Mr J Alumni Reflections
A New Year Reflection
It was the middle of December, and the year was 2023 . . . that’s right, only a few weeks ago. Life was just a little stressful, as I’m sure it was for most of you. That’s the sad thing about this time of year: It’s such a beautiful season, but most of us don’t slow down to take the time to truly enjoy it.
I was in the midst of putting some final touches to our Closing Advent Mass and our Christmas assembly. I’m sure that many of you remember the special Mass, ugly Christmas sweaters and all, and the fun Christmas assembly which followed - complete with Santa Will on the floor scrubber! The Mass was good to go, as was the Christmas program, but I thought it would be a nice touch to have Jake Mahler ’03, math teacher and drama department director, do a special song.
When I suggested it to him, he said, “Let’s do a song together!” I agreed, and we both went to work, thinking of a song. Jake texted and emailed a few suggestions which I really loved, and I kept saying, “I’ll get in touch and we can practice.” Well, the week passed and soon it was Tuesday morning. I told Jake I would meet him later in his office to finally practice. I honestly had not thought of options other than those proposed by Jake, but I suggested “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” That would be our song.
The Christmas assembly was amazing! I think the best part was how much the kids really got into it. The Little Knights kicked it off, followed by a special performance by “The Commodores,” a men’s a cappella group with Kris Vance from our maintenance department as a member. The orchestra, band, choir and Red Knotes followed, performing beautifully, and then it was our turn. I introduced Jake who then introduced me. What followed was one of the strangest experiences I’ve had. I began singing. As I looked out over the Great Hall, I saw not only the faces of the kids who were there on that morning, but in my heart, I saw the faces of so many kids over so many years who gathered in this Great Hall . . . it honestly brought tears to my eyes, thinking of all of you.
I guess there was a reason why that song came to mind . . . for me it was a reminder of how very blessed my life has been because I’ve had the opportunity to know and love and work with each of you. The beautiful thing about BSM is that, regardless of the miles and the years and the time that might separate us, we truly are together. We never make this journey alone; we travel with each other and with our God by our side.
As we enter into this new year, I pray that 2024 will hold countless blessings for each of you. I am forever thankful for you, my faithful friends, always in my thoughts and in my prayers. May God bless and keep you in His care.
Love and Prayers,
A Father’s Love
As I work on this first reflection of the year, we are not only preparing to celebrate Homecoming Week 2023, but we are also in the midst of celebrating our 50th Anniversary as Benilde-St. Margaret’s . . . so many years, so many amazing memories. As I personally reflect on my 49 years here at BSM, with hopes of celebrating my 50th next year, I do so in thanks for all of you who have shared these years with me and who have touched and made a difference in my life in so many ways. I have been and continue to be so very blessed. With that in mind, I’d like to share a reflection based on a passage from the First Letter of John that has always been one of my favorites.
“See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.”
1 John 3:1
Many times, I’ve had the opportunity to watch my friend, a BSM alum, play with his little daughter. She is 2 1/2 years old, and she loves her Daddy very much. The neatest thing about her, and all little kids, is that she allows herself to be loved by her Daddy. When she sees him coming, she runs to him and throws her arms around his legs and simply says, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” She just wants to be held and to be loved and to know that she is safe in his care. Even when she’s laughed so much from tickling that she can hardly breathe, when the mad tickler stops, she says, “Tickle more, Daddy!” Not once have I heard her say, “Daddy, I want more toys.” or “Daddy, give me this or give me that.” She simply loves being in the presence of her Daddy . . . she allows herself to be loved.
If only our relationship with our Father could be like that . . . if, instead of asking for this or for that, we could simply place ourselves in His Presence and allow ourselves to be loved, to know always and forever that we are safe in His care. What a difference that would make in our days and in our lives. Life is busy and hectic and filled with so many distractions. I pray that we can all find opportunities to simply spend time in the Presence of our God, never forgetting that we are His children, regardless of age. In fact, the older I get, the more I truly feel like a child of the Father. May we always keep that child alive in our hearts.
So, my dear alums, children of God, as we begin another school year and celebrate our 50th Anniversary, I close this first reflection with a very special “Thank You!” to each of you for remaining such an important part of all that is Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Always know how greatly you are loved and remembered in thought and in prayer. May you simply allow yourselves to be loved by your Father . . . to be open to all that our God has to offer.
Love and Prayers,
Mr. J has been a friendly face at BSM since 1975. He has held many roles and been an integral part of many different experiences during his time at the school.
“My role is as campus minister, but over the years I’ve done many different things. I was in charge of the retreat program. I still am working with the liturgy program. I used to be in the classroom teaching in theology. So [I’ve done] a lot of different things here over the years.” - Mike J
BSM Office of
Mary Fran O'Keefe
Director of Alumni Relations
& Community Events
Catie Scherer Brackin '99
Alumni Relations & Community Events Specialist
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