In Solidarity

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system and the school-wide intranet for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday, 15 March 2019—Poverty Awareness Week)

Let us remember that we are in God’s Holy Presence.

Today’s Dress Down Day monies will go to our Rice Bowl collection for our twinned Lasallian school, the Rongai Agricultural & Technical Secondary School, located in Rongai, Kenya.

In our prayer today, I ask you to pray for the 400 boys enrolled there. The school was established 46 years ago by the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Most of the boys come from poor families. The low-cost tuition at the school allows them a quality formal education, educating their minds and hearts, and providing for their physical and spiritual salvation.

Take a close look at the boy in the image projected on your SMART Board.

During a Lasalle Academy Service-Learning trip, Mrs. Martinelli took this picture in the Kibera slums—the second largest slum in the world, in Kenya, AFRICA. She didn’t learn the boy’s name, so I will simply refer to him as “Joseph.” Note the jacket and sweater Joseph is wearing.  These are the only outer garments he owns so he wears them year round, even though the temperature was in the 80’s on the day she took this photo. At the time, she guessed he was 8 years old. If Joseph was lucky enough to secure one of the 400 spots in the Rongai Lasalle school, he’d be a 10th-grader today.

During the past months you probably saw some newly admitted students to La Salle shadowing; here we have approximately 365 spots in our freshmen class. At our Rongai sister school, there are only 90 spots available in Grade 9, and over 1,000 applications were received this year. Some of the monies that we raise in Homeroom this morning will help them repair and maintain classrooms, including the replacement of old student desks, chairs, and outdated computers. Many of the boys live in the school dormitories and work at the school as they come from impoverished families, or in some cases, have no family at all. Their day may begin as early as 4:30 am with chores and conclude as late as 10:00 pm. All of the students participate in sports and take part in community service. Some of the monies we raise in homeroom collections during Lent will be used for their sports program, and a school bus to take them to athletic competitions and service activities.

The school has a farm and produces its own food. They also raise pigs, cows, poultry and teach farm management skills. Some of the monies raised today will buy new farm and carpentry tools and animal feed; and unfortunately, this year, they may need supplemental food due to many of their crops dying from drought.

Other Lasallian schools throughout the United States are paired up with needy schools in Africa, in the countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Eritrea.  Forty-two per cent of the Kenyan population lives below the poverty line. Our school partnerships bring together students on two continents, in solidarity as Lasallian brothers and sisters, to share our challenges, accomplishments and experiences. The next time you are standing outside the Academy Shop, I invite you to examine the large clock-face set up outside of Campus Ministry, that reminds us of the passage of time—specifically, the 300-year Anniversary of De La Salle’s death, and our motto- “One Commitment, One Heart, One Life” as Lasallians. As you look at the dozen numbers on the clock, look for the icon of the two hands shaking, in agreement or partnership, or even covenant. This icon symbolizes Solidarity—the notion that we must reach out to the needy in our world with sympathy and empathy, and our willingness to share our Time, Talent and Treasure to alleviate someone else’s suffering. God has given us all the same human dignity. However, due to geopolitical, economic or historical circumstances, many of our brothers and sisters in the world find themselves stuck in the quicksand of poverty.

Seven summers ago, students from La Salle Academy made a Service-Learning trip to Rongai, KENYA with Mrs. Martinelli and our former school nurse, Mrs. Cindy Steger. Just think—maybe, some day, when you are in college, or later in life, you could personally share your gifts and blessings with some students from Africa, as some of our graduates have done. Thank you for giving generously in this morning’s homeroom collection. From your contributions we can help our sister school, which is trying to provide these young teenagers a Lasallian education. God bless you for your generosity.

Let us pray: Master of the universe, help us to remember that we are all made in your image and likeness, no matter where we live on your earth.

Help us, Jesus, as Christians and people of faith, to follow through on your command to live in solidarity with the poor, fulfilling our social responsibility to others.

Holy Spirit, never let us forget that we are social beings in need of others—that we belong to each other, and that we must care for each other.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts! Forever!

David Martinez–Religion Teacher (assisted by Leslie Martinelli and Christine Estes)