A Message from Alex Zequeira P'19, Headmaster

Thank you for wanting to learn more about Saint John’s High School.

My first opportunity to learn about Saint John’s High School was through two graduates from the class of 1990 who brought me onto campus in the spring of 1992. We all lived in the same dorm hall at the College of the Holy Cross, and it was clear from my conversations with them and our visit to campus, that their four years at Saint John’s was a transformative time in their lives.

When my wife and I moved to the Worcester area in 2011, our oldest was in 5th grade. Though high school was still four years away, we both knew we wanted him to be a Saint John’s man. Now, years later, he has graduated from SJ and is finding success in college – personally, spiritually, and academically.  We are convinced that his future started here, at Saint John’s High School.

From Temple Street in Worcester to Main Street in Shrewsbury, for nearly 120 years, the experience of the Saint John’s man has remained rooted in the charism and values of the Xaverian Brothers – humility, simplicity, zeal, compassion, humility, and trust. As a parent first, and now as the school’s 18th headmaster, I see it every day in the important and enduring relationships that are fostered in this caring community.  It is a place where students are known, loved, valued, and challenged.

I also see a true community – one that gathers to celebrate the Pioneer tradition, but that also stands by each other in times of great need.  

It is a community that is inclusive - a place for everyone who is willing to work hard and commit to doing good and being good.  

It is community with an amazingly talented and hardworking faculty and staff, who are committed to educating the whole person.  

It is a community that understands that we are all children of God who are given unique gifts and talents where students are pushed to explore those and develop those – not just for themselves, but for a better community and a better world.

It is a community steeped in a tradition of excellence in program – spiritual, academic, artistic, athletic – and with faculty experts and the facilities that provide a space where students can thrive in those areas.

It is a community that will challenge – and with that challenge comes authentic success and the opportunity to fail in a place with people who help pick you up and be ready to meet that next challenge.

If you are new to the Saint John’s community, I invite you to learn more about us – about the history and tradition of excellence with a vision to the future and the goal of educating young men to reach their fullest potential.  If you are already a member of the Saint John’s community, I invite you to stop by and see how much the school has grown and changed over the last two decades. I think you will be amazed by what you see and hear.

I look forward to seeing you soon at Saint John’s High School.

Alex Zequeira
Headmaster
 

Newsletters & Remarks

List of 2 items.

  • Headmaster's Remarks - Mass of the Holy Spirit

    Good Morning Saint John’s,
     
    I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for joining the students, faculty, staff, and administration here this morning for our Mass of the Holy Spirit. We are grateful we can gather in prayer and in the celebration of the Eucharist as we start our 2019-2020 school year.  

    We have so much to be grateful for as a community.

    A special thank you to Fr. Jose Rodriguez for celebrating today’s Mass – besides his work as our school chaplain, he is a dear friend to and supporter of Saint John’s.  We are grateful for the great care he takes with our community and that he could be with us today – a day where we mark the 122nd opening of our school, but most importantly, a day where we celebrate the 125th anniversary of the arrival of Bros. Robert, Hugh, Calasanctius, and Anthony who stepped off the train in Union Station in 1894 to be teachers for the St. John’s Boys Parochial School on Temple Street in Worcester.  

    A special welcome to our Golden Pioneers and their guests in attendance today.  Your presence with us speaks to the strong and important Pioneer legacy - a legacy that takes us back to, and grounds us, at Temple Street and a legacy that inspires us today on Main Street in Shrewsbury.  It’s great to be a Pioneer, but it’s an even greater accomplishment to be a Golden Pioneer - 50 years or more from graduation. 

    Much like our freshman did today and our seniors will just before graduation, our Golden Pioneers receive a pin - the Golden Pioneer pin - a symbol that unites us in the spirit of our Founder Theodore James Ryken, and in the spirit of the mission, vision, and values of the Xaverian Brothers and of Saint John’s High School.

    And lastly, a final welcome to the Class of 2023 on the day of your matriculation ceremony.  We welcome you and your family to the Saint John’s community. While you have been on campus as students since August 28, today marks the official beginning of four years that will last for many years.  You join a community with a storied and vibrant past with an equally promising future for you and all future Pioneers. Welcome to you and welcome to your families.

    On August 29, 1894, our lives, and the lives of many young men and their families all throughout central Massachusetts and beyond, changed forever. At the request of Msgr. Thomas Griffin, pastor of Saint John’s Church on Temple Street, four Xaverian Brothers, arrived to teach 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in Worcester.  Four years later, in 1898, Bro. Robert Treanor, CFX, the only remaining Brother of the original four, who served as Superior in Worcester, recognized a need to continue to provide a high-quality, Catholic and Xaverian Brother education, and was instrumental in opening the high school - which is why we trace our founding as a school to 1898.  

    Throughout our history, over 200 Xaverian Brothers have faithfully served our school community - continually from 1894 to today, for 125 years, whether on staff or retired and living on campus, we’ve had Brothers teaching, coaching, praying, serving, and watching out for Saint John’s High School.  They walked and continue to walk the halls as an embodiment of humility, zeal, trust, simplicity, and compassion. It is their legacy that we benefit from every day, but it is this same legacy that we, as lay men and women of faith, have inherited and need to live out in our interactions with each other and in our interactions with the broader community.

