Dear St. Louis U. High Community,
You may know that many Jesuits experience an impactful, inspiring and at times terrifying experience of being sent on a “pilgrimage.” Young novices with little money or direction are sent into the world to encounter the holiness of the people they meet, directed and protected only by their faith and the Holy Spirit. With life’s comforts removed, these young men in formation are placed in a strange land, and like St. Ignatius on his journey to Jerusalem, they encounter powerful experiences and formative lessons. Jesuits are taught experientially, though it may seem random at the time, that God is living in the intense care and generosity of strangers encountered along the proverbial and literal road.
We proudly share with you several Jesuit pilgrimage experiences in this issue of SLUH Magazine, as well as pilgrimages of other varieties, including student global education trips and alumni photographic journeys.
We all experience pilgrimages of some sort, whether they’re in exotic places, sacred spaces or everyday moments. Our Christian tradition includes many pilgrimage examples that may or may not include a destination. La Via Francigena, The Abraham Path, Camino de Santiago, Lourdes and Madonna de Ghisallo are just a few of the journeys of conversion common to our modern nomenclature.
On reflection, my own life has been a pilgrimage – one guided by the Holy Spirit and transformed by Jesuit education and everyday miracles. It is nothing short of miraculous that I entered St. Paul’s Jesuit High in Winnipeg as a timid freshman in 1984 before taking a job at Rockhurst High School in 1994 on a Hail Mary pass and some Jesuit inspiration. Yet it seems more miraculous that a kid from a proudly blue-collar, Northern Manitoban family married the most beautiful woman who was born in New York City and raised in Reno, Nevada. God is at work in all of our pilgrimages.
Pilgrimage can be a daily undertaking, and when it is realized and prayed upon, those humble moments of gratitude and solidarity can become magical and joyful. Moving to St. Louis and meeting incredible SLUH alumni, benefactors, parents, students, faculty and staff has been a journey – and certainly a pilgrimage – for both myself and my family. Our time in St. Louis, although brief, has been magical, and we are deeply grateful for the many people who have made it so.
The journey of SLUH’s 200 years tells of a Christ-inspired pilgrimage, one full of solidarity, everyday miracles and enduring connections. We educate young men of ability, regardless of their financial background, to prepare them for college, but more importantly, to prepare them to see God in all whom they meet and serve. The support they receive for financial aid, robotics, performing arts, athletics, academic support or pastoral programming is really a ticket for a very special journey – one where only the imagination and the Holy Spirit can fathom the true destination.
Thank you for your support of these young men at SLUH, and I hope you remember your SLUH journey as you enjoy this issue of SLUH Magazine.
LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN
Running of the Bills has become a rite of passage for SLUH freshmen. While there is no clear account of when it began – some alumni say it loosely began during the football team’s run for the state title in 1991 (SLUH narrowly lost in the championship game), while others report it began years later when Jr. Bills ran from Oakland Avenue to CBC’s old campus on Clayton Road for the rivalry football game – there is consensus on its value in engendering spirit and brotherhood.
The event typically occurs at the first home football game. After a lineup of fun activities after school, freshmen slather themselves with blue paint and run wildly into the stadium, where they cheer on the football team for the rest of the night. Prepared freshman parents bring towels and blankets for the car ride home.