Throughout our neighborhoods we can see the word “advocate” on hospital signs, church banners, and in various pieces of religious literature. Advocacy is at the core of Christian values as it centers on support of a cause. At Brother Rice High School, a group of students gather together to show support for numerous causes through the school’s Advocacy Group.
The young men who make up this group come from different backgrounds and neighborhoods; yet what bonds them is a desire to live out Jesus’ teachings by helping others. They are united by a call to action. For instance, the group helps organize classrooms throughout their school to sponsor a child in another country who needs money to pursue their education.
Group member Eddie Maloney spoke about another act of advocacy by the group, “Our mission extends far beyond just raising money. My experience that immediately comes to mind is when we attended an indigent burial on a school day in May with Mr. Dolan. For this service, we dressed up in shirt and tie and traveled to Mount Olivet Cemetery, where the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office arranged for the cremated remains of over 100 people, whose bodies were unidentified or unclaimed, to be buried. We sat quietly and prayed for them, and each of us laid a flower on top of one of the boxes. It was definitely a humbling experience for me.”
Like Eddie, Charlie Boyer, Seamus Hanley, and Mac Murzyn are football players at Brother Rice and members of the Advocacy Group. The three students traveled to Peru last year to help improve living conditions for impoverished people. Mac remembered, “It was a great experience being able to help others. Many of these people had little or no shelter. We were able to provide them with some improved living conditions.”
With advocacy in mind, Seamus recently attended a Mass for migrants living at the Chicago Police Department’s 22nd Precinct on 111th Street in Morgan Park. The event allowed local religious leaders and parishioners to come together to let the migrants seeking a new life know that they were not alone.
Diego Pedron and Dominic Pettenon are additional group members who have learned many lessons from their membership. Dom reflected, “This group has taught me to always appreciate what I have because you never know what someone is going through; a lot of people are struggling in this world and need a helping hand! Our purpose is to make sure that no one in this world should have to suffer alone. I can do good in this world through a simple act of kindness.”
These young men are truly living the teachings of Jesus by advocating for others. Whether locally or overseas, they epitomize the Christian values that guide many of our lives. We appreciate their efforts and example. May God bless all advocates.
– Megan Morrison, South Side Catholics
Photos by Tom Killoran Photography