Can We Understand Another’s Reality?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 25 February 2019—Black History Month)

Let us remember we are in the presence of God.

Everyday we live in our own little reality. We experience different sights, different people, different ideas. However, we have no way of knowing how another person experiences each day. We could ask them how their day was, or what they are up to that day, but we will never be able to see for ourselves how they experienced their 24 hours. Since we don’t know how other people experience their day, it is easy to forget and overlook all the injustices people face each day.

We have no way of knowing how many times a man got pulled over because he is black.

We have no way of knowing how many times a Person Of Color got paid less at a job compared to their white coworkers.

We have no way of knowing how many times a black woman had her hair unwantedly touched or asked if her hair was her real hair.

We have no way of knowing how many times a woman didn’t speak up for herself for fear of being seen as an angry black woman.

We have no way of knowing how many times a couple got denied housing in a neighborhood because of their skin color.

However, what we do know is that all these injustices, whether big or small, persist in a disgusting reality.

Let us pray. Allow us all to always defend and uphold the rights of Persons Of Color. Give us the strength to fight against these injustices and injustice of all kinds, even when it is difficult. And let us remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Andrew Flaherty–Class of 2019


Flame of Faith–A Flicker to a Blaze

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system and through the intranet for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 15 February 2019)

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

On the SmartBoard in front of you is the “Flame of Faith.” This is one of the symbols or themes of the 300th anniversary of the death of our founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, which we celebrate this year.

John Baptist de La Salle … now there’s a person of faith. What is faith? The word means different things to different people. The best explanation of faith I’ve ever heard has Jewish origins – Faith is “Trusting in the word of the One who is trustworthy,” “Trusting in the word of the One who is trustworthy.” When, by chance, John Baptist de La Salle met a school master named Adrian Nyel who wanted him to help found a school for poor boys in their town of Reims, France, he trusted Nyel and in God’s plan for them. When a conversation with the men who would become Brothers of the Christian Schools with him challenged him to give up the security of his family wealth, John Baptist de La Salle trusted in them and in God’s plan for them.

I’m no John Baptist de La Salle. I’ll be honest with you. I struggle with faith in a deep and real way. I struggle daily to “trust in the word of the One who is trustworthy.” As a Religion teacher here at La Salle, I have the privilege to spend my days talking about and listening to people talk about matters of faith, so it might be shocking for you to hear that I struggle with faith – trusting that God exists and that what God has revealed is true and good.

I sometimes wonder whether any of what I teach or that students teach me is true. Last week, in a class discussion, a student asked me “Mr. da Silva, what if someone made all this religion stuff up? What if there is no God? What if the Gospels are just made-up stories?” It was an excellent question. And I’ll be honest, I don’t think I had a very good answer for him. I mean, what if it IS all made up? It’s certainly possible. Then again, we believe biologists when they tell us that every cell has a nucleus containing DNA and we believe historians who tell us that the last king of Portugal abdicated in 1910.

Certainty and faith are opposites. Certainty is knowing without a doubt that something is true. Faith is trusting what someone else tells us is true. We all know that the basis of trust is a relationship with someone. Generally, the people we trust the most are people that we know – our family, friends, etc. I know for myself, I’m less likely to trust someone that I don’t know or don’t know well. Why wouldn’t this also be true of God? Why would I trust what God has revealed to be true and good if I don’t know God … if I don’t have a personal relationship with God?

Relationships are something that I think we do very well here at La Salle. Our whole community is based on building relationships – inside and outside the classroom. We trust each other because we know each other. We know each other because we spend time with each other.

If you’re like me and you struggle with keeping the “flame of faith” alive, why not take some time today and in the restful days ahead over February vacation to spend time in God’s presence in a more conscious and intentional way. We only trust people we have a relationship with.

God is constantly and at all times reaching out to each and every one of us, prompting us to deepen our relationship with Him. If you’re struggling with trusting in God’s word like I do, just tell Him. Conversation is the first step in any relationship.

Let us pray:

Lord God, You have revealed Yourself as a personal God – ever waiting and prompting us to reach out to You, to respond to Your invitation to relationship with You.

Open our hearts, Lord, to see You at work in our La Salle community and beyond. Give us the grace to trust what You have revealed is true and good.

Bless all Lasallians throughout the world during this tercentenary of the death of our founder, John Baptist de La Salle. May we be open to Your will and follow it as he did.  Amen.

