October Rapp Up

What a wild week we’ve had! Our volleyball team just sealed another state championship in Salina with a game-three 34-32 win in one of the most thrilling matches anyone has ever seen; both our boys and girls cross country teams finished fifth in state, led by individual state champion Sarah Murrow and third place boys finisher Jack Moore; our football boys won a big playoff matchup against Lansing and are looking forward to a rematch with Mill Valley this Friday; and our soccer boys are in the state quarterfinals this Tuesday against Washington High School at 6:30! This crazy weekend of success built off of our girls’ tennis and golf teams finishing 6th and 3rd respectively at state competition, not to mention the phenomenal Choir and Band concerts over the last few weeks. It is truly remarkable to see what our kids are capable of in all of these different areas!

We also just finished another exciting event here in our building. This Wednesday through Friday, we hosted the 2018 High School Formation Summit (see the website for more information about what this is: http://www.hsformation.org/). Over 130 high school teachers, counselors, and administrators from 14 different states came to our building to learn about and share best practices in faith formation for high schoolers.

And yes, school went on as well! Though there were a lot of moving pieces to make it possible to host a conference and school day simultaneously, it was important to us that this happen for one simple reason: we wanted others to get to see what happens here.

People from around the country got to hear Sean Cresswell’s witness and worship with our students, parents, and staff at Draw Near. They got to go on tours of our building led by our students and hear our story through their eyes, soaking in the architecture and art and energy that we get to be a part of every day. This morning they heard a witness from Maddie Joerger on our theme and prayed with our kids for strong families and for faith.

I have to tell you: our guests were blown away. They were complimentary of many parts of the conference, from the speakers that were brought in to the fellowship of the participants to the beauty of our building. But more than anything, it was the witness of our students in word and action that seemed to truly impact others most.

It was fitting that this was the case, as it illustrated a point our shepherd made at the start of the conference. Archbishop Naumann gave the opening keynote address, and he shared stories from his life and ministry about the impact of Catholic education and the challenges we are facing today. But his main message to all the conference participants was simple: “Believe in our young people.”

He urged us to believe in their ability to rise to the occasion, to believe that if we set the bar high for all aspects of our schools, especially faith, and walk with students through the difficult times, that they can reach that bar and beyond. It reminded me of a powerful quote from Pope Francis to young people that I have shared before:

“I am asking you to be revolutionaries…I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you.”

I believe our culture sees our young people as incapable of responsibility and true, sacrificial love. Quite frankly, sometimes we may be tempted to see them that way as well. As parents and teachers, we are going to be the ones to see our young people’s mistakes and immaturity, or we may be afraid of what consequences there could be if we give them freedom and they fail to live up to our trust.

But what I was reminded of this week is that our kids are worthy of our trust. They are capable. They have what it takes. And though they will not be perfect, we can and should give them opportunities to love and lead with the proper guidance and support from the adults in their lives. We can and should believe in them, in spite of our fears or worries. We can and should believe in their capacity for greatness. We should do so because it is good for them, and also because it is good for us! It stirs up hope in our hearts and gives God an opportunity to surprise us. Though there are incredible challenges, the beauty of working with teenagers is that they have a unique ability to catch us off guard with their goodness.

We try to do this in many ways here. Whether it be through the opportunities to witness to others about the faith, or the student-led approach of our Community System, or the academic freedom that comes with Thunder Block, we try to provide kids opportunities to grow and stretch, to take real, authentic responsibilities on their shoulders while in a safe environment, and learn not only the weight of the responsibility, but the strength within them to bear it well.

Thank you for the gift of your children and the opportunity to partner with you in this mission. As I spoke of in my last Rapp Up, we must do our part as the adults by setting firm boundaries and helping educate their intellects, wills, and desires, and we should not be reckless in the opportunities and freedom we give our kids. But this week was a great reminder for me that we must believe in them while we do it. It was a welcome reminder.

Your brother in Christ,