Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Faus, Kate and Josie
May the LORD bless you from Zion;
may you see Jerusalem’s prosperity
all the days of your life, 
and live to see your children’s children.
Peace upon Israel! (Psalm 128)

My greatest worry as a Catholic high school teacher starting out was my ability to provide for my family. I had just finished graduate school, was beginning my first year of teaching, and was engaged to be married in June. Some time that fall, I remember going to my principal and saying, rather directly, “I love high school teaching and might want to do it as a career, but I don’t think I can support a family on $15,000 a year (my first contract).” “No,” he said, smiling. “You can’t. If you want to stay in Catholic education long term, you need to think about becoming a principal.” 

I remember being surprised by that comment. “Principal” was certainly not what I had envisioned for myself while in graduate school. I wasn’t sure I’d like it. I wasn’t sure I had the “stuff.” And even if I did, would it truly be enough to raise a family? I simply didn’t know, and I remember asking God to provide, somehow, and enrolled in administration courses shortly thereafter. 

That was 31 years ago.

I became a high school principal four years later, at 27, and am now in the middle of my 27th year as principal, president or headmaster of a Catholic high school. Diane and I have been blessed with four children, mostly grown now, and we live comfortably in a middle class neighborhood. Our two oldest married wonderful spouses, the kind you pray about for your children, and both have become parents themselves, so we are now officially “grandparents.”

Cynthia, Grant and Justina
Our son and his wife visited us this Christmas, with their four month old daughter, “Josie.” It was a glorious week. We walked down the State Pier, watching fishermen pull strange things from the Gulf, such a stingrays, sea urchins, and sharks. We spend a full morning at a Civil War settlement in Blakely, AL, walking through trails, along rivers, and viewing remnants of a Confederate fort.  Mostly we spent a lot of time with our children and with Josie, who began to recognize us and smile when we greeted her. It doesn’t get much better than having your baby granddaughter smile at you! 

May you live to see your children’s children,” says the psalmist, and as new grandparents, we are beginning to understand the great depth of that blessing prayer. I consider myself in “mid-career” now, and yes, I have “miles to go before I sleep” (Frost), but it is good to “stop by the woods” every now and then and reflect, with gratitude, the fullness of God’s blessings to me, my wife and my family thus far.  He has indeed, “provided.”  

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