From the Desk of Fr. Tony – December 2014

Dear St. Francis Family,

The Christmas season is a magical time and it presents moments to express gratitude, joy, love and hope. It is fitting then, that we express our gratefulness to you, our St. Francis family, for your unconditional love and compassion.

We are thankful for the laughter, smiles and talents of our students, for the support, sacrifices and care of their parents, and for the dedicated work of our faculty and staff. We give thanks for our alumni who share what it is to be a Golden Knight with our global community. We are grateful to parents of graduates and dear friends of St. Francis, for believing and supporting our educational mission.

We also remember in our prayers all the men and women in the Armed Forces and in law enforcement who risk their lives to protect our country and our freedom.

We pray that we all may continue giving ourselves to others and that we may experience each day the presence of the babe lying in a manger, the Lord of Lords, the Messiah, Christ the Savior.

May Christmas Day and the entire Christmas season be filled with peace and joy for our families and for our country. This is our prayer for you that we say in the name of the humble and poor Jesus born in Bethlehem who lives with the Father and the Holy Spirit one God forever and ever.

Christmas Blessings!

Yours in Jesus and Francis,

Fr. Tony Marti
OFM Cap. President

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – July 2014

Dear St. Francis family,

Our Holy Father would say to the friars “Let us begin again, brothers, for up until now we have done little or nothing.” The admonition from St. Francis to begin again, reminds us that there is always something that we are called to do to honor God and to serve others.

As we begin another school year, we must realize that there are so many things we are called to do to help with the education of the young men here at St. Francis High School. For me, it is always exciting to welcome a new freshman class and to welcome back our returning students. Every year new students energize our St. Francis family and give us hope and joy amidst the tremendous expectations that come with the rigors of a college preparatory program.

The young men that will join our Golden Knights this year will begin a transformation in their lives. This transformation will include academic challenges, spiritual growth, and exposure to Franciscan virtues that will influence their interactions with their brother Golden Knights and others. Our returning students will continue their journey as they also grow in maturity and realize more and more of the need we all have to nurture our relationship with God and others.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with your sons, your families, and with our faculty and staff. I am so blessed to be here at St. Francis High School and to enjoy the best job I have ever had in my entire life. My pastoral work, along with my administrative responsibilities, brings me great joy and I am very excited to begin my seventh year as President of St. Francis High School. As always, I will continue to do my best to maintain our school’s values and to provide a Catholic college preparatory education in the Capuchin Franciscan tradition of love and discipline.

May the Lord give you His blessings!

Fr. Tony Marti, OFM Cap.

Address to the Graduates

Delivered by Mr. Thomas Moran to the Class of 2014 on Saturday, May 24, 2014:

I was having a difficult time deciding what to say today, so I asked my wife for advice. She told me: “Don’t try to be too charming, witty, or intellectual. Just be yourself.”

Appropriately humbled, I had an uncharacteristic charming, witty, intellectual idea: what better message to give to a St. Francis graduate than “just be yourself”? Recommending that to any group of young men in a different environment might be the worst advice one could offer. But, having observed your development over the past four years, I feel confident in saying that to you. You have grown spiritually, had your minds and hearts enriched, and embraced the concept of brotherhood.

While not every one of you has the ability to be an exceptional intellectual, a stellar athlete, or an outstanding artist, each one of you is capable of goodness. Being a good person transcends all socioeconomic lines, ethnic, gender, and age groups, and takes no particular talent.

As the culminating Franciscan virtue of your careers, goodness embodies all of the other fifteen that were taught. Dennis Prager wrote: “Goodness is about character-integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.” We have noticed you manifest your goodness often: in classrooms, on campus, at retreats and Christian Service, on athletic fields, and in artistic endeavors. We pray this extends beyond our boundaries.

At the end of the day, while it might be nice to be charming, witty, or intellectual (and many of you are), it is far more important to be authentically, simply, humbly good. Yet in the world you are headed toward, goodness is not celebrated as much as excellence, so continue your path to goodness by practicing other Franciscan virtues:

Humility: as CS Lewis reminds us, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Integrity: Harvey Mackay said: “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

Compassion: Albert Schweitzer wrote: “The purpose of human life is to serve, to show compassion, and the will to help others.”

