Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 4, 2010: The evening before Baccalaureate and Graduation, Prep senior members of the Black and Latino Culture Club gather with mentors and graduates who decorate them with Kinte Cloth. All of this group from the class of 2010 are college bound, one to Georgetown, one to Stanford, and the rest to a variety of other universities and colleges including Morris College in South Carolina.

June 6: These two Prep grads in the class of 2010, Chris Dougherty and Harry Smith, are both planning to attend Villanova University. Chris is a pole vaulter who sails well over his 5'9" and leaves the bar at 14'6" Harry refused to yield to senior slump and kept up a blistering pace of As and B pluses.


Prep brothers, class of 1960. Welcome back!

Faculty and staff, parents and friends, who contributed such energy and attention to the class of 2010 and to this graduation, we owe you a debt of thanks.

Prep Brothers, Class of 2010. You have heard a lot of advice over the past four years and there is no need for me to add to it. I simply share some bits of conversation for the benefit of the rest of us here, parents, faculty, relatives and friends.

My dear sister is the principal at West Philadelphia Catholic High School. She is also a religious sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an IHM. Recently a graduate of West complained to her about the quality of today’s young people. He was referring to Catholics especially. “College kids have no understanding of their faith; they don’t even know the seven sacraments and, if they go to a church, they don’t show the proper respect.” My sister defended the preparation for lives of faith and service that West Catholic students receive. But the man asked her, “Don’t you worry about their souls after they graduate?” And my sister replied, “No!” She was confident. The young people she knew would find their way to be faithful to their families, to their faith and civic communities.

Not long after that conversation, my sister, Sister Bur, they call her at school, came across a West Catholic senior in the school’s detention room, the jug room at West, and she said to him, “What are you doing here?” And he looked a little sheepish. And my sister blurted out the question, “Am I going to have to worry about your soul after graduation?” And he straightened up, “Oh no, Sister Bur!”

Class of 2010. Look around you. See the class of 1960. See your parents and guardians and teachers and coaches and mentors, all those who have been watching your backs these four years. We love you, we know the great good that you can accomplish and we are not worried about your souls now that you have graduated. And if you think we are a bunch of pollyannas, read the astute columnist David Brooks of the New York Times. He said a few month back, "if you want to feel really optimistic about the country, look at people under thirty...this group under thirty is an extremely wholesome and promising generation." God bless you. Go, as Saint Ignatius directs us all and set the world on fire.

June 8: Prep underclassmen prepare for the college tour organized by the Black and Latino Culture Club. This year is a three-day tour to Western Pennsylvania and part of Maryland.

June 9: Three of the grads from Gesu School, class of 2010. All three got prizes at graduation. The two on the left will attend Saint Joseph's Prep. The young man in the handsome bowtie will attend West Philadelphia Catholic High School.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Memorial Day Trip

Frank and I went to Wernersville to visit our friend Jack Martinez. We knew him in Baltimore where he worked tirelessly to investigate the housing markets that were so tilted against blacks owning homes. Jack told us this story of a surprising rebuke from his Jesuit superior: he had taken part on a picket line at the offices of one of the most unscrupulous of the housing speculators. When he did not challenge an injunction and was not arrested with the other pickets, his Jesuit superior later asked, "why? The others would have been treated better if you had joined them."

Here we are in Maclean, Va. in the Church of St. Luke where my brother has just joined in the Memorial Day performance of the Washington Men's Chorus. Several trained and talented musicians make up the heart of the chorus and my brother enjoys singing with them. This particular concert is a tribute to the men and women in the armed forces. We talked later about the enduring nature of war.

My first cousin, once removed, Sarah Bur Gillespie, came to visit my three sisters and me in Jeanne's Baltimore living room. Sarah has the daunting task of monitoring infectious diseases in the 114 federal prisons around the country. She told of going sleepless some nights recently worrying about the spread of tuberculosis among groups of prisoners in varying places around the country. At this time, though, she believes that she and her assitants have brought the situation under control.
Who is this wonderful family? I officiated at the wedding of Kevin O'Reilly and Carol Beck in September of 1986. Here they are in front of their Baltimore home with their three wonderful children, high school boys John and Andrew and their fifth grader daughter Ann. John and Andrew are members of a Quaker youth group that will hike the Appalachian Trail for three weeks this summer. And Ann is a favorite in the family's church community at Saint Vincent's. The three are blessed to have steady loving parents, Carol who gets things done as a consultant for foundations interested in funding educational projects in the Baltimore school district and Kevin whose architectural skills are put to excellent use at Saint Ambrose Housing Aid Center especially in the hundreds of renovation projects that the Center has undertaken. Kevin and John will go to the Dominican Republic this summer for a week of volunteer work at an orphanage.


On the day of this photo, Kevin told me a story about his recent trip to a reunion of his class of architectural majors at Notre Dame University. "My two boys think I'm dimwitted and only got lucky to marry someone with real wisdom and a career. In any case they consented to go with me to my Notre Dame reunion and we drove out there together. After that long ride we got off the Interstate and wound through the suburban neighborhoods on the last miles. We could see the gold dome in the distance but when we made the final turn onto Saint Joseph Drive, the manicured campus unfolded in front of us and the gold dome appeared in the evening sun. My boys looked at me and one said, "Holy crab, dad, you went here?"