“Ashes on Valentine’s Day?”
There is a vibe at Escuela!
So many activities!
So many emotions!
Let us try to map out the variety of emotions in our building as of late:
Valentine’s Day – warmth, joy and love;
Ash Wednesday – sorrow for sin, devotion, and awe at God’s mercy;
Athletics - Our 7th Grade Boys Basketball team brought home our first ever Championship trophy - pride and elation;
NET - National Evangelization Team (NET) gave a profound day retreat to our 7th graders - piety and humility; (by the way, a parent of one of our teachers generously picked up the tab for this retreat!)
Regis Jesuit High School - Regis students volunteered in our Escuela community – gratitude and respect.
Record donations - This past Fall semester, through generous donors, we raised over one million dollars, which is more than we’ve ever raised in a semester for scholarships and our daily operations of Escuela! – profound gratitude, reverence for your sacrifice, joy for our deserving students!
Is there any way to connect all of these activities? All of these emotions? If I had to put it in a nutshell, I believe I have witnessed prodigal generosity.
Our incredible Parent Committee was generously flexible and innovative in hosting our annual Valentine’s Day Dance on the Friday before, because Valentine’s Day fell on the same day as Ash Wednesday. Such a fitting tribute to St. Valentine, who was arrested and martyred for marrying Christian couples and generously helping Christians escape persecution at the hands of the emperor Claudius II. So much love, work and sacrifice went into the preparation for this yearly extravaganza – and resulted in incredible family fun, dancing, musical chairs, the Limbo, awesome food, and most importantly, a palpable sense of warmth, love, and community around our precious students. Did you know that this Parent Committee raises upwards of $23,000 annually, which they generously pour back into our Escuela community for educational materials, transportation to field trips, and enhanced technology? All examples of incredible sacrifice and prodigal generosity.
And speaking of sacrifice, this year, for Lent, we are emphasizing the very Ignatian theme that we repent from our sins for the freedom to follow God with heroic virtue. Too often, the very idea of repentance comes with a foreboding sense of guilt, a turning from, but with an unclear picture of what, or Whom, we are turning toward; with Pope Francis, we are focusing on the freedom that comes with turning toward our merciful Father, He who is called Mercy, who is called Love, Prodigal Love.
It is hard to believe that last year was our very first year of organized sports. We learned that running, sometimes used as punishment in other sports, is the actual point of Cross Country! We learned things as basic as the correct foot to use when shooting a lay-up; and how to “bump, set, spike”. This year, our program was taken to a whole different level. With teamwork, an influx of generous and dedicated coaches, hard work and comradery from the students, each of our teams bested both personal and team goals – culminating in our 7th Grade Boys Basketball team winning the championship on Sunday, February 11th! Generous coaches, generous team play, generous boys and girls giving their all, each game, each practice, for their team mates, and ultimately for their school. We are proud of all that our hard-working Lobos have accomplished so far this year. (Keep your eyes and ears open for that Lobos howl on the volleyball court and Futsal pitch!)
One of the 17 National Evangelization Teams (NET) gave a truly life-changing retreat for our 7th graders. Twelve young people, from 18-30 years old, travel all across the country for an entire year putting on retreats like this. Living out of their van and hosted by parishes and schools, these generous souls give of their very selves to youth like our students. Prodigal generosity.
Regis Jesuit High School
Each winter, Juniors and Seniors from Regis Jesuit High School volunteer all across the city. This year we were blessed to have a group of boys for two weeks, followed by a group of girls for two more weeks. These generous students worked with kids of all ages and abilities, enhancing learning, encouraging, supervising, and helping out our teachers in a myriad of ways. Thank you so much for your generous service!
Then, there are the hidden, more mundane, daily acts of generosity: our dedicated teachers, patiently altering their lesson to reach the variety of learning styles in their students; one of our donors anonymously bought a new pair of glasses for a student who did not have the funds for them; I witnessed a student give their lunch to a friend who did not have one; and although it may not seem like much, it is typical at Escuela, that when I ask a student how they are doing, they not only tell me how they are, but they sincerely inquire how I am doing. Feel the vibe in our entire Escuela community: humbling gifts of magnanimous generosity, as well as daily, hidden acts of generosity, which, when nurtured in a community of prodigal generosity, turn into a lifetime of it. With a February like we’re having - here they come: compassionate and generous leaders for tomorrow!
I leave you with St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity:
Paul F. Dull