Monday, July 19, 2010

Jesuit Middle School of Omaha

The Jesuit Middle School of Omaha, or Jesuit to the locals, and I have a history.  I spent my long experiment there teaching 4th grade religion, tutoring one sixth grader in history, teaching Latin to seventh graders, and most importantly, playing dodgeball at lunch with students.  At Jesuit I discovered joy as a contemplative in action.  I do not exaggerate when I say that without Jesuit, I would not have had the positive experience I needed to commit myself to this least Society for life.

This relationship has continued over the years.  I journeyed back to Omaha for the tenth anniversary and even popped in on one of my old students who now attends Prep.  Three years ago a former student of mine Kamren Shannon was shot and killed.  I heard the news one night in Chicago and wept.  And then to take my mind off of it I watched a bad Julia Roberts movie, which only made me continue crying.  Kamren's death reminded me of the grave reality so many of our bright talented black youth face today. 

Today was my first time back since Kamren's death three years ago.  Despite my sadness, I found that joy from experiment  welling up inside of me upon meeting Fr. Tom Neitzke at the door.  Fr. Neitzke, ordained in June, brings enthusiasm, creativity, and hope to Jesuit.  This is not to say Jesuit has not been doing well but as with most institutions a change of perspective can enliven it.  I look forward to seeing how Fr. Tom, the acting principal and future president, leads Jesuit these next few years.  And Jesuit will need the help.  North Omaha is the #1 place for child poverty in America.  The students still have to downplay going to Jesuit as their peers threaten to harm them for seeking an education. 

Upon leaving, I could not help but think of Kamrem who ironically died in a family tragedy.  As the obit for the Omaha World Herald reported:

 "Kamren Shannon was shot and killed in what his family calls a tragic accident. Kamren's uncle, fired three shots when Kamren knocked on his door...During Kamren's funeral Friday, his father, Joseph Shannon Jr. told the packed church that if they want to honor is son, they should use his death as inspiration.
"Every situation is an opportunity for God to work a miracle," he said."

So I left Jesuit thinking that about Kamren, miracles, vocations, and hope.  A blessed day indeed.

To learn more about the Jesuit Middle School of Omaha and how you can participate in this unique school contact Fr. Neitzke at (402) 346-4464.

1 comment:

sandra.rains said...

I was lucky enough to visit this school one day and was thrilled to see the joy in the faces of the students and staff. This was a place of peace, joy and happiness.