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Campus Ministry News

Jordan Kenison '16 shares special student reflection

Serra senior Jordan Kenison shared a wonderful student reflection during Ash Wednesday Mass:

“I’ll do it later.”

“Not right now.”

“I’m too busy.”

As a student here at Serra, these are a few phrases I find myself saying more often than I would like to. My name is Jordan Kenison...and I can be a huge procrastinator.

I wouldn’t say that procrastinators are lazy, but rather we create schedules for ourselves that can be overwhelming. It really is a struggle to find the necessary time to complete homework assignments, compete well on the field or in the gym, and meet social commitments. And so, we put things off, and all of a sudden - our calendars are packed.

There are some important things, however, that I slowly learned are not worth putting off; developing my relationship with God.

The second semester of junior year was an especially difficult time for me. I managed to survive all of my finals in the fall, but my busy schedule began to consume me. With three AP classes and track practice or meets nearly every day, I had little time left to focus on my faith. I would convince myself that I would have more time in the upcoming weeks to have Bible study with my family, talk to the Lord, and pray.  

But I continued to put things off and slowly began to lose sight of who God was for me, what God had done for me, and where God was calling me.

Before I knew it, the stress I experienced became overwhelming. It got to a point where I was never able to appreciate the moment. I was constantly preparing for the next essay Mr. Stapleton would assign, the next track meet I was competing in, or the next student council meeting I had to attend. I came to realize that I had no real answer for coping with my anxiety.

It was around April when my stress reached its apex. AP tests were a mere month away and finals weren’t far behind. Not to mention WCAL and CCS Finals were quickly approaching. One day, while sitting in my room, I decided that I could no longer live my life the way I had been. As I struggled to think of some way to release my burdens, I finally realized what was missing: Jesus.

It took me a while to catch on, but I finally was able to understand that developing my relationship with God was not just another “assignment,” it was the answer to many of my problems. Things became easier when I began to interact with God throughout my day. Whether I asked Him to help me focus while taking a test or to inspire me to run my best race possible, talking with God whenever I needed Him allowed me to finally feel at peace.

I had taken for granted possibly the biggest gift I had been given: a loving God who seeks a relationship with me, and invites me to conversation. I knew that if I did not take the initiative to make the time for God I would never get to know Him, or the blessings He has in store for me.

As the second reading stated, God does not want us to “receive grace in vain.” Developing a stable and lasting relationship with God should be the top priority in our lives. It just took me a while to see that “now is the day of salvation,” as the reading stated.

Today, our challenge is to take advantage of the upcoming Lenten season and really reflect on our own relationship with Jesus. While I often stumble and make mistakes, the effort I have made to take a step back and seek God first in all things has really helped me improve my life. Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. I hope my experiences serve as examples that we should not be so caught up in our own tasks that we do not take the time to appreciate God’s work and see how we can help others in need.

Let Ash Wednesday serve as a reminder to dedicate a portion of our everyday lives to getting to know Jesus and, through that, understand just how much He loves us and is waiting and willing to guide us through even the toughest times. The time to embrace God’s blessings is now. May we, as the prophet Joel proclaimed, “return to [God] with our whole heart.”

Take His hand when you are in need. And don’t put it off like I did.


Thank you and God bless!

Serra community celebrates during special Mass
The energy was high at Serra on Wednesday, as students, teachers and staff members prepared for the canonization of Fr. Junípero Serra.
 
Serra President Lars Lund joined Serra Director of Advancement Perry Carter '84 and Alumni Director Bob Greene '85 in Washington D.C. They were excited to celebrate the event and join East Coast Serra alumni on Tuesday evening at the home of Dennis Lucey '58 in McLean, Virginia.
 
"It is incredible to be in Washington D.C. to experience this momentous occasion," Lund said. "The canonization of Fr. Serra is particularly important to our Serra community, because he is the patron of our school. I felt honored and blessed to be present on behalf of the Serra community at the Holy Father's welcome ceremony at the White House on Wednesday morning. The ceremony was an amazing event. The Holy Father invoked the themes of his recent encyclical in a powerful way. He reminded us of our Lord's love for all people of good will and a call for all of us to act with justice and mercy as we face 'this critical moment in human history.'" 
 
The Serra community united in prayer at the Mass of the Holy Spirit on Thursday, September 24 in the Serra gymnasium. Mass was celebrated by Fr. Tommy King '74, OFM, pastor of St. Boniface Church in the San Francisco Tenderloin. Fr. Tommy encouraged the Padres to always move forward when facing challenges and to continue to live lives of service. Students were given medals and prayer cards later in the afternoon.
"Pope Francis pointed to Father Serra as a Disciple who tirelessly went forward, proclaimed the Gospel by his words and deeds, and served those who entered into community with him," said Student Body President Andy Black. "We are all honored to be part of a school named after St. Junipero Serra. As students, we must live up to his teachings and morals by being men of faith, wisdom and service."
Teens raise awareness about local poverty

A group of dedicated Tri-School students from Serra, Mercy and Notre Dame raised awareness about local poverty on September 12, as they trekked 4.5 miles from Burlingame to San Bruno on the annual Walk for Catholic Worker. Students raised $5,625 and donated 102 pairs of socks.

