A Chapter of Our Story

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday, 3 April 2019)

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

How often do you think about being a member of the Lasallian community?

What did you think of when I asked that question? Did you think of your teachers? Your favorite or least favorite classes? Your friends? Do you have teammates? Is there a club or activity you enjoy doing?

Now I’d like you to take a moment to look around the room. Go on. Is there someone that you saw that you don’t know very well? Do you know what La Salle means to them? Do you know their stories?

There are so many different people in this school. Every person has a different hobby, different interests, different aspirations. Some people are in a bunch of clubs while others aren’t in any at all. Some love being here and never want to leave, while there are other people that can’t wait to finally be free to explore what the world has to offer. The way one person might see the world could easily differ from the way somebody else does. Each human being has a completely different story, but we all are lucky enough to have a chapter on La Salle Academy. As we are fortunate enough to be able to have these experiences with each other, though our time together is limited, making the most of it is important. As you interact with your classmates and teachers today, remember that your actions help determine your role in that chapter of someone else’s story.

Let us pray.

Lord, let us recall the importance of being a member of the La Salle community in 2019. Remind us of the power of our words and actions and the example we can set for others. Even though we don’t know every detail of the lives of the people we see and speak to on a daily basis, help us strive to create a positive impact on them and in our community. Give us the strength to do our part to make the world a better place.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for Us.

Live Jesus in Our Hearts…Forever.

Katie Rico–Class of 2019

Someone Who Understands

(Prayer offered on the Pubic Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 2 April 2019)

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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

A while ago I heard a story about a young boy who wanted to buy a puppy.  As the story goes, a store owner was tacking a sign above his door that read “Puppies for Sale.”  Signs like that have a way of attracting small children, and sure enough a little boy about 9 years old appeared under the store owner’s sign.  “Mister, how much are you going to sell the puppies for?” the little boy asked.  The store owner replied, “Anywhere from $30 to $50.”  The little boy reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of rolled up bills and some change.  “I have $2.37,” he said.  “May I please look at them, Mister?”  The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur.

One puppy was lagging considerably behind.  Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?”  The store owner explained that the vetererinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered that it didn’t have a hip socket.  It would always limp.  It would always be lame.  The little boy became excited.  “That is the puppy I want to buy.”  The store owner said, “No, you don’t really want to buy that little dog.  If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you.”

The little boy got quite upset.  He looked straight into the store owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said, “I don’t want you to give him to me, Mister.  That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I’ll pay full price.  In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now and 50 cents a month until I have paid for him.”

The store owner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog.  He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.”  To the store owner’s surprise, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace.  He looked at the store owner and softly replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands.”

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday, someone will be passing an envelope around your classroom asking you once again this week to give money to support our brother school in Rongai, Kenya.  Some of you may roll your eyes, not wanting to be bothered, and simply pass it on to the next person, self-satisfied that you gave your $5.00 a few weeks ago at Dress-Down Day; some of you might take out some spare change or maybe even a dollar bill; some of you may be tempted to give a little more.  Like the little boy in the story, we give to those things we really believe in; we support those things that relate to us; we are generous when we identify with a cause, a person, or even a crippled puppy.

I ask you today and tomorrow morning especially to consider with what you can identify when we talk about the young men of Rongai Agricultural and Technical High School in Kenya.  They are your age; like you, they take school subjects like chemistry and algebra and English literature; like you, they love sports—the challenge of competing; like you, they want to get into college.  However, like the little puppy, they are at a disadvantage: they have been born into a country and a society that has far less than we; opportunities for making a better life for themselves and their families are much scarcer than for us; poverty and illness and natural disasters like famine and drought are much more commonplace.  Nevertheless, like the little boy in the story we do have something in common with them—we are Lasallians!   We all, young Lasallians at De La Salle Middle School and La Salle Academy and young Lasallians at Rongai Agricultural and Technical High School, have hopes and dreams—for ourselves and for our world.  We all strive for a world in which all young people can have a meal on their table, can lead a healthy life, and can have an education that will enable them to support their families.

Our society, like the store owner,  tells us that we really do not want to support these young people in Rongai—they are never going to be able to measure up to our standards, to become famous, to give us anything back.  However, the little boy had an answer to that; he said to the store owner that the puppy will need someone who understands.  Will we be the ones who will understand our fellow Lasallians, the young men in Rongai?  If we do, then like the little boy we will give not only our $2.37 but also our 50 cents a month—we will give not simply from our excess, what we have left over, the spare change, but we will give from our need—we will feel the pinch, we will sacrifice.  When we really believe in another we don’t hesitate to share whatever we can with that person.

