On December 3, the Feast of Saint Xavier High School, at an all-school Mass to celebrate the Feast of Saint Francis Xavier, Mary Ann Bowman and I were the recipients of the Theodore James Ryken Award. Named after the founder of the Xaverian Brothers, the Ryken Award is given annually to a St. X faculty or staff member who dedicates his or her life to furthering the mission of a Xaverian education.
Faculty and staff nominate colleagues for their commitment to proclaim the Gospel, for participation in the school’s community of faith and for nurturing members of the community. Nominees also demonstrate commitment to academic excellence and model ways of recognizing the talents of individuals. They must be committed to educating the whole person and to leading others to fulfill the Gospel call to peace and justice.
It was not easy for my family to afford sending me to St. X. With the help of my grandparents, and very generous tuition assistance, my parents were able to make it work.
To whom much is given, much is expected.
I felt grateful to the Saint Xavier community, but also indebted. The man I am today is because of the men and women of Saint Xavier High School. Their lives inspired me, change me, and moved me, into becoming more than I thought possible.
I didn’t just learn chemistry, I learned compassion.
I didn’t just learned algebra, I learned how to solve relationship problems.
I didn’t just learn Chinese, I learned how laughter can cut through any difference.
I didn’t just learn geography, I learned that while continents may separate us, our humanity unites us together.
In my four years of Saint Xavier High School, I knew I would never be able to repay those teachers for the gift they had given me.
Becoming a teacher was the closest I could get.
While I knew I could never fully repay those teachers, I knew I could try to give future students what they had given me.
To quote Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I have felt nothing but love, and I cannot be more grateful for that.
I thank you and I love you.