Saint Viator News

Delivering the latest news from Saint Viator High School.

Category: Faith Formation (Page 2 of 6)

Lending a Hand in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Sarah McDermottFriendship bracelets will go on sale during lunch periods on Valentine’s Day, but they have nothing to do with Cupid.

“Show your love in a different way,” says Sarah McDermott ’19, “not in a romantic way but in a platonic way, showing love for those who have suffered.”

Last week, Sarah and her classmates from the Viatorian Youth Congress and the Justice League helped to organize an after-school prayer service and workshop that drew more than 60 students.

DSC_0018Their topic? Educating classmates about the issue of human trafficking as a modern form of slavery, and offering them a way to help survivors.

The prayer service was timed with the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking, as declared by Pope Francis.

Students worked with Mrs. Cathy Abrahamian and Ms. Emily Egan, organizers also included Sergio Leudo ‘18 and Emma Perry ‘18, both Viatorian Youth Congress delegates and Trent Federighi ‘18, a core member of the Justice League.

Working to eliminate human trafficking is a core mission of the Viatorians. Consequently, delegates to last summer’s Viatorian Youth Congress learned about the issue and were encouraged to bring back what they had learned to their schools or parishes. At the same time, Justice League members take their lead from the Viatorian mission statement, which includes working for “those accounted of little importance.”

DSC_0010During the one-hour service, students showed slides and gave testimonials from a trip to the Mexican border, where deadly human trafficking occurs. They also shared statistics and even held a question and answer quiz, using the Kahoot! app.

“Some of the kids were shocked,” Sarah says. “I know it scared me when I first heard about Chicago being the epicenter of human trafficking in this country.”

She adds that the goal of the service was to make students aware of the issue described as a “crime against humanity” by Pope Francis and give them a way to help survivors.

DSC_0004“I went on the trip to the border when I was a freshman,” said Trent said, “and just seeing the ‘rape tree,’ where smugglers hung undergarments of their victims as if they were trophies, triggered my involvement. It was horrible to see.”

At the end of the service, students were able to turn their shock and grief into something positive by making the friendship bracelets. Using threads that represent the colors of human trafficking, red, green and blue, they made nearly 125 bracelets, that will be sold as a fundraiser for survivors served by the Metropolitan Family Services agency in Chicago.

PADS Volunteers Bring Muscle and Energy Every Week to Palatine Church

PADS 6They go about it quietly, but every Thursday morning at 6 a.m., a group of six to eight Saint Viator students show up to do the dirty work at a PADS site at the Presbyterian Church of Palatine: They clean up.

“It’s a huge piece of this ministry,” says Anita Kern, one of the site directors. “Last night, we had 43 guests and these teens came in and disinfected all the mattresses, bundled all the linens and carried them upstairs and cleaned the floors.”

PADS 5“I don’t know if we’d have to close the site without them,” she adds, “but we’d have a hard time finding so many people to come and do what they do.”

Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, made the initial connection between Saint Viator students and the Palatine church and he still comes every other week to chaperone, but those original students have graduated and now others have stepped forward.

Jake Wolf ’18 concedes he came grudgingly, when his older brother, Sam ’16, told him to come and complete his required service hours for the marginalized. Once he started seeing families with young children come to the shelter, and even high school students, he knew his work was valuable.

PADS 2“Over time, it grew on me so much,” says Jake, a regional champ in wrestling. “I know where I am in life. I consider it a blessing and a privilege to be able to do this.”

His enthusiasm and leadership have drawn his classmates to join him, so much so that the church has had to limit how many students show up.

“The Viatorians have taught us that our service is meaningful and that we’re called to serve people around us,” adds Anthony Maraviglia, who just committed to playing football at Johns Hopkins University next fall.

PADS 5Caitlin Kenney ’18, Dan Dababneh ’18 and Robbie Baxendale ’19 call themselves the “Pillow Crew.” They not only strip the pillowcases off, but they disinfect the plastic-lined pillows and then stack them above the pads.

“I’m always afraid they’re going to fall down,” Robbie concedes. “But we’ve got it down now. It’s become our weekly routine and you get this great feeling when you leave. It would feel weird not to go.”

PADS 1All of the teens admitted that getting up so early every week took some adjusting, but now they look forward to it.

“It’s crazy to think that by getting up just one hour earlier that we could affect people’s lives,” Caitlin says. “But then I know that this is something I can do. I might not be able to stop all the terrible things in the world, but this I can do.”

