When the Lenten season began last month, it almost seemed like Lent 2020 had never ended. Ash Wednesday 2020 was the last all-school Mass held in the gym. Since then, Cheverus has adapted by live-streaming Masses and prayer services.
“When we came together as a Campus Ministry team in early January, we knew we needed to be creative in our approach to Lent,” said Campus Minister Mr. Greg Szkarlat. “After we produced a pre-recorded Advent Vespers service in December and the student participants enjoyed it so much, we brainstormed ways in which we could create something even more engaging in the weeks leading up to Easter,” he said. The result is a five-part, multimedia prayer series called “The Way - A Lenten Pilgrimage.”
In collaboration with the Theology, Art, and Music departments, a short, student-led prayer service is shared in classrooms each Monday of Lent, when the school typically prays the Examen. The series includes photos submitted by Ms. Erica Papkee’s Grade 10 Theology class, music performed by students studying with Fine and Performing Arts Chair Mr. Chris Humphrey, as well as paintings of native Maine animals by members of Ms. Anne Hayes’ fine arts classes. The video shared with the student body also incorporates personal reflections from senior Kairos Leaders on the theme for each week.
Mr. RJ Jacobs, nSJ was assigned to Cheverus this spring for his “long experiment” and worked with the Campus Ministry team on the development of the Lenten program. “One thing I've learned about our Cheverus community through this collaborative project is that the spirit of the magis runs through so many of our students, faculty, and administrators. From the depth of our students' reflections to their outpouring of artistic and musical talent, our students give so generously of themselves for the betterment of our community,” he said.
While Cheverus has had in-person learning since September, on any given day, some students may be learning remotely. “The Way” creates an inclusive experience that is not bound by place.
Recognizing that members of the wider Cheverus community may be seeking ways to enrich their Lenten journey, a modified version of the videos, which excludes the personal student reflections, is available to alumni and friends at lent.cheverus.org each week. “Our hope in sharing the series with the larger community is that individual prayer can be enhanced through a shared experience wherever and whenever one can participate. This allows Cheverus to meet people where they are,” said Szkarlat.
Continuing the pilgrimage theme of “The Way,” Ms. Antonson’s Grade 11 Theology students will be sharing reflection aids on the Stations of the Cross in another video presentation to be released during Holy Week.
November was a momentous month for junior Danielle Whyte. She visited our nation’s capital for the first time and made a second trip within the month. On these trips to Washington, Whyte met both Senators Angus King and Susan Collins.
Whyte was awestruck by the experience. The city itself made an impact, with its grand boulevards, monuments, and museums, but Whyte was fortunate enough to witness government in action.
During her first visit, Whyte was part of the Citizen’s Climate November Lobby Day Maine student delegation. As part of this group, Whyte met with Senator King and discussed new ways to address the impact of climate change. “I learned, mingled, grew, and most importantly, I acknowledge the power of the youth that surrounded me. From all across the country, I met young people excited and ready to fight against the epidemic of climate change,” said Whyte.
For the second trip to DC, Whyte went as a member of the Cheverus delegation attending the Ignatian Family Teach-In For Justice, the largest Catholic social justice gathering in the country. The Teach-In brings together Jesuit colleges, high schools, parishes, and partners to “learn, reflect, pray, network, and advocate together.” This year’s Teach-In centered on humane migration and climate change.
Last year, the Society of Jesus announced the Universal Apostolic Preferences that will guide their mission over the next ten years. The Preferences include showing the way to God, journeying with the youth, walking with the excluded, and caring for our common home. Whyte's efforts to learn more about the impact of climate change as well as the issue of migration are two ways in which Cheverus students are living out the Preferences.
Asked about her experiences in Washington, DC, Whyte said, “I am so thankful that from freshman year to now, I’ve been embraced into a community that strives for justice and adequately prepares both the mind and heart for dialogue. Cheverus has taught me how to fall in love with a cause, stay in love, and that has decided everything.”
Click on the photo above to see the entire album from the assembly.
The Class of 2019 gathered on campus one last time this past Wednesday to attend the Senior Breakfast and then shared their Arrupe Service Project experiences with the entire school community. Before the assembly began, Richard Joyce '19, class president, announced the dedication of the 2019 yearbook to Mr. Dan Costigan.
