Guadalupe Regional School, Brownsville, TX
The day I was going to Tyngsboro to become a Marist Brother my younger brother asked, “Why are you going? Why are you doing this?” I replied, “Well, you know in the Gospel, Jesus says if you give up your home and your family for my sake, you get a hundred fold and life everlasting. I want to test that out.”
I was principal of a school in Liberia, West Africa in a village where there was no electricity, no running water and 800 kids in the school. Despite all that we really built a good Marist school. The civil war came in 1986, and we stayed for as long as we could. Finally, everyone had to run for their lives, and we left by crossing into the Ivory Coast.
When I returned to the capital six years later, I went around to the different schools that were starting to reopen and they were packed. They had no books, no supplies, and there were 70 kids in a classroom. What I found were the kids I had taught in the village 500 miles away, were now the teachers. In this war-torn country, our kids had become the teachers. They had really learned and were able to reach out to other kids. It was probably the best experience of my life.
About 30 years after I left home, my younger brother reminded me about that day: “Remember why you went to Tyngsboro and what you said to me the day you were leaving? Well, you have got a thousand fold.”