Birthday Brownies

Morning Prayer: Birthday Brownies
February 27, 2014
Prayer by Mr. Eric Rangus, Director of Communications:

My birthday was two weeks ago. It fell right in the middle of our second snowstorm, so the celebration was rather muted, and in many ways, better than the original plan. Instead of a night out for dinner, it was a night in with neighbors. Instead of some big meal in some loud restaurant, I got brownies delivered.

It was a great evening and since I was home all day, I got to watch a lot of Olympic curling, which is not insignificant. Another unintended weather-related consequence was that by necessity, the celebration was extended to allow everyone to take part.

Last week, all the staff in the Hartnett Building, where my office is located, got together for a casual birthday lunch and desserts. We do this for everyone in the building –it’s a very nice tradition, and I was the lucky one whose turn came up.

Father Rowland led the blessing and he wrote a beautiful prayer for me. I won’t read it verbatim, because I don’t want to steal anyone else’s work, but one phrase has stuck in my mind ever since I heard it. In mentioning my role here at Marist, Father Rowland described it as being “charged with the task of following in the footsteps of the Archangel Gabriel and communicating the message about the mission and spirituality of the Society of Mary.”

Following in the footsteps of Archangel Gabriel. The Messenger of God. That’s a pretty serious path. Am I up to following that road? What if I can’t?

I thought about that a lot, and first thing that entered my mind was how I thought about it. What if I can’t? What if I can’t communicate the word of God? I thought about it some more and really focused on the word “can’t.” And it’s negativity. Was I assuming that it would be too difficult and I couldn’t measure up?

And then I thought about it some more and realized, I was looking at it all wrong. I should be thinking about the ways that I can deliver the word of God. Not only on a page or a computer screen, but in my actions and deeds. Speaking and acting with humility and generosity and ardent love of neighbor. Accepting with grace the gifts that I am given and to give gifts of my own with happiness.

That’s not a difficult path. It’s an aspirational one to be sure. And it does require some effort. It can be easy to step off the trail, but it is just as easy to get back on it. Wherever it leads.

Let us pray …

Dear Lord, please watch over us and guide us as we communicate your word in our own ways – be writing or speech or action.

And when plans go awry or our path hits a wall or leads to a cliffside, or a big patch of ice. Give us the strength to change that path or plan … to improvise, find a new direction for it may lead to brownies … amen.

Mary, seat of wisdom, pray for us.



Largeness of Heart

Morning Prayer: Largeness of Heart
February 26, 2014
Prayer by Dr. Kathryn Hamrlik, Theology Teacher:

A few months ago, I went on a retreat, where a friend gave a talk.  I’d like to share a story from her remarks there was particularly moving for me. These are her words:

Early last spring, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I decided to do laundry before settling in with a good book. I live in a high rise apartment building and the laundry is in the basement. Having changed into comfortable clothes, meaning sweats and flip flops, I brought the laundry downstairs.

Returning to my apartment, I realized that I had locked myself out. No house keys, no car keys, no cell phone, no money, no subway pass….nothing except laundry detergent.

Luckily, I keep a second set of keys in my office desk at a non-profit organization about 2 ½ miles away.

Hoping to reach a friend to drive me in, I went outside, stopped a passerby and asked to borrow his phone. I quickly realized that I don’t know anyone’s number…they are all programmed into my phone.

Running out of options, I walked in flip flops, in the rain, the 2 ½ miles on a busy street. Fortunately, the office is accessible via keypad code, so I enter the building with no problem, albeit tired and soaking wet.

I retrieve my spare house key from my desk and begin to leave when I realize that I have no money to return home. Remembering the emergency cash the office keeps, I go to the admin assistant’s desk and there is $2.00. I take the money and head for the subway.

Putting my money in the turn-style, I quickly learn that without my usual monthly pass, the fare is $2.50. I plead with the transit person to no avail.

Then, I do the only thing I can do….I begin asking people for money. (By now, I look the part ). The first 3 people I approach, ignore me. The 4th, a young woman, smiles sweetly, and apologizes for not helping me. Most simply rush past.

A homeless man, whose territory I was clearly invading, came over to me and said: “Lady, you need a cup” and offers me a used Dunkin Donuts cup. Near tears, I explain that I have money… at home…I just need to get there. This man holds out his cup of coins and tells me to take whatever I need.

