Back to School
Back to School
Wow. I can’t believe that we are already finished with the third week of school! As I describe it, the freight train has definitely left the building. I have always been the kind of person who is increasingly excited, as the summer break draws to a close, for the start of the school year. In my earliest memories, the start of school meant new clothes, new school supplies, and new books to read. Later, the start of the year meant fall sports and reconnecting with friends. At this point in my life, the start of the school year simply means that our school is, after a couple months off, finally what it is meant to be. I’ve heard our new President, Bill Avey, say this a number of times in the last few weeks, and I couldn’t agree with him more. A school without students is a sad building. Even though it is a challenge to let go of the more relaxed summer rhythm, now that BK is full of students, it returns to what it is supposed to be, and that is a great blessing to me!
Most of us are aware that our community suffered a truly tragic loss this summer, and to me, this is an important part of our context as we come together for another school year. You see, we are better together than we are alone. This summer, after the accident that took two precious lives and injured another, it was a priority for this community to come together. For years, I have listened to students complain that someone was “making them go to Mass.” They have told me that Mass was boring, always the same and that they didn’t see the need of it in their lives. But in the face of the tragedy, the students literally swarmed into the parish of Holy Apostles for the services we had. No one told them that they had to come, no one forced or made them attend, and yet they knew – at some place inside them much deeper than their rationalization or their intellect – that church was the only place they needed to be. I was so moved by this, at the same time I was deeply shocked and saddened by the occasion of our gathering. We are truly better together than we are alone.
As the school year begins, thankfully there are many other reasons to gather together than the terrible reason that drew us together during the summer, even though the accident continues to impact our community in many ways. But the wonderful thing is, that the same lesson applies. What do you need to make a team? Athletes gathering together. What do you need to make a school? Students gathering together. What do you need to make a church? Worshippers gathering together to pour out all possible human emotions for every conceivable human experience. I think what I love most about the beginning of the school year at this point in my life is that finally, after a much-needed break, WE become what we are called to be: a gathered community searching for Truth, Goodness and Beauty amidst the ups and downs of our lives. We are so much better together than we are alone.
I am so happy to be back, and I am so happy to have some responsibility in leading this gathered community in its search for God in the world. I have been happy with the team Masses we have already begun. I can’t wait for the first all-school Mass later in the month. I have had deep conversations with both adults and students about all sorts of spiritual things – hard and sad things as well as easy and happy things. To me and to my heart that has fallen in love with BK, it is all a part of why we come back together to embark on the consuming-but-fulfilling journey of a new school year. I hope and pray that we will commit ourselves to walking with each other in faith, hope and love this year, and that our Mission Statement, which says that we will “educate the whole student in the Catholic Tradition: Spirit, Mind and Body” become ever more central to who we are and what we do. We are truly better together than we are alone!
Father Greg Vance, S.J.