Being Vulnerable

Vulnerability often carries the connotation of weakness or frailty. It is a cultural antonym to what appeals most to our sense of strength and courage. And yet in numerous ways, nothing could be further from the truth. Brené Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability highlights the many ways in which this trait is paramount to successful leaders and their constituents.

Yet as I write this, our world is facing a pandemic of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which has escalated our physical and psychological awareness about what it means to be vulnerable in a very raw way. Social and athletic events are being postponed or cancelled altogether; travel is reconsidered or restricted; and we are reminded about some of our most vulnerable populations in the elderly and homeless. In short, it has upended how we perceive what we understand about the common good for all. In his encyclical Mater et Magistra (1961), St. John XXIII wrote about this core value of Catholic Social Teaching and its relevance to our collective lives:

To this end, a sane view of the common good must be present and operative in men invested with public authority. They must take account of all those social conditions which favor the full development of human personality. Moreover, We consider it altogether vital that the numerous intermediary bodies and corporate enterprises—which are, so to say, the main vehicle of this social growth—be really autonomous, and loyally collaborate in pursuit of their own specific interests and those of the common good. For these groups must themselves necessarily present the form and substance of a true community, and this will only be the case if they treat their individual members as human persons and encourage them to take an active part in the ordering of their lives [Italics mine] (no. 65)

We are both individuals and part of a community, independent and interdependent, private and public. Respecting the dignity of all peoples is most needed when we feel most vulnerable. And we shouldn’t shy away from using the word or feeling its effects. Vulnerability is not a call to retreat or withdraw but a time to deeply consider the needs of our respective communities. It challenges us to sacrifice in many ways, not simply for some generic cause of the greater good but for the betterment of every individual’s ability to flourish and grow together. Being vulnerable is bearing witness to the vulnerability of others in a way that empowers everyone. It is the radical awareness of our shared humanity.

It’s a Great Day to be a Bulldog!

St. Mary Magdalen, Pray for Us!

These simple words form an invaluable prayer for our community on Sharpley Road. By praying for the intercession of our patron saint, St. Mary Magdalen, we recognize that there is something greater than all of us. We know from the Scriptures that the Kingdom of God is “already, but not yet” built. As such, each of us has a role to play in the ongoing formation and development of our children.

I am very fortunate to have been called to be part of this truly amazing community. As Principal, my role is to lead but that does not necessarily just mean being in charge. Rather, it is being responsible to those who are in my charge. At SMM, our care and concern for the needs of each child is only rivaled by the quality of our faculty, the rigor of our academics, and the call to serve and pray as one community.

Mary Magdalen is often referred to as the apostle sent to the apostles of Jesus. She was also the first witness to the Resurrection in John’s Gospel. So I find it quite fitting that as a school we also continually strive to be the first, not in the sense of some artificial ranking, but in the desire to place our core values first; to place the needs of others first; and to place our call as educators first. I thank you for the privilege of allowing us to walk with your children everyday and I look forward to an inspiring and faith-filled school year. I titled this blog “Magdalen Musings” to reflect the way our faith and school inspires me to ponder, wonder, reflect…to muse about those matters that inspire my work as an administrator, parent, son, and brother, among other relationships. I invite you to muse with me and thank you for visiting!

It’s a Great Day to be a Bulldog!