Dear DePaul College Prep Students, Parents and Guardians:
As I was preparing to send our DePaul Prep community a message about how we celebrated Catholic Schools Week and our preparations for the Lenten season, our city and our nation were again shocked by senseless acts of gun violence. Seventeen teachers, coaches and students killed and many more wounded at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, while here at home, Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer, first responder, husband, father, friend gave his life to keep Chicagoans safe. Innocents all, just doing their jobs and going about their day. We deeply mourn their loss, we pray for them and their families, and we redouble our efforts to build a society that values peace and justice over violence.
As educators, our goal is to present facts, encourage exploration, and develop intellectual curiosity. When faced with tragedies such as these, we collectively search for answers. As a community of faith, we turn to prayer and to each other for comfort. As a school, we check and double check our building security measures and our safety drills and protocols. We maintain our strong ties with our local police district. In a school our size, we are fortunate to know each other by name. Our faculty, staff, counselors and administrators try to maintain a watchful eye over our students to be aware of signs that a student may be in emotional distress or pain. We encourage students to seek help when needed and to be a friend when one is needed. We strive everyday to live our core values of Faith, Respect, Excellence and Service and to treat one another and everyone we meet with kindness, compassion and respect.
During Catholic Schools Week, our students exemplified the finest spirit of DePaul Prep by collecting mountains of food, diapers and art supplies for the Elizabeth Ann Seton Food Pantry at St. Vincent dePaul Parish, Rincon Family Services and the Maryville Crisis Nursery. Our Juniors went on retreat at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels Food Pantry, Misericordia and Rincon Family Services and learned about the grace that comes from service with compassion. We are proud of how our students give of themselves to help others and we are happy that they learn a great deal about themselves and about the true meaning of giving from these experiences.
This week at our Ash Wednesday liturgy, Fr. Joe Malczyk, CR. delivered a beautiful homily about how Lent is not just a time to abstain and fast but a time to renew our efforts to be better people. Our students certainly rose to that call in their collection efforts during Catholic Schools Week and their work and reflection during the Junior Retreat. In his homily Fr. Joe quoted the words of Pope Francis which are especially timely in light of the tragedies from which our nation and our city are now reeling. I include the words of Pope Francis for you here.
Do You Want to Fast this Lent?
Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and have trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
- Pope Francis
This Lenten season, may we all fast from hurting and practice kindness.
Remember Commander Paul Bauer and the faculty, coaches and students of Douglas High School in your thoughts and prayers. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.
St. Vincent dePaul, pray for us.
Mary A. Dempsey