Kids Will Step Up When the Time Comes

October 13, 2016

Weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard High School parent community:

In my twenty-five years in education I have learned that when you work with young people, it often comes down to trust. I was reminded of that fact during two recent events.

Bishop Chatard’s 52nd annual Living Rosary was held last Friday, on the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary. It was, as always, a beautiful event – prayerful, reverent, and powerful to watch. If you had the opportunity to be here, I’m sure you would agree with that assessment. I was very proud of the Class of 2017.

If you had been at practice the prior afternoon, as I was, you may have doubted the ability of the kids to pull it off. When I, or one of the other adults, delivered instructions, the seniors seemed distracted. I found myself having to repeat things over and over. Attention spans were short. At the end, I asked if there were any questions. There were none; there were only shaking heads and blank stares in response.

Friday morning, a new group of seniors walked in. They were on time and dressed just as we asked – suit and tie for the gentlemen and black dresses for the ladies. Well-groomed, alert, and attentive. They lined up, processed in, and took great pride in presenting a beautiful Living Rosary experience for a packed gymnasium.

You just have to trust. Have patience and believe in kids; they will step up when the time comes.

Sunday and Monday, I went to St. Meinrad with 40 junior boys for retreat. We prayed with the monks. Several adults delivered talks on being men of strength, men of prayer, men of humility, and so on. They had the opportunity to go to Mass and Reconciliation.

All the while, I watched these boys acting goofy, or staring into space and wondered, are they getting any of this? Small group discussions lasted about 5 minutes and involved very little depth (not unusual with guys). My personal prayer on Sunday night was something like, “Please let some of what we’re saying sink in with these young men.”

I didn’t think they were listening when we talked about the humility of Reconciliation and the importance of honestly assessing our actions. Then I saw over 30 young men line up to go to confession.

I didn’t think they were listening when the senior leaders or adults shared their perspectives and experiences. Then, at our wrap-up session, I heard one junior after another stand and share what they are taking away from the retreat. They were well-spoken and reflective. They were listening and could even process the message and share it in their own words.

I didn’t think they were listening when I talked about the importance of prayer…the importance of regular conversations with God. Then I listened as one of the juniors led us in prayer at the end of the retreat – a beautiful, thoughtful, reflective prayer that included gratitude, concern for others, and vulnerability.

You just have to trust. Have patience and believe in kids; they will step up when the time comes.

Or as my Grandpa Jack would say: “Sometimes you need to put alot of quarters in the machine before the gumball comes out.”




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