“During the walk, I learned that we are the voice for the homeless because they have no voice,” said Mercy freshman Jasmine Doraiaj. “As Christians, we must actively be their voice and take care of their needs.”

The day began at 9 a.m. at Mercy High School in Burlingame. Students made signs in support of Catholic Worker House. Notre Dame’s Students in Action team led students in ice-breakers, followed by reflections from Mercy students. After the morning mini-session, the group walked more than four miles to St. Bruno’s Church in San Bruno. Cars honked in support along the way.

“There are a lot of people out there who are in need,” said Serra freshman Nico Cappabianca. “It was great to be part of a movement to help others.”

When the group of 150 students and 15 adults arrived at St. Bruno’s Church, they were served warm vegetable pasta, salad and cookies. The Walk for Catholic Worker raised money for the Catholic Worker house in San Bruno. Of the $5,625, Serra Padres raised $945, NDB students contributed than $3,880 and Mercy students donated $800. As the Tri-School students reflected on the day, they agreed that the experience was incredibly rewarding.

“I had fun walking with my friends,” added NDB senior Eliza Scheley. “I wanted to support a very important matter – poverty.”

Serra freshman Julien Cardenas agreed, “I enjoyed helping a good cause and the less fortunate while meeting new people and having a great time.”

Giants Pitcher partners with Campus Ministry

The Serra Morton Family Gymnasium was filled with more than 600 Padres and 50 moms on March 23. The exuberant crowd raised $7,350 and packed 28,000 meals for people in need in San Mateo County and Nicaragua. The effort was a partnership between Serra High School and Generation Alive, a nonprofit organization that was launched by San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt in 2005.

“This is a good project because it reminds us how blessed we are and it keeps us honest,” said senior Aaron Deocampo. “It’s a great cleanse of our soul.”

According to Program Director Darrin Duty, Generation Alive works with about 30 schools per year to serve one million meals. CEO Marty Gonzales said the goal is to teach students to live lives of compassion.

“Our students are learning how these packets of food are going to be used,” noted Ann Ponty, the mother of senior Kevin Ponty. “Through a project like this, they are able to see Jesus in other people.”

“Jeremy challenged our students to be culture changes,” said Campus Ministry Director Billy Byrnes. “Our partnership with Generation Alive was a huge success. It was integral to our annual Lenten Justice Project. We were assisted by Serra moms, alumni and even sophomore Michael Zell’s 91-year-old grandma! I am so proud of our students and the entire school community for their efforts and support in making this a success.”

Byrnes also gave a shout-out to Serra teachers and staff members, Serra moms Melissa Petersen and Michele Blais for coordinating the event and helping with the raffle, and Head Baseball Coach Craig Gianinno for encouraging freshman, JV and varsity players to raise $3,280 for the fundraiser.

Melissa Petersen’s three sons have participated in Generation Alive activities. She noted that Lundberg Family Farms donated a 2,500-pound bag of organic rice. In addition, Jersey Mike’s donated sandwiches for the Pack Out.

In February, Affeldt spoke to Serra Padres during a special assembly to raise awareness about hunger in San Mateo County and in Nicaragua. During the assembly, Padres were urged to be compassionate and to take action.

Affeldt talked about his baseball career path and stressed the importance of having a purpose and a "why." He pointed out that all the money in the world cannot buy happiness. He spoke of his own faith and love of Jesus, which has driven his desire to raise awareness and promote social justice causes.

"It was a humbling experience to listen to Jeremy," said Serra varsity baseball pitcher Kevin Welch. "He is someone to look up to because he is using his role as a public figure to express his faith and make a difference. Our team is engaged in Chapel right now and we practice our faith together throughout the season."

"Jeremy knows that you can be a wealthy athlete or a famous person, but unless you have a purpose in life, unless you are working and living for others - especially the vulnerable - then you will be unhappy," Byrnes explained. "We are so grateful to Jeremy for giving his time and sharing his faith with our students. He is a true inspiration and he challenged us to take action during Lent. The Campus Ministry staff is excited that the Serra community raised enough money to make 28,000 food bags that will help so many people in need."

Click here for video!

San Francisco Giants pitcher partners with Campus Ministry

Serra Padres were thrilled on Monday when San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt spoke to students during a special assembly about his charity, Generation Alive.

During Lent, Serra's Campus Ministry Department will partner with Generation Alive to raise awareness about hunger in San Mateo County and in Nicaragua. During the assembly, Padres were urged to be compassionate and to take action.

