“But…Jesus is the Light!”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 26 April 2017)

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

Before we left for April break, I was visiting Jesus in the Meditation Chapel as I often do during the school day.  Three seniors sat on the couches outside while I was at prayer.   On this particular day, I noticed the Eucharistic candle was not lit.  As I walked out of the chapel I joked to the students,  “The candle in the chapel has gone out. Poor Jesus, sitting there all alone in the cold, dark chapel all by himself….Poor guy is in there bumping into walls and tripping over kneelers…can’t find his way out of the darkness without some light.”

One of the seniors looked to me and said with a slight humor, “But Mr. Ciccone, Jesus is the light.”  We laughed at this somewhat off-handed comment and I went on my way, but I couldn’t help but continue to think about what she had said long after the interaction.  This incredibly simple statement, in this relatively short exchange, was so utterly profound to me.  The words came out of her so naturally and without ulterior motivation.  It wasn’t just a joke nor was it overtly pious, but the sort of thing someone says as a matter of fact, a seemingly common sense answer to the problem of the candle-less chapel.

I can’t help but feel a great deal of pride when our La Salle students have such clarity and intimate knowledge of our faith.  I was touched by the sweet ease by which this student expressed the complex truth of our belief in Jesus Christ.  He is the light, he is the truth, he is the way out of the darkness, he is the life.  And sometimes the repetition of these ideals makes them seem stale or disingenuous.  But then there are times, like in this circumstance, where the words have such an authentic quality, a level of sincerity and honesty that make them feel so true, so close to my mind, my heart and my soul.

Here we are on the other side of Lent.  Forty days of sacrifice have come and gone.  I fear sometimes that with the season of Lent comes such discipline and intention that it is often difficult to sustain beyond Easter Sunday.  But today let us recall that Lent is the preparation for the rest of the liturgical year.  Lent is the journey through the darkness, and the resurrection is the coming into the light that is the grace of Jesus Christ.  Let us therefore recommit ourselves today: to our faith, to seek the light of Christ, and to be that light for others.

Let us Pray,

Dear Lord, everything I am today is a gift from you, guided by your light.  Everything I can be tomorrow is my gift to myself, a chance to be your light in the world.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Brian Ciccone–Assistant Director of Admissions

Do Not Cling To Me

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 24 April 2017)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome back to La Salle!  Happy Easter!

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

The Gospel readings for last week, Easter Week, are, in my eyes, among some of the most touching readings of the year.  Each of them tells the story of newfound joy on the heels of desolation and despair.  I am particularly fond of the Gospel reading from last Tuesday’s Mass that recounts how, early in the morning before the dawn of the first day of the week, while still dark, a woman comes to the tomb of Jesus, sees the tomb empty, and stands there weeping—her sadness even more intense as she fears that the body of Jesus had been taken, robbing her not only of his life but also of his remains.  The woman is Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower of Jesus, a disciple who remained at the foot of the cross as he died, a person who loved him deeply.  And, it seems reasonable, that Jesus had cared for and loved her deeply in return.

Picture the scene and try to imagine how she felt.  I go back in time and re-live my mother’s death, wake, funeral, and burial—the deep grief and pain of being with a loved one and seeing her pass from life to death; and, then, experiencing the finality of the coffin being closed and later being lowered into the ground.  Like Mary Magdalene, I wept also.

But, the Gospel continues.  Mary turns from the tomb and sees a man in the garden—still in the dim gray of the early morning before sunrise.  She presumes he is the gardener or the keeper of the graves.  The man speaks: “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?”  She turns to him and pleads that, if he has taken the body, he let her know where it was so that she might take care of it.  His response is simply: “Mary.”  And she recognizes him as the one for whom she is grieving, Jesus.  Reaching out to touch him, Mary is told by him: “Do not cling to me.  I must go to my Father.”

Do not cling to me.  How natural it is to want to hold onto what we love, what we treasure, what gives us comfort, what gives us strength and support.  Don’t cling to me.  I didn’t want to let go of my mother and see her die.  Young babies, like my grand nieces and nephews, don’t want to let go of their moms or dads.  Parents don’t want to let go of their adolescent children as they grow up.  Friends don’t want to let go of or to lose friends, as will happen with you Seniors in a little bit more than a month.  We all want to hold on—we say, “hold on for dear life”—hold onto our “security blanket.”

