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Service

The Long View

The following reflection is excerpted from my commencement address delivered on Monday, June 5, 2017. 

“Along these lines, that of big goals, selfless effort, and the long view — I’d like to introduce and honor a man whose vision and efforts proved critical to the existence and success of our high school. Joe Hoffman began the effort, in 2004, to open the Cape’s first Catholic high school, then conceived to be St. Francis Xavier Preparatory High School. As a parishioner of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Cape community leader, and one whose sister lives vowed religious life, Joe was drawn to the possibility and promise of a Catholic high school on Cape Cod.  

Joe was a leader in the successful effort to purchase the Barnstable grade five building as the site of the new high school, despite opposition and competition. After the building’s purchase, the sledding proved to be difficult, and key leaders quit the effort; true to the notion that we often overestimate what can be done in a year. But Joe stayed on. Navigating between a local group that lost its mojo and our Diocese not yet willing to adopt the fragile project, Joe and a small number persevered, kept the vision in sight, and the dream alive. Soon additional funding was secured, the Diocese sponsored the school, and the doors opened in 2007.  Joe continued to serve as an Advisory Board member and chaired through the school’s difficult unification with St. Francis Xavier Preparatory School in 2013. Always, Joe and his wife Felicia have been faithful donors, supporters, and Cape citizens willing to work for things larger than themselves. Take from their good example.

This past Spring, Joe retired from active leadership on the Advisory Board. 

We honor Joe tonight not only for his contributions to our ten-year story but as an example of setting big goals, goals that lead away from self and toward God. From the beginning of this work, Joe had no self-interest. He would never send a child to JPII, nor seek a job, nor expect remuneration, nor benefit personally from the school’s success. He put himself at the service of something he knew could be achieved and derived from his efforts the satisfaction of your success. Joe Hoffman and his wife Felicia are here tonight, and I ask that you join me in expressing our appreciation.”

The Measure of Success

 

 

Where do JPII grads go to college? Do they get jobs? Are they successful?

Good questions, all.

Our Lord shows us a simple and yet challenging vision of success: Love God and one another. When students leave JPII & SFXP, we send them with the hope and expectation that they know the best meaning of success and are ready to live it.

JPII grads Mike Doyle, ’13 and Kate Pendleton, ’13 are two of twenty Assumption College graduates recognized with the school’s “Crown and Shield” Award. Mike and Kate, like many JPII & SFXP grads, know that God and others come before self. They make those around them better.  This is the best definition of success, and I am proud of our graduates.

Read more here.

Having Fun and Doing Good

That’s the formula. Not ‘Either/Or’ — but ‘Both/And’.

Starting on Sunday, JPII students and staff are set to have a lot of fun with Spirit Week and its various competitions, activities, and themed-days.

Amidst the week of fun is also our chance to do good. Students will compete to raise money for the Haitian Health Foundation, whose founder, Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, will speak at the school on Monday, November 8. The Haitian Health Foundation assists some of the poorest persons in out hemisphere to meet their basic needs. I challenge JPII students to come through huge for the needs of Haiti’s vulnerable with a big week of collections. At JPII, having fun and doing good go hand-in-hand.

Check out the week’s HHF activities.

“If You Think You Can Change the World…You’re Wrong”

So began Dr. Jeremiah J. Lowney, President of the Haitian Health Foundation and 1954 graduate of Msgr. Coyle High School, to students at Coyle and Cassidy High School yesterday. He went on to add, however, that young people most certainly  can change a part of the world, as he has done in southern Haiti, and that it is our Christian call to do so. Dr. Lowney’s witness was powerful, distressing, and worthy of our attention.

JPII students Matthew Laird and Elizabeth Rossi (representing the Christian prayer and service group CrossWalk), Zach Niedzwiecki (President,   Class of 2012), and John Milligan (President, Class of 2013) traveled to Taunton to hear Dr. Lowney’s presentation and, on behalf of the entire students body and Parents Association, present a $1500 donation to the Haitian Health Foundation. It is gratifying to know that money raised will be so well spent.

At JPII, we don’t believe in one-time gifts. Speaking with the student-leaders in the car yesterday, I’m confident that we’ll be hearing about the Haitian Health Foundation again.

Parents with Spirit

Thanks to Kim Richard and a band of hearty parent volunteers, the JPII Spirit Store will soon have a permanent home — Room 101, off the cafeteria. It’s great to see parents once again “roll up their sleeves” to make a good thing happen.

Pictured below (l to r): Erin Kennedy, Julie Van Kleef, Kim Richard, Paula Murray

 

Long Overdue

While I rarely feel truly ahead of the game in information technology usage, I recognize its critical importance in preparing students (and our school) for their world, so I do my best to keep up. While blogging once felt “ahead of the curve” (or at least inside the curve!), the advent of Twitter, Facebook, etc. and the school’s aggressive forays into these arenas forces a sharpening of  what Brick by Brick tries to communicate — not so much school information, but meaning and voice.

Forgive my lenghty layoff. To catch up:

  • The first-ever JPII Summer Advanced Mathematics and Leadership Academy was an unqualified success. Thirty-three incoming 8th and 9th grade students developed their algebraic skills using science technology freed from the time constraints of the typical school calendar. Throw in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens and you’ve got a program with real value.
  • I’m proud and impressed by the summer organizing efforts of JPII students committed to social action and Christian service. There were three Christian service activities organized by Holy Cross Intern Annie Cervin. The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands living in a new way…these service opportunities provide an opportunity to do just that.
  • 60+ campers at Coach Demanch’e Cape Cod Football Camp. Football’s coming!
  • Friends of JPII Tripping Lily are throwing a CD-release party at the school on August 15. They’re a cool group of acoustic musicians and it’s going to be a great event.

Its clear the JPII is growing and reaching out, even in the summer months. Now if only my posts could keep up…

A Good Friday

First, a moving Catholic Schools Week closing liturgy celebrated by Fr. David Frederici. The theme was ‘Celebrate Service’, and there’s no shortage of JPII students who make service an part of their lives. Check out the remarks given by Tatiana Diaz-Lane, ’11 and Ashley Weeks,’11 .

Then, a convincing victory for the boys basketball team. Great way to end the week!

Pictured right: a hearty ‘thank you’ to the basketball parents for organizing a fun field trip to Boston College’s Men’s Basketball victory over NC State last Saturday.

Go Irish!

As a Boston College grad, I enjoyed the Eagles’ football victory over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame last weekend. Whether out in the Midwest or here in New England, the gridiron clash between these two outstanding Catholic universities is fun for grads and fans of both schools. It’s funny, though, that my appreciation for Notre Dame has only increased since I left Ohio — due to the growing partnership between the Notre Dame Club of Cape Cod and Pope John Paul II High School.

It started with the ND Club’s library donations to JPII in honor of Fr. Theodore Hesburg, legendary former President of Notre Dame. Then, football ticket raffle proceeds to benefit JPII. Our turn came when the ND Club asked our help in collecting clothing for the people of Haiti — donations sent to South Bend and joined with clothing from across the nation. So how did our students respond?

Five hundred ten articles of clothing. Yup –510. This is what partnership is all about!