The first semester is quickly coming to an end, and that means that the Advent season is upon us.
Advent comes from the Latin, Adventus, which translates to “coming.” The four weeks leading up to Christmas Day are a time for us to prepare for the coming of Jesus.
As a child, during Advent, my family gathered around our Advent wreath every Sunday evening to pray together and light that week’s candle. I recall it being a special time for my sisters and me growing up and was glad when my father gifted me an Advent Wreath prior to my first Christmas as a husband and father. Since then I have continued the tradition of lighting the Advent wreath every Sunday, with my own wife and children, and believe it to be a vital part of my preparation for Christmas. It is a sacred few minutes when we as a family turn our eyes toward Christ, and away from the many distractions that surround us, to share a meditation, pray for special intentions and give thanks for the many gifts we have received.
For me, the gift of faith is most precious. It is a gift that needs to be appreciated and nurtured. One of the reasons we, at Belen, invest so much effort into our Campus Ministry Program is so that we are able to provide our students with opportunities to nourish their faith. Masses, Days of Reflection, Service Retreats, Cardoner Experiences, Junior Encounters and the Spiritual Exercises are all intended to assist our young men in establishing and deepening their relationship with Jesus Christ. That is our most important mission and priority at Belen, and with Christ and for Christ, everything else is possible.
As we approach the New Year and count our many blessings, we must not take for granted the gifts of health and family from which we derive energy and joy. This is particularly true for our Belen family this year as we have suffered through the illness and injury of some of our fellow students and alumni over the past few weeks. While we have been shaken as a community, these events should also serve to remind us of the power of prayer and of the strength that comes from our unity and love for one another.
Finally, I am personally grateful for having had the opportunity to travel this semester to Taipei, Taiwan to visit St. Ignatius High School, with whom we have an exchange program, as well as to Denver, Colorado where I attended the National Conference for Jesuit School Principals. Both experiences were extremely rewarding and reinforced for me that Jesuit education is universal, full of talent and treasures. It is universal because the same core values we instill in our students at Belen are evident in St. Ignatius in Taipei and all the Jesuit schools across the nation. The talent and treasures are found in the students who graduate from our Jesuit schools and become moral and professional leaders around the world. They are also found in our alumni who continue to give back to our Jesuit schools and our communities internationally. Our Jesuit talent and treasures are found as well in our dedicated parents, teachers, administrators, coaches and staff who work tirelessly to ensure our students’ success.
May God bless us all throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas and may He continue to bless Belen as we work to achieve our mission of molding men for others. May Our Lady of Belen intercede for us so we may diligently prepare for the coming of Jesus and truly feel His presence in our lives.
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was founded in 1854 in Havana, Cuba by Queen Isabel II of Spain. The task of educating students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), whose teaching tradition is synonymous with academic excellence and spiritual discipline. In 1961, the new political regime of Cuba confiscated the School property and expelled the Jesuit faculty. The School was re-established in Miami the same year, and over the next decade, continued to grow. Today, Belen Jesuit sits on a 30-acre site in western Dade County, only minutes away from downtown Miami.