Monthly Archives: February 2019

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Save the Date: Brother James Miller Pilgrimage

In honor of the anticipated beatification of Brother James Miller, FSC, Lasallian Volunteers (LV), in collaboration with the Midwest District, is hosting a pilgrimage to honor the life and legacy of Brother James, a native of Wisconsin who died as a martyr on February 13, 1982, in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

In November, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis approved a decree recognizing that Brother James died as a martyr, an important step in his cause for beatification. The process to declare him a martyr began in 2009. Brother James was repairing a school wall when he was approached by three men, who shot and killed him.

LVs will take part in the pilgrimage May 27 – June 1, 2019, to more deeply learn about Brother James and his childhood by visiting the high school he attended, his home parish, his family’s property and his current burial place. Anyone interested in joining the LVs is welcome to participate in a special one-day pilgrimage on Wednesday, May 29 from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where Brother James was born, to Polonia, Wisconsin, where Brother James is buried. This event is free to attend. Registration will begin in mid-March.

The pilgrimage is very much in line with opportunities being hosted by Lasallians worldwide in celebration of Year of Lasallian Vocations, which marks the 300th anniversary of Saint John Baptist de La Salle’s entry into eternal life and celebrates the impact of the mission he started. This will be a wonderful experience for LVs to connect more deeply with the Lasallian charism and the Year of Lasallian Vocations.

For more information on the pilgrimage, contact Lasallian Volunteers at 202-529-0047.

Learn more about Brother James Miller, FSC >

By |February 22nd, 2019|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Save the Date: Brother James Miller Pilgrimage

Defying Stereotypes and Celebrating Community

Coming from a suburban lifestyle my first walk to work through San Francisco’s Tenderloin District (TL) stirred up many emotions, few positive. I still remember stepping over needles and feces and seeing the hopeless look on the faces of people gripped by systematic poverty and thinking to myself, “How is this possible?” I, for the first time in recent memory, was speechless. I couldn’t fathom how people were left to live like this. I couldn’t understand how in one of America’s premier and richest cities people were left living in this deep squalor. A second thought soon entered my mind, at the same time, “How am I going to make it to here?” I was half tempted to just tell the LV program they made a mistake placing me here and a different site would be a better fit. I knew I had to give it a shot and as that first week progressed, I couldn’t believe how judgmental and misguided my initial impression was.

I soon realized that I was going to make it in the TL because seeing others go to work every day to make this community a better place was too powerful to not want to emulate. Whether that was the Saint Anthony’s workers ensuring that Golden Gate Avenue was safe, the security guard next door always making sure the streets are clear for our students, the men and women at the various non-profits providing those in need essential services or the local shop owners who offer you a friendly hello on the street and at lunchtime serve the best meal you ever had is what makes the TL special. The real TL is a group of caring people united in the same cause, vested in each other’s success ensuring that the best possible care is given to the less fortunate. Then there is a piece of this community where I can contribute, De Marillac Academy.

Founded in 2001 as a Lasallian Vincentian School, De Marillac Academy (DMA) is attempting to breakdown the systematic poverty in the TL through education. The school views itself as a community partner and supports the needs of our students and families in many different ways. As an instructor, I can personally say that my students amaze me. They amaze me with their ability to work hard and overcome the many challenges that they face in order to achieve their ultimate goals. They amaze me with the pride and dedication they put into their works. They amaze me with the little acts of kindness they show to their teachers and classmates. I remember during one of my first weeks at DMA, one of my students was struggling to grasp a concept, I was struggling and fed up with why they weren’t understanding what I was saying when a different student stepped in to offer us both help. It was through her intervention that the student got the assignment and I learned that I was explaining things in terms that were too abstract for a fifth grader. I will admit to this day that sometimes I do resort back to a college level vocabulary but my students know that they simply need to say, “Mr. Javorsky stop using big words,” and I adapt my lessons.

Another example that encapsulates the power of the partnerships within the community at DMA happened in early December. I was standing outside dismissing my students when a parent came up to me and said something along the lines of “my daughter is really struggling in math and is too shy to ask for help.” I soon began to make sure I paid some extra attention to this student and realized that she really did need some help. I made sure that the other instructors were aware and as a team, we supported this student and she has made tremendous growth in math ever since. A few weeks ago, that same mother came up and thanked me for all that I have done for her daughter. It is a community like De Marillac that allows for this type of communication to happen but more importantly one where we have the ability and resources to give students the needed support.

