Monthly Archives: January 2018


Emily Redfern: My Insistence on the Existence of Santa!

Well, folks, the end of the holiday season is approaching, along with the new year, and it seems a fitting time to talk about Santa.

Emily Redfern, 17-18, Br. David Darst Center, Chicago, IL

First, I must remind you that Santa is real. Haters gonna hate, but it’s the truth! Santa was a real flesh and blood human being who lived roughly during the 4th century in Myra, an ancient Greek city located in what we know today as Turkey. Myra was a prominent city near the ocean with large backings of fertile lands that supported its status as a prominent and prosperous trade city. The city is also biblically relevant, mentioned several times throughout the Bible and was visited by a few of the Apostles. While it was under the control and rule of the Roman Empire, it was home to a rather large Christian population. Even today Myra is still recognized as a diocese of the Catholic Church. During this time our beloved “Santa” was known as Nicholas or officially as the Bishop of Myra.

Now the story of Jolly Old St. Nick has several versions (as all good stories do) depending on who is telling it. I am going to tell you the story I am familiar with about a bishop whose dedication to serving his people knew no bounds.

Once upon a time, in the city of Myra, there was a man with three daughters. His wife had passed away many years ago and the family lacked many comforts. As the years went on their condition worsened and their father, in need of money, tried desperately to find his daughters suitable husbands. But their poverty has stripped the girls of any means of a dowry making them unsuitable brides. Desperate, the father arranged to sell his daughters into prostitution. Now the Bishop of Myra at the time had an extreme interest in serving the poor and would often walk the streets of Myra at night assisting those less fortunate than he. On the night before the eldest daughter was to be sold, Nicholas overheard the family’s situation. He returned later that night and tossed into the daughter’s bedroom a bag filled with enough gold for the eldest daughters’ dowry. For the next two nights, Nicholas returned, each night tossing up a bag of gold into the open window of the daughter’s bedchamber. A bag for each daughter with enough gold coins to suffice for a dowry.

Today that story has become the mythic legend of Santa Claus. I realize that for many Santa is a representation of childhood, of a specific cultural tradition, or of certain societal values and norms. And I am not amiss in realizing that the capitalization of Santa has blown St. Nicholas further away from his own story than any re-telling.

The story of Santa is perhaps one of the greatest legends today rivaled only by the legend of King Arthur. But what about it makes it worth re-telling? Why do we as people insist on carrying on the mythic idea of Santa?

I would humbly suggest that it is not Santa himself that is worth the story rather the values that “Santa” lives out. Within the story of the Bishop of Myra are messages of hope, goodwill, faith and belief. The belief in the kindness of strangers and the belief of our own faith. St. Nicholas was a real person. Santa is the mythic embodiment of a message far greater of that person that we continue to hold onto and add unto to today. So, what is in the story of the Bishop of Myra that needed to be re-told? Perhaps a message that kindness, mercy, goodwill and faith are powerful elements of society that can traverse our most difficult situation. Whether it comes in bags of gold for a dowry, presents wrapped under a tree, or a photo with Santa, it’s what’s underneath that propels the legend forward that makes it worth re-telling.

As we approach our official LV halfway point, the story of Santa continues to remind me of an Oscar Romero Prayer that starts with “It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view…” Nicholas would never have been able to imagine his seemingly simple deeds becoming a mythic legend, propelling his story into the future, I’m pretty sure bubble gum would have astounded the man. In the moment Nicholas was a man, a bishop at best, who delivered a gift he had the ability to give. He was doing something in the moment. But that moment was a representation of what Nicholas valued and believed in and continued to do. Nicholas became Santa not because he was nice to someone once but because his repeated insistence to be kind, to give his gifts freely, and to persistently look at those who have less is what allowed us to create the legend of Santa. A man who valued and believed in goodness, hope, and kindness are the ultimate gifts we can give to each other.

I want to encourage my LV cohort, and all of you who are reading this, to take the long view. Zoom out. Away from your desk, your classroom, your site, your community, your neighborhood… What does our service mean in the long view? Look for the moments in which your daily life has created, instilled or shared hope, faith, belief and joy with others. Look for the moments where you gave a smile, a lesson, an ear, advice, hope, faith, belief – take the long view. Look at the legends you are re-telling and re-living in your own life. Are we not all someone’s Santa, creating hope and sustaining belief? Zoom out, who knows if you zoom out far enough you may even see Santa up there in the sky with his sleigh!

Archbishop Oscar Romero Prayer: A Step Along the Way

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent

enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of

saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an

opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master

builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

Emily Redfern is a first-year LV serving at the Br. David Darst Center in Chicago, Illinois and is a 2017 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California.

By |January 31st, 2018|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Emily Redfern: My Insistence on the Existence of Santa!

In Winter Silence: We Listen

The 2017-2018 Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) gathered for the annual Midyear Retreat from January 12-15 in Brant Lake, New York. The weekend was facilitated by Maryann Donohue-Lynch, associate executive director for Mission and Ministry for the District of Eastern North America (DENA), and Chris Trinidad, campus minister at De La Salle High School in Concord, California.

Lasallians from across the Lasallian Region of North America joined the volunteers and staff for the weekend, including Karin McClelland, LV 90-92, Brother Tom Sullivan, FSC, Brother Ed Phelan, FSC, Brother Ralph Bucci, FSC, and Chris Swain, LV 04-06.