"We are committed to working with Generation Alive to make 25,000 meals," noted Campus Ministry Director Billy Byrnes. "This effort will require a lot of human power, and we know that the Padre community will respond generously." 

Affeldt talked about his baseball career path and stressed the importance of having a purpose and a "why." He pointed out that all the money in the world cannot buy happiness. He spoke of his own faith and love of Jesus, which has driven his desire to raise awareness and promote social justice causes.

"It was a humbling experience to listen to Jeremy speak," said Serrra varsity baseball pitcher Kevin Welch. "He is someone to look up to because he is using his role as a public figure to express his faith and make a difference. Our team will be engaged in Chapel and practicing our faith as we start our season."

"Jeremy knows that you can be a wealthy athlete or a famous person, but unless you have a purpose in life, unless you are working and living for others - especially the vulnerable - then you will be unhappy," Byrnes explained. "We are so grateful to Jeremy for giving his time and sharing his faith with our students. He is a true inspiration and he has challenged us to take action during Lent. Campus Ministry is excited for the next six weeks, as we raise money to make the food bags that will help so many people in need."

 

Tri-School Students Make a Difference

On a sunny September Saturday, 26 Serra Padres, 80 NDB students and 20 Mercy girls walked 4.5 miles to support Catholic Worker Hospitality House. Cars honked in support, as Tri-School students waved signs for Catholic Worker.

"It was really fun to interact with people on the streets and meet new friends,” said Serra freshman Miguel Amaral. “Getting feedback from people honking at us as we held our signs felt amazing. I consider doing any service for the community a good thing. Whenever I have free time, I enjoy doing any type of service to help those in need."

The day began at 9 a.m. on September 14, when Tri-School students painted signs for the walk. NDB student Bianca Remedios led a reflection and a series of ice breakers. Peter Stiehler, who runs the Catholic Worker Hospitality House in San Bruno, thanked the students for making a difference and outlined how their participation helps those in need.

"This year's Walk for Catholic Worker was a great success,” said Christian Service and Justice Programs Coordinator Jackie Schroeder. “I am so proud of our Tri-School students for raising as much money as they did, and for getting excited about such a needed cause."

The Walk for Catholic Worker raised awareness and money for the Catholic Worker houses in San Bruno and Half Moon Bay. Serra raised $755, NDB raised more than $3,200 and Mercy raised $755. The students also held a sock drive. More than 150 pairs of socks were collected for the guests of the Catholic Worker House.

According to NDB sophomore Maddie Schilling, “The Walk for Catholic Worker was a fun, healthy and empowering experience that made me feel that, even as just a high school student, I could make a real life difference.”

 

Click here for pics from the Walk for Catholic Workers!

Padres honor their madres

Serra freshmen and their moms spent Thursday morning at Mass, followed by breakfast in the cafeteria. It was a wonderful event for all, and many Madres said they were honored to be part of such a special event.

"I loved it," said Robin Casey, the mother of freshman Aidan Casey. I enjoyed listening to the student speaker's touching story and spending time with my son."

"My mom does a lot for me and she always helps to supervise my homework," Aidan said.

"My mom is always there for me," added freshman Denzel McCollum.

Freshman Evan Taylor gave a thought-provoking reflection. "Mothers, just like Hannah, you truly put your faith in Serra, hoping this would be the right school and fit for us," he noted. "It is only our fifth week, and I am already loving it here. Mothers, just as the prophet Eli taught Samuel how to become a great man, Serra will teach us how to become great men. At this school, we will become men of faith, wisdom and service. God will be with us and guide us no matter what. Just as a mother is with her child, God is with us."

Serra Chaplain Fr. Tony Vallecillo spoke about the roles of Biblical mothers - Hannah and the Virgin Mary - who are excellent examples of mothers who were dedicated to their sons and who wanted the best for them. "It was my own mother's fervent prayers when I strayed from the church that helped me to return and eventually find my vocation as a priest," Fr. Tony noted. "The mothers at Serra have that same dedication and should never cease praying for their sons. The Mother-Son Mass is so special for mothers and sons because it provides a wonderful opportunity to share their faith together."

Liturgy Coordinator Patrick Vallez-Kelly looks forward to the Freshman Mother-Son Mass each year. "This Mass is always special because the freshmen and their moms have such great enthusiasm for Serra," he explained. "The scriptures, Fr. Vallecillo and Evan Taylor, our student speaker, shared the theme of mothers entrusting their sons to God's care. I was happy for Evan - he put a lot of work into his reflection. I was also proud of the Praise Band - Joe San Filippo (organ) and Nicholas Madera (violin). Freshman Aidan Casey helped us to prepare for the Mass. The Class of 2018 has impressed me with its spirit, leadership and willingness to serve and get involved."

 

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