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

Live Jesus in Our Hearts … Forever.

Charles da Silva–Religion Teacher

Make A Difference

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 14 February 2019—Black History Month)

Good Morning!

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

How wonderful it has been these past few mornings to pause and pay tribute to writers, poets, activists, and political leaders – in recognition of Black History Month.

We don’t do that often enough – pay tribute to those who have come before us.

I believe that when people leave a lasting impression—God helps us to remember them with a sense of clarity years do not fade. In such a way, I remember Madeline Rogers – with whom I crossed paths some 35 years ago.

It was the summer of 1984, between my junior and senior years here at La Salle. I got a job as a lifeguard at the Camden Avenue Pool in Providence. I never knew the pool existed. I had driven through the Smith Hill neighborhood – but I had never stopped.

You walked through the elementary school to get to the back, and there was the gigantic pool, glistening under the summer sun. Before it opened each day, a line formed – kids arrived on bikes, teenagers sauntered in – mothers pushed baby carriages.

Miss Rogers welcomed everyone into her orbit – some with a warm hug, others with that stern, motherly look. She made sure that pool was ready every day. She made sure the boxed lunches were in order – and that everyone received one. She tended to skinned knees. She calmed hurt feelings. She nipped potential incidents of drama in the bud. And she treated everyone – everyone – the same!

She made sure the only reason one would feel uncomfortable was the blaring sun. And it was, as I recall, an oppressive summer. Miss Rogers said if any of us lifeguards wanted a day off, she would have to close the pool. She said this with a smile – so we worked seven days a week.

I wish I had thanked Miss Rogers at the end of that summer for her kindness. I never did. As it turned out, my instinct was correct – she was a special person. Years later, when she died, the newspaper ran a story about her.

And while she may not have written a book or rallied thousands against an injustice, she did something every one of us could – she made a difference and left a mark in her corner of the world.

Let Us Pray

Dear God, help us to lead with kindness and respect for others – and just maybe, the rest will take care of itself!

Saint John Baptiste de La Salle – pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts – forever!

Michael Pare–English Teacher

The Power of Words

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 13 February 2019—Black History Month)

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

Words, with their power and potential, have always fascinated me. This is not surprising coming from an English teacher. Throughout my life I have been inspired by countless authors whose words and works have shaped me, comforted me, and challenged me. And while this list includes the expected names like Shakespeare and Dickinson, the author with the most profound impact on me is the current Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith.

Her impressive list of awards includes the Cave Canemen prize for best first book by an African-American Poet, and the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her book Life on Mars.

I had the privilege of taking her Poetry class in 2011 while she was still a professor in my Master’s Program. What astounded me most about her was not her accolades but the deep humanity of her presence and her spoken and written words.

While she was still quite young, Tracy began to understand the role language plays in the world. In her memoir entitled Ordinary Light, Tracy recalls a TV show from her childhood that made her feel connected and inspired her. She writes,

“Gettin’ to Know Me,” [was] the only show I’d ever seen that focused on a black girl – not only on her but on her parents and little brother and grandparents as well. It took her entire world into consideration instead of making her a satellite to more prominent white characters. In every episode, the girl, who would have been just a little older than me with neat braids or bushy loose ponytail, learned about Black History from her grandmother…The girl on “Gettin’ to Know Me” never clammed up when she felt herself getting close to the pain of Home. She knew which questions to ask. She was brave, strong in her sense of what that heavy history added up to…

It is this history that is part of Tracy’s focus in her current mission as Poet Laureate.

In a recent cross country tour called “American Conversations” Tracy’s goal was to help others see the “humanizing power of poetry.” She believes that, “poems put us in touch with our most powerful memories, feelings, questions and wishes,” and that, “talking about poems might be a way of leaping past small-talk and collapsing the distance between strangers.”

During Black History Month it is important not only to remember the towering figures of the past but also the very real and very powerful individuals present in our lives today who continue to inspire the conversations that bring us all closer together..

Let us pray,

Heavenly father,

Tracy’s poetry and prose reminds us that we all possess the power to transform the world in which with live. Let us pray that words can indeed have the power Tracy, and so many others believe they can to transform, challenge, and unite.

Help us to live with a strong connection to our own humanity and in doing so become closer to each other and to you.

