These are the stories I like to hear as I visit schools across the Coalition:
Michael Mott, one of the founders and current board chair of Seattle Nativity School, reflected on a dinner with the Moylan family in Durham a number of years ago. He knew siblings Michael and Brendan from several soccer ventures and looked forward to sharing time with business associates and friends. It was at the dinner that he met their father Dr. Joe Moylan and heard about the Durham Nativity School, which Dr. Moylan had founded. Inspired by the stories, Michael was compelled to act and become deeply involved in this educational mission.
And then there is the story of Lizzie Petticrew, Assistant Principal at St. Andrew Nativity School in Portland. Lizzie recalls Sr. Paula Kleine-Kracht, who had been her high school principal before founding and leading Nativity Academy at St. Boniface in Louisville, KY, recruiting her to work at the summer program at the school. One summer led to a few summers and then a year as Summer Program Director. A deep affinity with the mission developed which led to a position teaching Religion and coordinating volunteers in Portland.
Last Saturday, I participated in the board retreat for Seattle Nativity School. Jack Peterson of Managing for Mission and former President at Bellarmine High School in Tacoma, WA, facilitated and read from the Gospel of John to get started:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked where the disciples were out of fear …, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [Jesus] said to them again “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jack asked us to reflect on the composition of this scene. What did we see, hear, smell, taste and feel in this room? I envisioned the various dispositions and personalities within all the confusion and uncertainty. Some disciples likely couldn’t sit still, and were pacing and saying ‘We have to do something!’ Others were likely hushing them, begging them to ‘Calm down’ and opting for quiet reflection to think about a plan moving forward. Others were deciding who to ally with, and still others may have been considering if they should just leave.
The depiction of the disciples in this room could mirror any board retreat with board members looking ahead to an unknown future, or one of our 8th classrooms with students contemplating a transition to high school, or the church hall where a group of parents are gathering to support one another in our new American climate, or the faculty room where teachers are passionately designing an education that best meets the needs of their students, especially the most vulnerable.
And into any of those rooms comes Jesus to reassure them that any fear in what lies ahead will be illuminated by a vision of peace. He does not burst through the door with guns blazing saying ‘Get behind me and do what I say,” instead, the way I see and hear it, his leadership is a gentle presence. He stands unassumingly in their midst, offers peace and breaths his spirit. And yet, from that gentle call, the disciples emerge confidently in the spirit to spread this message of peace.
I have often said that each person’s involvement in the NativityMiguel Schools begins with an invitation. Invitation, however, may not be strong enough. ‘Being sent’ is more proactive with fervor. Even though all are free in their decisions, the conviction and zeal of ‘being sent’ narrows the possibility of responding any other way. Sr. Paula was ‘sending’ Lizzie to work at the summer camp and then the spirit brought her to Portland. Dr. Moylan was ‘sending’ Michael Mott to found a school, and when we went around the table at the board retreat, it was amazing how Michael through the spirit has ‘sent’ many others to become involved.
These are the stories I like to hear as I visit schools across the Coalition because this is the spirit that will ensure our schools are accessible to meet the needs of our students and families for years to come.