Dear Members of the Prep Family,
Does God have a plan for each of our Prep students? Can our mission-driven education and formation help our students discover such a plan? What about God’s plan for the recent Prep graduate who flew under the radar here for four years and now attends Harvard? Or for another recent Prep grad who, after first being refused admission to the Prep, mounted his own lobbying campaign, was admitted and is now at a Jesuit college? Or for his classmate who gained admission to his first-choice, first-rate college but had to choose instead the college that offered him the most financial aid? Is each of these young men following a God-fashioned plan for his life? And will that plan connect with some overall vision that God has for the entire world?
These three students will testify that they profited every day during their Prep experience, even loved most days. Others of their classmates struggled day-to-day always looking to the end of each week. For both sets of students and for those in between, the Prep provides a daily plan of classes and extra-curricular activities, with periodic opportunities for service and spiritual reflection. During four focused years there are occasions each day for “small victories,” those victories encouraging students in their slow process of understanding the world and themselves.
Almost all of our students are Christian but they have a broad range of religious convictions, some students with their own approach to their beliefs. Many ignore the experience of God even during the weekly all-school reflection focused on our gifts and on our gratitude for small victories; but God enters the hearts of others during their day-to-day pursuits and makes the divine person known to them in a variety of ways. They speak of friendships and of personal gifts with the God of creation as their source. They speak sometimes of a sense of God in their prayer. They reflect on a conscience that calls them to integrity and courage in a world that glamorizes self-indulgence.
Indeed in so many of these young men I experience a God who enlivens their world with the Holy Spirit of good. I understand the Prep as embodying in its own limited way this same Spirit. This prevailing presence inspires the Prep’s own daily plan for each student, turning the hearts and minds of the entire community to finding the good even in every encounter, serendipitous or intentional. If we sometimes frustrate this presence of good, in the very experience of frustration a plan for good reveals itself by contrast and the Spirit of good refreshes the plan by redirection.
In answer to the questions posed in the introduction: day-by-day the Spirit led those three students to further stages in their lives. Together with their classmates we graduated them with confidence foreseeing even through a glass darkly the family and friends whom they will love and the passionate contributions that they will make to a better understanding of themselves and their world wherever God leads them. The Spirit of God active at the Prep carried out a planned investment in them calculated to encourage their future promotion of what is good and true. May this future under the Spirit’s continued inspiration be for them a future of healing and justice, of reconciliation and peace.
Rev. George W. Bur, S.J. ’59
President, St. Joseph’s Prep
To read more from Fr. Bur, go to his blog here.