I share this moving report from Brother Tyrone Davis about the participation of Catholic high school students in this day of solidarity with students and others throughout the country related to the recent tragic violence and deaths in Parkland, Florida. I know that other students with whom Catholic Charities works also participated. In two weeks we will afford the opportunity for 100 students to participate in the March 24th “March For Our Lives.” in Washington, DC. There is no more important time to encourage and facilitate engagement in the public square. – Msgr. Kevin Sullivan
By: Guest Blogger – Br. Tyrone Davis
As I was leaving Cardinal Hayes H.S., where I am in residence, I could see the students there gathering in the gym for a program–a program regarding the issues of gun violence, the need for gun control and an end to needless violence, and the importance of saving lives. Upon the students entering the school this morning, they would see empty chairs set up in the lobby, symbolizing the students and teachers killed in Parkland, FL. In the gym, where the students (over 800 young men) were to gather soon thereafter, there were also empty chairs set up with a lit candle in each, again memorializing the 17 lost lives in Florida…and the many others elsewhere. Students spoke–using spoken word and other forms of speech. During that time, 17 members of the Hayes community solemnly walked out in front of the school, representing the sentiments of the other members of the Hayes community. At the same time, other students who wished, walked out onto the school field. In all their movements, I observed a solemnity that I rarely if ever have seen.
After I got into my car, driving towards the Catholic Center, down Lexington Ave., I passed students from Cristo Rey who were marching along 106th St. Then as I continued down Lex, I came upon the young ladies of St. Jean Baptiste H.S., who were completing their march to Park Ave and around the block, now entering the church for a Prayer Service. I parked my car and entered the church, to witness and be a part of the service. Wow–it was powerful. The young ladies who spoke, spoke so powerfully–about social justice and our moral responsibilities!! Then they prayed. During the speeches and prayer petitions, you could hear a pin drop…such solemnity! These students today were the teachers!!! Their talks were about exactly what the Church and Catholic Social Teachings are about and what Catholic education is or should be best equipped to prepare our young people to do–make a difference in this world and to become “Men & Women for Others.” At the conclusion of the prayer service, the young ladies of St. Jean Baptiste H.S. left the church to go back to school and their remaining classes–again with unbelievable solemnity!
Then, after I left St. Jean Baptiste Church/H.S., I continued my drive down Lexington, passing on the way, the young ladies from St. Vincent Ferrer H.S., who were leaving the church (presumably concluding their prayer service) and returning to their school.
Before I entered the Catholic Center, I received from someone at Xavier H.S. on W. 16th St., a photo of their students (close to 1,000) who were outside on W. 16th St. (which was closed off between 5th & 6th Aves.), for their public demonstration, which was organized by their student leaders and included most of their student-body and many, if not most, of their teachers. I was informed that their students (those who wished) also wore orange ribbons…and that there was or will be a special Mass after school in memory of those who were killed in Florida and elsewhere. During their student-led demonstration, the school chapel was also open for those who might have preferred to spend a little time in prayer and quiet meditation.
What a day!!
Just thought I’d share with you my experience of this very special, atypical morning, driving into the Catholic Center. I can only wish that most days started out like today! Have a great rest of your day.
Thank-you for reading! have a great day!