couldn’t speak or even walk. It wasn’t until I visited my service site for the third time that I truly felt God’s presence. I saw Avery playing with the kitchen set. It’s tough to work with children who are unable to speak because they can’t express their true feelings to you, but in this moment Avery’s actions spoke louder than the words he couldn’t speak. He turned around, saw me sit down in the play area and put on the biggest smile his tiny face could hold. He rushed towards me as fast as his tiny legs could crawl and just sat plopped down in the middle of my lap. I felt comfortable. The teachers were smiling.

The children ranged in age.  Lux was the youngest at 7 months old.  Aria was the oldest at almost a year and she spent most of the time trying to figure out how to walk around the room.   Each time I arrived, I would play with the children inside as I helped them stand on their own two feet and let their tiny fingers grasp onto mine. If the weather was shining, we would take them all outside to catch a break of a new scenery. It was planned perfectly that when it was time for me to head back to school, it was nap-time for the children at Beautiful Beginnings.

I learned different things about my myself each time I went out for service. I learned about true  patience when 6 children were all crying at the same time. I learned about my ability to stand up for myself, and not let a language barrier come between two people. I learned that it’s okay to not always feel comfortable and welcomed, because God didn’t create his whole world to be easy.  Lastly, I learned from the children around me.  I learned the value of compassion and appreciation. It was little things that made them smile, and it should be the little things that make us smile as well. They showed me that true happiness comes from the things in life shared with others. They showed me the beauty of giving and receiving love.  I grew to love those children and couldn’t believe that 6 weeks before I had never met them. Love is a gift from God that is meant to be shared and received. During my time at Christian Service, I loved those children and through their actions I received love back. My message after finishing up my Christian Service experience is to be grateful with the life you have, use the ability of patience as life is not always easy, break down the barriers that stand in the way of you and another person, and love one another as they are your brothers and sisters. One act of kindness can be imprinted on another’s soul forever.  I am grateful for the opportunity to serve that I was given as a member of the class of 2017 at La Salle Academy.

Let us Pray:

Dear God–Thank you for this Lasallian school community and for the gift of our Catholic education.  Keep our hearts and minds open to the lessons we can learn when we serve others.  And finally, help us to find the true happiness in the little things in life, just as my friends at Beautiful Beginnings helped me.  Guide us to see good all around us in the world as we strive to grow in patience.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle — Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts — Forever.

Sydney DeCesare–Class of 2017

Touching the Lives of Others

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 2 February 2017—4th day of Catholic Schools Week)

Good morning!

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

This is my 9th year teaching at La Salle – my first without a child in the building. I arrived at the beginning of my Amanda’s sophomore year. I will always appreciate the grace and maturity she displayed when she got the unnerving news that Dad would not only be driving her to school every day, but coming inside as well.

As it turned out, teaching here helped me foster a deeper relationship with my children. For that, I am forever grateful.

Mrs. Pare and I raised shy kids – La Salle made sure they didn’t stay that way.

Here, Amanda, developed an appreciation for science and psychology. I saw her embrace opportunities – like a Service Trip to Montana – to touch the lives of others. Today, she is an RN, and I can tell, a caring one. She is compassionate. She enjoys listening to her patients and talking to them. She has received letters from family members, thanking her for brightening a dark room.

In Carlene, I watched as a shy little girl blossomed into a confident student, who, like her big sister, seized opportunities. She is deathly afraid of flying — most comfortable at home with family, yet she summoned the courage and traveled to Arizona for a Service Trip and later, to Spain.

In Jimmy, I watched as another shy kid came into his own. I saw a bit of myself. Imagine what a feeling it is as a father to be able to say my son and I combined to score 634 points while playing varsity basketball here. O.K., so that breaks down to 630 for him… 4 for me – but let’s not get bogged down in detail.

I tell those stories because people in this building made them happen…  I wonder if they know.

I wonder if Ms. Estes knows that Amanda’s compassion for her patients – that penchant for listening — that is a piece of her in my daughter.

I wonder if Ms. Chapman, Mr. Ciccone, Ms. Doyle, or Mr. Martinez know that Carlene stepped out of her comfort zone and soared because she felt safe and secure in their presence.

I wonder if Mr. McParlin or Mr. Simonelli knew just how shy Jimmy was – that he was not comfortable as a leader. But by connecting to him, they helped him reach his true potential.

