November 2017

Posted: November 15, 2017

Dear Parents,

For the past 15 years, I have been blessed to be part of a faith sharing group with colleagues here at Bellarmine. While three of us remain from the original group that started all those years ago, several others have retired, so we added a couple of new members this year, and went back to our original text: Challenge, written by Mark Link, S.J. Link’s intent in this daily meditation is to provide an opportunity for his readers to follow the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in small snippets. Each day, there is a very brief passage from scripture, a story, and then some questions for further thought and prayer.

The readings from last week included a story about a cartoonist who drew caricatures of a group of close friends at a party. Ironically, everyone was able to identify others quickly, but had a hard time recognizing themselves. The accompanying reflection questions asked how you would describe yourself, how your best friend would describe you, and how God would describe you. As I prayed over these questions, I quickly came to the realization that my self-description would be much harsher than what my best friend or God would have to say about me. I thought about how I can easily see those ways in which I fall short of who and how I want to be, whereas God or my best friend would instead see my best qualities, and focus on those. I am profoundly grateful for the presence of this grace in my life – that people who love me the most see me for my best qualities, not my worst.

This trait of drawing out the best from one another is at the heart of what we seek to accomplish as a Catholic, Jesuit school. Examples of this kind of goodness have been abundant here on campus these past few weeks. It’s evident in the students working creatively to support the efforts of the Winter Warmth Drive, like the awesome poster that Neerav Gade ’18 created, or this amazing video by Ronan Shaw ’18 (if you haven’t seen it yet – you should! Less than 2 minutes and time very well spent). Or how about the many fathers who came to Bellarmine on Monday night to be part of the annual “Suds for Duds” event, where dads get together to enjoy dinner and some micro-brews, while bringing clothes to support the drive? What a creative and fun way to participate! A group of dedicated moms are here each morning collecting items for the drive, and last month, a group of two dozen moms, under the direction of Lenore Grant and Heidi Grassman, got together to make 33 homemade blankets for our sister Jesuit schools in Houston that lost so much during Hurricane Harvey. Each blanket came with a note and three charms – a bell, a horseshoe and a cross – representing that our schools are together during this time of need. And I am once again amazed by the incredible work of all those involved in the Mothers’ Guild Fashion Show for Financial Aid, this year led by Sandy Gruwell, Gigi Harvey, and Julie Hughes, with a ton of help from Mothers’ Guild President Celine Schmidek. These women, along with their army of volunteers, have put together an incredible show that will take place on Saturday, honoring Bellarmine’s heritage, and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Tuition Assistance in the process. What a gift!

There are so many other wonderful ways on campus in which I am seeing our students and our staff drawing out the best in one another. Our upper-level Physics classes recently completed their catapult projects. It was awesome to see what the students created, how successful they were, and what genuine delight they took in seeing one another’s triumphs. The recent production of Spinning into Butter provided such a meaningful, impactful way for audiences to see some very realistic contemporary challenges having to do with race. And the discussion afterwards really helped me and my family – along with everyone there – to continue to wrestle with these issues after the final curtain.

On Friday, I had a chance to sit in on Mr. McDougall’s Christian Ethics class, where the students were completing a unit on the death penalty. Having been presented with Church teaching and watched Dead Man Walking, the class then had a discussion where the students wrestled with what they believed, using the 7 Principles of Constructive Dialogue as their guide. Half of the students spoke in the center of the room while the other half each were assigned to watch one student, and help assess how he presumed good intentions, listened to understand instead of responding, and raised the level of conversation. I have to tell you how impressed I was! It was such a thoughtful conversation, and the fact that the students entered into it with such mutual respect for one another really did raise the bar, and helped them to understand the differing points of view at a deep level. What an amazing example of how to talk about a potentially divisive issue respectfully and well!

I am so grateful for these opportunities to bring out the best in one another. As we enter into this season of gratitude, please know how thankful we are for the privilege to work with you and your sons.


Chris Meyercord ‘88

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