Saturday, April 16, 2016


Last week I blogged about a student of ours from Kenya who has become part of our school family. This week I’ll start with a story about another student from a few years ago (I’ll call him Charles) who was here for just one year, but who has recently had an enormous effect on us.

Like some of Edwin Rutto’s Kenyan schoolmates, Charles was crippled, and needed two sticks to help him get around. An African-American from Newark, he somehow got connected with a wealthy sponsor from the suburbs who knew of our school, and felt that Charles needed the support of a community like ours. In response to this gentleman’s request, despite not having a wealth of handicap facilities, we accepted Charles because it was the right thing to do. He did okay here, as I remember, but moved on to a different school after that year for various reasons.

Then about two years ago his grateful sponsor was speaking to a friend of his, some sort of executive connected with CBS Television’s weekly news program, “Sixty Minutes,” and recommended to him that he check out St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark. He must have made a good case, because CBS then sent two people to look at the possibilities of doing a segment on us. The result was, after about a year of a filming (!), a wonderful 13-minute piece that was aired on “Sixty Minutes” immediately following the second game of the quarter-finals of the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament on a Sunday afternoon. If you didn’t see the segment and can spare 13 minutes, you can click here. It will help you to understand what follows.

As expected, immediately after the piece aired, all hell broke loose. CBS’s website crashed.
Our school’s website, despite our careful advance arrangements with our web page host, crashed for 20 minutes. (Our host then had to temporarily shut down all his other sites to allow for the traffic coming in to our web site).

So, thanks to Charles, millions of people got to be inspired by the story of the students of St. Benedict’s Prep. That was three weeks ago, and the calls and emails and facebook comments keep coming.

Many worried parents have called from cities all around the U.S. wanting to know if they can get their sons into our school, or if there’s a school like ours near where they live.
Educators keep inquiring about how they can replicate various parts of our program in their schools, or even start a school from scratch.

A few hundred generous people have donated tens of thousands of dollars. We’re now starting to hear from more cautious but much wealthier possible benefactors.  These latter people and foundations can make a huge difference to our Office of Institutional Advancement, who are charged with raising close to 7 million dollars each year just to keep our doors open.

So it would seem that Pentecost came a few weeks early this year, but this story is by no means over yet, and we have no idea what the Lord has in mind for the future. I'd like to suggest, though, at least one moral that's already visible: when you decide to do the right thing (such as trying to be of help to Charles), you often allow God to make new ways to be of help you as well.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of Edwin Rutto’s fundraising and the ongoing response to the Sixty Minutes piece.

Please keep praying for us monks (including our two 24-year old novices) and our kids.

No comments:

Post a Comment