Peter was named by Jesus as the leader of the Church. Flawed though he was in many ways, Peter accepted the role and his lineage of leadership continues through to this day.
On Friday, September 1, student and faculty members of the Christian Action Team gathered at the Marian Mall to prayerfully discern where they are called to lead this school year as part of the annual Service Leadership Day.
Mr. Dan Galla, Theology teacher and chaplain for the Christian Action Team, offered students a reflection on Peter as leader and the many ways that Christ called him to lead the disciples and the early Church.
"So when He had washed their feet and put His garments back on and reclined at table again, He said to them, 'Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.'" (John 13:12-15)
Thinking about these and several other Gospel passages related to Peter, the students and faculty gathered then split up into groups to wash one another's feet. Students described the experience as "awkward" and "uncomfortable" as they washed the feet of their friends, classmates and teachers. Yet they also spoke of how service is often awkward or uncomfortable and tends to require that they step beyond their comfort zones, and in doing so they learn to see the stranger as their own brother or sister.
The tradition of washing feet at Service Leadership Day ties back to C.A.T. co-founder Mr. Jim Skerl '74 who, together with Fr. Jim O'Donnell, began many a school year by leading upperclassmen through this exercise, often at an off-campus site. In hosting this short afternoon of reflection on the Marian Mall, it meant that Skerl's feet were not far away--imprinted in bronze and facing the statue of the Virgin Mary.
Over the coming weeks, students will meet with C.A.T. Moderators to discern and plan out their roles as servant leaders--and service leaders--this school year. As they go forth, it will be with the spirit of Peter and the mission of washing others' feet.