We had an impressive group of young men visiting with us last night from St. John’s Prep. In our conversation with them after dinner, each of them was asked to offer an observation about the service work they had done earlier in the day at a soup kitchen and a residence for adults with cerebral palsy. There was nothing at all “pro forma” about their words. Each of them highlighted a particular dimension of his experience in a way that indicated how much he had been moved by it.
A small thing, and I don’t want to make too much of it, but I was struck by the way they said good-bye, each one of them looking directly at you with a genuine warmth of expression. I don’t know how this particular group was chosen – maybe they volunteered for it and were selected from among those who volunteered. In any case, they looked like young men well brought-up with a character in the process of being solidified by a good education.
I was not so much at ease with this, but at the end of the evening everyone in the room was asked to say one word that summed up how they were feeling about the day. I said “glad.” Glad to see such open faces, thoughtful, sensitive to others and not a smart phone in sight. Glad to see what looked like pride in the faces of their two adult mentors. Glad that the Xaverian charism, even in the absence of active Xaverian brothers, was alive and well at the Prep. Glad, too, that our own Assumptionist men – and Sister Clare – spoke with such conviction about their own vocations.
If the leitmotif of the season is hope, this was a fine Advent moment here at the Center.