DMA also strives to give back to the broader Tenderloin community and it was during one of these moments that I witnessed something that stopped me in my tracks. Some of my students were having a small bake sale to raise money for charity. A man clearly down on his luck reached into his pocket and gave them what I assume is pretty much everything that he had, about 35 cents. He didn’t want a treat but you could see that his day was made a little bit better by his interaction with the kids. This event blew me away and I realized no matter how small it may be we all have something to give. DMA is not only a powerful community within itself where students and families come together to offer kids a brighter future but also a place that makes the broader TL better.

Now in terms of my place in both the DMA and the TL community I refuse to embrace a savior-complex and say these communities need me but I do know I need these communities. I have become a better person while being an LV. I have gained a deep perspective into a world much different from the one where I grew up. I hope that this understanding will help me in my future endeavors by allowing me to help those less fortunate. I have also learned many critical life lessons and gained practical skills both living with the Brothers and working at DMA that I know I wouldn’t have learned without doing a year of service.

The TL is a community that clearly has immense poverty but it is also one that defies its stereotypes. DMA and TL are both communities I am proud to be a part of. The people of the Tenderloin have created a vibrant community that I think it is worth celebrating. I am eternally grateful that DMA and the TL have allowed me to be part of their communities during my year of service. If I would have gone with my initial impressions and asked to be placed elsewhere, I can’t imagine how different my life would be.

Zach Javorsky is a first-year volunteer serving at De Marillac Academy in San Francisco, California. He is a 2014 graduate of Pittsburgh Central Catholic. 

By |February 20th, 2019|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Defying Stereotypes and Celebrating Community

A Spirit of Love

During the Valentine’s Day season, I thought it would be fitting to write about love. Not a romantic love but an agapeic love. Working at The San Miguel School of Providence, I have fallen in love with a job, service opportunity and a community. Every day I wake up and drive to school and am welcomed by a handshake from a San Miguel student. Serving 64 middle school boys every day is no easy task. Some days I get people even asking me, “how can you stand it?” How do I stand it…? Well it’s easy, I love my students. Saint Miguel Febres Cordero, our namesake, said, “these children have won my heart; they are what I regard most in the world.” I find that I am feeling the same way that Saint Miguel did.

These children have stolen my heart from the moment I entered the school and tried to memorize their names. I talk highly about the students I serve and their ability to be Miguel Men. Without the love that I have for these students, I do not think I would be the best teacher I could be for them. I could never be a basketball coach, with the type of passion I now have, without the love I have for my students. I get excited when they win or make a three pointer. I get all excited when the player who doesn’t seem to be listening to me finally listens to me. “Yes coach.” Those are the words that drive my love for the sport even more than I had when I was a kid.

It takes a special type of love to be able to want to serve, teach and coach. They say “love is patient and love is kind” and I truly believe that. The amount of patience and kindness I need to show is incredible. Some days I get upset at the students for not putting in effort or being unkind to another classmate, and I might have to give them detention but some days it’s the opposite. Some days my students are excelling at a new math concept or reading a book above their reading level. They might start doing well at chess or taking leadership responsibilities. Through the good and bad, as their teacher, I have to be there for them. A spirit of love will help the people I serve thrive while I am with them.

Jubilee Aguilar is a first-year volunteer serving at The San Miguel School of Providence in Rhode Island. She is a 2018 graduate of La Salle University.

By |February 13th, 2019|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on A Spirit of Love

February Ministry of the Month: San Miguel School, Washington DC

In this month’s Lasallian Volunteers “Ministry of the Month,” the District of Eastern North America is featured. The ministry is San Miguel School in Washington, D.C. The Lasallian Volunteers are Benjamin Peters and Timothy Foley, 18-19. Tim is a graduate of Northeastern University, and Ben is a graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (SMUMN).

WHAT IS THE SAN MIGUEL SCHOOL?

San Miguel School is a Lasallian middle school, dedicated to transforming lives for academically underserved and economically disadvantaged boys in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Based on the virtues of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the Miguel model of education provides the academic, spiritual and social training necessary for positive character development, personal resiliency and responsible citizenship. Students enter San Miguel as at-risk boys and graduate as Miguel Men, equipped for future success in high school, college and beyond.

WHAT IS THE SERVICE BEN AND TIM PROVIDE?

Tim and Ben both teach a seventh grade religion class known as “Miguel Class,” which combines religious studies with socioemotional learning. Tim supervises and tracks all students’ reading scores, which are earned each time a student finishes reading a book and taking a quiz on it. Each student has a total point goal that he must meet each quarter. In addition, Tim supervises study halls, tutors students, is the sixth grade PE teacher, and coached the school’s flag football team. In addition to teaching his seventh grade Miguel Class, Ben supervises students during independent reading, substitutes classes for his fellow teachers, is the school’s librarian, and supervises recess.

