On the first full day of school, I found myself energized about the opportunities and enthusiasm that filled our hallways. I had visions of beautiful moments for our community as we were able to be a bit more “normal” after a tough year of COVID and quarantines. That evening, however, just before falling asleep, I received a phone call that one of our junior students had been involved in a fatal car accident. My heart plummeted as the text messages began to blow up my phone. Shock and grief were sweeping through our school families as the news spread and hearts broke.
Simultaneously, though, a beautiful phenomenon began to emerge. Our nearby parishes were inundated with teenagers flocking to adoration chapels. Parents were accompanying their kids as they knelt together in front of the Blessed Sacrament, praying rosaries and chaplets while holding each other up. They were on their knees before the Lord and their hearts were being nurtured by Christ himself. I was comforted to know that in this time of tragedy, a communal muscle memory kicked in, and we lived as a people rooted in Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”
I have served on senior leadership teams at a parish, a camp, and a school that have each used the Acts 2:42 template to create dynamic Catholic communities. Community flows out of the core human desire to be known and loved. Blake Mulvaney, our former superintendent, would say each year, “Every student has one question on the first day of school: will my teacher care to know me and love me?” Whether at a parish, camp, or in a school, each staff member is needed to create an Acts 2:42 culture.