Teaching a kid for a 75-minute period over the course of a year or two is one thing, but running (which includes a lot of shared physical pain) with some of these guys for thousands of miles is entirely different. At that point it’s not just a student-teacher or athlete-coach relationship, at that point its brotherhood.
This brotherhood made itself really apparent on a long run I did with a former student. We were supposed to do 10 miles around Creve Coeur Lake. At around mile 5 (the furthest we were from anyone), he got really silent, and I could tell he was trying to bring something up. A couple minutes later he started telling me everything that was going on in his life. He was having a rough time in a lot of areas, and I was floored that he would choose me to spill all this out to. He wasn’t really look for advice, he just wanted to talk. So, I listened.
This didn’t just happen. It took time. Our relationship was forged by thousands of miles.
The third apostolic preference is about accompanying our students through growth, through the political landscape, through racism, through the digital media, family life, and in general, all of their preconceptions and the things happening inside, outside, and around this school. It’s the “with” in “men and women for and with others.” It means doing whatever we can to foster their faith and help them become hopeful young adults with a moral and faithful compass in a way that is rooted in the reality of our world.
For me, journeying with our young men is putting myself in their position and being able to make the right choices with them and as an example for them. We don’t just teach; we guide, support, and sometimes carry our guys.