HOW DID BEN AND TIM BECOME LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

Ben learned about Lasallian Volunteers as an undergraduate at SMUMN. He was interested in a year of service but what drew him to the program was the experience of his classmates. He says, “Initially, I looked at the Lasallian Volunteers because I wanted to get first hand teaching experience before I decided to pursue a master’s degree. However, a big factor in deciding to pursue a position with the LVs was reading about the experiences that former volunteers had with the people they served and worked with.” While Tim did not attend a Lasallian college or university, he felt connected to Lasallian Volunteers and the Lasallian charism through his father’s work. He says, “Lasallian Volunteers appealed to me for a number of reasons. I first heard about it through my dad, who has worked at Bishop Loughlin since before I was born. As I learned more about the program, I came to find that it was strikingly compatible with my different passions. It was an opportunity to further pursue my faith, something that became increasingly important to me throughout college. It was a chance to contribute to a meaningful cause and to work with individuals who care about social justice. Finally, it would allow me to work in a school, through an organization that places the focus on building strong relationships with students.”

HOW DO BEN AND TIM TOUCH THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE STUDENTS AT SAN MIGUEL?

Both volunteers value the personal interactions they have with their students. They have invested in the school and realize that a successful volunteer year comes from finding God in the kids themselves. Tim says, “I think the most important thing my students need is for me to listen to them. I want to make them feel valued and validated. Especially as middle-schoolers, making sure they feel respected and heard is crucial. In the midst of stress, I fall short on this a lot, and it’s something I’m continuing to work on. I think little things you say and do have a lasting impact on young people and being just a little more patient, or softening myself just a little extra to be more of a listener can really make a difference.” Ben agrees when he says, “They need someone to help lead them and encourage them by setting boundaries and expectations so they can know what to aim for. I’m here to do everything from helping them find a good book to leading them to the mysteries within a reading to providing a quiet space for them to explore and work.”

HOW HAS LIVING WITH THE BROTHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS/LASALLIANS IMPACTED BEN AND TIM?

Ben and Tim have both enjoyed community life with each other, Brothers and Partners, especially in the personal growth they have found that they did not fully expect. Tim says, “My involvement in community has caused me to learn a lot about myself. It has helped me to identify areas where I can grow. I feel like my flaws and shortcomings and insecurities and idiosyncrasies have really been on display for me. On the other hand, I’ve also seen different strengths and virtues rise to the top, some of which I didn’t even know I had. It has all caused me to ask myself a lot of questions; to bring a lot of questions into prayer, and I know that there is more in store for me as I continue my time here. It has already been fruitful in so many ways. I also feel like I’ve grown as a teacher through the valuable advice and support that I’ve received in community.” Ben echoes Tim’s thoughts when he says, “This past year has helped me mature as I have 92 students who look up to me and depend on me to set a good example of how to work both diligently and faithfully; it has also taught me more about myself and what I believe is the purpose of my life: to continue serving others.”

WHAT DO BEN AND TIM WANT TO SAY TO COLLEGE SENIORS CONSIDERING A YEAR OF SERVICE WITH THE LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

Ben and Tim with Margaret Naughton, DENA partner who lives in community and who serves on the LV staff.

The message is simple. Come and see! Ben says of a year of service, “If you are unsure about what you want to do with your life but you think it might be something in education or serving others: Do it!If you want experience teaching in an environment (with LV mentors and co-teachers) that will help you grow to be the best possible teacher you could be—even if you have no idea what that means yet: Do it.If you are afraid that you might totally mess up in front of some kids or adults that you serve: don’t worry about it! You probably will, but if you want help picking yourself up and figuring out how to do better: Be an LV!” Tim says of his year of service so far, “I would absolutely encourage it. Regardless of what degree you are coming out with, regardless of what your plans are. It deserves really strong consideration. It’s a great opportunity to serve, and to walk with different people who can shape your perspective in so many crucial ways, who you can learn a lot from. It will challenge you and test you, but I think all of that will really just prepare you better for whatever it is you plan to do after. For me it has been worth it—hands down.”

By |February 7th, 2019|Categories: lv of the month, news + events, Uncategorized|Comments Off on February Ministry of the Month: San Miguel School, Washington DC

Paper vs. Passion: Are You Qualified or Called?

This year has been a whirlwind. At times, I didn’t even know if I would make it past Christmas. Moving to a new city and jumping into teaching all at once. I didn’t think I was qualified for this. I was never taught to teach, much less taught things about classroom management, discipline, lesson planning, or the other thousand things that teachers do. I didn’t know what I was doing.