Service: In his graduation speech “You Are Not Special,” David McCullough stated: “The great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.”

Beginning this afternoon, your goodness will not be based on solid color tucked-in polos and Dockers, your grooming, nor your ability to follow our handbook. It will be determined by how well you have integrated Franciscan virtues into your life. As St. Francis professed: “Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary.” A St. Francis graduate’s actions not only define him, but potentially impact and influence others. Those actions will speak louder than your academic pursuits, personal characteristics, or temporal achievements, however substantial those may be.

So, as you move into the next phase of your life, don’t try to be too charming, witty, or intellectual. “Just be yourself.” Do try to be a Golden Knight, a man of virtue, a man of goodness. “Just be yourself.”

On behalf of the Board of Directors, our friars, faculty and staff, we send you forth with our love for goodness’ sake. Congratulations class of 2014!

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – May 2014

Dear St. Francis family,

When you work at a college preparatory school, it is hard not to get nostalgic at this time of year. There are a range of emotions – joy as I see the visible transformation of freshmen, who arrived at orientation as boys and have grown and matured considerably over the last several months. They have certainly added to the young men of St. Francis High School. Sophomores and juniors have noticeably embodied Franciscan attributes – those qualities that exemplify who we are and how we choose to live our daily lives – gratefully, there is a strong sense of brotherhood, faithfulness, service and goodness. And of course, there are our senior students who may literally be counting the days until graduation weekend! What a journey it has been.

There have undoubtedly been highs and lows along the way. Perhaps there were times when you felt, “the agony of defeat” only to be lifted back up and encouraged to press on by your St. Francis brothers and family. I certainly hope this was the case. Maybe it was your inner strength – your faith and belief in Jesus Christ and the teachings of Francis that carried you on. Whatever it was – remember the courage and strength you committed yourself to that enabled you to overcome adversity, no matter how big or small the challenge. On the flip side, I have seen tremendous joy in your eyes, in your smiles, and in your “fist pumps” as I walk our campus. I have seen how your diligent work in the classroom has paid big dividends with acceptances to selective colleges, impressive numbers earning honor roll, and strong results on AP exams. I marvel at your efforts that extend beyond the classroom – on the athletic field, in the weight room, throughout our theater and KNIT television studio, and in service to our broader community. I applaud your desires to be faithful and live a faith-filled life. Know that your journey does not end here – take this spirit with you as you go off to college and continue on in our world. Life will continue to challenge and reward you. Actively seek a life that enriches your mind and heart and allows you to enrich the minds and hearts of others, especially those brothers and sisters who are most in need.

As we prepare for the final weeks of our 2013-2014 academic year, know that my heart is filled with many emotions. Like you, I feel the fatigue that accompanies that final spring push. This is far outweighed by the joy I feel in seeing our mission put into action each and every day at St. Francis High School. I believe your minds and hearts have been enriched. I know mine certainly have. Be sure to take this example home with you – share it with those you love – share it with those who need God’s love most. Best wishes to the class of 2014 – may our Heavenly Father bless you and watch over you! And to all Golden Knights, continue to study hard and make each day count!

Yours in Jesus and Francis,

Fr. Tony Marti, OFM Cap.
President

Bleeding Miracles

A Reflection from Kairos 91
Segments from a college fictional writing assignment by Keith Enterante ’11, Kairos 91 Retreat Rector

It’s a wonder how so many miracles can happen in a room. And how they are issued from the mouths of forty-six high school seniors. Well, actually their hearts. Maybe God was present, maybe He wasn’t, but when a seventeen year-old boy learns the magic of empathy, I suppose anything is possible. The room was white, a massive projector screen consuming its center core, a beacon of promise and potential. A black amplifier sits behind forty-six chairs and in front of two long oak benches, where I plopped myself to witness the miracles. Then there was the podium. It was placed in front of the projector screen, where the boys watched song lyrics tell stories that only the amplifier could voice. It was at this podium where I watched forty-six hearts courageously bleed for the sake of empathy and understanding. It was there where clarity for all who have searched for seventeen years, whether they knew it or not, was discovered.

