As Prep returns to life on campus, Dr. Gomez shares a reflection on the view from Grand & Warren, both today and 19 years ago on September 11, 2001.
Good afternoon, Saint Peter’s Prep. On this Friday before the first full day of 2020-21 school year, the first full Monday in about 6 months, I am thinking about Grand and Warren—a phrase we use all the time. But today what I mean by Grand & Warren is literally the streets Grand and Warren—the very corner of Saint Peter’s Prep.
Picture yourself on that corner. When you look south on Warren Street in the evening you can see a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty, or by its original title, “Liberty Enlightening the World.” Her burning torch, at night, is literally a small but powerful light in the darkness. Rather than just a symbol, perhaps Lady Liberty is asking us as a country, as a school, and as individual members of the Prep community—are you enlightening the world? How much do you want your light to shine and to whom? Does your light guide others and to where? Does your light take on the darkness and why? More importantly, how?
Turning and looking east on Grand Street you see the New York City skyline lit up majestically. But today I am not thinking of a 9 pm, crystal clear skyline, but rather an 8:46 am one, on a crystal clear morning 19 years ago…when Flight 11 hit the north tower of the World Trade Center between floors 93 and 99. I remember being a fifth-year Prep teacher, whose life, like all of ours, was turned upside down, or as Prep legendary teacher Ana Garcia remembers, the day life as we knew it was gone forever, as we watched the towers burn and fall.
Allow me to pause for a moment and with great reverence read the names of the Prep alumni who lost their lives on that day. Edward Keane, ’53, John Crowe, ’62, Robert Parks, ’72, Tom Sullivan, ’80, Keith O’Connor, ’90 (and at the time a current Prep dad, Timothy Hughes).
Like so many of us, that day etched pictures and stories and feelings in my memory and in my heart. One that stands out the most was being in the library at the end of the day, when Jack Raslowsky, ’79, our principal at the time, addressed the faculty and staff. He said, “Although it feels like the entire sky is falling, we must remember that one small light always, always overcomes the darkness.” Although he was speaking on September 11, Jack was already thinking about September 12 and the 13th and beyond, offering us a hope I believed in as he challenged us, as the statue challenges us, to be that light in the dark days ahead.
Now please picture standing on that corner of Grand and Warren one more time…And finally turn away from the streets and face Saint Peter’s Prep and look at the building right on the corner of Grand and Warren. You’ll notice the cornerstone of Mulry Hall: the cross, surrounded by the letters AMDG…ad majorem Dei gloriam—for the greater glory of God—the challenge to utilize our talents, how we study, how we teach, how we practice, how we win, how we lose, our late night phone calls or texts, how we use social media, the things we choose to do, the things we choose not to do, how we forgive, how we ask for forgiveness, how we listen, how we sing, how we dance, how we say thank you, how we love and how we receive love—every bit of it, all for the greater glory of God. All choices as forms of prayer, perhaps the greatest challenge for us.
So this weekend, let’s make good choices…not just healthy and safe ones because of our care for the Prep community in the middle of this pandemic, but ones that bring light and love all for the greater glory to God, all the time, every time.
Peace to you my friends on this day…and as always, let’s go Prep.
This reflection was originally part of the opening prayer service that took the place of the usual Mass of the Holy Spirit. You can view the full service here.