The themes associated with Thanksgiving, one of the most uniquely American holidays, are also at the heart of our Catholic faith. Ignatius Loyola was convinced that gratitude is one of the clearest ways we can experience God’s presence and grace. He writes, “The grateful acknowledgment of blessings and gifts received is loved and esteemed not only on earth but in heaven." No wonder he invites us to begin his prayer of the Examen by reviewing God’s blessings and giving thanks for them.
Each year, this holiday provides us with a wonderful opportunity to get in touch with the reasons for our gratitude. In my work at Fordham Prep, the blessings and gifts I experience are so abundant - and so overflowing - that it’s a challenge to identify just one. But that’s exactly what I’d like to do in this message to you. Let me share with you why I believe our Prep faculty are so worthy of our gratitude, particularly this year.
You see I have the great privilege to listen to alumni across many generations, as they reflect on their gratitude for their Prep education. These reflections always come back to a common denominator: the women and men—Jesuits and lay people alike—who taught them in our classrooms here on the Rose Hill campus.
- They tell me of Prep teachers who are focused single-heartedly on care for their students; who see the best in their students, even when they didn’t see it in themselves;
- who demand excellence, but are patient in their understanding that the learning process takes time and unfolds through a relationship of trust;
- who are “women and men for others”—whose faith is embodied in loving action, and o who are committed to justice and respect for all.
Since last March, our teachers have confronted extraordinary challenges the likes of which they have never seen before. To prepare for this school year, they dedicated weekends, evenings, dozens of hours, and countless summer days of specialized training to adapt to our hybrid schedule and master new classroom technology. We were ready to begin school an entire week earlier than most NY schools, and welcomed students to Rose Hill before Labor Day.
Our teachers have been guiding, supporting and caring for students, whether in-person or remote, for the past three months—even as they must increase their support and care for their own children and families. Our faculty and staff have also made significant financial sacrifices. To help Fordham Prep meet increased demands from our families for financial aid and for us to invest in health and safety measures on campus, we have frozen salaries and suspended a key retirement benefit. When the negative financial impact of the pandemic subsides and we can restore those benefits and salary increases, we can once again be thankful that their collective sacrifice had an impact on the welfare of their students. I’m proud to say that, as far as I know, not one student has left Fordham Prep due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
So as you take a moment on this Thanksgiving holiday to reflect on your own reasons to give thanks, please say a prayer of gratitude for a Fordham Prep teacher who has played an important role in your life, or in the life of your son.
Let us pray:
In a spirit of gratitude, we celebrate with family and friends.
We give thanks for those
who are good to us.
We give thanks for those
who were there to comfort during trying situations.
And we give thanks for those
who remind us of your presence.
On this Thanksgiving Day, as we give thanks for the light of your love,
help us to be mindful of those
who will need us tomorrow.
May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving!