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A Thanksgiving Message from the Head of School
Meal in a Bag - 2020

Regis Meal in a Bag collection, Social Awareness 2020

If we all stop for a moment and think back to Thanksgivings of the past, you might not remember much that was distinctive. I’d guess family travel plans mixed in with two or three traditional dinner gatherings throughout the weekend was probably the order of the day. During my growing years, this was the holiday when the extra tables and chairs had to be dusted off from the basement storage room and brought up to be added to the dining room table. Then, one of my siblings had to pull the table leaves out of the bedroom closet so we could extend the table to fit all the relatives. Thanksgiving has always been about making room for more. More chairs, more people, more football, and of course, more food. Pile on the mashed potatoes, extend the visit, increase the dessert list. Have Uncle Ned say an extra-long prayer of gratitude for all the gifts we have at our disposal. Then just around seven or eight o’clock, we’d all grow drowsy because of that funny nutrient in turkey called tryptophan. We ate too much. 

So now Thanksgiving 2020 looms in front of us, and it’s not about more but less. Smaller gatherings, separate plates, shorter trips, less contact, individualized vacuum sealed pumpkin pie. Does this mean the gravy bowl is being taken out of commission because of its potential to spread like a virus over my mashed potatoes and turkey? The whole lead into the holiday that focuses on sparking gratitude is making me feel grumpy. But that’s where the cloud overhead begins to form a silver lining for me. Sure, I’d like it to be business as usual, but so would every living soul on earth at the present moment. No one can snap their fingers and bring us all back to a pre-COVID Thanksgiving. So, you’re asking what about that silver lining—where is it? 

It’s a rare cool Fall morning on the Regis campus, masked boys are running on the playground playing a game of chase. Teachers are preparing a lesson behind a plexiglass screen, while small cohort groups of boys file into the classroom. A smell of Lysol is mixed in with dirt, sand, wood chips and soap. This COVID precautioned boys' school can’t stamp out the hopeful spirit of a boy. No matter how many individually wrapped moments there might be in the day, Regis boys need each other, and they need community, to outlast any pandemic that might try to dampen the spirit of a boy who wants to learn and grow and pray. That’s the silver lining that could be easily missed if we’re not careful enough to notice what’s essential.

There are a few other moments that reveal what is essential for us like collecting food for others who are hungry. Our Regis community collected a record 150 bags to give to the East Spring Branch Food Pantry. That giving spirit can’t be stomped out of a loving, compassionate Sacred Heart community. Then 100% of our Regis parents, faculty, staff and board gave to the Regis Fund to make sure our boys have what they need to be leaders when their turn comes up during a future transition of power. In a heroic manner, our Regis community has responded to this less moment with more

I would predict many of us are tired—I know our front-line Regis educators are, and they deserve the rest that is coming this Thanksgiving week. They have turned upside down the less to also create more. I’m grateful for their tireless spirit of giving to their Regis students. 

To finish this message of Thanksgiving, I can’t leave out the story of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. She was the saint who brought Sacred Heart education to America. After serving in Sacred Heart schools for over twenty-five years, this is the first year her story of turning less upside down to create more struck me like a bell. Her distinguishing characteristic of zeal is often described as “enthusiastic diligence.” She had a stamina fueled by the heart of Jesus and the love of God. What great modeling to give us in this less moment. That’s a grateful moment or a silver lining when we realize we are part of this same Sacred Heart heritage as a Regis community.

So, in this less moment, I extend a warm blessing to our entire Regis community, I’m grateful for all the gifts our community provides. But, I must confess, I am most grateful for every boy who calls himself a Regis Boy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dennis Phillips
Head of School