I wonder if Ms. Frega knew how important it was that her Freshmen English class was so interesting, especially to a reluctant reader.

I wonder if Ms. Cottle knows that my children always – always – mention her kindness and coolness when they talk about their time here.

I wonder if Mr. Heroux knew how much my girls learned from working in that dentist office.

I wonder if Trainer Rob knew that the 10 minutes he spent working on Jimmy’s mangled ankle one Sunday afternoon gave a kid a chance to secure a lifelong memory.

I could go on and on.

Oh, it wasn’t always warm and fuzzy.

Amanda scoffed at dress code. Right, Mr. Finnegan? Carlene, well she actually didn’t give me any trouble. Jimmy… let me put it this way.

For the entirety of last year, if you watched closely as I arrived at work — you would have noticed that as I walked along the first floor corridor each morning to sign in – my pace would quicken as I pulled even with the entrance to student life and my neck would turn to the left where I would pretend to be admiring our beautiful wall of photographs. What I was really doing was avoiding eye contact with my friend, Mr. McVey – Jimmy’s dean.

In the end, I guess what I wanted to say is that the lessons of Algebra II, British Literature, Biology, History, Spanish, and all the other classes are so important. There is a practicality to every class taught in this building.

But more important, are the lessons being taught – no, being lived here every day — that are more important to our success in life… lessons of kindness and compassion, of touching the lives of others.


Let Us Pray

Dear God, help us to connect with one another, to learn those lessons of kindness and compassion and to carry those lessons out into a world that so desperately needs them.


Saint John Baptist de La Salle… pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever!

Michael Pare–English teacher, Alumnus (Class of 1985), and Parent of three alums (Amanda [2011], Carlene [2014], and James [2016])

Character Is Who and What You Are When Nobody Is Watching

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 1 February 2017–3rd day of Catholic Schools Week)

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

Saint John Baptist de La Salle founded his first school in 1685 with his sole purpose and mission to educate students on not just science, math and history, but to educate them on how to become better people. With this mission in mind and his courageous drive to step away from the norms of society, De La Salle knew that he could not fulfill this mission alone and began to not just educate, but empower teachers to become leaders to fulfill his mission.

When I think about La Salle Academy today, I think about the people who have answered this calling of selflessness and who truly resemble what De La Salle would expect from a Lasallian teacher—the people that when you step away from La Salle Academy have made a lasting impact on your life.

One of these people is Geoff Marcone. Mr. Marcone or Coach Marcone is someone who exemplifies the Lasallian educator. He is a true leader. Coach Marcone gets the most out of his students and athletes daily by encouraging and motivating them to be the best at whatever they are doing. This is something that he models on a day to day basis. He always strives to be his best.

Coach Marcone builds relationships through trust. There is truly not a more sincere, genuine and caring person than Geoff Marcone. He checks in with his students daily and puts their needs and well-being ahead of his own, even when he does not have to. Coach Marcone is selfless. He wants all of his students and athletes to be successful. He will do whatever he can to make that happen.

“Character is who and what you are, when nobody’s watching.” This is something Coach preaches day in and day out. In this day and age, it is easy to say things and not follow through. In my opinion, he embodies the definition of character. Geoff Marcone is character. He is the same person all of the time, no matter the circumstances, which is an incredible attribute. He treats everyone with respect. He cares about the people he has developed a relationship with. He is a great father, teacher, coach, role model and friend.

I am blessed to have been a student, an athlete, and a colleague of Geoff Marcone. I am just one of the many examples of someone who has been made better, not just in the classroom or on the field but in the most important game of all, Life.

Today, he will accept one more honor to his already impressive list of accomplishments. He will be named the Distinguished Lasallian Educator at La Salle Academy for this year. I am honored to call Geoff Marcone a friend and even extremely more honored to congratulate him on this prestigious award. Thank you, Coach, for your mission and your leadership.

Let us pray,

Lord, thank you for bringing people like Geoff Marcone into our lives, who truly strive to make us better each and every day with their leadership. Thank you for giving us teachers, coaches, and mentors who model your love and dedication even when we don’t deserve it. Please continue to bring us leaders who will continue to carry out your will and goodness on earth.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for Us.

Live Jesus in Our Hearts…Forever.

Michael McParlin–Social Studies Teacher and Alumnus (Class of 2004)