My brief remarks to our faculty on March 25, 2015
We are approaching the anniversary of my father’s death last year on Palm Sunday, so my 3 sisters, brother and I have been a little nostalgic, sharing memories about him—and laughing a lot. One of those memories was our ritual every morning. We had family morning prayer, and Dad would wake us all up by ringing this bell he had installed at the foot of our stairway, shouting up the stairs “Rise and Shine!” As teenagers, we hated that bell. My sister Jennifer, not a morning person, would come down the stairway scowling at the world, shooting daggers at my father, who had been up for an hour already, said prayers, and run a few miles, so he was rearing to go. So each morning, there was kind of this competing force of my father’s unrelenting cheerfulness vs. his teenage children’s crankiness about waking up as we stumbled our way through morning prayer. But the takeaway looking back—and the thing you don’t really notice so much or think about until it’s gone—is my father’s cheerfulness and what a gift that was to our entire family.
A few days ago, I was talking to one of you who has been a teacher for quite some time now—I won’t embarrass her by telling you who she is—but it occurred to me, while talking, that one of her great attributes as a teacher is JOY. She loves teaching, she is passionate in looking for ways to become a better teacher, she cares about her kids and their learning in a truly admirable way—and through it all, radiates joy. What a GREAT thing. What a great inspiration for all of us.
And then, just a passing note. Yesterday afternoon, I was talking to Julianne, getting the debrief about our spring break trip to Spain—26 kids, herself, Andrew and Veronica. She said it was spectacular, the kids were spectacular—everything went well. At the end of our discussion, I asked her if anything stood out for her—a memory she’d treasure. And she said, yes, many things, but one small moment in particular. Toward the end, they were about to eat, she was talking with someone, and she turned around, and all 26 kids were holding hands, about to say grace, and she was invited to join them. That moment was very powerful for her—a kind of sign that things were "going right" at JPII, that the mission of the school was alive in our students. She was able to take great delight in that.
Count it all joy, whenever temptation and trials come upon us, because in that testing comes steadfastness. (James 1:2-3)
JOY. Cheerfulness. Delighting in our students. As we tackle these last two months together, let’s make a very deliberative effort to be people of joy in what we do, so that this joy radiates to our kids. Let’s find ways to delight in our kids—in the small things, in our banter with them before class or while walking down the hallways, or talking about the game we attended the afternoon before. Throw your life into theirs—and let’s enjoy and appreciate this magnificent vocation we’ve been called to as educators. COUNT IT ALL JOY! May God bless all of you this spring.