And, like the little girl in Gettin’ to Know Me, please help us know which questions to ask and, when we get the answers, to be strong in our sense of what history adds up to.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us

Live Jesus in our Hearts…Forever

Emily McLean–English Teacher



A Prayer for Healing

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 12 February 2019—Black History Month)

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

On January 28, 2000, Cornel Young Jr. was shot and killed on the corner of Atwells Avenue and Valley Street in the city of Providence, Rhode Island.

At the age of 29, the life of a young black police officer of three years came to a tragic end. Cornel Young Jr, a graduate of Classical High School was the son of the Providence Police Department’s highest ranking African-American officer, Major Cornel Young Sr.

At the time of the incident, Cornel Young Jr. was off duty eating at a late night diner called Fidas when a dispute between two customers escalated to an extent that resulted in police being called to the restaurant. When two uniformed police officers arrived, one of the patrons involved in the dispute pulled out a firearm. Officer Young, dressed in plain clothes, saw the fire arm pulled and, as a result, he pulled his service weapon, which all off duty officers were required to carry at the time.

The uniformed police officers began to shout, “Drop your weapon, drop your weapon.” Officer Young assumed they were shouting at the customer who was part of the disturbance, as he approached the officers. Instead the officers fired on their fellow officer Cornel Young, who they claim they did not recognize as the incident unfolded.

Cornel Young was shot six times and was pronounced dead hours after arriving at a local hospital.

Today the Young & Woods Providence Public elementary school bears the name of Sergeant Cornel Young Jr. and serves as a daily reminder of the complicated history of black males falling victim to lethal force, perhaps none more complicated than a black male police officer falling victim to a police shooting.

Let us pray for peaceful communities.

Let us pray for our law enforcement who risk their lives to protect us all and are daily forced to deal with the consequences of a long legacy of globalized racism.

Let us pray for reconciliation and healing for the institutional racial discrimination that continues to influence and shape our society.

Let us pray for all victims of gun violence, especially young black males who are disproportionately victims of the gun violence found in the United States.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle… Pray for Us

Live Jesus in Our Hearts… Forever

Mark Carty–Social Studies Teacher

To Be the Best We Can Be

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 11 February 2019—Black History Month)

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

I will be reading a poem by cwoods.

Beautiful woman this poem is for you

Full of beauty and grace

Rare black Queen sitting high on your throne

No one can take your place

Your heart is full of pure gold

Never to be played with

Bought or sold

Your Love is Patient Your Love is kind

Always trying to bring joy to others even when you can’t do it for yourself

And keeping them close in mind

A good woman is what you are

A woman to whom is proud of who she is and what she stands for

Never seeking definition from whom she is with

A strong woman is what I see when I look at you

One who can pick up the small pieces of her broken heart

And carry on as if she was never hurt in the first place.

When talking about this woman I can’t help but smile

Knowing the woman that I can speak so highly of is ME.

Let us pray:

God, give us all the confidence we need to be the best that we can be:  to remember where we came from and our royal blood;  to know our own worth and to not let anyone change who we are;  to be strong when others try to bring us down because they do not understand us.; to spread out love to others and show how unique each one of us is.  To the “Rare black Queens” sitting on your thrones, do not let the hate stop you from taking your place.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.

Monique DaFonseca–Class of 2019

Endurance in Faith

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 8 February 2019—Black History Month)

Good morning, La Salle and De La Salle!

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

I first heard about St. Josephine Bakhita when I asked Mr. Martinez to give me a black Saint for our Freshmen “Saints Project”.  For the project, we had to do research about the saint we chose and then present it back to the class. I heard that St. Bakhita was born in Sudan. Her uncle was chief of her tribe so she was happy and did not suffer. Josephine was kidnapped by Arab slave traders. She was bought and sold at least twice during the extremely tiring and demanding journey. As a slave, her experiences varied from fair treatment to cruel. She was later sold to an Italian family and later was put in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice, a group of nuns. While she was in the custody of the Sisters, she came to learn about God. Her faith grew stronger and she became a true believer. Today is her feast day and we celebrate her.

Fast forward to a week before my confirmation. Most kids in my class had already decided on their saints except for me. So I had to choose one as soon as possible. I ended up choosing Josephine. I struggle a lot with my faith, so it was inspiring because she believed in God and understood God’s love without question, even after what she had gone through.

Let us pray. Dear God, please give us the strength to endure any situation and to find the blessings and lessons that they contain. Please give us the endurance to continue ahead. Please guide our thoughts, words, and actions so that we can walk your path of peace and love.