Jesus, however, is teaching us a valuable life lesson—it is the lesson of spring, of resurrection, of new life.  There is always new life trying to emerge in each of us, trying to bloom and to break out of the cold frozen earth.  All too often we ignore the signs of resurrection, we are blind to the risen Jesus because we are looking for him in all the wrong places—and we cling to parts of life that have died for us.  We cling to an old relationship and fail to see the new one emerging; we cling to an old hurt and fail to see new life growing out of that hurt.

Do I, do we have the faith and the courage today to open our eyes and really look for the risen Jesus in the many surprising ways He might appear to us—in the kind word of a teacher, in the “Hello” of someone I barely know, in the forgiving glance of a friend with whom things have been tense?  And do I, do we have the faith and the courage today to let go of things in our lives that no longer have life or give life, things that sap life from us—like a dead-end relationship, like self-destructive behaviors, like a dashed hope (maybe a college rejection)—will I, will we let them go so that new life can emerge or will we cling to them?

Let us pray:  Lord, your resurrection gives us hope—hope that light overcomes darkness, courage overcomes fear, faith overcomes doubt, love overcomes hate, life overcomes death.  Help us to be surprised by your presence in our lives and to choose not to cling to what no longer gives life.  Amen.  Alleluia!!


Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live, Jesus, in our hearts…Forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC

Go Ahead–Be Joyful!

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 13 April 2017)

Good morning La Salle!

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

Six weeks ago, you may have been one of the many Lasallians roaming these halls with a mark of ashes on your forehead. It was, of course, Ash Wednesday, the day marking the beginning of the season of Lent. In the time since then, perhaps you have been focused on making small acts of penance, in imitation of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert.

Fast forward to today, Holy Thursday. This evening we will commemorate Jesus’ last meal with His closest friends and recall His betrayal by one of them. Tomorrow, Good Friday, we will commemorate Jesus’ death, when He was paraded through the streets of Jerusalem and nailed to a cross. And Saturday, Holy Saturday, we will recall the desolation that Jesus’ disciples felt as their friend, their Messiah, their God, lay dead and buried in a tomb.

By the sound of it, our faith is a rather gloomy one – penance, betrayal, death, desolation. And if this were the sum and substance of our faith, you could not be faulted for the thought. But the truth is we are an Easter people—a people for whom Christ’s suffering and death only make sense in the light of His resurrection, a people whose individual suffering only makes sense in the promise of eternal life. St. Paul said much the same to the Corinthians: “…If Christ has not been raised,” he told them, “then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.”

In short, we are a people of life, not of death. A people of joy, not of sorrow. We are not the classroom full of tired students in the middle of March, but the room full of exuberant Lasallians filled with joy at the sound of the bell signaling April Break. But don’t take my word for it. Jesus Himself told his disciples why He came, and why He ultimately gave His life for us:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep…I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

And again, in His farewell to His disciples, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

How appropriate, then, that our joy and excitement at the prospect of a week of rest coincides with the celebration of Easter on Sunday. So go ahead, be joyful. Be joyful that you have just a half-day of school today. Be joyful that a week-long Break awaits you on the other side of 12:00. Be joyful that our God is a God who bore the weight of our sins unto death so that we might have eternal life. Be joyful, because that is who you are called to be.

Let us pray.

Father, we thank you for the blessing of Your Son – His life, death, and resurrection. We thank You for the gifts of family, friends, and our Lasallian community and all the little joys that come our way each day.

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts…forever.

Brian Bennett–Religion Teacher

They Came for a Visit—Not to Stay

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 7 April 2017)

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

“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority”.  John 7:17

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of our Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of Catholic Education.  The Institute that he founded in Reims, France in the late 17th Century, The Brothers of the Christian Schools, is now assisted by more than 100,000 lay colleagues and teaches over 1,000,000 students in 80 countries in the world today.

As a lay colleague in this shared mission, I am often amazed to be part of such a significant global movement.  I am humbled to offer some words of reflection on our Founder’s feast day.

