Reflection from Erin Horne, Director of Education
A question I’ve been asked many times over my tenure at FXW is, “What makes FXW a special community?” While my role as an educator has changed over the 20 plus years from Grade 3 teacher to Assistant Principal to parent to Principal to Director of Education, my answer remains constant. What makes FXW a special community is FXW’s commitment to service. Experiencing service, embedded in the curriculum–with Misericordia Candy Days in Grades 2, 7 and 8, to visiting elderly for Bingo and card games, to letter writing and candy collections for the veterans, coupled with the numerous evening or weekend family opportunities, instilled in us as a family that service is as an expression of putting our Catholic Faith into Action. As a family we enjoyed cleaning Big Shoulders’ Schools, serving Friday dinners at St. Teresa’s and collecting the garbage on Chicago beaches. Like most educators, I have a long list of favorite books and one such book is The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper because it highlights every faith tradition that is represented beautifully in our FXW community and has similar sentiments to the Bible scripture of “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” Matthew 7:12 also known as The Golden Rule.
As a parent of two alums and Grade 5 student, Ryan, I feel such pride that it is these service experiences, not an academic measure, that have left an imprint on my children’s lives that are priceless and will stay with them beyond FXW.
Over Thanksgiving break, Grace ’18 would often comment on her boredom, a feeling I’d imagine many children and parents can relate to during the pandemic. I suggested she commit to service opportunities that FXW shared benefiting our Living the Legacy partners. Along with her grandparents’ condo residents, Grace collected canned goods for Catholic Charities. She made birthday bags, filled with cards and hard candy, with her friends and siblings for elderly residents at Little Brothers of the Elderly. She collected items requested for residents at Bishop Conway such as word puzzles and coloring books. This beautiful note from Luz at Bishop Conway is an example of how a simple act of kindness provides so much happiness to others and a great perspective and understanding of impact for Grace to experience:
“God bless your compassionate heart. Let me tell you these residents have been apart from loved ones since the pandemic regulations were established. We are not able to do group activities so their contact with each other have been very limited. I continue to do individual visitations in their apartments trying to help them remain motivated and engaged. Imagine a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner eaten alone in your apartment. Anything that is done with love will brighten their spirits and remind them that there are people who care and love them still. God bless you for extending your heart to those who needs you most. May the Lord repay you with multiple blessing, peace and safety during this Christmas Season and through the year. Thank you, Luz.”
Grace reflected further, “Over the past years, I have realized the importance of service. The feeling you receive, when giving back and helping others, I believe is one of the best feelings. Over quarantine I took a lot of time to reflect end recognize how blessed I am for all that I have. While the pandemic is hard on everyone there is a difference in experience for everyone.”
Grace’s examples of Faith in Action changed feelings of boredom into service for others.
Griffin ’20 was a weekly volunteer at Catholic Charities at Tuesday Night supper for 120 guests. Each week Griffin’s role would rotate; he would serve guests dinner behind the counter, clean up, take our trash, fill the dishwasher— all important life skills. He met many men and women he would then see around downtown. One guest was always excited to show Griffin a new pair of shoes. When someone didn’t show for Tuesday dinner Griffin was worried about their safety and well-being. His favorite memory was how Catholic Charities would invite a guest to lead the meal with a prayer and one time a woman sang a beautiful song. Griffin’s interaction with the guests was the most rewarding. He reflects, “You realize that each person has value and deserves to be treated respectfully. The safe space of Catholic Charities, as I was there to serve and help others, provided me the experience to not judge another person’s situation in life.” Attending Catholic Charities was not for service hours. Griffin became a part of that community and learned how to put his Faith into Action.
As Catholic Schools’ Week is fast approaching (January 31-February 5), join us on by responding to the following prompts:
- FXW’s mission is to prepare Thinkers and Leaders who have a responsibility for themselves and the world they will inherit. Rather than ‘will inherit’, think about how you have or plan to be responsible for others through an offering of service? How have you put your Faith into Action?
- Alums, if you have stories to share about the impact of service in your life, during or beyond FXW, share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post on social media: #FXWAlumsLivingtheLegacy
- To all FXW faculty, staff, students and families, join me in sharing your answer to this question and post on social media—What makes FXW a special community?
—Erin Horne, Director of Education
We also invite you to use our 30 Prayers for 30 Years resource, a compilation of the prayers highlighted in With Mission in Mind during the 2019-2020 year.