International Student Changing Lives in India

Johanna Lam 3When Johanna Lam ’19 thinks of service, she thinks beyond meeting 25 hours per year needed at Saint Viator. Instead, her hours of service immerses her with the marginalized of India, literally meeting the needs of the thousands of homeless and disabled, lying in the streets of her home city of Guntur, in southeast India.

Johanna came to Saint Viator as a sophomore to complete her high school education. As a visiting student, she is supported by the Rev. Mark Francis, CSV, International Program.

Johanna Lam 4For as long as she can remember, her family has led a campaign in surrounding villages to raise money to purchase clothes and blankets for the poor. Her grandmother started the campaign as an outreach mission with their Lutheran church, and Johanna’s parents carry it on.

When Johanna went home over Christmas break, she was able to help with the distribution, including walking the streets on Christmas Eve to give out blankets to people in the street.

“It feels so good to be able to help them,” Johanna says. “These people are lepers and the physically disabled, without shelter.

Johanna Lam 2“I don’t think of it as service,” she adds, “it’s missionary work and I love it.”

After collecting money to fund the campaign during the fall, Johanna’s father works with vendors to purchase blankets, saris for women and slacks and shirts for men.

“People come from all over for the clothes,” Johanna says. “Word has gotten out.”

Johanna Lam 1Her story stood out with Mr. Bart Hisgen in the Campus Ministry department, who helps to compile student service hours.

“I can’t believe all that you’re doing,” Mr. Hisgen told Johanna. “It’s so inspiring.”

A Saturday Morning Tradition that Changes Lives

20180111_121607A group of six seniors is completing their service requirement in a unique way: together.

Nearly every Saturday morning, they meet at the All Saints Food Pantry in Palatine to collect, sort and distribute food donations. They include Tyler Faber, Ryan Flynn, John Leininger, John Rapala, Will Sheriff and Kenny Yi.

But in the nearly two years they have been doing it, they’re gaining as much as the clients.

“The way I see it, it’s the Viatorian mission, of serving the marginalized,” says John Leininger.

The teens spend three hours there, unloading fresh produce delivered by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, before sorting through donations and ultimately filling grocery bags to distribute to the 40 or so families that will come by that day for food.

“It’s fun helping others, but especially with your friends,” says Ryan Flynn.

“It’s become our Saturday morning tradition,” adds Kenny Yi.

Cindy Williams, director of the food pantry, calls them her Saint Viator team and says she could not have asked for a more mature and helpful group of volunteers.

“They always come ready to help,” Williams says. “They don’t need to be assigned. They see something that needs to be done and they do it.”

She adds that their youthful enthusiasm is contagious and that her agency depends on drawing younger volunteers to continue its service to the community.

“They help a lot in the food pantry, but then they help the clients to their cars with their heavy bundles,” Williams adds. “I see them having conversations with the clients. They’re not just going through the motions, they’re engaging them.”

The clients, too, have noticed the young men who help them. One of them, an older woman, told senior Will Sheriff that she enjoys seeing them when she comes and that their help means a lot to her.

“And then she hugged me,” Will says. “That’s the greatest thing that’s happened to me in a while.”

While each of the seniors needs to complete 25 hours of service for the year, they are well beyond their requirement, says Bart Hisgen, campus minister.

“This doesn’t happen very often,” Hisgen says, “that you get a group of high school guys to commit at this level. And they do it week after week. They show up.”

Food for the Journey: Sunday, January 7

This week Fr. Charlie Bolser, C.S.V. shares his reflections on the readings for The Feast of the Epiphany.

Lectionary: 20

On this Sunday, we once again hear the story of the Three Magi, who were searching for the place where the Anointed One was to be born. According to the story, they traveled a long distance, looking and searching for the one who was to bring life to the world. They even asked Herod, the ruler of Israel what he knew of this special event. The truth is, Herod, nor any of his officials understood the search, and their goal was to eliminate any threat to their power – to the throne.

The Magi continued their search – following the light that did not lead to the throne of power, but instead to a small insignificant little town, and to a child born in a manger and loved by shepherds. A fascinating contradiction; looking in places that were and are opposite of where we would normally look. We too, often, look in the wrong places, and then not finding what we are looking for – give up!

