Monthly Archives: January 2015


Dan O’Connell: Dare Mighty Things

DOC.BlogEvery Monday morning for the past four months, I’ve checked my work email in search of the Saints Weekly Bulletin; a preview of the week to come at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, sent by our school principal. Initially, I eagerly anticipated this weekly message because I recognize that I thrive off organization and structure, it certainly isn’t because thumbing through emails each morning is particularly exciting to me. Now, though, I recognize that I pour over this weekly message with such zeal because it contains two thought-provoking quotations; one from St. John Baptist de La Salle, and one from a great, usually deceased, world leader.

“Take care not to let yourself be carried away by impatience in class,” read this weeks’ piece of wisdom from La Salle, a noble idea that pertains to anyone who has ever taught anything (and is easier said than done).

Although that message is applicable to me, I was particularly drawn to a recent quote that our principal included from President Theodore Roosevelt:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spires who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows no victory or defeat.”

I realized through this incredible experience as a first-year Lasallian Volunteer that I was afraid to fail. I was mortified at the thought of cooking a well-balanced meal for my four other community members once a week, when my only prior experience in the kitchen was making ramen or scrambled eggs, because surely with all the variables involved in cooking a meal, something would go wrong! I thought that I didn’t know how to lead community prayer once a week because my relationship with Christ is different than that of my community members. I was afraid that I wouldn’t know the answer to a calculus question brought before me by a student at the end of their rope during my tutoring sessions in the library each morning. I was worried that I was telling the student-athletes on the Lady Saints varsity soccer team that I coached to pass when they should shoot and shoot when the situation called for a pass. I was concerned about every aspect of being a physical education teacher, from “Should I call their first and last names when taking attendance?” to “What if I can’t even demonstrate how to properly cradle a lacrosse stick!?” Then, when our vice principal for academics informed me that I would be teaching two sections of sophomore theology next semester, I thought, “Where do I even begin?”

Dan O'Connell, 13-14, Saint Raphael Academy, Pawtucket, RI

Dan O’Connell, 13-14, Saint Raphael Academy, Pawtucket, RI

By reflecting upon President Roosevelt’s quote I could not be more proud of how far I’ve come.

With a little help from the Betty Crocker Cookbook gifted to me by my parents, and a LOT of help slicing and dicing by my community members, I cook (a tasty meal, just ask my community!) each week and now only rarely forget to use cooking spray when baking salmon, or leave the steamed broccoli boiling for too long. By embracing my unique relationship with Christ I’m proud to share a video of Stewart Scott’s iconic ESPY Awards speech at community prayer and connect it to our God-given desire to live, struggle, and care for others. By being honest with students and attacking calculus problems as a team I’m no longer afraid of tackling even the most daunting linear expressions. By trusting in the advice my soccer coaches gave me, I am confident in the tools I helped instill in the 2014 division-champion Lady Saints. Lastly, by believing in myself, asking questions of the teachers that I work with here and those in my family, and sometimes blind luck, I transform into “Mr. O” each day and am slowly but surely earning the trust and respect of 380 high school students.

I recognize that four months ago I was (and to a degree still am) afraid to fail. However, being a Lasallian Volunteer has taught me, among many, many valuable things, including that it is OK to make mistakes. It has taught me that although I make mistakes every single day as an amateur chef, in my relationship with God and my community members, as a tutor, coach, and teacher, that by challenging myself to improve the way in which I interact with my community, I have found more happiness and fulfillment than ever before.

I have experienced “glorious triumphs” this year and even though they have been, in the words of President Roosevelt, “checkered by failure,” I am no longer afraid to “dare mighty things.”

Dan O’Connell is a 1st year LV serving at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and is a 2014 graduate of The Catholic University of America.

By |January 28th, 2015|Categories: blog, news + events|2 Comments

Jeff Petroski: An Example On and Off the Ice

lvblogimage[1]Currently, I find myself halfway through my second year as a Lasallian Volunteer. After serving my first year at Bishop Loughlin, I decided to change service sites and begin my second year at St. Peter’s Boys High School I could not be happier with my decision. The new challenges I have faced have proven to strengthen me in ways I couldn’t have imagined at the start of the year. One of my favorite aspects of what I do at St. Peter’s is helping to coach the hockey team. I am one of four coaches for the team, but I am the only one who works at the school. This creates an opportunity for me to check up on my players on an almost daily basis. So far, coaching has been a great blessing, partly because I am back around the sport I grew up playing, but mainly because I can serve as an example to these young men.

The realization hit me this year that a big role in my presence here at St. Peter’s is my presence both as an educator and a big brother. Being the youngest of four in my family, this is a new role for me, but it has been an important one nonetheless. My goal is to be able to serve as an example on the ice, but also as a spiritual example in the classroom.