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

Live Jesus in Our Hearts…Forever.

Marie Shabani–Class of 2020

On Whom Do I Rely?

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday, 7 February 2019—Black History Month)

Good morning, La Salle and De La Salle! Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear St. Mark’s account of Jesus commissioning His disciples to preach the Good News. As Mark relates it, Jesus instructed them to go out to “two by two…[and to] take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were…to wear sandals but not a second tunic.” Christians through the ages have cited this passage to uphold the virtue of a life of poverty – the stripping away of material possessions in order to more closely follow in Christ’s footsteps. And not incorrectly. But if we look beyond the literal message of this passage, we may find an even deeper truth: That, ultimately, when all of our resources fail, it is God and God alone on Whom we must rely. A seminal event in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may help us see this truth more clearly.

In early January, 1956, Dr. King found himself as the de facto, if reluctant, leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Reflecting some years later, King remarked about the relative peace and stability in his life up to that point. “I didn’t have to worry about anything…Everything was done [for me], and if I had a problem I could always call Daddy – my earthly father [and] things were solved.” But with the Boycott, that changed, and almost overnight. “…After the white people in Montgomery knew that we meant business,” he recalled, “they started doing some nasty things.” He began receiving phone calls – sometimes more than 40 a day – threatening his life, and the lives of his wife and newborn child. On the night of January 27, having received yet another call, King reached a moment of crisis. “We are tired of you and your mess now. And if you aren’t out of this town in three days, we’re going to blow your brains out, and blow up your house.” Unable to sleep, King went to the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee and sat thinking, worrying. “I got to the point,” he later wrote, “that I couldn’t take it any longer. I was weak. Something said to me, you can’t call on Daddy now, he’s up in Atlanta a hundred and seventy-five miles away… You’ve got to call on that something in that person that your Daddy used to tell you about.” Stripped of everything, King prayed. “I discovered then,” he wrote, “that religion had to become real to me, and I had to know God for myself. And I bowed down over that cup of coffee…and I prayed out loud.” When he finished, King heard an inner voice: “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you, even until the end of the world.’” “Almost at once [his] fears began to go. [His] uncertainty disappeared.” King marched on until his death in April 1968.

As we reflect on our own lives, and we find our faith tested by the evil of this world, we might do well to listen to King’s account of his own life of faith:

“Of course I was religious, I grew up in the church. I’m the son of a preacher…my grandfather was a preacher, my great grandfather was a preacher, my only brother is a preacher, my daddy’s brother is a preacher…but it was a kind of inherited religion and I had never felt in the way that you must, and have it, if you’re going to walk the lonely paths of this life.”

May you and I, like Dr. King, when we are stripped of all of our resources, have the faith and the courage to sit and to pray.

Let us pray, from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12: 9-11):

A thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brian Bennett–Religion Teacher

Beautiful in Their Diversity

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday, 5 February 2019—Black History Month)

Good morning.  Let us remember we are in the Holy presence of loving God

Today is the official start of Lunar New Year.  This day celebrates the traditional start of the lunar calendar in 6 different Asian countries including Japan, Korea and China.

On the Lunar New Year’s eve, Chinese will make a large feast that is comprised of traditional dishes of fish, meats and vegetables, with each dish representing good fortune in the coming year. Kids will receive lucky money with a red envelope from elder family members. During the Lunar New Year, people clean their house entirely for getting rid of bad luck and wishing a good new beginning of a year.  Families sit together and chat happily awaiting the new year’s arrival.

Lunar New Year is perhaps one of the best times to spread love, joy and cheer. It is the perfect occasion to celebrate with friends and family. For many who do not get the chance to spend enough time with their loved ones, it also presents a chance to express their emotions, gratitude, love and deep feelings towards the important people in their lives.

With the start of Black History Month and the celebration of Lunar New Year, today we are reminded of the beauty of diversity.  Students of different races and students from different cultures share one community here at La Salle. God who made us all different has allowed us to be one family of Lasallians so we can learn and care for one another.

Lunar New Year is about renewal and the hope for the future. These same ideas are central in Christian teachings. So today we renew our commitment as a community to love all of God’s children, beautiful in their diversity, from different backgrounds and different ways of life.  We hope for a future where no people are oppressed or hated, but where the whole world lives as one family.

So let us pray! Father, Creator of the universe, in your great wisdom you continually renew all things. As we celebrate this New Year, we especially ask your mercy. Grant us a favorable future and a world prosperous and at peace. Let us serve you with reverence and joy. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen!