The story tells us that the Sacred Spirit of God is right in front of us and within us – and all around us. Our call, like that of the disciples, is to open our eyes – the eyes of the soul to see. We need to first, like the Magi, admit that we don’t know where to look – that we are blind. Lord heal our blindness. The success of the Magi depended on their continuing to look in expected places and then in unexpected places. Today, like then, the living Word of God, is a threat to those who are addicted to power and status – to the things that are offered to us as trinkets to silence the craving that comes from within.

The story continues, showing us that Jesus, like Moses, came to lead the people (all of the people) from Egypt to the Promised Land — from slavery to freedom. The Magi had an epiphany – they celebrated a Eureka Moment when they understood the threat to those in power.

It is only in searching — with our eyes of the mind and of the soul wide open — that are we able to experience that Eureka – that Epiphany of understanding.

Fr. Charlie Bolser, C.S.V served as president of Saint Viator High School from 1987-1998. Presently, Fr. Charlie serves as Chaplain at Saint Viator.

Food for the Journey: Sunday, December 31

This week Br. John Eustice, C.S.V. shares his reflections on the readings for The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

Luke 2: 22-40

When a first child is born to a woman and a man, they are automatically given the title of mother and father. The child’s simple arrival brings the authority to change how the world views this woman and man. Without doing anything other than arriving, Jesus did the same…and more. This arrival to working class parents, in a little known village, in a tiny outpost of the Roman Empire changed the world: No words were spoken, yet the word of God was understood clearly by some who were brought up in the first century Jewish tradition.

As a family, Mary and Joseph brought their child to the temple to be presented to God. Because they practiced the religious custom, and were people of deep prayer, Simeon was able to recognize the Messiah. He saw in their eight-day-old son the light for all the world and they were amazed at the words of the old priest. So, what did they do? They returned home as any family would do and continued to raise him to be a strong man.

The Holy Family is a model for all families. They believed their child was entrusted to them by God. They raised him faithfully in their religious tradition. Even though they learned he was destined for great things, the lived a simple, devout life. All families are called to do the same. The child has changed the parents’ status in the world without using words. What would happen if every family were to bring their children to Mass every week and hear how the world will be transformed through the youngsters? This message IS there every week. Like Simeon, there are people in the church, needing reassurance that Christ is alive and well through the families who gather for Eucharist. Just as the baby changes the essence of the family without using words, the family’s non-verbal actions of going to weekly Mass supports and strengthens the world.

Br. John Eustice, C.S.V. served as Campus Minister at Saint Viator High School and is currently working in Youth and Young Adult Ministry at Maternity, B.V.M. Parish in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

Food for the Journey: Monday, December 25

This week Fr. Dan Lydon, C.S.V. shares his reflections on the readings for Christmas.

Isaiah 52: 7-10
Ps 98
Hebrews 1: 1-6
John 1: 1-18

While the readings at Midnight Mass and Christmas Mass at Dawn celebrate the marvelous mystery of God entering the world in simplicity and poverty and that God even entered this broken world at all, the Christmas liturgy during the day celebrates the meaning of the event.

The meaning of the Incarnation could be the subject of reflections like these and sermons for a year…or longer! I will limit myself to reflect briefly on two ideas.

First, we celebrate today the mystery that God’s love is so magnificent and so abundant that God “decided” from all of eternity that no matter how broken creation would become…..there would be no other option than to reach out to restore creation to its original blessing. That’s God’s job description: restore, recreate, reinvigorate, and repair. The fine print of the job description speaks of how God will “announce peace” and “comfort his people” and how God will “bare his holy arm” to give us divine strength to rebuild our lives just as the Jewish people had to rebuild their lives after the Holy City of Jerusalem had been destroyed.

Today’s gospel literally says that the Eternal Word “pitched his tent” among us (1: 14) and in our broken world. In today’s Collect we pray:

“O God, you wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and still more wonderfully restored it. Grant that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

That is the same prayer the priest prays as he adds a small drop of water into the chalice at the Preparation of the Gifts. Like a drop of life-giving water, Christ permeates and makes holy our lives. And we who are baptized into Christ are to drop our lives restored in Christ into the life of the world. We are to “pitch our tents” into the world and to revitalize it with Christ. That is OUR job description!

And we celebrate that today!

