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Cristo Rey Orlando High School
Brooke Rayford


Reflections from our Chief Mission Officer

The Virgin Mary has played a significant role in my life. When I pronounced my vows 38 years ago, I chose Mary to be my vow name. There is no companion of Jesus more faithful than his mother. I am inspired by Mary’s tenacity, courage, toughness, and faithfulness. 

I believe Mary saw and heard the angel Gabriel because she was praying, she was looking and listening, and therefore she saw and heard, “Hail Mary, the Lord is with you, do not be afraid. You have found favor with God and will bear a son, and his name will be Jesus, for nothing is impossible for God.” I am sure Mary was confused and fearful, but she responded, “Yes, I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done according to God’s will”.

I wonder why Mary said yes.  Did she have any idea of the consequences?  Did she know she would give birth on the cold floor of a stable?  What were Mary and Joseph thinking as they endured the trials of being refugees, fleeing family and country to protect their son. We hear little about Jesus’ childhood in Scripture, but it certainly involved many sacrifices on the part of his parents, his first teachers of prayers, caring for and feeding him each day. It must have been hard for Mary to see her son face such adversity, people plotting to imprison and kill him. I cannot imagine how Mary’s heart was broken as her son was tortured and crucified. Confused, exhausted, and devastated, Mary remained at the foot of the cross when everyone else ran away. What an incredible woman of faith!
Christmas always invites me to more prayer and reflection. In these dark days of December, the lights of Christmas remind me of the light of our faith; there is no need to be afraid for God is with us. In the quiet, we hear anew God inviting us to help bring his Son, our companion Jesus into the world. We are part of the Cristo Rey movement because we, our community, have said yes. We are the handmaids of the Lord, let God’s will be done. Through small acts of love and kindness, Christmas becomes alive. Thank you all for your faith and generosity in bringing more light into our world by allowing many students and families throughout our country to deepen their faith and have more hope for a better future.
- Fr. Jim Gartland, S.J.

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