Juniors Discover “Compassion, Service, and Justice”

Connor Bertaut '18 reflects on his time at the 11th Grade Day of Reflection.

The theme for the junior Day of Reflection encompassed compassion, service, and justice. Numerous faculty members presented stories from their personal lives and then intertwined these stories to the theme of the retreat in order to create tangible examples for us to relate to.

Mr. Christopher Vicknair spoke about Hogs for the Cause, and the drastic situation that resulted in the fundraising campaign. People congregated for this cause to raise money for families with children who have been diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer. This event ties into the theme of compassion, service, and justice because it provides an opportunity for people enduring unfortunate circumstances, both financially and physically, to receive treatment they otherwise could not afford. As a brother of a cancer survivor, I am able to relate to this story and sense the heartbreaking emotions felt by those families with children and relatives who suffer from pediatric brain cancer. For those individuals who are fighting cancer and those people close to them, life begins to twist into sadness and anxiety for fear of what the future might hold. However, when people unite and provide financial, spiritual, or emotional aid, these emotions begin to lessen. My parents often reflect on the importance of having the support of family and friends when my brother was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia).  Mr. Vicknair’s story about this charitable cause resonated with me because it emphasized the importance of compassion and the need to empathize with those who are experiencing such a life-changing event.

Mr. David Joyner discussed a variety of situations he experienced when he began teaching art. He connected with a young boy of the age of five who lived with his grandma because his mother died and his father was jailed. As a result, the boy fostered feelings of hostility and became prone to violence when confronted by other people. Mr. Joyner, aware that teaching the boy art would prove futile, required that the boy remain next to him in order to refrain from potentially harming others. Their relationship grew over time, and Mr. Joyner spent time with the boy throughout the summer. The boy soon viewed Mr. Joyner as a “parental replacement” and began to trust him. This story relates to the retreat’s theme because Mr. Joyner willingly and patiently worked with this child in order to lessen the situation the boy endured. He upheld a just and compassionate attitude toward someone who, more than likely, was never shown neither compassion nor justice. These stories brought to attention the necessity of our providing assistance to those individuals living in destitute situations, regardless of whether or not they possess any relation to them. I thought more intently on the effects that living a life of social justice would have on others around me. I also realized the magnitude of interacting with others respectfully and patiently which would result in a greater bond among friends, family, and even adversaries.

We then gave our attention to other faculty members of Brother Martin, Dr. Tony Melito and Mr. Nick Lagattuta, spoke about their personal lives as well and discussed significant individuals who affected their lives. What impacted me was their talk about integrity and respect. They discussed the importance of remaining honest and respectful under arduous circumstances. They also spoke about individual actions and outside factors that can potentially affect you as a person. Expanding on this topic, they elucidated how our actions and other responses to outside factors reveal who we are and how our reactions reveal our character. I dwelled on this idea and experienced a self-evaluation, reflecting on my own past actions and reactions and determining how my character has evolved over the years. We then arrived on the beach and began to commune with nature as we experienced the serenity of our surroundings and as we thought about our lives and our accomplishments. We were able to relax mentally and emotionally. Afterward, they presented us with questions that required serious contemplation. I thought about how the Sacred Heart symbolizes and exemplifies social justice for those people who see it as a reminder to enact justice in their daily lives. I also thought about how completing service hours affects our neighboring communities and society as a whole as well as how it encourages social justice among us.

This retreat allowed for us, as a class and as individuals, to become more aware of the need for compassion and justice in our daily lives.

Submitted by Connor Bertaut ’18

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