From his cup, his nothingness, he gave without judgment, without thought of his own need, with abandon….Clearly, for my new gentleman friend, the purpose of wealth is not security. The purpose of wealth is reckless generosity, the kind that sings of the lavish love of God, the kind that rekindles hope on dark days, the kind that reminds us that God is with us always.

Let us pray.

Loving God, give us the largeness of heart that lives inside the man who offered first, a cup; and then, his coins. Give us the gift that he had inside of himself that enabled him to give away his gold. Help us to see your face – your grace – in those whom we walk by every morning. And help us to be that face and that grace of love and generosity to others. Amen.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

the Sharkinator

Morning Prayer: the Sharkinator
February 25, 2014
Prayer by Joe ’15:

Now I’ve been here at Marist since the seventh grade, and I have never known how and where this whole Morning Prayer deal goes down. So to illuminate Marist on this mystery, I’m in a secret room behind the main office chilling with Ms. McGregor who is right next to me.  Pretty chill environment if I do say so myself.  So this morning I’d like to share with ya’ll a story. It happened back when I was five years old. I was a cute little dude…still am… and every Sunday after church my family and I would go to our favorite café, and then to a store next to it. One Sunday morning upon arriving at the store, something in the toy section caught my five year old eye. With the speed of a studly cheetah, I squeaked over to it in squeaky shoes, and as Nicholas Cage found National Treasure, I found a hot wheels invention of epic proportions – The Shark Park – a toy race track that had more bite then bark. With the speed of two studly cheetahs, I squeaked back to my mom. “Mom can you buy that for me pllleeeeassse?” The response was these evil words she still uses, “If you can save up the money you can buy it yourself”.  Extra chores were in my future.  The park was worth it though. It engulfed my thoughts. With a loaded piggy bank I made my return and walked into the store like “what up… I’m going buy the shark park”. When I was handed that box, I remember that being one of the happiest moments of my life. I assembled that bad boy in my room, and as a final touch, I threw a towel over it imagining a cool unveiling event. Now as anybody does with a new cool thing they own, I decided to show it off. I called up my friend Paul and he came over the next day. When Paul came inside, I eagerly brought him to my room and proudly stood next to the sharkinator. In a pathetic display of “showingoffmanship”, I pulled the towel off and to my dismay, half the park came with it.  It was a matter of seconds before PTSPD (Post Traumatic Shark Park Disorder) hit me. I started balling, like Kobe Bryant balling. I had just demolished my bread and butter and in front of my best friend. Now I’m guessing many of the priests and faculty at this point are wondering where I’m going with this story. Well here comes the game changer. With no laughs, no “nice one” look, Paul, my five year old friend, without a word started putting the shark park back together. In silence we restored not only the physical toy, but my happiness. That simple act of kindness strengthened our friendship. That simple act of kindness created a genuine moment of coming together between two friends.  That simple act of kindness taught me a lesson I have never once forgotten.

Let us pray – Dear Heavenly Father, today we ask you for strength. Strength mentally to remember your teachings throughout the whole day, not just part of it. Strength physically in order to carry out your will in actions guided by your grace. Strength emotionally to overcome our personal burdens so we can help relinquish those of others. Strength to carry out simple acts of kindness throughout our day to everyone around us. Because a simple act of kindness can make somebody happy; because a simple act of kindness can not only create a genuine moment of coming together with the other person, but also with you God; and because a simple act of kindness can touch somebody forever.  Amen.

Mary Seat of Wisdom… Pray for us

Interfaith Social Action and Social Justice Day

Prayer Canvas that will be displayed at the Boston Marathon!

Prayer Canvas that will be displayed at the Boston Marathon!

Interfaith Social Action & Social Justice Day
A Davis Academy & Marist School Joint Program

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, Marist School students participated in a day of social action and social justice throughout Atlanta with students from The Davis Academy Jewish Day School.  This is a continuation of an Interfaith Dialogue program begun last spring and this past fall with our current 8th graders.  You can read Rabbi Micah Lapidus’ blog @rabbispen about The Davis Academy/Marist School Interfaith Dialogue Partnership.

Some of the different organizations that were visited were:

Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) – “Everyone who is thirsty, come drink from the waters.  All who have no money, come and eat.” (Adapted from Isaiah 55:1) The Atlanta Community Food Bank collects and distributes food locally to organizations that serve the hungry and needy in Atlanta.  Over 15,000 people contribute to the ACFB in one way or another, and is seen as a leading example for food banks around the country.  We will be in the Product Recovery Center, sorting boxes and cans of food to help ACFB serve the community.

