August 30, 2011

Freshman Retreat

Yesterday was the freshmen's turn to have their class retreat.  As we've done in the past, the freshmen spent part of their day performing service at various sites in the area.  We divided them into groups of ten and from 8:30am-11:30am, they served at:

Blessed Sacrament Parish
Families in Transition
Hillside Middle School
Mount Calvary Cemetery
New Horizons
Saint Raphael Parish
Saint Therese Manor
Tribunal Building
Saint Casimir School

After the service period, we all gathered at Blessed Sacrament Parish for the remainder of the afternoon.  Ms. Girard gave a powerful talk on her trip this summer to Calcutta.  Given that the theme of the freshman year is service and their patron/model is Blessed Mother Theressa, it seemed appropriate for Ms. Girard to share her experience.

We all then moved to the main Church where I challenged the students to embrace service and to, in effect, change the world.  Below is my reflection:

Over the summer, my son Kevin went to Vacation Bible School at our church.  I was away that week on a service trip with some Trinity students but I guess during the week, he learned about sharing.  One night he was eating a brownie and he broke a piece off, gave it to his sister Erin and said, “That is a God sighting.”
Anyone can do service.  You don’t have to go to a Catholic school to do service - you can do it at a public school, a Jewish school, a Muslim school, a Protestant school, etc.  Service is universal.  But one of the reasons we emphasis service so much at Trinity High School is because when you do service, you are not only helping someone in need - you are making a God sighting.  You are making God known to those you served.
You and I have an amazing responsibility - to carry the light of Christ to everyone we meet.  You may have met some people today who live in darkness - not literally but figuratively.  You may not know it, but you lit up their lives today - you brought the light of Christ into their darkness.  You were a God sighting.  Because of you, people today are different.  Because of you...(here I mentioned a line or two of what the students did at each place)
Blessed Sacrament Parish
Care Givers
Families in Transition
Mount Calvary Cemetery
New Horizons
Saint Raphael Parish
Saint Teresa Manor
Tribunal Building
Saint Casimir School
You changed lives today.  
In April of 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to Memphis, TN to offer support to garbage workers who were on strike.  During that visit, on April 3, 1968, he gave his final speech titled “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”  In his speech, he spoke of the parable of Good Samaritan which we read this morning.  He said:
In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass." And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked -- the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
If you did not serve the people you served today, what would happen to them?  If you were not there today, would these people have been better off or worse off?  
What if Mother Teresa never existed?  What if Ms. Girard never went to Calcutta?    How would the world be different?
Over the course of the next four years, we will be asking you to make a serious commitment to serving others.  We’re not going to ask you to perform x number of hours of service or do some things that really don’t interest you.  Rather, we are going to challenge you to find an issue, a cause, an injustice and do something about it.   And during your four years at Trinity, you will develop a plan, a project, whatever, to help combat the problem
You say you can’t do it?  You’re just a kid?  You can do it.  And it’s been done.  Two girls who just graduated from Trinity founded an organization called Kids for the Cure.  These girls, Emily Bourque and Emily Martin, both daughters of mothers who had cancer, wanted to do something for children who had a parent with cancer.  They created little baskets of presents, books, toys, etc, for little kids who were scared and needed some light in their lives.  Now, a few years later, the organization is still going strong, despite the fact that Emily and Emily have graduated from Trinity and moved on to college.  Their dream lives on and their work continues.  
Jesus Christ is no longer physically present on Earth.  He is in heaven and He won’t come again until the end of time.  Until that happens, He has left it up to you and me to carry on His work of teaching, preaching, healing, and service.  And when the time comes for us to meet Him in heaven, He is going to ask us how we used our time on Earth.  He is going to ask us how we helped others, how many people saw His light because of us, how many God sightings we caused.
How will we answer Him?  
Preach the Gospel always.  When necessary use words.  You don’t have to stand on the street corner and preach, you don’t have to spend 100 hours a week in Church, you don’t have to quote the Bible all the time.  You can bring the light of Christ into the world in the  things you DO, not always by what you say.  Your actions, the cliche goes, speak louder than words.
You can sit back and let the next four years fly by and leave Trinity without leaving a mark.  You can also coast through the next 90 years or so and just do your thing and die.  But is that how you want to be remembered - or not be remembered?  Is that how you want to serve God?    
This morning, I asked you to think about the following questions:
What gets you mad?
What is the biggest injustice in the world right now?
What can you do to fix it?
What will happen if you don’t?
I now ask you to think of a fifth and sixth question:
Are you ready to change the world?
I want you to take the next 10 minutes or so to answer these questions on the papers being passed out now.
after 10 minutes
In this basket are 107 different answers to the questions posed on the papers.  In this basket are 107 different ways the Class of 2015 is going to bring the light of Christ to others. In this basket are 107 promises to change the world.  
Ladies and gentlemen of the Class of 2015: Let us begin.

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