I have always appreciated the power of stories. It’s no wonder I want to be a novelist, punching keys to reach hearts all around the world. Writing, indeed, is bleeding, especially because it holds no promises. My stories may or may not assimilate themselves into society, and I may or may not make money from them, but in this one life, I know that writing is what I was born to do. And sometimes, that’s enough. Novels, the beautiful babies of a writer’s mastered craft, often go unnoticed- collecting dust on a shelf, untouched and forgotten like bitter memories. Ironic that so many of those stories are born from bitter memories, and people pass them by ignorant of their power and love.

But what happens when a story is voiced, and not written? What happens when a boy verbally confronts his past for the first time, and faces it like a man for the first time? Tears fall, hugs envelop the room, and spirits are lifted to shine through the darkness. Know what else is ironic? I’m recollecting my memory of last week for a fiction writing class, but there is nothing fiction about it. What was fiction were the personal lies those forty-six boys told themselves before the retreat. Among those: real men don’t cry, it’s not cool to be a gentle…man, and God’s love is conditional. The podium erased those lies and so many more, the podium unmasked loving truths, the podium told the story, and I watched from an oak bench.

You would think the miracles would be found elsewhere. You would think they’d unveil themselves outside of that room, in the hills that overlooked Santa Barbara, which was shrouded in a fog, like a bad omen from the aftermath of Deltopia’s darkness and destruction. Deltopia’s lies. We were above the fog – above the lies, and overhead the sky was golden blue. You could hear the wind rustle the eaves by day, and the cicadas and toads belt their throaty songs by night. The view was beautiful. The forty-six boys came from below; they weaved through those green hills in a large bus that was their one-way ticket to clarity. They climbed the mountain lost and choked from bitter life memories, and descended it four days later touched by the spirit of love and empathy. They ascended the mountain as boys, and descended it as men.

With open hearts, the tears bled freely from forty-six men. Empathy stole the room and chased the lies outside of the door, passed the marble statues that watched a quiet pond like angels, passed the ghostly dormitories where the wind often howled at night like undead spirits, passed the courtyard where forty-six boys first arrived weighed down by masks, and it is my hope that those lies died in Santa Barbara’s fog down the hill below. Like I said, God may or may not have been present, but at that moment, empathy’s magic established itself in a new atmosphere of love, hope, and clarity. And love is what humans do best.

This was my fifth time up the mountain, but this is my first time writing about it. It’s 11:55 p.m. and this assignment is due tomorrow. But I’ve hardly been working, hardly bleeding, because when I descended the mountain, I was changed too. My mind has never been clearer; I’ve never been so enveloped by so much understanding.

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – April 2014

Dear Friends of St. Francis,
You may have noticed an announcement about Capuchin Franciscan Heritage Days on our school website. We will honor Capuchin Franciscan Heritage Days during the period, March 17, 2014-April 18, 2014 and encourage all members of our St. Francis community to connect with one another, and join in prayers and activities that benefit our community and those in need.

Some may remember four years ago, when the Minster General of the worldwide Capuchin Franciscan Order came from Italy, to St. Francis High School to join in our celebration as the Capuchins marked 100 years of service in the United States. It was in 1910 that the Irish Capuchin Franciscans, filled with missionary spirit and inspired by Francis of Assisi’s vision came to the United States to serve poor immigrants looking for a new life. As Capuchins, we strive to be men of prayer and action, living and working together in community and ministry. Through our vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, we are men of faith, hope and love. It has been said that St. Francis wrote to the entire Order, “Hold back nothing of you for yourself, so that he who gives himself totally to you may receive you totally.”

