Monthly Archives: January 2019


Midyear Retreat 2019: Discerning Our Calls

The 2018-2019 LVs gathered together for the annual Midyear Retreat outside of Baltimore in Reisterstown, Maryland, January 18-20, 2019. The weekend retreat, co-facilitated by LV Alums Katie Delaney, LV 12-14, and Steven Patzke, LV 14-15, centered around the LVs discerning their individual gifts and calls, as well as reflecting on the first half of their service year through the lens of faith, service and community.

“The Midyear Retreat gave me the opportunity to reflect on the importance of trusting God. It’s so easy to want to control the outcome of every situation in life. However, it’s so important to remember that there is only one person in control and that’s the G-O-D, as Brother Ed would say,” said second-year LV Quaneesha Shields, who is serving at De La Salle Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri.

“This retreat reminded me that it’s time to Let Go and Let God. I don’t have to worry because I know that God’s leading me where I need to be at the very moment that I need to be there. This is the beauty of being Lasallian. My heart now understands that although the road ahead may look blurry, God is shaping futures and the best part is that he always has our best interest at heart,” said Shields.

Delaney and Patzke weaved the idea of a vocational call being what brings joy, builds a more just world, and gifts one possesses for the benefit of others. Surfacing answers to these through individual reflection, and small and large group sharing, LVs were able to consider where they’ve been and where they’re headed for the next part of their service year and beyond. Rooted in faith, service and community, the facilitators also weaved in examples of their own experiences of serving at John XXIII Educational Center in Racine, Wisconsin, and St. Raymond High School for Boys in Bronx, New York.

Joined to accompany the LVs and LV staff were Brothers Ed Phelan, Michael Reis and Brian Henderson, as well as Chris Swain, LV 04-06, director of the Office of Lasallian Vocation Ministry at Christian Brothers Conference. The Brothers and Swain joined the LVs to offer support, encouragement and advice as they journeyed through the weekend.

The LVs spent time together, on their own and in small groups sharing, reflecting and identifying the needs they have as they make their next decision and how they can support one another and be supported by the LV staff.

See more pictures >

By |January 31st, 2019|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Midyear Retreat 2019: Discerning Our Calls

The Power of Relationships

“Life takes a little time and a lot of relationship.”–William P. Young, The Shack

One of the moments in college—when I was pulled out of my immature way of viewing the world—was when I had to accept the fact that we will never have world peace. Let that sink in. As Catholics, we believe it is because we are all sinful. I believe anyone can look at how many people are in the world and see that getting all 7.5 billion to agree on something is a nearly impossible feat. I mean eventually Jesus will come and he will save the world and bring about world peace but what do we do until then? It has been 2000 years so I’m not counting on that being tomorrow. So, what do we do? We try anyway.

Most people can look back on their life and point to a specific time when their life was changed. In most of these cases, you can find a person who was central to that change. Most teachers can point to a teacher that inspired them, most Christian Brothers that I have met chose to become a Brother because of the influence of one on their life. One of the easiest examples is marriage, their lives were forever changed because of the other. Relationships are powerful. I believe they are super powerful, and we all have this superpower. I have learned this since becoming a Lasallian Volunteer. A day at my position at LaSalle School consists of sitting in the lunchroom for an hour, getting a game ready, playing the game, playing another game in the evening, taking students to church, and going to do off-campus activities with them. That is what it looks like I am doing. From the moment I step out my door and walk across the parking lot, I am constantly growing and creating relationships with each one of my students. These students have been broken by relationships. People close to them have torn them down and not cared for them the way they needed and deserved. So, my job, as my professor in college told me, is to get to know them.

“If anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will be the same again.”–William P. Young, The Shack

Another thing I have learned since being at LaSalle School, is how delicate these students lives are. If one student who suffers from depression is not given the relationship he needs, he may end his own life. If another student who is emotionally and cognitively delayed is not given the relationship they need, then when they leave our school they may become homeless and never meet another person who cares about them. If a student who sexually acts out because he was sexually abused does not get the relationship he needs, when he leaves LaSalle he may end up harming another person’s life and his own. We have the power to affect change in these person’s lives. As the quote above states, when we reach out to another person, the world changes. It may not seem like it but if you have ever had the privilege of being that person for someone, then you may at least see that person’s world change. The reality is most of the time we will not see the fruits of our labors, we will not see how our relationship affected them, but we try anyway. We have the power to affect the world. The best part is we do not have to be MLK or Gandhi or Nelson Mandela to do it. We just have to be a brother or sister to those around us, to give people the time of day, and if we do that we will change the world. We are superheroes, all of us have the ability to be super. All it takes is a little time and a lot of relationship.

Chris Lackey is a first-year volunteer serving at LaSalle School in Albany, NY. He is a graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.


By |January 24th, 2019|Categories: blog, calendar|Comments Off on The Power of Relationships

January Ministry of the Month: John Paul II Academy Racine, Wisconsin

In this month’s “Ministry of the Month,” the Midwest District is featured. The ministry is John Paul II Academy in Racine, Wisconsin, and the Lasallian Volunteer is Madison Caropino, 17-19. Madison is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga.