Saint Viator Students Turn Out to Help Feed Hungry Children

FMSCHFHSaint Viator students have returned many times to pack meals at Feed My Starving Children locations, but last weekend, they joined with thousands of other volunteers for a “Hope-Filled Holiday.”

For the second straight year, Saint Viator students—led in groups by Mr. Kurt Paprocki and Mr. Bart Hisgen—reported to the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center over the weekend, where they ultimately packed 1 million meals—enough to feed 2,740 children for a year.

“There was so much energy and so many people,” said Laura Kuper ’18. “The Christmas spirit was just flying.”

Her classmate, Sarah Johnson ’18, agreed that the numbers of volunteers who gave up part of their weekend to feed hungry children was inspiring.

“I didn’t expect to see so many people wanting to help people,” Sarah said. “It was fun and there was lots of cheering.”

They were part of a massive meal-packing session that took place over three days at the Schaumburg Convention Center and drew 7,500 volunteers in all.

“It was great to be part of something bigger than ourselves,” added Emma Abrahamian ’19.

Each meal packet was packed with nutritious meals of soy, vegetables, vitamins, and rice. They were loaded into boxes and will be shipped to mission partners in 70 countries around the world, where they will feed children in orphanages, schools, clinics and in feeding programs designed to break the cycle of poverty

Saint Viator students included members of the National Honor Society as well as those active in Campus Ministry and other service organizations, and even feeder basketball teams. They combined with volunteers from other church groups, schools and businesses, including Capital One, United Airlines, Anixter, Fellowes Brands, Verizon, Northwestern Mutual, Amita Health, Omron, Edlong and Hayward Baker.

Even Saint Viator faculty members and administrators pitched in to help, including Mrs. Karen Love, principal, and her husband, Dan; Dean of Students, Bill Sanford, and his wife, Dr. Gretchen Sanford; Mrs. Brigette Brankin, math teacher, and Viatorian Associates Cathy and Don Abrahamian.

Food for the Journey: Sunday, December 17

This week Fr. Dan Lydon, C.S.V. shares his reflections on the readings for the Third Sunday of Advent.

Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1: 46-48, 49-50, 53-54
Thess 5: 16-24
Jn 1: 6-8, 19-28

Just as we begin scurrying to get all the decorations up, cards written, and gifts bought, the liturgy holds fast to the “reason for the season.” This week’s Word is about our mission to “prepare the way of the Lord.” Our mission is to bear witness to the coming of the Light. We are reminded that the darkest forces in our nation and in our world are not as powerful as they seem.

A pink candle is lit this week. That candle reminds us of another aspect of our mission as disciples of the Christ – to spread JOY. The “Responsorial Psalm” is replaced this Gautete Sunday with Mary’s Canticle: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit REJOICES in God my savior.” (Lk 1: 46)

What activity could we cut out of our lives in these next few weeks to ease the stress of the season so as to spread more JOY?

Fr. Dan Lydon, C.S.V. has served as teacher and administrator at Saint Viator High School for 16 years. Fr. Lydon currently teaches Religion and, with Mrs. Rita King, coordinates Adult and Family Faith Formation at Saint Viator.

Spanish Classes Celebrate Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

unnamedOn Tuesday, Spanish classes went right to the source when learning about the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: they attended a feast day Mass.

Students spent their class periods rotating in and out of the Alumni Memorial Chapel, where three Viatorian priests took turns saying Mass, in Spanish, naturally.

Fr. Dan Hall, CSV; Fr. Dan Lydon, CSV; and Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, all celebrated Mass for the Spanish students and during their homilies explained more about her apparition to Juan Diego in 1531 and the powerful symbol she has become as patroness of the Americas.


“It seemed like it would be a natural,” said Fr. Bolser, chaplain. “Anytime we can broaden the cultural experience, outside of the classroom, it’s a good thing.”

All three Viatorians have experienced the devotion of feast day, firsthand. Fr. Hall helped establish a Viatorian mission in Belize and he ultimately spent five years there, where Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral in the city of Belmopan draws thousands to its novena and feast day Masses.


Before coming to Saint Viator, Fr. Bolser served as pastor of St. Viator Parish in Chicago, where its devout Hispanic parishioners would start with prayers early in the morning on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, before attending Mass and celebrating with a fiesta. Fr. Lydon also served at the parish, as a religious brother and deacon before he was ordained there in 2015.

“These Masses were well received,” Fr. Bolser added. “We’d like have them three to four times a year, when appropriate.”

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