Atlanta Community Food Bank volunteers helped package and sort over 6,000 pounds of food!

Atlanta Community Food Bank volunteers helped package and sort over 6,000 pounds of food!

Books for Africa (BfA)“Turn it and turn it again, for everything is in it.” (Ethics of the Fathers 5:26, on reading the Bible) Books for Africa sorts and sends books to communities in need in Africa.  Books are donated by publishers, libraries, schools and individuals, and the books are sorted so that they’re in useable, complete sets when they arrive in Africa.  We will be sorting books and packing boxes upon boxes to be sent to foster educational excellence in Africa.

Books for Africa volunteers sorted and packaged over 12,000  pounds of books to be shipped to the developing world!

Books for Africa volunteers sorted and packaged over 12,000 pounds of books to be shipped to the developing world!

Medshare “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” (Talmud, Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9) Medshare saves perfectly sterile, safe and usable medical supplies and repackages them to send them to the developing world, where these supplies are hard to acquire.  They save millions of dollars in unnecessary medical waste from landfills and send thousands of tons of medical supplies around the world.  We will learn be packing and helping to ship medical supplies around the world, reducing modern medicine’s carbon footprint while increase modern medicine’s worldwide impact and saving lives!

Medshare volunteers packaged and helped sort hundreds of pounds of medical supplies to be shipped to places in the world where these resources are not available.

Medshare volunteers packaged and helped sort hundreds of pounds of medical supplies to be shipped to places in the world where these resources are not available.

VolunteerStock – Located at Davis Academy, students worked at 3 different stations throughout the morning:

  • The Prayer Canvas consisted of completing spaces on a prayer canvas that will honor the Boston Marathon bombing victims, survivors, first responders, and the residents of Boston.
Working together to create the Prayer Canvas.

Working together to create the Prayer Canvas.

  • Card Making for patients that are visited by Jewish, Catholic, and other Christian social workers in their nursing homes and hospitals. Cards will also be given out at a food bank at a Valentine’s Day meal.
Over 500 greeting cards for those in assisted living and senior citizen centers.

Over 500 greeting cards for those in assisted living and senior citizen centers.

Students made 674 sandwiches for Open Door Community Shelter.

Students made 674 sandwiches for Open Door Community Shelter.

The day was cut short due to the snowfall at noon.  Afternoon plans to convene at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center to hear Stephon Ferguson ( had to be cancelled, but the morning was well spent in collaborative social action.  On her drive home from Marist School in the snow, Mrs. Justus found herself gridlocked next to this vehicle.  I think this says it all!






Learning Beyond the Core Curriculum

Learning Beyond the Core Curriculum

            For the next two weeks or so, if you happen to pass through Marist School’s main office (quite possibly on your way to Admissions!), you may notice a display case, covered in text, photos, books, and a map of our Brookhaven neighborhood.  And as overly academic as the case may appear at first glance, that presentation tells of the history of our city: of the cemetery hiding in the trees behind Best Buy (it exists!), of the meadow that used to flourish right where Murphy Candler is now, of the plantation house that General Sherman stayed in in the 1860s.  I would know the display case well – because I helped put it together!

You see, last term I enrolled in an elective called “Introduction to Archival Research,” a two-student class that gave me one hour each day to organize, document, and research the materials in our Marist archives – because although few people are familiar with the archives, that place exists as well!  Over the course of the term, we visited various historical sites in the Brookhaven area, sorted through old documents, and looked at Marist’s past – all in hopes of creating that presentation as our one final project.

And you may think, Why would the school offer a class about archiving?  Yes, I admit, it’s a bizarre course to choose – yet Archival Research is just one of the examples of the many options we students receive as far as electives are concerned.  Because every year, I get four elective spots, and every year, one of my hardest decisions is picking what to fill those credits with.

Just to give you some examples, by the time I graduate, I will have taken Journalism and Young Adult Literature through the English department; Astronomy & Planetary Science and Ornithology through the science department; Leadership & Society and Integrating Computer Applications through the social studies and computer technology departments; Drawing & Painting and Chorus through the fine arts department; and Lifesaving & Aquatics and Body Conditioning & Awareness through the physical education department – just to name a few.  And there are even more classes that I’ve wanted to take but that I’ve never had the space for: Creative Writing, Religion & Philosophy, Modern Middle East, History & the Holocaust, Gardening… and the list goes on.

