Mr. Moran’s Address to the Graduates – May 23, 2015

As a graduate, you have committed to living Franciscan virtues and sharing them with your communities. We are not just suggesting your involvement, but mandating your commitment. There’s an allegory comparing the difference between involvement and commitment to preparing bacon and eggs. It concludes the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.

To illustrate what a man committed to Franciscan values looks like, I want you to consider a true Franciscan leader, Mr. Pete Brang. As the last class to graduate on his watch, your exemplary behavior and character are products of that commitment.

You may only know him for inspiring you in AP US History, the agony of a visit to his office, or from serving detention. Some knew him as cross country and track coach, Kairos leader, or driving instructor. There’s the whistle that simultaneously paralyzes 600 students and Foothill Blvd. traffic. More have known him for the support he offered when they struggled with a personal problem, failed to fit in, or needed a father figure.

Before meeting the man with the grammatically incorrect name in my first year, I overheard: “Mr. Brang to the office.” Brang, I thought? Maybe they are testing me to see if I really have an English degree. I learned quickly that having Mr. Brang’s support was essential for survival.

At that time, he was the Dean of Discipline, a title that implied punishment. But, an important connection exists between the secular word “discipline” and the spiritual term “disciple.” Its Latin derivation connotes “teaching, learning, and knowledge.” These are all elements of Mr. Brang’s approach; more have benefited from this wisdom than his lessons on the Constitution, Civil War, or Depression. Those who embraced his discipline became disciples. They discovered what former football coach Bum Phillips advocated: “The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.”

Upon joining the Administration, I observed his ability to make quick decisions, his instincts in influencing different individuals, his belief in “servant leadership,” and his concern for each person on this campus. Most important was his tireless commitment to support every St. Francis activity.

You can find examples of all sixteen Franciscan virtues in Mr. Brang’s career. Integrity, humility, compassion, simplicity, brotherhood, peace and justice, and service are obvious. But it also encompasses things that may not be as evident-important qualities like joy, generosity, faithfulness, hospitality, charity, goodness, prayer, acceptance, and peacemaking. You can include traditional values like toughness, fairness, reliability, loyalty, respect, and dedication. Dealing with Mr. Brang is like going to the dentist. It’s not the association with pain; it’s that you don’t appreciate it until later.

He is a long-distance runner whose marathon career is nearing the finish line. The high expectations he placed on himself and others are reminiscent of the words of another legendary runner, Steve Prefontaine: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Allow me to deviate from formal grammar to state: day in and day out, for forty-four years, Pete “Brang” it.

You may not have a career like his, but you can model his commitment. As you leave St. Francis, know that you and your brothers, by your character, are his legacy. Any discipline you have learned was his gift. In moments of crisis, pretend he is watching. Live a life committed to Franciscan virtues. Don’t just do it for St. Francis. Do it for Pete’s sake.

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – March 2015

Dear St. Francis Family,

Les Miserables is a French historical novel written by Victor Hugo. It was first published in 1862 and it shared the lives and struggles of several characters including an ex-convict, Jean Valjean. True to the novel, the recent performances of Les Miserables here at St. Francis High School, express these challenges and gratefully, the ultimate and renewing experience of redemption.

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Redemption is a theme that seems rather fitting in the liturgical season of Lent. During our forty-day journey, we often look for ways to become closer to God. We look for ways that will make us better, stronger and more faith-filled people. We pray more. We give up sweets and other temptations. We try to be more “God-like” – all with the goal of being renewed and receiving some “redemption”. Redemption calls to mind an action of saving one from sin, error or evil. Redemption, then, mirrors spiritual cleansing in that it projects thoughtful and determined action that encourage us to turn away from evil and turn toward what we know is good and loving. Redemption calls us to turn toward God, our Heavenly Father.

Last month, I ended my letter to you by wishing you all a “Happy Lent”. It’s a different way of thinking about one’s forty-day journey than a solemn Lent filled with themes of doing without. By seeking redemption, we are truly looking to become more “God-like”. We are looking to live the words of the Gospel and St. Francis. We are looking to put our Franciscan virtues in action. By doing these things and actively engaging in our journey, we will experience redemption, just like Jean Valjean did in Les Miserables. That ought to be a primary focus then, of our Lenten journey – we ought to keep the end result in sight. After forty days of conscious and dedicated commitment, we will be redeemed!

I would like to congratulate our director, Mr. Eulalia, our Visual and Performing Arts Department and our student cast and crew of Les Miserables – your tremendous efforts are to be commended. With sold-out performances and standing ovations, your work was just magnificent. Bravo!

Let me end once again by wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Lent. Redemption will be ours to share Easter Sunday.

Yours in Jesus and Francis,

Fr. Tony Marti
OFM Cap. President

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – January 2015

Dear St. Francis Family,

As we concluded 2014, we heard commentaries about the most important news stories of the year and how they affected a number of countries and people. I am sure that some of the events roused feelings of joy, sadness, frustration and even anger. In a world as the one in which we live, we are affected in some way or another no matter how far we live from “the news story”. Our world has become very small because of the way we communicate, travel and how collectively, we as a global people are affected by different events.

Without disregarding the concerns we have for people far away from us, we must also think and reflect on the issues that pertain to our families and how they affect our personal lives and the people with whom we interact daily.

Here at St. Francis, we focus not only on academics, athletics, visual arts, clubs, service and many activities, but also on issues that affect your sons’ lives deeply. Some of the issues have to do with relationships that are essential to their development and spirituality.

At the beginning of a new year, it is customary to make resolutions. I suggest we all look at items that have an impact on the young men we educate and try to help in so many ways. Perhaps as parents, you might look to spend more time with your sons (and daughters), try to be more communicative (and I know this is not always easy with boys and with young people in general), encourage them to be more open with you, be open with them, realize that events in your own lives can have a significant effect on your children’s lives, and last but not least, speak with them about their spiritual well-being. This last item might have the greatest impact as they realize the importance their relationships, or lack of, with God, and others, can affect their daily activities.

Here at St. Francis, we are ready and happy to be of help in every way possible. The formation of your sons, academically and as a person, is a priority year after year. The fruits of your labor and ours will be manifested as they mature and move into a higher educational environment and later on in life. Let’s always be positive and continue working together.

May God fill your new year with joy, opportunities and courage to face whatever challenges may lie ahead of you. You will continue to be remembered in my prayers and at my daily Masses.

Yours in Jesus and Francis,

Fr. Tony Marti
OFM Cap. President

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

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