Read the first reflection of this series: Xaverian Sponsorship | A Grateful Look at the Past
By Brother Edward Driscoll
Clanging of hammers, whirring of drills, and the buzzing sound of saws fill many Saturday mornings. Students and teachers from our XBSS schools can be found giving their time, talent, and energy to help build or renovate a house for the poor as part of Habitat for Humanity. A wonderful sign of hope! Patiently tutoring students after school in an inner city elementary school is how many XBSS students spend their afternoons. Why? Simply to help those marginalized in our society. A sign of generosity! Four or five teachers prepare a supper at a Ronald Mc Donald House for a family distraught because their child is critically ill in the hospital; this occurs every week throughout the year. A touching sign of compassion! A mission trip to Belize, Ecuador or Appalachia is eagerly embraced both by students, parents and teachers! These examples are also signs of the times.
The Spirit is upon our XBSS school communities. I have no doubt about that. Last March I was privileged to attend the annual retreat for student leaders from all thirteen XBSS schools. The Spirit was definitely at work among the students, campus ministers and teachers who were in attendance. These young people willingly spoke about their experience of the Xaverian charism. Their passion for being in love with the service of God was very evident for me. This passion would guide approximately 80 students and 30 teachers as they worked together giving service to the needy. Their ability to articulate the charism was particularly uplifting to me as a Xaverian. I was truly moved by what I heard and saw. I walked away from the retreat say to myself, “the Spirit is at work.” What brought these young people to this point?
Young minds and hearts are captured in the ordinary of everyday by the inspiration of their teachers, counselors and administrators who are committed to the mission of Jesus as expressed in the charism that Ryken gave to us 175 years ago. “Through the common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday” classes, prayer, relationships with each other and the central place of God in the life of the school, young people are learning that their purpose in life is “to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with Him in the next.” The Spirit is at work.
Almost thirty years after we formally started our model of Xaverian sponsorship, what is so rewarding to most Xaverian Brothers is to witness the commitment of teachers to the growth and learning of the student in light of the values that flow from the Xaverian charism. These values in many ways is counter-cultural: humility, trust in God, compassion for others especially the poor, simplicity and zeal for God’s service. As special tribute must be paid to our Heads of School whose leadership encourages an environment where the young people not only receive an excellent academic education, but also daily experience of Jesus’s mission expressed through Ryken’s charism. Gratitude must be expressed to our lay Boards of Directors whose ministry is to be the custodians of the Xaverian mission and charism and stewards of each school’s financial viability.
Forty years have passed since Brother Cornelius advocated including lay leadership on all levels of stewardship for Xaverian schools. Being Church in new ways is a reality today. If we are living the present with passion, be it at the level of the governing boards, the administrations, faculties and staffs, and student bodies, we are doing so due to the arduous ministry of our present Director of Sponsorship, Alice Hession, the first layperson in the office and that of our Associate Directors, Brother Richard Mazza and Sister Pat Ells. They spend hours developing, preparing and carrying out formational programs for governing boards, administrators and faculties and students. I am confident that Brothers Theodore J. Ryken, Paul Van Gerwen, Isidore, and all those Brothers and laypersons who gave everything they could to buy and preserve the pearl of great price are smiling on us. The thirteen communities in our Xaverian sponsorship are living examples of our congregational motto, “In harmony small things grow.”
Next Monday, (February 2, 2014) we will look at how we are “embracing the future with hope.”