St. John’s marks annual celebration with a focus on the power of faith to bring us together
Throughout this week, Catholic schools across the country are sharing in a time of reflection upon the transformative nature of an inclusive, Xaverian, Catholic education and how we can live in service of the values set out in the Gospels. On Wednesday, the St. John’s Prep community gathered to celebrate the tradition’s Golden Anniversary and to offer the prayers of the mass—a ritual at the center of what it means to be a Catholic school.
The week-long salute also shines a light on another core component of what it means to be a Catholic school: Seeking and finding opportunities to step outside our comfort zone and make others feel seen, valued, and loved. Head of School Ed Hardiman P'19 '21 '26 spoke about how such an experience inspired him to open his heart to God a bit more, treat everyone as created in the image and likeness of God, and empower those he encounters to be unique expressions of God’s love.
“I’ve been a student, a teacher, or an administrator at a Catholic school since 1975,” he said. “As a senior in high school, I was invited to travel to Duran, Ecuador with our school chaplain and 10 classmates. I encountered poverty that I had never seen before and it was overwhelming. I also encountered faith that I had never seen before. That experience helped me come to learn that faith is more than practices, prayers, service, work, and trying to be a good person. Faith has healed the wounds created by loss. Faith has created new possibilities and has deeply resonated. Faith brings us together.”
Dr. Hardiman also used the opportunity to publicly thank St. John’s faculty and staff, who he asked to stand so students could honor them with an ovation to acknowledge “their deep love for you and for the work they do.”
Celebrant Father Jim Ronan ’62 employed his homily to note that being a Catholic school isn’t merely a label, but rather an identity that pervades all aspects of the School and defines the community.
“We’re the education business and we’re in the transformation and formation business,” he said. “And so, we study, we learn, we read, we write, we argue, we debate, we train, we sweat, we worry, we dance, we laugh, we cry. We work in teams. We work alone. We get angry, we laugh—all of it. We do that with the fundamental objective of preparing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We do that in an environment that’s fueled by our faith, that’s fueled by a set of values, and that’s fueled by the knowledge that every one of us is equal as a child of God—that’s who we are, which defines all kinds of parts of what we do.”
Catholic School week also serves as a platform to celebrate moments of servant leadership as the St. John’s community continues to embrace the call to seek out situations in our day-to-day lives where we can make a positive impact on others.
This school year, there are many examples of how students, faculty, and staff have sought out experiences that put others first and influence situations for the benefit of others. From sixth graders decorating lunch bags for the local homeless population served by Ellis Square Friends in Beverly to National Honor Society students tutoring younger pupils to the Prep community’s participation in the PULSE service program, allowing us to better understand those living on the margins and learn to actively address issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness.
“Servant leadership is an inherently selfless act and a mindset that manifests itself in a variety of incredible ways across campus,” said Hardiman. “This Xaverian tradition is steeped in our cultural priorities. It’s what Fr. Ronan means by ‘committing ourselves to something bigger and how that defines the way we live our life.’ As we remember our past and celebrate our future, my hope and my prayer is that much the same as my experience of working and living and praying with the Xaverian Brothers over the last 40 years, you come to learn what it means to be a person of faith, that you invite God to be a part of your journey, and that you come to see God in the midst of challenging times.”