Our January Ministry of the Month highlights Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, New York. Selena Berry is a second-year LV and a 2020 graduate of Lewis University, and Samantha Ayvar is a first-year LV and a 2021 graduate of University of San Francisco.
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 Loughlin 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.
Why did Selena and Sam decide to become Lasallian Volunteers?
Selena learned about Lasallian Volunteers during her undergraduate career at Lewis University. “An LV alum invited me to come to an information session during my second year of college. I mostly came for the free pizza, but the presentation was so well done. After the information session, becoming a Lasallian Volunteer was one of my top choices for my next steps after graduation.”
Sam learned about Lasallian Volunteers while in high school at Justin-Siena in Napa, California. “Though we didn’t have LVs present at our school, there were faculty and staff members who had been LVs, and I first learned about the program through them. In college, I stayed connected to my Lasallian roots and was involved as a collegian in Lasallian Youth Assemblies and Lasallian Student Leadership Conferences in the District of San Francisco New Orleans. During these programs, my curiosity for the program expanded and I began to have one-on-one connections with LVs and LV alums, which all eventually led me to apply!”
What are Selena and Sam’s roles at Bishop Loughlin Memorial?
Selena serves as a tutor in the library. She also helps with library events, clubs and managing the media center and books. Sam’s primary role is in the campus ministry office. Within that context, Sam provides opportunities for students to volunteer on the local level and grow in their faith by providing school-wide services and morning prayer over the PA during morning announcements.
Which of the core values (faith, service, community) is most important to Selena and Sam? Why?
Selena shared that the most important core value to her is service. “Growing up, me and my family always did volunteer work. Whether it was at my mother’s job, our schools, or our community center, we always found a way to include it in our lives.”
Sam shared that community is the most important core value to her. “Something that is integral in making a community work is the values that one shares. I find that my own values align not only with my ministry, and in my community, but specifically with the Lasallian mission as a whole. Hand in hand, inclusive community is always something that I incorporate in every space I walk into. This is important to me because given that I am working with students from all different grade levels (9-12), I want to be able to create a space where anyone feels welcomed without divisions. Maintaining healthy relationships and connections in both my ministry and the Brothers’ community is essential to what builds up a strong community.”
What are the most important things that Selena and Sam’s students need from them?
Selena believes in helping her students out. “One of the most important things that students need from me is another helping hand. Letting students know that there is another person that can help them in their academics or a piece of advice. I try to be a word of comfort and honesty when students are having a challenging time with their school work or social life.”
Sam believes her students need her to be there for them and to listen. “Every student who walks in my office has a completely different lived experience, and I try to be there for them when they need me. I oftentimes feel like an older sister, who is either helping them apply to college or just being a shoulder to lean on.”
How has living and serving with the De La Salle Christian Brothers impacted Selena and Sam?
Selena had lots to say about living with the De La Salle Christian Brothers! “When you become a Lasallian Volunteer, this means being a part of a community that believes in the mission of education through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle. The impact of being in the presence of people that have the same vocation as me is significant. I grew up with parents who believed education was a top priority. They were not able to get higher learning degrees themselves but wanted it for their children. They paved the way for me to reach this point of being college educated. Living and serving with the De La Salle Christian Brothers put more emphasis on what my parents taught me.”
Sam reflected back on her first encounter with the Brothers. “Given that my high school was very close to Mount La Salle in Napa, California, I had had some connection to the De La Salle Christian Brothers before, but this was my first time truly getting to experience what a community is like with the Brothers. It has been eye opening to see their commitment not only to their ministries, but also to each other. Even though the Brothers in my community don’t work at the same ministry as me, we still bond over the many similarities that entail working in a Lasallian high school. One important thing to note is their wisdom, especially within education. Given that I am sometimes in charge of prayer services at my ministry, I often turn to them for guidance in what I should incorporate into my services at Bishop Loughlin. Hand in hand, living in a new city and experiencing a new coast has also been and adjustment for me, and they have been there to support me from learning the subway system to telling me the best food places in town.”
What would Selena and Sam say to a college senior who is discerning a year of service?
Selena entered the program in July of 2020. “Coming into the LV program during the shutdown was incredibly challenging. Having peers to talk to you about your experience is helpful. Please do not ever feel alone on this journey because you have people that are going through similar things. That is where community comes from, and in this program, you will have multiple communities that you can depend on.”
Sam knows first-hand what a unique experience serving as an LV is. “This is a particular time in your life where you are going to be of service with others who are also experiencing similar stories and through these experiences you are going to learn so much about yourself and those you serve. Overall, you will get out of this program what you put in, and though some days will be draining and stressful, it’s all worth it when you reflect and see the impact you are making with the students or clients you serve.”