Mr. Haskell, theology teacher and Arrupe Service Project leader, then offered a reflection on gratitude. He spoke directly to the seniors when he said that Arrupe experience, "flows directly from the very foundation of why there is such a thing as Jesuit education. Your clients have schooled you in gratitude. They have opened your eyes to the giftedness of our shared life. You’ve lived in the energy and innocence of children. You’ve navigated the dramas of their conflicts and grieved for the circumstances of some of their lives. You’ve glimpsed the incalculable richness of experience in our elderly, and cherished your time with them, especially those few abandoned by their families. Your co-workers taught you gratitude. They made flesh for you the idea you thought you understood well enough - being a person for and with others as a way of life - and you were humbled."
All Cheverus seniors end their classes in late April and spend the next four to five weeks on site at various institutions in our community: schools, day care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, etc. The students work at the site for five to six hours a day (the equivalent of a school day) working with clients for at least half of the time. This is not a job shadowing experience, rather it is a human experience. It is an opportunity for students to put into action what they have been taught during their years at Cheverus and connect with their community.
The students must meet with a Cheverus faculty adviser once a week to process their experience, and write two 500-word reflection papers over the course of the month. It is a graduation requirement and corresponds directly to the mission of Cheverus to prepare young men and women to be people for and with others by fostering intellectual, spiritual, physical and personal excellence. Julia Mount '19 was chosen to share her reflection at the all-school assembly. Following the assembly, the entire school gathered into small groups where each senior shared their Arrupe Service Project experience.
The Arrupe Service Project, once known as the May Project, is named for Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., a former Superior General of the Society of Jesus. This program has been part of the Cheverus experience since 1972. Thank you to theology teacher Daniel Haskell for leading this program.
Julia Mount '19 - Reflection on her Arrupe Service Project
My service project was at Pleasant Hill primary school, the same school that I attended
as a young’un. Though it was my first choice for locations, I was expecting a
slobber-filled month with annoying little booger eaters. There was slobber, and a lot of
boogers, but I did not anticipate all of the redeeming qualities that those kids would
have. I didn’t have a lot of experience with kids, and I was honestly beyond surprised to
discover that I like them. They were awesome and they laughed at my dumb jokes.
They also kept me laughing the whole month... in fact lots of times I didn’t really know
how to react to them, but to laugh. Yesterday one of the girls in the second grade class I
worked with, very seriously detailed the events of a wedding they held during recess the
year before, and how she had officiated it. And a couple of weeks in, another of the
second graders asked me what sweet potatoes were made of. Though, neither event
compared to when a Kindergartener asked me what was on my nose, I said a piercing,
to which she responded ‘I want one!’ They were fun to be around I left my project tired,
but happy everyday because of them.
Unfortunately though, the kids were not always happy, and dealing with upset kids was
one of the challenges I had to figure out as I went through my month. One incident in
particular was when I was working in the art class. One kid starting crying because he
could not successfully trace a popsicle stick. He was doing the task just as well as
everyone else, but to him it wasn’t good enough and he was getting very frustrated. I
tried to show him how to do it, but that was not working. The sub suggested that I trace
a few for him, but neither he nor I wanted to do that, so my solution was to hold down
the stick while he traced it. It was quite an emotional journey to solve the popsicle
problem, but he was happy in the end, so I was happy.
I had another incident with an upset kid that stood out to me in my project. This time we
were writing letters celebrating a friend to tell them what we like about them. I usually
work with one kid in particular in this class, and on this day he was really discouraged. I
was told by his teacher when I first got started working with him that when he is unable
to finish a task, he gets discouraged and isn’t able to bring himself to do any of his other
work for the day. I figured that was the case, so I tried to cheer him up by making him
laugh. I seem to recall making a joke about an ice cream sundae with cherries and
toenail clippings on top that he enjoyed quite a bit, however it did not knock him out of
his funk. He still wasn’t up to doing his work; He was discouraged and sad, and it
seemed like the longer we went without being able to get words on the page, the more
he felt like it wasn’t within his capabilities. I tried another tactic: We took a break and I
wrote a nice letter celebrating him not just to cheer him up, but to show him that the task
won’t take that long and that it is possible. When I tried to give it to him he told me he
didn’t deserve it. I assured him that he does, so he read it and was happier, but we
didn’t end up getting his work done. He wasn’t actually crying through this, but he was
obviously on the brink. I didn’t know what to do, and I couldn’t stop worrying about it the
rest of the day. I wasn’t sure if I had made the right move, I didn’t want to be too stern
and discourage him more, but I didn’t want to make a ton of jokes either and distract
him. Eitherway I left the situation feeling like I had failed.