So the question this morning is: How will we respond tomorrow?  Will we respond like the little boy and give our all OR will we just turn away, pass the envelope along, and pretend our brothers in Rongai do not exist or, worse yet, aren’t really worth it?


Let us pray:  Generous God, you have given us so much.  Help us to use our gifts to gift another.  Amen.


Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC


We Will Be The Change

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 1 April 2019–Students Against Violence Everywhere [SAVE] Week)

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

It is an unfortunate reality that violence exists in our world. I’m sure many of us feel overwhelmed when we switch on the news and find that there is another shooting, rape, or assault that took place. However, when something bad happens on the news we have the option of shutting it off and brushing it off. As a result, a lot of us remain ignorant of the acts of violence that occur around us.  It’s normal to us, so why bother watching it or discussing it?

We have become so used to hearing about violence that it is almost normal to hear about a mass shooting in a nightclub or a school. It becomes normal when we hear another person on the news accused of sexual assault. It becomes normal that we see someone post a mean comment about another person on social media. It is only when the situation drastically escalates that people are motivated to speak up and do something about it. When a tragedy happens, there is always a day or two spent discussing how it happened and all the things that could have been done to prevent it.  However, within a week, discussion either ceases or turns into an argument based on political views.  Either way, no real permanent solution is ever found.

We don’t have to wait for a tragedy to occur before discussing possible issues or attempting to find a solution.  Instead of arguing and fighting, we can choose to come together despite our political, religious, or socioeconomic views and find a way to make our schools and our communities better and safer.  Students Against Violence Everywhere is a club dedicated to not only discussing acts of violence in our world but coming up with solutions to these major issues.  By at least talking about violence and recognizing the fact that it is not normal and that something should be done about it, we are making a change. Today we invite both students and teachers to honor the victims of violence by wearing the orange or purple ribbons which will be handed out in homeroom throughout the week. The orange ribbons honor the victims of school shootings and mass shootings. The purple ribbons represent peace and nonviolence. By wearing these ribbons, we recognize that…

(Group part of the prayer)

In society today there are problems.  We are divided by countries, political parties, and fear of causing a ripple in society.

We will be the change.

The problems we face will not be solved unless someone is willing to step up and look past the boundaries.

We will be the change.

No matter who you are or where you come from, we all know we live in a violent world.

We will be the change.

That is why we must all look at the bigger picture, at what we want to see in the world.

We will be the change.

Imagine a world filled with peace and love, a world that is not divided but united and standing together as one.

We will be the change.

It is up to each and every one of us.

It is up to each and every one of us to be the change.

Let us pray.

Dear God, give each and every one of us the strength and courage to stand up against violence and be the change that is needed in our world.

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

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Victoria Hennemann (Class of 2019) and Abigail Hjort (Class of 2019)–Members of SAVE

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)

“I Am Not Free While Any Woman Is Unfree”

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 14 March 2019—Poverty Awareness Week)

Good morning La Salle and De La Salle.

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

As I hope you know, this week is Poverty Education Week at La Salle.  March is also Women’s History Month.

So this morning, I’d like you to consider these realities:

According to statistics released last year by the National Women’s Law Center, 42 million women in the US live in poverty (that is 1 out of every 3 American women)  More than half of all poor children lived in female-headed families in 2015.  And one out of every six women in the world is a victim of attempted rape in her lifetime.  These women and girls are someone’s daughter, mother, sister, friend.

There are so many places in the world where it is just not safe to be a girl.

By now you’ve all heard the story of Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan—the young woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.   A prophetic and persistent voice for girls’ education, Malala survived a gunshot wound and attack as she traveled home from school one afternoon in 2012.

Perhaps you’ve also heard of Dr. Mona Attisha–a relentless and outspoken doctor who stood up to powerful politicians and spoke up on behalf of children being poisoned by their water in Flint, Michigan.  I encourage you to read her book What the Eyes Don’t See and to come to a discussion of this social justice crisis on Thursday, March 28, after school in the library.

And there are so many other stories, too numerous to mention here—of girls near and far sold into slavery and human trafficking, of female children arranged into marriages as young as 12 years old because their families cannot afford to feed them.

Until the day when ALL men and women live in the fullness that God intends for his children, there is much work to be done.  Imagine the world we could all have if women everywhere were not held in the shackles of poverty, sexual violence, and discrimination.  As the writer Audre Lorde reminded us, “I am not free while any woman is unfree.”

So what can you do?  How can you treat the women and girls in your life with dignity and more respect? How do we speak of women? in our society? in our school? in our communities? in our locker rooms? Do we listen to songs or watch movies that degrade and diminish women?   How do these lead us to treat the real women in our lives?  The women and girls in my life—my mom, my aunts, and my own daughter Madeleine inspire me to speak out.  I hope the girls in your life do the same.

