Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Let These Young People Lead the Way

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I was pleased and proud to be asked to make a contribution to Saint Meinrad's new blog. One of my sons, Kenny, was asked to blog a few months ago. I don't like to let the young folks get ahead of me!

I fit in two categories of Saint Meinrad bloggers. I'm an oblate of Saint Meinrad Archabbey and a graduate of Saint Meinrad School of Theology. I'm also a former Presbyterian, the wife of a former Presbyterian pastor (not the former wife of a Presbyterian pastor!), and the mother of six children.

I do have a day job - I'm a U.S.bankruptcy judge - and am working on another degree or two. I sing in my parish choir, teach adult faith formation and am principal bassoonist in the Germantown (Tennessee) Symphony Orchestra. I'm thinking that one or more of those things will give me something to talk about.

But since I started out with Kenny, I think that I'll talk about him first. Kenny is my third son. He and his younger brother, David, form the middle pair. They had two older brothers, Robert and John, and two younger sisters, Evelyn and Judy.

Kenny takes a lot of ribbing from his siblings. Kenny, like all of his brothers, graduated from Christian Brothers High School here in Memphis. He liked being a Brothers Boy so much that he continued with them for four more years at Christian Brothers University, also here in Memphis.

While he was there, he invited me to go with him on a class trip to Rome, where we stayed at the Christian Brothers Generalate. There we were able to visit a museum that highlights the work of the De La Salle Christian Brothers over more than 300 years of their history.

The De La Salle Christian Brothers are a community of religious men founded by St. John Baptist De La Salle. In 1679, De La Salle, then a young priest, was asked to assist in opening a parish school for poor boys in his hometown, Rheims, France. This led to the gathering together of a group of laymen whom he formed to be teachers for his school.

As De La Salle continued to follow the promptings of Divine Providence, he eventually found himself the superior of a new religious order of consecrated laymen who oversaw a network of free schools for the poor throughout France. Today there are more about 5,000 Christian Brothers who, together with their 80,000 religious and lay colleagues, serve some 900,000 students throughout the world. (See www.lasalle.org.)

Kenny became so interested in the work of the Christian Brothers that he became a LaSallian Volunteer ("LV") after his graduation from the university. For the past two years, Kenny has lived in community with the Brothers and other LVs of the Bedford Park Community in The Bronx,New York. Each morning, he takes the subway into Manhattan, where he and another LV staff the Academic Support Center at La Salle Academy, a high school for boys.

Kenny is a tutor who has had the opportunity to work with a wide range of young men of various abilities and backgrounds. He not only helps them with their academic struggles, however. He has taken them on overnight retreats and camping trips, and has fielded occasional questions about their lives and loves.

One of the highlights of his years as an LV was a bicycle ride across half of the country last summer. In Chicago, Kenny joined up with a group of riders who had dipped their back tires in the Pacific Ocean in Oregon and continued across the Allegheny Mountains and on to the Atlantic Coast, where they dipped more than their tires into the welcome ocean waters.

This was the "LVs Ride: A Coast to Coast Movement" to raise awareness about poverty in the United States and the work of the Lasallian Volunteers. Kenny became one of the "stars" of the documentary that recorded the volunteers as they stopped at schools, food banks and homeless shelters along the way to meet the local people and share their lives and mission. (See www.lvsride.com.)

Yes, I'm a very proud mama. More than that, I am humbled at what Kenny and his young friends are doing. These are not the typical teens that you read about in newspapers or watch on TV "reality" shows. These young people are very real and very determined to make a difference in their world.

Unlike some of the Boomers of my generation, I have no fear about tomorrow. I have seen the next generation, and I know that the Lord is working marvelous work. On second thought, I'll have to change my opening lines: I am very happy to let these young folks get ahead of me! 

Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.


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