Yesterday as a thank you they gave me a packet with a letter from each of the kids in
that second grade class. Most of the letters said thank you for reading to us, playing
four square, helping us with our ocean projects, but I got a warm fuzzy feeling when I
got to this particular kids letter because he thanked me for cheering him up that day,
which I previously wasn’t sure I had done. Talking to these kids, getting to know them,
and even getting to like them was so awesome, and I’m really fortunate that I got to do
that, but it’s bittersweet because I got to see the massive differences between the
Kindergarteners and the Second Graders and how much growth happened in their two
years at Pleasant Hill, but I don’t get to see any of that growth from here on out. Two
years from now they’re going to be wicked smart and I won’t be able to see that. Even
though I’m sad it’s over, and I’m going to miss getting greeted with hugs from the
adorable little kids, it was an awesome way to spend the end of highschool.
This past weekend the Church celebrated Laetare Sunday - the spark of joy in the middle of Lent. Last Friday, a group of nine seniors took time out of their very busy senior year to attend a two-day Ignatian Prayer Retreat for Lent and celebrated Laetare Sunday together. Accompanied by Mr. Szkarlat, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, Mr. Briand, nS.J., and Fr. Pecoraro, S.J., the students explored various forms of Ignatian prayer. Rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the students deepened their understanding and practice of various forms of prayer such as centering prayer, examen, journaling, and contemplation. It was a relaxing, reflective, prayerful, and enjoyable weekend retreat.
Learn more about Ignatian prayer.
“You never notice how many homeless people there are until you face them every single day,” said Ella Cimino ’21.
Ella and six other Cheverus students participated in the first four-day immersion program in downtown Portland earlier this month. The intention of the workshop is to create opportunities to better understand multifaceted socio-economic issues right here in Portland. Ultimately, the program is “aimed at fostering connections. We want the kids to have a connection with the world -- and community -- in which they live,” said Cheverus Principal Dr. John Moran.
Moran led a similar program at a high school in the Boston area for ten years. Even after a decade, he continued to see the powerful impact each trip had on the kids and on the culture of the school community. Moran, together with Theology teacher Mary King, created the programming for this local immersion experience.
The group embarked on a journey towards compassionate understanding over the four days. They started at bilingual Mass at Sacred Heart/St. Dominic church on Sunday. Over the following days, they met with members of the community and heard personal stories of immigration, homelessness, and addiction. They lived simply. They slept on mats at the Root Cellar and spent their days serving and learning. Each morning, the group walked across town to prepare and serve meals at Preble Street and returned to the Root Cellar to assist with the after school program. Students met with city staff to learn about the process of securing general assistance, heard first-hand stories of immigrants who came to Portland as asylum seekers, talked with Jesuit Volunteer Corps members who have chosen to spend a year dedicated to service, and visited a substance abuse recovery center and the Oxford Street Shelter.
“Coming face to face with poverty, the students were able to learn people’s stories. It was a very humanizing experience,” said Matt Briand, nS.J., a novice preparing to become a Jesuit priest and member of the Cheverus Campus Ministry team who also served as an adult leader. The days were long and the stories they heard were often heartbreaking. Each day was bookended with reflection. The leaders knew that creating space for the students to reflect individually and to share their thoughts and feelings as a group would be a critical component of processing this experience.
When asked why she participated in this immersion experience, Ava Rausch ’21 said, “Honestly, I wanted community service hours. I also thought it would be good to learn more about Portland.” However, after four days of living and serving in the city, she concluded, “You get so much more out of it than just service hours. You get a real experience. You make connections with people you never thought you would.” She continued, “I really connected with some kids and I want to go back to volunteer.”
The experience was emotionally powerful. Many of the participants mentioned the trepidation they had on the first day, not knowing what to expect. They also spoke about how that fear eased as the days went on. Like many things in life, “Once you get to know the people, you are not afraid,” said Ava. Ella was struck by the generosity and kindness the team encountered across the city. She volunteered at Preble Street before, but this approach of consecutive days of service was different. She said she got to know people and they got to know her, “It really put things in perspective.”
The mission of Cheverus High School is to “educate young men and women to be people for and with others.” While serving at Preble Street, the students met an alumnus who lives this mission. Andrew Bove ’02 is the resource center director at Preble Street and the group was grateful that he took the time to share his passion for his work. “I thought it was amazing to see someone from Cheverus -- someone from our community -- doing so much good,” said Ava. Evangelo Kapothanasis ’21 added, “There is so much good work being done in Portland, and that is a beautiful part of Portland.”