In our own community at St. Francis High School, we take this to heart and each day commit ourselves to developing individual spirituality through the sacredness of St. Francis’ teaching and enriching the minds and hearts of young men. The sixteen Franciscan virtues that are taught over the course of a student’s four years at St. Francis are evidence of this. As we began the fourth quarter, we introduced the virtue of goodness. Goodness can be used as a noun, adjective and adverb. Common themes of goodness imply something that is commendable, enjoyable, reliable, beneficial, kind, noble, admirable and of course, something that is most welcome. Goodness further suggests excellence of attitude, character and morality, If we were to take the Greek word for goodness, agathosune, the translation would be “zealous activity in doing good” or “active goodness”. As we celebrate these Capuchin Franciscan Heritage Days, I ask you and those you love, to practice goodness. Actively connect with your brothers and sisters. Pray in earnest. And actively seek occasions to serve those in need. In short, I ask you to take to heart St. Francis’ wisdom, “Preach the Gospel at all times – use words if necessary!” In this way, we will hold back nothing of ourselves and give totally to those brothers and sisters most in need. May our Risen Christ bless you and watch over you.

Easter Blessings,
Fr. Tony

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – March 2014

Dear St. Francis family,

As a Catholic community, we will celebrate Ash Wednesday in just a few days and begin our Lenten journey. I find it noteworthy that our third quarter virtue, faithfulness, coincides with the Lenten season. During the Lenten season, we are called to pray, to fast and to reach out to those who are in need. Simply put, we are called to be faithful.

There are many definitions of the word faithful:
1. Strict or thorough in the performance of duty – think of a faithful worker.
2. True to one’s word, promises, vows etc.
3. Steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant as described as a faithful friend.
4. Reliable, trusted, or believed.
5. Adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate such as a faithful account or a faithful
copy.

In honoring the virtue of faithfulness, we commit ourselves to the practice of being faithful, in relation to each of these definitions. As faithful Catholics, we understand that almsgiving, charity, and love to others is most important in our Lenten journey. If we wish our prayers to be heard, we must listen to the plight of those in need. Beyond this, we must also recognize that God does not always answer our prayers in the way we expect. But He does always answer. To have faith and trust in God means that we recognize His activity in our circumstances even when they may seem hopeless. In our human eyes, we may see things are not getting better and fear that God has abandoned us. We must trust that God sees the big picture and that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is at work, even when we don’t realize it. “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

We must also remember that God works through ordinary people like you and me. When we offer help or an act of kindness to someone else, we may very well be an answer to their prayers. So I ask and encourage you, during this Lenten journey, commit yourself once again to being a faithful disciple – be the answer to prayer for a brother or sister in Christ – and make time to nurture your faith through prayer and reflection. Be sure to ask the same of your family! By doing so, I am confident, we will grow in our faith and we will continue to be blessed by our Heavenly Father.

Happy Lent!

Blessings,

Fr. Tony Marti, OFM Cap.
President

Faithfulness 2013

St. Francis football team motivated by underdog role against state, national power Serra

Article written by By Gerry Gittelson, Special to the Daily News

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/sports/20131031/st-francis-football-team-motivated-by-underdog-role-against-state-national-power-serra

The school has gone 49 years since winning a Southern Section football championship, but St. Francis has remained competitive year in and year out, and this season the Golden Knights are doing more than merely plugging away.

With a high-powered offense that averages 444 yards and 44.5 points per game, St. Francis (8-0) is off to its best start since 1966 heading into a Mission League showdown at 7 p.m. Friday at Serra (8-0), ranked No. 4 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 7 in the nation by USA Today.

St. Francis has a challenging academic curriculum and rigorous entrance requirements that force the Golden Knights to turn away a lot of talented prospective student athletes that other nearby private schools readily accept. An occasional all-state type like Dietrich Riley (ex-UCLA) has shown up through the years, but mostly St. Francis succeeds on home-grown talent.

As a result, the trophy case is not overflowing with championship hardware, and the school usually is not mentioned in the same breath with other elite private-school programs like Oaks Christian, Alemany and Chaminade.

Instead, the campus has a small-town feel with a hearty supply of pride and school spirit. Nearly every graduate goes on to attend a four-year university, maybe not to play major-college football but perhaps with an extra dose of loyalty and commitment — qualities missing at some of the other highly competitive programs.

The Golden Knights are not a football power in the traditional sense. Nevertheless, they’ve made the playoffs 12 times in 13 years since former UCLA quarterback Jim Bonds took over as head coach.

