“The purpose of our education is to give a young man the tools whereby he can answer the question, ‘What does God want from me?’”
This perennial question, first posed by the late Fr. Robert Welsh, S.J. ’54, long-time president of Saint Ignatius, and now carved in stone on the mall so as to be seen and read by all who pass by, has both individual as well as universal answers.
Some of our students might see that question and think “God wants me to be a doctor,” or “God wants me to be a lawyer,” or “God wants me to be a good brother to my younger siblings.” Others might be more general in their thoughts: “God wants me to do the best with the talents that He has given me,” or “God wants me to follow the path that He has laid out for me.”
There is one particular alumnus of Saint Ignatius who has answered the question with both a specific answer - “God wants me to be a teacher and coach, a husband and father” - as well as a general answer - “God wants me to do things the right way.”
This past weekend the school celebrated both the person and the career of Chuck “Chico” Kyle ’69, a man who has not only answered the call to do what God wants, but has taught several generations of Wildcat students - many of whom were athletes - how to craft their own answer to the Fr. Welsh question.
Proof of Chico’s influence on his former students was evident throughout the weekend, but especially on Friday, after the game against Clarkson Football North Prep Academy. Hundreds of players patiently waited on Wasmer Field to be able to spend a minute or two with the coach who means so much to them, to say thanks, and to maybe get a photo.
For Chuck, all of the hoopla surrounding the weekend’s events pales in comparison to the time spent with those players, family members, and friends who have shared in this amazing journey over the past half century and more. At the top of that list is the one person who has shared more of that journey with Chico than any other; a person who entered his life at, of all places, a mixer at Padua High School. Patricia Cassidy from Nazareth Academy caught the eye of young Chuck Kyle and thus began their shared vision of how best to live out their answer to the Fr. Welsh question.
In addition to the attention given to all of Chico’s achievements - from his family life, to his academic life, to his coaching life - was the focus, over and over again, on the process, on how he attained legendary status. From day one Chuck has done things the right way, and he is a shining example of someone who understands that a life well lived will only be achieved if the focus is on doing things the right way. Shortcuts are not for those whose focus is answering the question, “What does God want from me?”
In my Christian Manhood classes I talk a lot about the idea of eudaimonia, which is a concept first discussed by the ancient Greek philosophers, especially Aristotle. Eudaimonia can be defined as “happiness”, but as so often happens when translating from Greek to English, a lot gets lost. A better English translation for Eudaimonia is “human flourishing”, and yet better still, “a life of quality and meaning.”
In his continuous striving to do things the right way - at home, in the classroom, on the field, and wherever he finds himself - Chuck Kyle has been an example of human flourishing, of a life of quality and meaning.
Late in the evening on Saturday I was one of the last people to have a chance to tell Chuck how much I appreciate all that he has done for our beloved Alma Mater and to thank him for his great friendship. We chatted briefly and then it was time to let someone else cut in and say basically what I had just said and what about a thousand people had said before me.
Typical of Chico, the humble husband, father, teacher, and coach, a man who does things the right way, his parting words to me were, “See you Monday.” Translation: there is still more for me to do in answering the question, “What does God want from me?”