Teacher Mary King, director of the Cheverus Immersion Program, found the experience very meaningful, “We witnessed the transformation. Their lens widened on these issues.” Students challenged preconceived notions, deepened their empathy, and grew significantly in a short period of time. They did not leave this experience with solutions -- in fact, probably a lot more questions -- but they faced these issues, shared stories, looked into the eyes of their neighbors, and made connections.
For more information on the Immersion Program at Cheverus go to immersion.cheverus.org.
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Fr. Charles B. Connolly, S.J., President of Cheverus from 1986-1991 and former member of the Board of Trustees. Fr. Connolly died on March 9, 2019. He was 73. At the time of his death, Fr. Connolly was director of donor relations for the Northeast Province.
Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Fr. Connolly returned to Cheverus for the Centennial Gala last May.
Today current Cheverus sophomore Ella Davie made a special delivery of important and desperately needed donations of personal care products to the City of Portland Family Shelter, as part of a special All Refugee Relief Project .
This community service project was facilitated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Sanford, ME congregation), in which Ella is an active member. The donations were sourced from congregations from Sanford, ME; Portsmouth, NH; Exeter, NH; Wolfboro, NH, Derry, NH, Georgetown, MA. Additionally the Sanford, ME Universalist Unitarian congregation made a donation to the collection effort.
For months prior to the delivery, Ella volunteered before weekly church services to inventory, organize, and package the donations. Today she helped to unload the donations at the shelter, and she received a tour of the shelter from Jeff Tariff, Program Manager, City of Portland-Family Shelter and Aaron Geyer, City of Portland Health & Human Services Department. On the tour she learned more about the people who receive shelter services, and the difficulties and struggles that accompany journeying to in new country to begin a new life.
The donations were plentiful and help to fulfill a critical need and included: 3,559 diapers, 141 toothbrushes, 4,098 baby wipes 43 boxes of tissues, 102 hair care products, 162 cleaning products, 529 tubes of toothpaste, 104 bottles of lotion, 3,160 feminine hygiene products, and hundreds of winter jackets, scarves, gloves and hats.
This experience was particulary meaningful for Ella following the recent presentation at Cheverus by Catholic Charities of Maine, offering an all-school storytelling retreat that afforded all students the opportunity to gather in small groups to listen to the personal reflections of Simane Ibrahim, Parivash Rohani, Nasser Rohani, and Ninette Irabaruta -- who are immigrants to the United States. This special program was part of a yearlong effort organized by our World Language Department to bring to life our the community wide summer read, Amy Bass's book One Goal.
Ella shared, “I really enjoyed the fact that I was able to hear from refugees at Cheverus. Thinking about that experience, I was given an opportunity to identify needs of local refugees in the Portland area. I was able to be a part of providing tangible items to help bring comfort to their new lives during a difficult time of transition.”
There are so many wonderful traditions at Cheverus, but one tradition that is especially moving is Grandparents Day. This celebration coincides with the Feast of All Saints and offers the community an opportunity to celebrate the saints among us. This year, we also recognized veterans as we approach Veterans Day.
Over 220 grandparents, special seniors, and veterans filled the gym last Thursday for Mass. Fr. Robert Pecoraro, S.J. was the celebrant. He recognized the important and impactful role grandparents and special seniors have in the lives of our students. Fr. Bob spoke about his own close relationship with his grandfather and how working in his grandfather’s restaurant inspired him to start a career in the restaurant and food service business which ultimately led to his vocation as a Jesuit. He also remembered his grandfather’s service to our nation during WWII and thanked all veterans for their service. Father reminded the congregation that “every Saint has a past, and every sinner has a future,” and encouraged all to look to the Beatitudes for guidance on how to live a good life.
At the end of Mass students offered a special blessing on their grandparents and grandparents did the same for their grandchildren. Participants processed out to a spirited rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In.”
After Mass, students had the opportunity to have their picture taken with their grandparents. An email will be sent to all attendees to access these photos. If you do not receive the email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
During the month of November, the Catholic church remembers those loved ones who have died. The Cheverus Book of Remembrance is inscribed with names of loved ones who have passed. Grandparents Day attendees were able to write names of loved ones in the book - including many grandparents - which was brought to the altar during Mass. The persons listed in the book will be remembered at all campus Masses throughout November. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to the Cheverus Book of Remembrance, please click here.