Luckily, or so I thought, one of the courses I am teaching is physical education. I was pretty athletic growing up, so I could do that. The lesson planning of that was easy. However, trying to get 24 students to listen to the skills being taught, the instructions, get into groups, and participate all in a gym with bad acoustics, was frustrating and discouraging. I tried the whole participation point system, and that worked for a little while, but didn’t last. Reality check, I am not going to get all 24 students happily and willingly participating. Forcing participation wasn’t helping anyone. It just wasn’t going to happen, and it was time for me to accept that and adjust. So, I learned how to adjust my class and give them options—options for their participation comfort level and options for the activities.

The other class I teach is digital literacy. I’m definitely not qualified for that. I still have to look up the shortcut to copy and paste things. How am I supposed to teach computers to middle schoolers? They’re 12 years old, and most of them already know more about technology than I do. What am I supposed to teach them? How am I supposed to manage these 24 seventh grade students at 3:00 p.m. on a Friday and teach a subject I’m not confident in? This is the 21stcentury, of course a lot of kids are technologically savvy, it’s natural for them. However, even though they may know how to use a computer, their safety on the internet was not the best, so there was indeed something I could teach them. Another thing I realized was that they are the age that when they see something online, they believe it. So, reliable sources was another thing I could work on with them. I did indeed have things I could teach them. I also learned that that class, especially at that time of day and week, did not just want to sit there and learn things about computers. I had to start doing a lot of group work and activities, which in turn made the class go by easier and quicker. Class management and discipline are two of the biggest skills I’m slowly picking up on, not perfect, but definitely something I am continually learning about and growing in.

These are the thoughts that went through my head daily: I can’t do this, why am I here, what am I doing, I shouldn’t be here, can I leave? Then one Brother shared this quote, “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” Wow, God’s a trickster. Of course He didn’t place me here to get everything right—good thing too because that wasn’t happening. Knowing how to do everything and doing great at everything wouldn’t have helped me learn, grow, or rely on Him. Even more so, being a know-it-all teacher doesn’t help me connect with the students. I think when students see me struggle or admit that I don’t know something, they respect me more for it. It is okay to not know something. It is okay to not have everything planned. Even if you do, things are not going to go that way.

In the long run, students are not going to remember exactly what you taught (or didn’t teach) them, they’re also not going to remember the times you didn’t know something, or the time that the math major got a sixth grade problem wrong (yes, it’s happened). They are going to remember the times you connected with them, laughed with them, and encouraged them. The times you asked about them and were interested in them as people, the times you went to their sports games and cheered them on, and maybe the times you gave them candy as a bribe to behave.

I am qualified to develop relationships with students, and to care, because there are no qualifications for that. It’s part of being a Christian. Once I realized that, I really started to try focusing on the good things that were happening, and not so much all the ways I didn’t think I was good enough. Developing relationships with students is the most important thing I am doing here. The students don’t actually have to become computer masters or the most athletic kids in the country—especially in middle school. They need adults to care about them, as my coworker said, “mentorship and/or high-quality time with adults is so important for children’s development.”

At times I didn’t think I was doing well in this area and the questions about qualifications started popping in my head. But then I started to notice the little things: how many students would say hello, smile, wave in the hallway, or come talk to me during breaks and tell me about their weekends. The student who would have a frown on their face until I said hello and shook their hand. The student who would run up to me the first time they saw me during the day to tell me about the book they found or finished, or the math scores they got. The ones who instead of playing at the park, would sit next to me and talk about their families and life. The students who would always make eye contact with me as they saw me trying to teach digital literacy. Those are all the proofs that I am succeeding where I am, that God is using me, that I am qualified to be right where I am, even when I don’t see it all the time.

I don’t have to understand why here or how exactly God thinks I’m qualified to be here. He placed me here as a part of His greater plan, and He thinks I am qualified for this job right here right now. He is continually making me into the person He calls me to be to be qualified for the next step. He is using the gifts and talents He gave me where I am right now.

Besides, other people thought I was qualified enough to become a part of the LV program, and that was worth something right? I was called to this program. I’ve known since I was in high school that I was meant to do post-grad volunteer work. I knew I was called for that and doubting that calling was doubting God. God knew I was qualified for the program, and He is still qualifying me every day to face whatever may be thrown my way. I may not feel it, but the process isn’t done yet. God called me, so I am qualified in His eyes.

Rachel Aubart is a first-year volunteer serving at De Marillac Academy in San Francisco, California. She is a 2018 graduate of Lewis University and a 2014 graduate of DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis.

By |February 6th, 2019|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Paper vs. Passion: Are You Qualified or Called?