The beginning of things to come

Spiritual writer Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk 
who strongly encouraged inter-religious dialogue, 
wrote in his autobiography, Seven Storey Mountain:

“October is a fine and dangerous season in America,
a wonderful time to begin anything at all.” 

This is how it feels in the Campus Ministry office here at Bishop McNamara.  So much is beginning!

Preparations are underway for the first junior Kairos retreat of the year, which is a three day overnight retreat facilitated by our senior Peer Ministry students.  This year, for the first time in a while, we will be able to take all the junior students during the course of the year, an improvement we hope to make permanent!

Our next school Liturgy will be the annual Holy Cross Mass on October 20th at 8:15 AM.  Come join us! We will commission the Peer Ministers, Student Council Members, and Honor Council members, sending them forth in prayer to officially begin their roles for the year, although their service has already begun.  Especially exciting is that this Mass will be the first liturgy planned by our new student organization, Godspace, which allows our students to take roles in preparing for the Mass and designing some of the malleable elements of our worship.  Fr. Pawel Sass of Our Lady Queen of Peace parish in S.E. DC will be joining us and has been generous with his time in working with our students as they prepare.  Check out the videos made in our community last month, starring many of our students, explaining how Mass can be a conversation with God and how to participate in the Liturgy:

Finally, right here in our BMHS Ministry blog, some new things are beginning!  Students from some of the Peer Ministry classes will be offering weekly reflections on this blog.  There will be two sets of reflections beginning around this coming Monday, each with a theme.

One set of reflections starting next week will be themed around the “Seven Sorrows of Mary.”  These are seven moments from scripture and tradition when Mary, the mother of Jesus, suffered as a scared human being.  Catholic tradition invites us to meditate on these – for they all involve Jesus – and also to know that Mary, who suffered these things, understands our sufferings as well, and wants heaven to help us.  The Seven Sorrows of Mary are especially important to us at Bishop McNamara because when we think of Mary’s suffering we call her “Our Lady of Sorrows.”   Our 50th anniversary Mass last month actually celebrated the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows.  We are a school founded and sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross, and the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Fr. Moreau, had a special devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and entrusted the Congregation of Holy Cross to her when it began, asking her to keep special watch over it from heaven.  As a Holy Cross school, we hope and believe that Our Lady of Sorrows keeps a special watch over us, and identifies with us when we are struggling.

The other set of reflections starting next week will be themed around the first five verses of the letter of St. Paul to the Romans, chapter 5.  Romans 5:1-5 explains the importance of perseverance in the face of suffering; of character; of hope.  Mr. Marco Clark, the president of our school, referred to this passage at our anniversary Mass, as well as at Back to School night.  He shared his belief that this passage explains to us the “McNamara Miracle,” the steady growth in excellence our school community has undergone in the last 20 years… through hope, perseverance, and the development of character.  Our students will build on these themes as they reflect on this passage over the next couple months, and we hope you are able to reflect on these themes in your lives as well as you follow a long.


These things that begin, begin with student leadership, student creativity, and student responsibilities!  So much student leadership going on around me makes Merton’s words more real… this fall is “a fine and dangerous season,” as the excellent opportunity of student leadership compares itself with the risks created by trusting students to be mature and reliable.

Fr. Moreau believed that we should engage ourselves, with the help and guidance of God, in the “Work of the Resurrection.”  We are called to help our peers rise, our co-workers rise, and our families rise.  We are called to help our churches rise, our local government rise, and our communities rise.  We are called to give others an opportunity to rise!  I have the privilege of giving our students an opportunity to rise through Christian leadership… and so many of our students rise to the occasion, again and again.

New things are beginning here at McNamara with the leadership of students.

It is mighty fine.  I hope you come visit campus and see for yourself.

It is dangerous.  I hope you keep an eye on this blog to see how it goes!

It is a wonderful time to begin anything at all.

What will you begin?

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About cmmission

Mr. Peter Sanneman is the Campus Minister of Mission at Bishop McNamara High School. He is responsible for serving as one of the teachers for the Peer Ministry program as well as working to coordinate school retreats and prayer services. Mr. Sanneman received his B.A. from Fordham University in Philosophy and Theology, with a minor in Psychology. He worked for a year in teaching, parish, and radio ministry on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota before moving home to Maryland to join the McNamara family. The Peer Ministry program exists to form young women and men for the spreading of God’s kingdom by training them in and through practices of spirituality, leadership, and intellectual engagement. This responsibility challenges the seniors to live as Christ to their peers: a ministry accomplished through servant leadership, improved by exiting comfort zones, and sharpened by learning how to use language, inclusion, facilitation, stories, and other tools.
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