How did I enter Lent? None of us expected to be confined to our homes working remotely, but the pandemic allowed me to extend my conversations with God, which has accelerated the process of repairing, restoring and transforming the man He wants me to be and deep down the man I want to be. A Lenten experience establishing a renewed confidence in God’s divine providence; despising the things Jesus despised and loving that which Jesus loved while dying on the cross.
Many moments of contemplation allowed me to journey with Jesus these past 40 days and confirmed a decision made in November to retire as president of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School.
The past 16 years left me with no shortage of life-changing experiences. My most treasured memory affiliated with Kennedy Catholic occurred at the Mass of the Holy Spirit in 2004, when the entire faculty, staff and student body prayed with, prayed over and prayed for me, my wife and children. That moment and all present that day, are and will be, my first love; especially the class of 2005, Father Batterberry who never said no to daily Mass regardless of the number, and the amazing gift of the Human Relations club. You all presented the greatest gift to your principal; your voice, your passions and your relationship with me and with God. That was and is the Lancer Family.
Our initial theme launched that August in 2004, Separate and Set Apart for Holiness, prompted many discussions with our student body. One junior boy wrote me this note, which I could only hope and pray, characterizes my time as principal and president.
“Students learn Christ-centered truths and values best when the entire curriculum and life of the school models and promotes those truths and values. This is a call to holiness for the entire Kennedy family, Mr. Prato, the students, staff, parents and alumni. If we are to follow this call to holiness, a call central to the mission of our school, we must make sure it pervades every aspect of Kennedy life. If our alma mater is to be separate and set apart for holiness, we the Kennedy family, must rediscover who we are as a society of people, as a school of the Church and Church teaching, and as an institution of learning. We have long since been characterized as a sub-par Catholic school, under appreciated for the merits that it possesses. While we believe our academic programs are second to none, there must be some small factor which fosters this insular idea. Quite possibly, it’s our welcoming nature. We enroll students from all walks of life; students who are rich and poor, students who need challenges and those who need assistance, not to mention students who respect themselves in addition to students who have yet to discover their inherent human dignity. . . holiness, in every case, is the path to reverence. Take us on that journey, Mr. Prato. Let us become all that God intends us to become.”
I have prayed unceasingly with these reminders always present and still evident in Verso L’alto. We are still unfinished business. I pray the days ahead bring a future of hope and excitement for the next chapter of Kennedy Catholic and ask God to pray for the physical and spiritual health of the Lancer Family.