Jeff Petroski, 13-15, St. Peter's Boys High School, Staten Island, NY

Jeff Petroski, 13-15, St. Peter’s Boys High School, Staten Island, NY

However, the whole idea of serving as an example as a big brother can be a daunting task. On the ice, I am faced with the fact that it is my first year of coaching hockey. Even after playing hockey my whole life, coaching and playing are very different. In the classroom, it’s inevitable not every activity will work well and not everything I say will strike home the way I planned. But this is all part of the process. Being an example to others does not mean you are perfect. The support of the Brothers, my coworkers, and other coaches around me is where I find the strength to do what is needed.

In my time at St. Peter’s I have found myself drawing off my own experience of continuing to discern and applying to the seminary for the Diocese of Arlington. This year, I started up a discernment group at St. Peter’s, and the support it received from enthusiastic students greatly surprised me. It is my hope that my example serves as a witness as a young Catholic man to the young men on the team and at the school.

Last year I was hesitant to leave Bishop Loughlin, especially the students I served there, but this year continues to be an affirmation that I am where God wants me to be, both serving at St. Peter’s and having applied to the seminary. Often times we do not want to leave what is familiar or comfortable, but if we can trust in God’s will for our lives, we will end up where He wants us to be.

Live Jesus in Our Hearts… Forever.

Jeff Petroski is a 2nd year LV serving at St. Peter’s Boys High School in Staten Island, New York. He is a 2013 graduate of Mount St. Mary’s University.

By |January 14th, 2015|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Jeff Petroski: An Example On and Off the Ice

January 2015: Ivy Seraphin

Service Site: John XXIII Educational Center, Racine, WI

Ivy Seraphin

Ivy Seraphin

College: Manhattan College

What do you do?

I am a high school tutor (mainly in the areas of English, history, essay writing and psychology) and middle school outreach group leader. Outreach is essentially support groups for middle school students that focus on topics that the students may need, such as how to deal with bullying or ways to raise self confidence.

Why did you choose to become a Lasallian Volunteer? 

I chose to become a Lasallian Volunteer because I needed to take some time off between graduating college and going to graduate school. I didn’t want to spend my year off working at a job just to make money, I wanted to spend my year doing something meaningful with my time that I knew would not only help me grow but help others grow as well. I also appreciated that Lasallian Volunteers placed their volunteers at sites and communities in which the individual’s talents and gifts would be needed. I knew that if I became a Lasallian Volunteer, I would be placed at a site that would utilize my talents to my best ability.

Working at John XXIII has not only utilized my talents but has helped me strengthen my areas of challenge as well. Many of my hopes for this program have been realized, and I have enjoyed the work I’ve been doing with the adolescents and children that I work with.

Ivy serving in the tutoring center

Ivy serving in the tutoring center

Give an example of a time when you knew you were making a difference.

During one of my outreach groups for students that needed more self-confidence and were dealing with hard family issues at home, my students said that they wanted me to come and have sessions with them every day. They also said that this group was their favorite part of the week. I was touched to hear that they were getting something positive out of this group, especially since they may not get anything positive at home.


Give an example of when your hard work with your students paid off.

Most of my hard work with my students has paid off in small, meaningful ways. I notice it when, after editing a students paper, they begin to improve their writing on other papers without as much assistance from me as before. Another way my hard work pays off is seeing students have an enjoyable time at events that I help set up and facilitate. Most of all, I see my hard work paying off when the relationships I have with my students grow throughout the time I spend with them. If they are able to come to me about problems other than work, I know that they not only trust my help with their homework but trust that I can provide some sort of help with other life problems as well.

What would you say to a friend from home who questioned why you chose to live with Brothers?

Casa Benedicta Community carving pumpkins

Casa Benedicta Community carving pumpkins

I chose to live with the Brothers because I wanted an opportunity to live with a group of people I never would have had the opportunity to live with otherwise.

Why would you recommend the LV program to a college senior considering volunteering?

I would recommend the LV program because the LV program cares for all areas of your life, not just the service aspect. The LV program recognizes that each volunteer has different skills that they can offer to the population they serve, and the program makes sure to place you in a site that can let that skill set grow and shine.

Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?

Through a donation, Lasallian Volunteers continue to educate future generations, and future generations can flourish and grow while living in homes or areas that may not have promoted their growth. Lasallian Volunteers not only promotes the growth of the students and clients, but of the volunteers giving their year as well.

How would you like to continue your involvement with the Lasallian family after your time with the Lasallian Volunteers?

After my time with Lasallian Volunteers, I would enjoy becoming a mentor and being a presence in volunteers’ lives who may need guidance or advice. I would also enjoy staying up to date with the program and look forward to seeing how it continues to flourish over the next few years


By |January 2nd, 2015|Categories: lv of the month, news + events, Uncategorized|Comments Off on January 2015: Ivy Seraphin