The theme for the weekend, “In Winter Silence: We Listen,” contrasted nicely with the snow and chilly weather that greeted the LVs Saturday morning. Donohue-Lynch and Trinidad weaved into their time with the LVs opportunities for written reflection, creativity, dreaming of the future, sharing their vulnerability, and reflection on ways they can grow in the second half of their service year.

For second-year LV Jon Vanegas, who is serving at San Miguel School in Washington, DC, he appreciated the opportunity to take some time away from ministry and community to reflect and discern next steps as he completes his two years of service in June. “The journey to the end of a fulfilling experience is always difficult – especially when you don’t know what’s coming after. What was so lovely about this year’s Midyear Retreat is that I was able to come at peace with the idea that it is okay to not know what’s next as long as you take some silent time to let God lead you through your journey. Silence and patience are key to a rewarding discernment process.”

“At a time when I was feeling lost, Midyear was the weekend of discernment that I needed to help put me back on track,” said Madison Caropino, first-year LV serving at John XXIII Educational Center in Racine, Wisconsin.

This year’s cohort of 34 Lasallian Volunteers will gather one more time as a group for the LV Debriefing Retreat at the end of May.

See more pictures >


By |January 25th, 2018|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on In Winter Silence: We Listen

January Ministry of The Month: La Salle Academy NYC

In this month’s Lasallian Volunteers “Ministry of the Month,” the District of Eastern North America is featured with La Salle Academy in New York City. The Lasallian Volunteers serving at La Salle Academy are Brady Fehringer and David Cambra Morera. Brady is a graduate of Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas. David is a graduate of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain.


David Cambra Morera

La Salle Academy is a unique and progressive preparatory high school with a rich history. La Salle is the third oldest Catholic high school in New York City, providing educational, spiritual and athletic opportunities to young men for 170 years. La Salle is accredited by the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. The mission of La Salle Academy, a rigorous college-preparatory high school, is to educate students of diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds with special outreach to those most in need. The school provides a nurturing environment, which fosters spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional and physical growth in the Roman Catholic tradition and the Lasallian spirit, as embodied St. John Baptist de La Salle.


Each volunteer has a unique path to the LV program. While Brady did not attend a Lasallian college or university, his heart has always called him to a year of service. He says, “I have always enjoyed serving others. From leading international mission trips to visiting the elderly in the nursing home, serving others is something that is a part of who I am. My cousins were LVs a few years ago, and they really enjoyed their years of service. I decided to become an LV because I saw an opportunity to be a positive influence on young people’s lives and be able to help them reach their full potential.” David is from Barcelona, Spain, and lives in an intentional Lasallian community. He says of joining Lasallian Volunteers, “I am part of a Lasallian community in Barcelona, and last year I had the opportunity to volunteer with La Salle in Guatemala. I started my adventure as a volunteer. One friend spoke to me about this volunteer program (LV), and I decided that this was a great opportunity for me to know a new culture, learn English, help kids, and live in community. I thought that this opportunity was amazing, and I couldn’t say no.”


David serves in the academic support center. He is also a part-time campus minister and a Spanish tutor. In addition to his academic services, David helps with the soccer team and other extra-curricular activities. Brady also serves in the academic support center and is a part-time campus minister. He describes the work that he and David are doing by saying, “Within academic support, we foster a space where students can come to catch up on schoolwork, as well as receive help with their essays and college prep. Additionally, we work alongside the director of campus ministry conducting class retreats and organizing service opportunities for the student body to get involved in outside of school.”


Brady Fehringer

Both volunteers work in student support at La Salle. This requires flexibility and readiness to jump in and help with anything they are asked to do. his service when he says, “In my job my students don’t need anything special from me. In my opinion, they only need that I am present when they need help. Many days I’ll be in my classroom and stay in my chair and students come and go in their free periods, and I only say hello and goodbye. But sometimes the students come to me and tell me some problem that they have in the school or in their personal lives. This is the moment that I can help them and this is the moment that the students really need my support and my experience for choosing the right way.” Brady shared that he believes that he provides mentoring as well when he says, “I have realized in the past few months that the most important thing I can be for the students I interact with is a voice of reason, a mentor, and helping hand to support them in achieving their goals.”


Brady’s first time encountering the Brothers was living in community with them, and he has been positively impacted by his experience with his community members. He says, “My time with the Brothers has helped me to realize how important it is to appreciate other people’s worldviews. The Brothers are focused solely on continuing the mission of their Founder, and this has allowed them to be so inclusive and accepting of everyone they encounter in the process. This mentality has allowed me to get outside of my comfort zone and see people in a different way allowing for personal growth.” David’s experience of living in community in Spain prepared him to live in community in New York City. He says, “This is an amazing experience because all of them have a big heart and always want to share their experience with all. In my opinion, the best things that Brothers have, are that they always share all that they have, does not matter with who or the time that they need to spend with other people, they always have the door open for all who need help. They are a cheerful people who transmit good feelings and help you to become a better person.”


Each volunteer strongly encourages college seniors to do a volunteer year. Brady says, “Be open to a year of service, because if you are it will allow you to discover more about yourself while being able to serve others and impact their lives in a positive way.

David says, “The most important thing for me is that these volunteers are a big family. A family who helps you and gives the opportunity to become a better person. I have been able to meet really great people who decide to share their life with others and this is amazing. In my year of service, I have been able to meet great Brothers who will help me and give me the opportunity to share my life with others, and I could meet great volunteers who have the same feelings as I do, and we can share experiences together.”

By |January 9th, 2018|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on January Ministry of The Month: La Salle Academy NYC