February 2018

Posted: February 16, 2018

Dear Parents,

As I know has been the case for many of you, I have been really upset by the news of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida earlier this week. I am incredibly sad for those whose lives were tragically cut short on Wednesday, and for the countless others who are grieving and traumatized by this event. Like many of you, I will admit that this tragedy also caused me to think about my own children and their safety – about my son here at Bellarmine, and about my daughter at her school. And of course it has caused me to reflect upon my professional responsibility as a high school administrator.

Several of you have asked if we have plans and responses in place for such an occurrence on our campus. We do have a plan, which has been designed by members of law enforcement. We review these plans annually with staff and with students, and will do so again the week we return from break. Of course we hope and pray that we will never have to put such a plan into use, and that the day will come when such plans will no longer be necessary in any of our schools.

This wasn’t the letter that I was planning to write you all for my February Newsletter, but it was with this backdrop that we entered into our Ash Wednesday Liturgy this week. Fr. Mario gave a very impactful homily that has really stuck with me, and which he has given me permission to share with all of you. He told a story about an experience he had a few weeks ago, when he was hurrying to the grocery store, and saw a homeless person in a wheelchair who wet himself. Fr. Mario averted his eyes and hurried by, both entering and leaving the store. Fr. Mario shared that he has been troubled and haunted about his actions ever since.

I was so grateful to him for sharing this story with us. It was very honest, and very humble. It’s hard to admit when we fall short. And it’s really hard to do that in front of 1800 people. Fr. Mario suggested to us that in thinking about this story, and thinking about sin, he feels that the greatest sins are not those of passion, but those of apathy and indifference. He followed up this story by playing some music and having us reflect upon it while we watched a slide show that showed various scenes of people in very challenging situations – the last of which was a student sitting by himself at a table in the quad. This was an important reminder that indifference isn’t only made manifest in these big, sometimes very challenging situations like Fr. Mario encountered, but is something we all come across regularly. Indifference might allow us to let a lonely person remain isolated, ignore the humanity of a person we meet on the streets, or ignore the bigger challenges that we face as a society.

Hearing someone as good, kind, and compassionate as Fr. Mario admit that he sometimes falls short reminds me that we all fall short. We all make mistakes. That’s why we need a Savior. As Fr. Mario said later in his homily, “God invites us here and now, in the concrete circumstances of our ordinary lives… to acknowledge our mistakes and bad choices and to be transformed into that true self that God is inviting us to become each and every day of our lives.”

That is our charge this Lenten season – both to acknowledge those ways in which we have made mistakes or chosen a path of apathy or indifference, and also to seek to be transformed into who God calls us to be.

If we can turn our apathy into the energy and desire to work for change, and our indifference into caring, then I truly believe we will begin to create the kind of change that the terrible tragedy in Florida reminds us is so desperately needed in our world.


Chris Meyercord ‘88

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