Our June Ministry of the Month highlights Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, New York, which is located within the District of Eastern North America. Aldontae Guess is a first-year LV and a graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (SMUMN).
What is Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School?
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School is a co-educational, college-preparatory, Roman Catholic high school in the Ft. Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The school serves students in grades 9 through 12. Loughlin was founded in 1851 and was the first high school in the diocese (1853). Today is run independently by the Christian Brothers in the Lasallian educational tradition, which holds central the appreciation of each student’s uniqueness. Today, the school graduates at least 99% of its senior students with at least 97% of graduates matriculating to college each year. In 2019, Loughlin enrolled nearly 650 students, making it the fifth-largest Catholic high school in Brooklyn and Queens.
How did Aldontae learn about Lasallian Volunteers?
Aldontae learned about Lasallian Volunteers through recent graduates from SMUMN who would return to campus to recruit for Lasallian Volunteers. He shares, “I learned more through an immersion trip program at Saint Mary’s called S.O.U.L. (Serving Others United in Love) and getting the chance to serve and work alongside the Brothers and volunteers for a week, especially at San Miguel Middle School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in my sophomore year and seeing the mission of Saint John Baptist de La Salle being done before my very eyes is what really made me want to be a Lasallian Volunteer.”
What are the services Aldontae provides at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School?
Aldontae shares, “I work primarily in the Campus Ministry office assisting in the day-to-day operations within and also assisting in facilitating school masses, prayer services, retreats, etc. I also assist in the Library Media Center with student supervision and in the development office with clerical work as well.”
Which of our core values of Lasallian Volunteers is most important to Aldontae?
“I believe that service and community are the most important to me,” Aldontae shares. “Community I say so because in order to be effective in my position as well as my Brothers’ community, establishing and maintaining fruitful relationships is key, but also because being an LV is dedicating a year or two of your life to this program so the community you form during this experience, I know I can say so myself is worth it and I have built bonds that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Service is very important as well because the reason we are doing this is to be of service. This experience has given me a new understanding of service and just how vital it is.”
What is the most important thing the students Aldontae works with need from him?
Aldontae reflected on his experience and shares, “The most important thing is presence. Especially in my job area, the main focus of it is being present to the students, because sometimes just being there for someone and being a listening ear can be one of the simplest, yet powerful things anyone can do for others.”
How has living alongside the De La Salle Christian Brothers changed Aldontae?
“Living with the Brothers has been such an eye-opening experience,” Aldontae says. “This past year I have had the opportunity to gain some wisdom from the Brothers, to be of service to them through my daily chores, cooking for the community, etc. Also, this year I have had the chance to get to know the Brothers and who they are as people even more, and I am forever grateful to get the chance to do this.”
What are some ways you have engaged with your students during COVID-19?
Aldontae shares, “I have had the chance to engage my students and others in the Loughlin community, especially each Monday and Friday when I go live on our school’s Facebook and Instagram pages for weekly prayer services. Also, through some Zoom meetings, especially most recently as we have now been having our weekly virtual Lasallian Youth meetings.”
What would Aldontae offer as advice to someone discerning a year of service?
“If you decide to do this, this will be a year of learning and change for you as well,” Aldontae begins. He continues, “You will have days where you may be tired and exhausted, but you also have days when you are excited and feel fulfilled. And those days of excitement and fulfillment outweigh the other days every time. You are going to learn so much about others and yourself in this time, and you are going to have to be open to change and adjustment, but in the end it will all be worth it and you will be changed for the better along the way.”