Cheverus Borderlinks Immersion participants were the featured speakers at the World Affairs Council of Maine’s Lunchtime Series on Tuesday, September 25, held at CIEE offices in Portland. Invited to present at this event after council members heard the Maine Public interview this summer, the students, along with their faculty leader Ms. Malm, shared their experience at the U.S./Mexican border this past June. Students spoke about walking through the desert and dropping water for migrants, learning more about the reasons why immigrants take the risk to leave their home country and witnessing how the immigrants interact with the U.S. legal system. In addition, students shared how this trip made an impact on them and their plans for the future.
Ms. Malm said, “I was incredibly proud of how well students represented Cheverus, speaking from the heart about our experiences on the border, and having an inspiring impact on the audience.”
This Borderlinks Immersion is one of the trips offered through the Cheverus Immersion Program, a part of Campus Ministry. In addition to the Borderlinks program, other immersion experiences that are available to students include the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice (held in November), the Rosebud Immersion (held in June), and new this year, an urban-plunge immersion experience in our own city of Portland. To learn more about our Immersion Program, go to immersion.cheverus.org.
Mass of the Holy Spirit
Yesterday, September 12, Fr. Robert Pecoraro, S.J. celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a Jesuit tradition that marks the start of the academic school year. Started in 1548 at the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily, the Mass of the Holy Spirit is a tradition that is almost as old as the Society of Jesus itself. At Cheverus, the Mass of the Holy Spirit is the first all-school gathering of the year.
Led by their senior mentors, the Class of 2022 processed into Mass and was warmly welcomed by the entire school community.
Additionally, our Eucharistic Ministers for the 2018-2019 school year were inducted.
Earlier this week, Ms. Malm and Danielle Whyte '21 spoke with Maine Public's Irwin Gratz about their experience on the Cheverus/BorderLinks immersion trip to Arizona. In its second year, the program was developed by theology teacher Ms. King. This year's trip was an especially powerful experience for the students and their chaperones, Ms. Malm and Ms. Kravitz-Jones, given the current news surrounding immigration and the separation of families crossing the border.
The group prepared for the trip this spring by learning more about the multifaceted issue of immigration through reading, dialogue, films, and interviews with experts on immigration. The group also had to manage fundraising efforts for the trip. Once in Arizona, the group reflected daily on the experiences they shared, and they will have follow-up discussions this coming school year.
The BorderLinks program was one of two immersion trips that Cheverus students had the opportunity to participate in this summer. The other delegation traveled to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Above, Ms. Malm and Danielle Whyte '21 in the Maine Public studios.
Above, the entire BorderLinks Immersion Delegation including chaperones Ms. Malm and Ms. Kravitz-Jones.
Sophomore retreats begin on March 15. The retreat includes wall climbing at Evo Rock + Fitness. In order for the students to participate, parents must complete the online waiver for the rock gym.
To complete the waiver:
- Go to the online waiver form. Fill out the form.
- Click the checkbox to electronically sign the waiver.
- Check your email for a message from Evo and click the "confirm email address" link to submit the completed waiver to Evo. Please note: If you do not complete this step, Evo will not receive the signed waiver.
Students will also bring home a Cheverus permission slip prior to their retreat dates. Please contact Greg Szkarlat with any questions.
Dear Cheverus Community,
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the outpouring of kindness and support as we have mourned the death of our beloved Fernanda Darrow. The wake and funeral were emblematic of Fernanda’s life, rich in joy and love. When we celebrated Fernanda’s life, the pews were filled with students and friends dressed in vibrant colors, and the altar was overflowing with garden flowers. The light of our faith was unmistakable.
In these last few days, I have recognized the grace of community. During these difficult times, we have offered words of encouragement to one another, supported and listened to one another, fed and cried with one another. We belong to one another. This is the essence of our Christian community. In our great sadness, we have experienced God’s love.
In the coming weeks, I ask that you continue to hold Fernanda’s family and our entire community in your prayers for support, guidance, and healing. Let us all recognize that God’s love is ever-present in our community.
“If we open the door to Jesus and allow him to be part of our lives, if we share our joys and sorrows with him, then we will experience the peace and joy that only God, who is infinite love, can give.”
World Youth Day, 2014
Fr. Robert J. Pecoraro, S.J.