Let us pray:

Jesus, our brother, friend, companion—You treated the women in your company as people in their own right and there were so many women–Mary Magdalen, Joanna, Peter’s mother-in-law, Jairus’ daughter, the woman at Bethany, Martha, the Samaritan woman, the widow of Nain, the woman bent in paralysis, the Syrophoenician woman, and so many of the unnamed ones.

We look to you as we ask forgiveness for the times we have hurt the women in our lives.  And we look to you to make us strong, so that we can create a world safe for all of us.

St. John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for us!

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Christine Estes–Director of Campus Ministry

Poverty Awareness EVERY Week

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 12 March 2019—Poverty Awareness Week)

Good morning…

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

As you know, this week is Poverty Week at La Salle Academy. If I am being  honest with you this morning, I have always been conflicted regarding this one  week being referred to as Poverty Week. Why one week?  There are 365 days in  the year. What about the rest of the year? Don’t these topics deserve much  more?

The fact is that in our society today there are millions of people who experience poverty. Twenty per cent of children in RI live in poverty. Fighting poverty can  seem like an unwinnable task, but there are many steps that we at La Salle  Academy can take. Organizations that dedicate their time to fight poverty suggest that the best steps we can take in order to help are by educating ourselves regarding poverty in our area, by donating to local causes that directly benefit those who need help, by volunteering, and by helping out an individual. All of these  opportunities are available through La Salle Academy. As a Senior, you will have an  opportunity through Christian Service, but don’t wait until Senior year.  As you engage in lessons this week that focus on poverty, reflect on the information that you receive and conversations that follow.

What can you, what can we all do, to make a difference?

Let us pray…Lord, we pray for those who live in poverty, especially children. We  ask that you empower us here at La Salle Academy to share our gifts and  resources with those in our community who are the greatest of need. Although we  put particular focus on the poor this week, help us to keep all who suffer from  injustice in our hearts and minds each day in hopes that we will continue to stand beside them.   Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts,  forever.

Stephen Emerson–Mathematics Teacher

The Invisibility of Poverty

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday morning, 11 March 2019—Poverty Awareness Week)

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

I know a woman named Agnes at my church who runs a group with a simple purpose.  They keep their eyes and ears open for local people who need things, and then they do whatever they can to get those things for those people.

The things people need can be many and varied.  Sometimes, we need nutritious food or toiletries or help paying our bills.  Sometimes we need someone to talk to during a tough time.  Sometimes we need help finding a new job, childcare, or transportation. The people in Agnes’s group are able to find ways to meet these needs by always keeping their eyes on the big picture and connecting people who can help each other.  This sounds simple and not particularly glorious, but their simple, dedicated work can mean the world to someone who needs help.

From time to time, in fact, I think they work miracles.  I heard a story about a woman they helped who had become homeless and, as a result, three of her children were in the custody of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families while she stayed with a friend.  She had a source of income and had managed to find a new apartment, but she didn’t have enough money for the deposit and she also lacked most basic furnishings.  Also, she needed to get all of those things in 3 days in order to be reunited with her children.  After an untold number of phone calls and the involvement of many, many people, Agnes’s group convinced the woman’s future landlord to accept a smaller deposit that she could afford, found a number of people with extra furniture they were happy to give, and even found someone with a pickup truck to help with the move.  The story ended happily, with a reunited family and a fresh start.

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Agnes speak about her group at a fundraiser.  She quoted St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, which famously tells us that followers of Christ form “one body with many parts.”  The success of her group depends not on one person, but on the work of all the members together.  St. Paul goes on to say that “God has placed each part in the body just as He wanted it to be.”  The success of her group also depends on each member being in a certain place, with a certain gifts or talent, at a certain time.  One person’s kind and open heart makes them the person that another person thinks to call immediately when they realize someone needs help.  Another person knows someone with an extra twin bed.  Another person’s easy, calming conversational style makes them awesome at comforting the sick or asking tough questions about someone’s financial situation.  The list goes on and on.

This week is Poverty Awareness Week at La Salle.  Throughout the course of the week, we will gain a deeper understanding of the many different types of poverty that plague our neighbors, both locally and globally.  One thing I hope we will understand more deeply this week, is that no matter what type of poverty a person is experiencing, whether related to spiritual suffering or household income, extreme or relatively mild, one of the biggest problems related to poverty is its invisibility.  It is so easy for the poverty of others, even those in our own neighborhoods, to be invisible because we choose not to see it.  More than anything else, I think the remarkable thing about Agnes’s group is that they make a conscious choice every day to see the needs of other people, respond to them, and help others see them, too.  This week, I pray that we will all do the same.

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

Live Jesus in our Hearts – Forever.

Lia Wahl–Mathematics Teacher

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