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts…forever.

Happy New Year, La Salle!

Kechao WU (Mike)–Class of 2019


To Love and To Serve

(Prayer offered on the Pubic Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 1 February 2019—5th day of Catholic Schools Week)

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

Good Morning Lasallians—

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Justin Pires. I am a proud alumnus, member of the Class of 2012, and currently a second-year law student at Northeastern University in Boston. And for those of you who do know me, you’re probably wondering the obvious—who in their right mind let this guy speak over the intercom?!

To mark Catholic Schools Week, I would like to share for you all how my Lasallian, Catholic education shaped me and my life choices. The fact of the matter is, La Salle made me a more prepared and stronger professional, and spiritually speaking, La Salle taught me how to love. But more on that in a bit.

Professionally speaking, La Salle prepared me incredibly well and opened many doors of opportunity for my future. I trace that down to having been blessed with such exceptional teachers. Whether it was learning how to be critical of my own writing to produce an exceptional final product in Mr. Pare’s English class; patiently working towards learning another language and appreciating different cultures in Sra. DiMascio’s Spanish class; or preparing a strategic prosecutorial argument for a mock trial in Mr. Pacia’s Legal Studies class, all these factors from my Lasallian education made me confident to go out into the world and chase after my goals.

La Salle challenged me outside the classroom as well. Be it Sondheim, Shakespeare, or Bernstein, I was always intellectually and creatively pushed by the fine directors of the theater program and came away from the experience with a better understanding of how to work collaboratively and efficiently with others to achieve something remarkable. The interchangeable skills that I obtained in the theater program are the very ones I use to my advantage in classroom oral arguments, in court, and with the clients I work with every day.

Spiritually speaking, and perhaps the greatest thing La Salle has taught me is how to love. Now when I say love, it’s not the kind of love where you hear Marvin Gay being played in the background. No, I’m talking about the love and service one can provide to humanity. In every Kairos retreat, morning prayer, mission trip, there is one central message—to love and serve your brother and sister to the best of your ability. This message is one I carry every day.

Aside from being a law student, I have worked in the field of immigration for over 6 years. The cases I have worked on cover a multitude of different areas in immigration law—asylum and refugee, adjustment of status, and naturalization cases are only a few examples.

Whether it is a sixteen-year-old boy from El Salvador seeking refuge in the United States because he refused to join a gang and was ultimately forced to leave everything behind for the opportunity to live in peace; or whether it is a mother of 4 children who suffered unspeakable abuse and neglect from her husband, seeking a fresh start and an opportunity to give her children the life she never had—every situation that has presented itself to me has involved a human being desperate for help—a human being willing to do anything and willing to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure their survival and family’s prosperity. In hearing their stories, the pain they have endured along their voyage, and their relentless desire for a better life, I cannot help but empathize. I cannot help but imagine being in their shoes, walking each mile, praying night and day for a solution to come. And in doing this, I completely surrender my heart, knowledge, and efforts to their individual cause.

Despite today’s trying times, it is vital to view the immigration situation not in a political light, but in a humanitarian light. Whenever I am presented a new client and case, I simply remember that whoever sits in the seat across my desk—wherever they come from and whatever story they may have– they are human beings seeking help. And so, to the best of my ability, I put forward all my efforts to love and serve them. Ultimately, I thank La Salle for molding me into a strong legal advocate, fighting each day to ensure humanity is loved and cared for.

I speak now directly to all you students sitting in home room. To put it all together, when I left 612 Academy, I wasn’t sure where my future would lead me, but I knew that La Salle blessed me with a vocation of my own—to help people and to make the world a better place one day at a time. Robert Kennedy once said:

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts, will be written the history of this generation.

Know that when you leave these halls, as I did, you are all charged with a great responsibility– to love and to serve. In that love and service, you hold the power to make a lasting impact on someone’s life, and in doing so, you change the world.

Let us Pray…

Dear Lord,

In these trying times, please help us all to be more mindful, empathetic, and loving towards our brothers and sisters, no matter who they are or where they may come from.

Whenever we see one of our brothers or sisters lost, misunderstood, or in need of assistance– instead of turning our heads, ignoring them, and walking away—may you give us the drive, the courage and the compassion to turn around, walk towards them, offer our services, and show them love.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts: Forever.

Justin Pires–Class of 2012