So although, yes, I take the usual maths, sciences, languages, and beyond, those courses can only personalize my schedule to an extent – because where we students really take control of our schedule is with our electives; those are the classes that push us to pursue our true interests, that allow us to choose exactly what academic path we want to follow, and that prepare us for all the options that await us in college.

Vocational Prayer

Morning Prayer: Vocational Prayer
January 28, 2014
Prayer by Mr. Drew Ditzel ’01; Marist Theology Teacher:

Some of you are being called into the ministry. I know that is weird and kind of bold of me to say, but it’s true.

Trust me, I know you are not supposed to be a minister. I know you are supposed make money as easily and enjoyably as possible. But sadly, that is no one’s vocation. No one is special for wanting that. I currently also want that. And it is very easy to take what we want and think it is the way it is supposed to be.

But what vocation is is a claim that God is bigger than the way things are supposed to be. That a job can be more than a paycheck. It can be a place we encounter and pursue God.

I get to say the prayer today during religious vocational week because I am an ordained Presbyterian minister. And when I was deciding to be a minister, I had lots of thoughts. I remember being afraid I was going to let down my parents. That I was not good enough to be a minister. That people would judge me. That I would miss out while others were going after what we were all supposed to be going after in other jobs.

And then one day as I was supposing what other occupations would be better than minister, it dawned on me that if we are talking about what is supposed to happen with this life it is that I am supposed to work for a while and then die. That is everyone’s real supposed to.

But dang it if I didn’t worship the God of resurrection. So maybe I should stop thinking the things that are supposed to happen are going to give me peace and start wondering where the God of life might be calling me to do.

And I tell you the most freeing day of my entire life was the day I told my parents I was feeling called to be a minister. Not because that is what everyone’s job is supposed to be but it is where my vocation was.

I wonder where your vocation is?

Lord God,

Take the chains of what is supposed to be away and help us to dream what is possible. Turn the death of work and resurrect it into a vocation. Soften our hearts so we don’t feel the need to declare our future but can listen to where we may be called. Give us faith to believe we are your beloved people far above anything else.


Mary, Seat of wisdom, Pray for us.

Catholic Schools Week Morning Prayer: Vocations by Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M.

Morning Prayer: Catholic Schools Week: Vocations
January 27, 2014
Prayer by Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M.

Good morning.  This week is recognized nationally as Catholic Schools Week.  You’ll see a banner attached to the bridge between the Gunn and Chanel Buildings that celebrates our Catholic school heritage.  We are welcoming today students and their teacher from another Catholic school, the Colegio San Jose in Callao, Peru.  Bienvenidos a nuestros visitadores de Peru.  Somos felices en acogerles a Vds.

This week here at Marist is also a time when we give attention to the theme of vocation—the calling that each of us responds to when we discern what it is we’re supposed to do with the gifts that God has given us.  Because we are in a Catholic school, the whole idea of letting the Holy Spirit move us toward where we can best use our talents is not strange to us.  We look and listen for signs, from what other people tell us our strengths are to what we feel drawn to over and over again.  For me, I had to acknowledge that it was service to the church that kept coming back to me, in my own prayer and discernment and in what I was hearing from others.

Some of us—most in fact—will be called to serve God as married persons and as parents, although that’s a few years down the pike for the majority.  Others will be called to live the single life and to serve that way.  Some will be called to the priesthood and religious life.  A few of us attended the funeral Thursday of Father Fogarty at St. Thomas Aquinas in Alpharetta, and it was a blessing to see some of our own Marist alumni as priests attending the funeral.

The Marist Fathers and the rest of the faculty feel we have a calling to help students discern what God might be directing you to do after you leave Marist.  We try not to do that by pushing you to one thing or another, but we are here to talk with you on retreat, or after school, or in casual meetings in any given week.  Whatever you are called to do, we have confidence that you will have the support of the Marist community behind you and that you will take seriously the need to look carefully at how you can best serve God’s people and realize your own hopes in the future.  Let us pray.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  O God, we praise you who have made us with different but abundant gifts to share with others.  Help us to know how we might best use those gifts for the sake of building up the Kingdom of God and for the betterment of those around us.  Guide us to good decisions about our future, and give us courage to respond with an open heart to even those callings that seem to be a challenge for us, so that we might serve you well in this life and come to be with you forever in the next.  In Christ we pray.  Amen.

Mary, Seat of wisdom.