John Paul II Academy (JPIIA) is a Catholic school providing a faith-based education that embraces the teachings of the Gospel in order to develop the whole child. The school exists in partnership with the parents, parishes and the community to meet the needs of each individual student.


Madison attended Saint Mary’s College of California and found herself called to a year of service. Lasallian Volunteers felt like a very natural fit. She says, “I was given many service opportunities, serving others is what I have always been happiest doing, and I knew that I wanted to continue service after I graduated. When I learned about Lasallian Volunteers, I knew that it would be the perfect fit for me. What attracted me most to the program was the mission of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, empowering our world’s youth through a quality education.”


Madison works to support the principal, helps the administrative assistants with administrative tasks, aid in classrooms, oversee all technology use at the school, and monitor recess and lunch. She says, “The kids I serve are what I look forward to when I wake up every day. The service aspect of the program has greatly impacted my life, and that is because of the kids I serve.”


Madison with Principal Schumacher

Many of the students at JPIIA come from lower income families that receive free or reduced lunch, they need a lot of help with homework, and their parents work long hours to afford the tuition to send them to the school. Madison feels blessed to get to be a part of their lives and see them every day. She says, “What my students need is unconditional love. At the end of the day, I do not know what every one of my students’ lives are like outside of school. But I do know that I get seven hours a day with them, and during those seven hours, I try to be my best self and show up with a smile on my face every single day.”


Like many of our Lasallian Volunteers who have attended our colleges and universities, Madison had known the De La Salle Christian Brothers during her time at Saint Mary’s. She shares this about living in community, “Living with Christian Brothers is a unique experience. It’s awesome to get to know them and about their lives, and why they are on the path they are on. It is incredibleto have Brothers with so much experience and knowledge at your dinner table to share with you what their experiences were in education. I have learned so much from the Brothers with whom I have lived throughout the past two years. Something that I have learned from living with Brothers is how to be a better listener. I think that the Brothers with whom I have lived with are great listeners, and it made me want to improve my listening, ask more questions, and just absorb the advice or stories that they are telling.”


Madison says, “My best advice to a college senior discerning a volunteer year would just be to be open minded and ready to learn. The experience will not always be easy, but it is worth it. The personal growth and amount of love that I have experienced the past two years is indescribable. My students truly have made me a better person.

By |January 11th, 2019|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on January Ministry of the Month: John Paul II Academy Racine, Wisconsin

Answering the Unanswerable Questions

As a first-year teacher one thing that can stop me dead in my tracks is when a student asks me a question that I am unable to answer. The unanswerable questions themselves are not what stop me; rather, it is the inability to help one of my students that makes me pause. My faults and the limitations of knowledge are things that I am really familiar with going back to my early days as a philosophy major. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is one that I learned at the beginning of my studies while reading of the Trial of Socrates: “I am the smartest person in this room, if only because I am the only one who knows that they do not know everything.” Fortunately, as I look at my life now my philosophical studies unexpectedly prepared me for these perplexing questions from students and—with strenuous reinforcement and implementation this past semester—taught me how to truly listen, as a sixth-eighth grade teacher, to the questions of my students.

Everyday a single student might ask hundreds of questions, from the inane, “Mr. Peters, can I go to the bathroom,” over and over … and over again, to the deep, “Why do we believe in Hell?” Furthermore, a single study hall of 50 minutes might cover the breadth of helping create variable equations, symbolism in Fahrenheit 451, and balancing the sides of a chemical reaction. Previous schooling prepared me to solve and answer some of these questions on a basic level, but in most cases I have not practiced any real technical stuff in several years. But, what do I actually do when I get questions I forgot or never thought to learn?

Like a good student, we always begin by reading the instructions. Next, I do what I learned as a philosophy major, I ask simple questions until the student and I have a firm foundation—a foundation where both the student and I know the basic building blocks of the subject. Finally, we return the original question. The key to start solving a problem is knowing which questions to ask and, ultimately, listening to how someone answers. Students and I have answered many homework questions, but they have also taught me a great deal more.

My students have taught me that I need to ask a lot more questions in general. They have also taught me that I need to be more precise with my directions, like the times that I had them all get up and start walking somewhere without the “go” word. And, my students have taught me that I need to break things down to more simple questions at first, like when I asked for the definition of a word from my eighth grade English class, which I thought should be obvious and instead I got 16 eighth graders staring at me with deer-in-the-headlight eyes.

All 92 of my San Miguel students are a work in progress. I work hard to help them learn something new every day, and each day I hope that they ask me more questions on their own prerogative (if only so they can eventually teach themselves and I can just sit back and relax.) Overall, we have already grown a lot together, and my hope is that they grow—at least as much as they have helped me grow—because they have definitely shown me the way.

Ben Peters is a first-year LV serving at San Miguel School in Washington, DC. He is a 2018 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

By |January 9th, 2019|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Answering the Unanswerable Questions