When I began to reflect on what I might say, inspiration came from an unusual place.  On the side of the glass milk bottle we have delivered to our house it says, “They came for a visit not to stay.”  This saying is true of all of us as we were sent by God to visit during our human existence and then return to God.  The question then becomes “What do we do on our visit?”

St. John Baptist de La Salle was a man who continually prayed to God to answer that question in his life, i.e. what God wished him do on his earthly visit.  The answer was not easy for him as it moved him out of a comfortable and privileged life and would win him some true “Brothers” and some serious opposition.

The answer for him came in two parts.  The first part was most likely obvious to a man who felt a call to the priesthood at an early age.  The idea that God’s salvation is the greatest gift that anyone can ever receive would be clear to him.  The second, that a human and Christian education was essential for the young men entrusted to his care, most especially the poor and marginalized, came to him gradually and led him to commit more and more of himself to what became his life’s endeavor.

This idea that education can lead to salvation was not universally accepted and many in power in De La Salle’s time and even some in power now deny education to some for their own selfish ends.

Early in his priesthood De La Salle was invited to assist in opening a school for the poor boys of his hometown— Reims, France.  As he came to see what was needed in the schools, he also came to see that these young boys had very little understanding of God’s love in their lives.  He saw that they either had very busy and absentee parents or no parents, and thus they were unable to provide the time and education for their children necessary to understand God’s salvation.  Thus, he came to see that a truly Christian school must teach skills that allow students to obtain meaningful work and provide the students the time for the prayer and reflection needed to ascertain God’s plan for salvation.  So, De La Salle focused his schools on places where practical skills were taught and prayer was constant.

This pragmatic approach to education led him to become a true innovator in his educational approach.  Yet, perhaps the most important element of his method is that he knew he could not do it alone.  He knew he needed other men to be his “Brothers” in his work.  He also truly understood that the work he was embarking on was not his own but God’s work.

Truly this was a man who made the best of his visit.  He poured himself into God’s work.  And even though the work was not always easy and the path not always clear St. John Baptist de La Salle and his Brothers trusted the will of God and have driven forth this mission that continues 298 year past the end of his own life.

We at La Salle are able to see his work in action and reminders about his life are ever present.  My favorite reminder is in the cafeteria where his last words are written in the center of the cafeteria— “In all things, I adore the will of God in my regard.”

Let us pray…

Loving God, let us be inspired to make the most of our visit here on earth.   Let us listen to your will in our lives and have the courage to live it.  Amen.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts … forever!

Timothy Donovan–Social Studies Teacher

The Conscience of a Generation

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 4 April 2017)

Good morning, La Salle!

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

Today, April 4th 2017, marks the 49th anniversary of the death of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King was the conscience of his generation.  He gazed on the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down.  From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to free all people from the bondage of separation and injustice, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream of what America could be.  He helped us overcome our ignorance of one another. He spoke out against war he felt unjust, as he had spoken out against laws that were unfair.  He made our nation stronger because he made it better. He continued to his last days to strive for a world where the poorest and humblest among us could enjoy the fulfillment of the promises of our founding fathers. His life informed us, his dreams sustain us yet.

Forty-nine years ago today, Dr. King lost his life for the cause of equality for all.  Let us pause to remember the great legacy of this man.  We pause to remember how Dr. King’s deep faith called him to his legendary role as a leader to all people.

As you remember this great man, I ask you right now to listen to a prayer that was written by Dr. King himself.

O God, we thank you for the fact that you have inspired men and women in all nations and in all cultures. We call you different names: some call you Allah; some call you Hashem; some call you Jehovah; some call you Brahma; some call you the Unmoved Mover. But we know that these are all names for one and the same God. Grant that we will follow you and become so committed to your way and your kingdom that we will be able to establish in our lives and in this world a brother and sisterhood, that we will be able to establish here a kingdom of understanding, where men and women will live together as brothers and sisters and respect the dignity and worth of every human being. In the name and spirit of Jesus. Amen.” 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle:  Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts: Forever.

James DePasquale–De La Salle Middle School teacher–Spanish*

*drawn from a variety of sources

Touched by Sam’s Eternal Spirit

A Personal Remembrance of Sam Jenkins

Brother Frederick C. Mueller, FSC, Ed.D.

