Monday, January 4, 2021


In mid-2020, I composed a blog titled, "Rivers in the Wasteland." Inspired by the name of a 2014 Needtobreathe album and song, I declared that in many ways, 2020 could adequately be described as a wasteland. Division along political, racial, and societal lines. Unemployment. A global pandemic. Wildfires. Hurricanes. Death. 

A wasteland. 

Yet, in the midst of all of this mess, there are - however small they may be - rivers. 

Rivers in the wasteland. 

I know I speak from a place of privilege to have the space to reflect on my rivers throughout 2020. That, in and of itself, is a river. 

There are countless others. 

Since March, I've been able to connect to my extended family with almost weekly Zoom calls. I've called my 96 year-old grandfather who lives by himself close to weekly as well. Sadly, these are practices that did not exist in my life prior to the pandemic. They are practices that I'm committing to maintaining in all circumstances moving forward. 

The slower pace and stay-at-home orders and opportunities allowed for my immediate family to eat three meals a day together, go on walks and bike rides, play boardgames, experiment with recipes, and invent front yard games. While all of this may not be possible in a post-pandemic world, I plan to hold fast to the essence of this time spent together: my wife and three children are the most important people in my world; I need to make sure my actions, words, and choices demonstrate that they are my priority.

The virtual celebrations of the Eucharist have re-ignited in me a hunger for the reception of the Eucharist in deep and intense ways. To be clear, watching Mass online stinks; but, as Fr. Lou Delfra declared shortly before Christmas, attending Mass via Zoom/online is like lighting a candle in the darkness. Forced distance has made my heart yearn for Christ and rejoice at the moments when I have been able to receive Him. I want to feast as often as I can at this Heavenly Banquet as life returns to normal: give me more than once a week our daily bread.

This isolation and distancing have forced me to consider and evaluate my purpose within Catholic education. At a time when Catholic schools and all organizations and businesses scrambled to move to an on-line reality, I merely started to work from home. My workload and activities remained about the same; only my location was significantly different. I had ample time to prepare to teach online over the summer, much more than the weekend that most Catholic schools received when the world shut down in March. 

It made me wonder, what is the purpose of my current role? How am I positioned to help Catholic education? I work with aspiring Catholic school leaders and am honored to work with such amazing, kingdom-oriented humans. But, 2020 made me question whether that is enough.

As we move into 2021, I would say that it isn't. I would say that this is too limited in scope and depth.

My purpose can't be to just help form transformational Catholic school leaders, however noble this work is. This is what I do.

But, why do I do this? What's my purpose?

My purpose is and always has been to bring people to fullness of life through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is my why, and when your why is strong enough you can overcome any obstacle to how you go about accomplishing it. It can offer clarity of next steps. It can offer energy, determination, and grit. 

Why write this blog? Answer: to bring people to fullness of life through a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Why work in a Catholic school leadership formation program: to bring people to fullness of life through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

What I do - form transformational Catholic school leaders - is one of many things that I could do to accomplish my purpose, one of the many ways that I could accomplish my why.

This time of isolation has refocused my purpose and proposed a vision for moving into this year and beyond.

I started this blog about ten years ago as a way to communicate ideas about my vision for Catholic education at Incarnation Catholic School and more broadly. Aptly titled, Catholic Education, I never stayed within the confines of PreK-8 Catholic education and/or happenings at ICS. Instead, I broached all sorts of topics meant to touch upon an aspect of educating people - bringing them to fullness of life through an encounter with Jesus Christ - in the Catholic faith. It's about time to once again start writing with purpose and regularity.

The river in this wasteland, for me, is springing forth something new - my family, my faith, my focus, and my future, and it's time to race into 2021 with a face mask; courage - "the mean between a rashness that is heedless of danger and a timidity that is paralyzed by it" (Fr. John Jenkins); and hope.

Hang on!