St. Francis, ranked No. 3 in the Western Division, figures to be in for a big challenge Friday at defending champion Serra, which already has defeated Notre Dame, Chaminade and Harvard-Westlake.

“We know we’re in store for a tough games with Serra, so we’re just taking things one step at a time and preparing to play hard,” St. Francis running back Joe Mudie said. “We’re 8-0 and we feel great. Our whole team has played well, and we just have good team effort.

“Everyone on the team believes in each other, and everything has been clicking on offense and defense and special teams.”

Being an underdog, not just tonight but in general, serves as motivation.

“It motivates us more and makes us prepare even harder,” Mudie said. “We’re not focused on making a name for ourselves, just on playing hard. I mean, publicity is good, but it’s not the most important thing.”

Mudie is coming off a career night, rushing for 225 yards and two touchdowns Friday in a 44-14 victory over Harvard-Westlake. He has rushed for 987 yards — 412 over the past two games — and scored 13 touchdowns in addition to 25 receptions and 29.3-yard average on kick returns.

Mudie is among a group of key seniors including quarterback Ty Gangi, linebackers Kevin Maloof and Michael Weber and defensive lineman Ricky Urzua.

Gangi, a first-year starter, has passed for 1,543 yards and 18 touchdowns, and he also has scored five touchdowns. He has taken advantage after waiting patiently for a opportunity, and the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has passed for at least one touchdown in every game.

“I learned a lot during the spring and summer, and I’ve just practiced hard,” Gangi said.

Having Bonds as the head coach has helped Gangi a lot. In high school, Bonds led Hart to a Northwestern Conference championship in 1986. His coaching mentor is Bill Redell, who plucked Bonds, then 23, as an assistant at St. Francis before Bonds eventually took the head job at Alemany for three years. When Redell moved to Oaks Christian, Bonds returned to St. Francis.

The coach still enjoys a tradition of playing long toss with his quarterbacks every day and Gangi has a good grasp of team concepts, and that’s something the coach has instilled.

“I’ve got a couple of really good receivers with John Carroll and Dylan Crawford,” Gangi said. “John is a big target, 6-4, 220 pounds, and he’s coming off a big game last week against Harvard-Westlake. Once I get him the ball, he can really run with it, too. Dylan, he’s only a sophomore, but he’s been really great because he’s so fluid, and he’s great at adjusting to the ball.”

Gangi operates behind an offensive line featuring seniors Trevor Provencio (6-2, 290), Joe Loubier (6-5, 260) and Austin Finton (6-1, 240). Provencio is a co-captain along with Mudie and Maloof.

Maloof is the cousin of world-renowned businessman Joe Maloof, the ex-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and present owner of Palms Casino in Las Vegas.

Maloof is a part of a hard-hitting defense that has allowed an average of just 15 points and forced 15 turnovers.

“We’re a really stout defense. I’m happy but there’s always room for improvement,” Maloof said. “We just keep practicing hard every week, and I think we’ve got a chance against Serra. We plan on taking it to ‘em.”

Bonds is the architect of St. Francis’ success. When he first left Alemany to take the job, he said it was an easy decision to make because St. Francis just felt like home.

“I enjoyed my time at Alemany, which was my first head-coaching job, but I had made some great relationships at St. Francis with Bill Redell and the administration, and when Bill left, he kind of gave me a head’s up and brought me in,” Bonds said. “It’s was just a place where I wanted to put my feet on the ground and wanted to be for a long time.”

Bonds is 102-57 at St. Francis. He has a group of seasoned assistants, including offensive coordinator Joe Monarrez, who has been at St. Francis for 17 years, and defensive coordinator Mark Gibbons, who has been there 21 years.

If St. Francis can forge an upset Friday, it would be perhaps the biggest regular-season victory in Bonds’ career. Of course, no one expects it to happen, but Bonds and the Golden Knights believe in each other, and for him that’s the most important thing.

“I like St. Francis because we have such good kids,” Bonds said. “They’re very respectful young men, they’re academically motivated, and I have a great staff. I’m having a great time here.”

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