An Easter Reflection

The Resurrection of our Lord is upon us! Let us rejoice and be glad!

A cross in the Abbey Church

I believe it is only fitting that Easter falls late on the calendar this year. After a long, harsh winter, we celebrate the risen Christ just as the earth begins to warm, the flowers begin to bloom and the birds begin to sing. New life is evident all around us.

Today I am reminded of a quote that could be found in my catechism book circa 1969. It answered the question “What is the Church?” As a young boy, I identified with the place we gathered for liturgy on Sunday and for confession every Friday. But when Sister Irene called on me to answer the question, I popped up from my desk, stood at attention and recited the following:

“The Church is the family of God’s children gathered together by the risen Lord.”

I could think of no better way to celebrate Easter than by living that statement each and every day. As Anselmians, I ask each of us to stop and give pause as we celebrate together the Church and our place within it. The risen Lord is alive around us. Our Benedictine charism compels us to live a life for others. We give thanks for all that we have in His name.

The Resurrection of our Lord is upon us! Let us Rejoice and be glad!

A Wave of Compassion

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting the students who were offered admission to the Saint Anselm Class of 2018. It is an exciting day: so many potential Anselmians, along with the family members who raised them to be the kind of bright, motivated young men and women we think belong here in our community on the Hilltop.  We do a lot to transform these students into engaged, productive citizens—but I know very well that it all starts with the family.

The National 9/11 Flag

Today, at the Admitted Student Open House, hundreds of these students and families shared a special experience: the National 9/11 Flag, a symbol of the strength and compassion of the American people in the face of tragedy. The flag is on display this week at Sullivan Arena.

The 9/11 Flag is one of the largest that flew over Ground Zero. It was repaired by many hands in many locations throughout the country, and stitches have been added from the original “Star Spangled Banner” and the flag that cradled Abraham Lincoln after he was shot. American history is woven into the fabric of this flag.

The 9/11 Flag is so treasured by our country that it is going to be permanently installed at the September 11 Memorial and Museum at the site of the World Trade Center. Saint Anselm College is privileged to be its last stop on its journey through all 50 states.

Jeff Parness, the president of the New York Says Thank You Foundation, told us how he began the organization that has been the guardian of the flag. The foundation (of which I am a board member) sends volunteers across the country to help communities affected by disaster.

It wasn’t the first time I had heard the story, but it still affects me powerfully. The overwhelming feeling I had as I joined the families who were here to experience Saint Anselm College and the 9/11 Flag, was one of movement and progress.

The New York Says Thank You Foundation started with an idea from Jeff’s young son about sharing his toys with children in San Diego who had lost theirs in fires. The idea grew and gained momentum, and now brings help and hope to so many people. It seems like every good idea about this flag led to another—including the 9/12 Generation Project, which activates students in hands-on service learning projects.

Now, the flag truly is the modern version of the Star-Spangled Banner.

As Jeff told his listeners, this flag is not just about what happened on 9/11, but what happened on 9/12: the start of a wave of compassion and service. I hope the future Anselmians at our open house felt it and will be called to be a strong and caring part of our community and the world beyond.

National 9/11 Flag Returning to Campus

National 9/11 Flag presented at the inauguration of Dr. Steven DiSalvo on October 18, 2013
I just received confirmation that the National 9/11 Flag is returning to campus, where we will be able to share it with the entire college community and our neighbors for almost a week.

The National 9/11 Flag is a symbol of American history, pride, and resilience. It is the largest flag that flew over Ground Zero. It was badly damaged in the tragic bombing of the Twin Towers, but it was repaired and saved, and today it contains patches and stitches that represent a nation’s grief and hope. Tornado survivors, veterans, and average patriotic Americans have added to its fabric as it has toured the country. The flag even contains a remnant of the flag that Abraham Lincoln was laid on after he was shot at Ford Theatre.

I am honored to say that I have added stitches to this symbolic flag.

The National 9/11 Flag holds special importance for my family. My wife, Eileen, and I, lived in the New York area at the time of the tragedy. Like so many Americans, we suffered losses.

I’m now a member of the foundation that has been the keeper of the flag, The New York Says Thank You Foundation. I have supported the foundation in its efforts to memorialize the American spirit of solidarity and volunteerism and to keep that spirit alive and vivid. On the anniversary of 9/11, The New York Says Thank You Foundation sends volunteers to disaster sites across the country. To me, this effort echoes what we do at Saint Anselm College when we send students to places like the Gulf Coast to help fellow citizens whose homes have been damaged.

Saint Anselm College hosted the flag during my inauguration. It was presented on the college quad by a group of men and women, many of them Saint Anselm alumni, and some of them in uniform (video of the presentation is posted below). I’m delighted that this piece of American history will be on campus once more before it becomes a permanent part of the National 9/ 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center.

It arrives April 10. With hope and faith in the future.