21 June, 2012


Benedictine Academy was awarded the prestigious 2012 Jefferson Gold Medal Award for Greatest Public Service by a High School in the entire nation.  Before returning home, we journeyed to the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington DC to give thanks and praise to our Lord and the Blessed Mother.  What did it feel like to receive the Jefferson Gold Medal Award?  What significance does the Jefferson Gold Medal Award have in the educational mission of Benedictine Academy? The following is a glimpse of those intimate moments of prayer sitting before Mary.  As you can see,  the protection and guidance of the Blessed Mother is really the Gold Medal Award in our lives.

My Prayer Reflection:

As Aung San Suukyi's once shared, all the beautiful inspiring words we heard yesterday have been "written in gold on our hearts".   

It is unbelievable that we are here in Washington DC, our Nation’s Capitol.  One always secretly hopes and prays, believing it is possible, yet thinking it is highly improbable that we could be chosen to be awarded the Jefferson Award Gold Medal for Greatest Public Service by a High School.

Our journey with Jefferson Awards is a real Modern day Cinderella Story…. and Students In Action was our Prince Charming.  We lived and taught by Mother Theresa’s words, “Do small things with great love.”   Then Sam Beard came along.  He said, “That’s terrific.  But I want you to Think Big.  Think Global.”  They challenged us to expand our horizons beyond the 12 square miles of Elizabeth to 57 million square miles of our planet.   And they gave us the tools, the framework, and the network of support to do it. 

We live in a world full of violence, prejudice, exploitation, poverty and hunger.   Perhaps the greatest hunger is to be known and to be loved, to be treated with respect and kindness.   It is organically written in the DNA of every human being. Our goal was to start a movement, to ignite our love for humankind, by delivering happiness, one act of kindness at a time.  Everyone could Do Something.  No Zebras, no bystanders, allowed.

The real significance of Jefferson Awards for us is that it changed our reality.  They empowered our entire school to be like the NY Giants, to be ALL IN, for the superbowl of life.   They gave us the hope and the courage to be terrific in a world that is so in need of hope.   They connected us with wisdom people, people like Robert Provost, Maryann Younger and Karen Hatcher, to help us and guide us.  They instilled in our hearts their faith and belief that together, we could paint a new picture of humanity.

What does it mean to be awarded with the Jefferson Awards Gold Medal?  We are so proud and undeserving to stand along side of the great humanitarians last evening, and in the shadows of the great leaders of our planet, people such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, the Kennedy’s, Sam Beard and Robert Taft Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mother Teresa, who have all gone before us.   If we are quiet, we can here God whispering in the silence of our hearts, "Bravo Benedictine Academy, good and faithful servant.  In you, I am well pleased.”   

We give thanks to God and our Blessed Mother Mary for such a privilege and honor and grace.