1 April 2017—A Celebration of the Life of Sam Jenkins

It was early in the first semester of the school year, Autumn of 2012—I am not sure of the exact date—but I am sure of the exact spot—a couch in the center lounge of Campus Ministry at La Salle Academy, that I met Sam Jenkins.  I know it was not the first time I had seen him in there as I passed through the space regularly for a few quiet moments in the Blessed Sacrament Meditation Chapel, but I became curious about this young man working diligently by himself on some school work—pen in hand and open book, no cell phone distractions.  In meeting for that first time Sam told me that he had transferred, that he had taken the Sophomore Religion course as a Freshman and that as a Sophomore at La Salle he was doing independent study using the Freshman Religion text.  As the conversation progressed he mentioned that he played hockey—was a goalie—and immediately I realized that I would be spending some time with this young man over the next few years in one of my roles at La Salle—that of Boys’ Hockey moderator.


Indeed I did spend time with Sam over those next three years and got to know something about him—how he was really bright (since I never had to call him into my office to talk about poor grades); how he was a young man of many interests—a young Renaissance man—who could move easily from the hockey rink to the Chorus Room as a member of Men’s a-Capella chorus, to the stage as a player in Othello, to the computer lab, to the English classroom and the debate team; how he had a perpetual smile, a cheery word, a firm handshake every time we greeted each other (sometimes a few times a day) as I engaged in my ministry of the hallways being present before and after school and between classes.


However, what I treasure more than knowing about Sam was coming to know Sam.  I discovered a young man who was comfortable in his own skin (on dress down days when students could be out of dress code, Sam would invariably appear in brightly colored or pastel shorts and shirts or with lounge pants with little boats or watermelons on them—a declaration by Sam of his individuality).  I discovered a young man of great loyalty and fidelity—never the starting goalie, Sam never complained about being a back-up or a 3rd or 4th string goalie; he was at every practice whether early in the morning or late in the evening doing what his coach asked him to and filling in whenever or wherever needed; even during his Senior year he was at almost every game and frequently in the locker room cheering his team mates on as they won the State Hockey Championship.  I discovered a young man who valued community—be it his family community so clear in his pride in his younger sister coming to La Salle or the school community itself.  One day early in the second semester of his Senior year he appeared at my office door (a frequent occurrence) and sat across from me excited to share with me the news of his choice of college—a massive search and plenty of open doors for him.  He proudly said, “I found a place like La Salle—small, a real community, a place where I feel I can belong—Swarthmore.”  And at Swarthmore he did indeed find a community where he could both fit in and be himself.  And finally, I discovered a young man of profound depth, great sensitivity, and deepening spirituality.  Later in that second semester of his Senior Year Sam came up to me in the corridor and announced, “I am thinking about becoming a monk!”  Quickly in my mind I am thinking—a Brother?  A Trappist monk?  He must have seen the pensive look on my face and said, “A Buddhist monk!”  I am sure he saw surprise flash on my face but the conversation ended there and he went on and I thought—how appropriate!  Sam loved the outdoors; he was an environmentalist.  Sam also loved the big questions.  Buddhism, which he was studying that semester, was a way for him to join in an organic whole the outside world and the inside world.  I never saw him in a saffron robe but it would not have been far-fetched.


Over the past year and one half that he has been away in college his frequent return visits (three times over the most recent Christmas break) revealed to me that Sam was continuing to grow—as someone secure in who he was, as a loyal and faithful friend, as a person who treasured family and community, and as a young man who had not lost his gift of deep reflection.


La Salle Academy will miss Sam—La Salle is more than bricks and mortar, more than alums returning to reunions; and, Sam will continue to be remembered as a treasured member of our Lasallian Family.  The Boys’ Hockey Program will miss Sam—forever he is a part of that team that broke the 38 year drought and that will never be forgotten!  And I will miss Sam and his on-going friendship.  Sam may be gone but there is a part of me that will continue to be touched by Sam’s eternal spirit.


I won’t say “Sam, rest in peace”—much too passive for Sam.  Rather, “Sam, continue to live—now and forever in the loving presence of that God whom you sought.”