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End of the Year Reflection

At our second annual Prayer Service & Convocation on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, Mrs. Merkl-Deutsch addressed the DePaul Prep community with a meaningful and warming reflection of the 2018-19 school year. We are humbled to share her words below.

Convocation Reflection
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Flo Merkl-Deutsch

2019 Convocation Reflection based on Luke 5:27-32

Who here likes to eat? Show of hands…

As a mom who provides meals for two teenagers, I spend a lot of time, effort and money, on food.
I know teens love to eat!
Now think about some of your most special meals.
Dinners with visiting friends or family, dinner with your team or your club, or after an event.  
Meals in community. Those are the best meals.

Jesus liked a good meal!
There are ten meal stories in the gospel of Luke alone. TEN!
Why? Just because Jesus was hungry?
Think about the story you just heard from Luke’s gospel.
Jesus is causing a big stir in Galilee, just by having a meal!

If it is causing such a fuss, then it is not just about food, is it?
It is about who is in his company for this meal!
He is eating with a large group that is marginalized from society.
The tax collectors. Instruments of Roman oppression.

What is happening at the table? It is more than just eating.
They are talking. Building relationship. Listening to each other’s stories.
How did they end up in professions that society rejects?
Do they have families to support? What is their history? Their struggles?
Do they support the Roman occupation?
What do they hear from Jesus, this travelling preacher who actually wants to be with them?
Jesus was a clever and challenging story teller. He made people think.
I’m guessing he had a good sense of humor too!

Think about it.
Jesus must have been great company if he was invited to dinner so often.
He was a relationship builder with every kind of person,
especially those with whom no one wanted to be near..

The divisions that Jesus not only crossed, but healed,
speak powerfully to the needs we recognize in the world today.
It is in this framework, that we, as a Catholic school,
make connections between what we learn in the classroom
to how we respond to one another,
the needs of the school, and the needs of the world.

We are honing our voices and our skills that we need,
to, as our school’s Vision Statement says,
We strive to create an educated, compassionate, and just world,
one student at a time.

When I asked students what they found to be most memorable during this school year, Clara and Avery replied, “Instead of bringing in many speakers from the outside, we learned more from the people that are already here, in our school.”

Students were in dialog with the administration about detentions and school discipline. In classrooms, we raised our awareness about mental health, and learned how to better care for one another.

Our city was divided over the Van Dyke trial and in great pain over the shooting of LaQuan McDonald. We gathered to share our thoughts, and listen to each other’s unique perspectives.

There was violence in houses of worship in our country and world, and we crossed the street to be in solidarity and pray with our friends at the Chicago Jewish Day School.

Our nation was divided over issues relating to immigration, race, gender, and LGBTQ issues. We gathered for open mics with the Black Student Union and the Spanish Honor Society, and established our Identity Club, so that we could learn more about the abundant unique stories under our roof,
and offer love and support to one another.

We traveled to other parts of our country and world, and we hosted French students in our homes.

Many of these conversations were difficult, challenging, uncomfortable.
But we had them anyway. Well done.

This year has seen the beginning of a new trajectory for our community.
Just as Jesus came into being to heal the world, so we continue his mission by doing as he did.
Building relationships by being present to one-another. Through encounter.

Our first reading spoke of the immeasurable value of wisdom, and truly, Wisdom is experiential.
What encounters did you have this year that changed you for good?
Who challenged you, and altered your perspective?
And as we enter into the slower, restful days of summer,
we continue to process what we experienced this year,
Perhaps getting more comfortable with the ways that we have changed and evolved.
In a week, it will be time to relish rest.
To allow for our brains to take in beauty and simplicity,
And be outside in a beautiful Chicago summer.
What might you encounter next, in your leisure? In your rest?
I will close by repeating lines from the poem by Mary Oliver which Avery read so beautifully.
She says this:

My work is loving the world …...
Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.