By Joshua Kinney, Director of Communications
The Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools faced a Ryken moment of their own amid the uncertainties and challenges of mission-driven education during a global pandemic. Stepping out in faith and perseverance, Xaverian values were on full display, shaping character, building resolve, and living into mission.
“It is easy to see the zeal with which we embrace our mission of educating and forming young people,” said Kelli Hammond, Social Studies teacher at Saint Bernard School. “All signs point to growth and rejuvenation, even in the midst of the pandemic.”
Uncertainties about the format of the upcoming year has weighed heavy on faculty, staff, and administrators across the network, as well as students and families. With sincere humility, our schools have acknowledged that they do not have all the answers but plan to implement guidelines with compassion for their communities – for those who are sick, have lost loved ones, the vulnerable, and the fearful.
Teachers have found themselves collaborating more closely with colleagues and becoming more aware of each other’s gifts, skills, and talents. The pandemic also provided an exceptional opportunity for students to live into their Xaverian values, actively engaging in servant leadership. From packing lunch bags for vulnerable families to using skills to make PPE for medical professionals, XBSS students raised funds, volunteered, and stepped out in faith to showcase God’s love. A socially distant student led peaceful protest and prayer service on racial injustice was held at Our Lady of Good Counsel while an XBSS Digital Advocacy Conversation was held online with 20 campus ministers from across the networking learning about digital advocacy as a means of fulfilling the social justice elements of the Xaverian mission amid the challenges of COVID-19.
33 presidents, principals, and ministry directors from across the network participated in a month-long virtual retreat focusing on self-care and discernment in Xaverian spirituality. The weekly sessions aimed at providing opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual sharing on Xaverian mission, provided much needed time and space for network leaders to focus on their inner selves as they prepared for the school year.
The class of 2020 had an unconventional end to their senior year, crossing stages and picking up diplomas at outdoor, socially distant commencement ceremonies, when possible. Following all guidelines established by each state and national health organizations, the live graduations hosted family members, faculties, and staff.
“There are many challenges and obstacles in our world, and many opportunities if you can keep an open mind and heart to see them,” said St. John’s Prep Headmaster Edward P. Hardiman as he addressed the graduating class. “We are facing two pandemics today: COVID-19 and racism. Both illustrate an unfulfilled need for every talent you possess. They will create better days. You will find those unfulfilled needs of our world, and you will be the change we need to see.”
Re-opening under hybrid and distance learning models, XBSS have succeeded in navigating unprecedented territory by putting students first and continuing to provide exceptional education.
“Trust in God’s benevolence allows us to be confident that we are where we ought to be and doing what we ought to be doing,” said Hammond. “It gives us the courage and commitment to face the world as it really is.”