Above All Else: Brotherhood

By CM's Communications Office
By challenging a panel of students and faculty to ponder a question or issue, their conversation gives rise to a collective mindset that defines the spirit of the school. In this issue, we ask, "What makes the CM brotherhood important now more than ever?”
Amid our nation’s recent political and social unrest, Q.E.D. (quod erat demonstrandum) contends that the kind of brotherhood fostered and exhibited at Catholic Memorial has created a sense of unity through listening and accepting a person’s right to their opinion. Through this comes the belief that brotherhood is established through faith, diversity, and community, establishing a common ground of mutual respect.
 
A striking illustration of CM’s brotherhood is personified by seniors Kurtis Henderson and William MacNeil, captains of the basketball and hockey team, respectively. They come from different backgrounds and share unique points of view. More importantly, they’re close friends.
 
We invited Kurtis and Will, alongside theology faculty member Mrs. Katie Rich and Vice Principal Mr. Karl Danso ’04, to shine a light on this very special quality found throughout the school.
 

 
How would you describe the CM brotherhood to an incoming student?
 
Kurtis Henderson (KH): The CM brotherhood is about trusting your classmates and knowing that you can count on them. That’s what Will and I have together. I know I can trust him to be there for me, and he knows I’ll be there for him whenever he needs me.
 
William MacNeil (WM): Kurtis and I became friends in 8th Grade when we had Spanish and theology together. Since then, we’ve found different ways to support each other. I’ve seen him at so many of my hockey games and I’ve shown up for plenty of his playoff games in the Ronnie (Ronald Perry Gymnasium).
 
KH: I even went to the funeral of Will’s grandfather a few years ago. Seeing my classmates, his teammates, and so many other CM community members step up was incredible. I remember hugging Will and telling him, “We’re going to get through this together. You’re not alone in this.”
 
Karl Danso (KD): That’s what the brotherhood is all about. We want all our students to feel known and loved by the mentors and friends they meet here.
 
Katie Rich (KR): Our small community gives us a huge advantage. Students can create tight-knit relationships by getting involved in so many different activities they’re passionate about. That requires taking risks and participating in activities they never thought of joining before.
 
How has CM helped students better understand the nation’s current social unrest?
 
WM: Well, what’s beautiful about the brotherhood is that — whether we disagree or not at the end of the day — we always remember that we’re still CM Knights and that we all play a meaningful role in our community.
 
KR: I constantly remind my freshman theology students of what it means to walk in someone else’s shoes. A sense of unity doesn’t mean that we have the same opinion, but means we are one community trying to understand where we’re all coming from and making decisions — politically, socially, all these other things that build each other up — rather than creating division.
 
WM: That’s why we don’t get to that point of rage, or hate somebody because they disagree with us, like you see so much in society today. I think CM has taught us how to take a step back to try and figure out why someone thinks the way they do.
 
KH: It’s really sad to see so much hatred in society today, which makes it even more important to see people’s beliefs for what they are and recognize our own biases. That’s how we’re able to move forward as a school.
 
KD: Our students are making sure they’re held accountable for what they say and believe in, too. We aren’t necessarily trying to cultivate a culture of everyone agreeing for the sake of agreeing. However, there is a standard to which you need to explain your opinion, back up an idea, and see other viewpoints.
 
Does social and racial diversity within the CM community add to this sense of unity?
 
KD: We have a lot of unique perspectives here. We have the sons of police officers and of nurses. And then we also have the sons of doctors and lawyers. People who come from different backgrounds provide us with an opportunity to recognize and check biases we might have.
 
KR: Our faculty do a great job of teaching students to respect each other’s backgrounds and meet each other halfway. Just recently, I remember sitting in on a class and hearing a student call out another student’s opinion about the election, right as the results were being decided. The teacher didn’t dismiss those comments. He wanted the student to go deeper in explaining his opinion.
 
WM: I see this play out every day in class. Everyone has respect for one another and their opinions, and we don’t hold those opinions against each other. We try and learn why they have them and how to find a middle ground.
 
KD: If we aren’t listening to each other, understanding those biases, and communicating our own viewpoints, then it’s not possible to coexist. Plain and simple.
 
KH: I can’t get mad at someone else for their opinion, what they believe in, or where they come from. I’m from Brockton and my friend Will is from Belmont. We understand how different these places are. One is a city, the other is a small town. One isn’t as wealthy as the other. And one doesn’t have the kind of schools the other one has.
 
What obligations come with the commitment to this brotherhood?
 
KH: The brotherhood teaches us to stand for each other not just for ourselves. I remember how touched I was when I saw CM’s 1,000-point alumni scorers return to campus to celebrate my 1,000th point. It reminded me how important it is to stand with our brothers and to pick them up.
 
WM: We also stand for those who are less fortunate than us outside the CM community. I’ll never forget having the opportunity to host the funeral of a homeless veteran with my hockey teammates. A veteran who fought for our nation needed a family to pay his final respects. So, we welcomed him into our own.
 
KD: I love how our boys already have these answers!
 
KR: I agree, and I think Catholic education in its best form creates an environment that is loving. What we believe in and the values we ascribe to are very real in the culture here. When we talk about brotherhood, we talk about loving each other and recognizing the dignity in one another.
 
KD: Which, is why it’s so important for us to stand with our brothers here in this building and with the poor and the marginalized, as we’re called to do as Christians.
 
What part do you play for the next generation of Knights and their version of brotherhood?
 
KD: Again, when we ask ourselves what brotherhood means at CM, we’re really asking what it means to love each other. That means challenging each other to support those younger than us, especially our upperclassmen.
 
WM: I totally agree. Feeling welcomed at a place is what makes people comfortable being themselves and to be fully part of the brotherhood. It’s our job to reach out to those new students in the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades and make them feel welcomed.
 
KH: As seniors, we want to keep those younger than us motivated. We want to be an inspiration. We want them to do what we did and do it even better as we guide them into the right role for them.
 
KR: As someone who teaches freshmen, I know just how closely underclassmen watch the upperclassmen. They’re watching students like Will and Kurtis and the decisions they make every day.
 
KD: So, while it’s great for Will to be an excellent hockey player and for Kurtis to be an excellent basketball player, what it means to love them and to have them be leaders doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to put the team on their backs and win the game by themselves. It means they’ll push their teammates to be their best.
 
KR: The fact we have excellent examples of what it means to be a man for others and what it means to be a man of integrity on and off the rink and on and off the court is huge.
 
KD: Exactly. And that’s what we’re looking for in our students. The brotherhood is about coming together and lifting each other up so that the whole team, and school, can be better for it.