    What is fascinating about Saint John’s, and, in many ways even with the Xaverian Brothers as a religious order, is that though both are institutions steeped in history and tradition, there is very little written about our history as a school and the history and lives of the Xaverian Brothers in Worcester. I think, in some way, the reason for that is because, at our core, much of what we live and breathe while at the school is the same today as it was in 1898, 1948, 1978, or even 5-10 years ago. One of the many things I love, admire, and deeply appreciate about our school is that we know who we are, we know and live our mission, we are confident in the work we do and have done for so long: educating boys into young men of great character - into Saint John’s Men - men of faith, men of prayer, men of intellect, and men of service.

    There is one book written about Saint John’s High School - The Golden Conquest, edited by Brother Elias and published in 1944, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Brothers in Worcester county - the same year Col. Pytko graduated from Saint John’s.

    Mr. Dillon, our new assistant principal for the middle school division, read it recently and reminded me of an inspiring passage that speaks to what the Brothers hoped to accomplish every day in a simple four-classroom building on Temple Street.  I want to read this selection to you, and I want you to, for a moment, ask yourself if this is the same or different from who we are today, 75 years later, on this beautiful campus on Main Street in Shrewsbury?

    “When we refer to ‘Saint John’s’ we do not necessarily mean just a school. We mean everything that institution stands for - it’s principles, ideals, and discipline. The students attending this establishment of learning have received not merely an average high school education but a Catholic one - one in which faithful and wise parents saw and realized the great benefits their children would receive and the strength they would acquire so necessary in these times. For the training by, and in, books is not enough - the forming of good character is far more important - and Saint John’s aim has been to give both, which shall enable her sons to face all future trials and difficulties without cringing. Cast aside math, history, and languages, and they still have Christian faith, hope and charity characteristic of a good Catholic. Saint John’s has given her students every chance to learn the true way of life; she has given them a clear, conscientious view of their own opinions and judgments, a truth in developing them, and eloquence in expressing them, and a force in fostering them. These students have not climbed a ladder whose rungs are merely Latin, English, Algebra, and the like; but there has been a guiding light at the top of this ladder to show them the way to true success - that light being Religion, the true knowledge and worship of God, the primary purpose of Catholic education. ‘Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes.’ The have been trained at, and by, Saint John’s to be great in purpose and in souls for the days to come.”

    Wow. The experience here at Saint John’s High School, the Saint John’s Experience, what it means to be a Pioneer is timeless. I challenge us all, this year and beyond, to grab hold of this experience. Grab hold of this legacy. Grab hold and truly embrace what it means to be a Saint John’s Man.

    To our current students, faculty, staff, and colleagues - this is why we are all here. This is why our students make the courageous and bold choice to be a Pioneer, why parents make so many sacrifices to send their student here, and why our faculty and staff are commit the time, effort and energy to know, love, value, and challenge all of our students in the classroom, on the field, on the stage - wherever your passion lies, there we will meet you and move you to new and greater heights.

    To our Golden Pioneers, those present here today, those who couldn’t make it, and those who live in our memories - thank you for allowing us to stand on your shoulders. Thank you for all you do in your example, time, and generosity to allow us today to grab hold of the legacy of the Brothers and of those who came before us. We are who we are today because of you.  We are deeply and forever indebted to you.

    May God continue to bless our mission, our school, our school year, and the entire Saint John’s High School community. Thank you.
  • Headmaster's Newsletter - August 2019

    "Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.  Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator." - Colossians 3: 8-10
     
    Dear Saint John’s Community,

    Just a couple short weeks ago, I was ready to hit send on a final draft of my summer Headmaster’s Newsletter to help kick off this new year. I spent a few days drafting the letter where I wrote about some of my summer reading on deeper learning and student engagement. I connected the research I read to some of the daily distractions our students and, frankly, all of us face in order to be fully present in our lives, in our relationships, and in our learning. Technology and social media being at the top of the list of those distractions. However, after the recent events in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, I sat in Mass that next Sunday and couldn’t help but be pulled to something different. There was something more I wanted to share with you - our families and our students.

    I serve as a lector at Christ the King Church in Worcester. I arrived early to Mass to situate my eight-year old daughter - who is my faithful companion to Church. My head was still reeling from the news from Texas and of another mass shooting shortly thereafter in Ohio. As part of my usual practice, I read and reread the first and second readings a few times the day before, but as I stood up in front of the congregation and read them aloud that morning, the readings felt different. I stumbled on the passage above from the second reading, St. Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. When I sat down, my mind was still swirling. I tried to focus on the Gospel reading and Msgr. Sullivan’s homily, but two questions kept echoing in my brain: What do we value? What do you value?

    With the challenges that boys face in education, I have been known to say that I feel we need a place like Saint John’s High School more today than ever before. If you’ve watched our video on how we, as a school, educate boys, you know some of the challenges our young men face. If you’re a parent or guardian of a boy, you are keenly aware of the mixed messages they receive from our society and our culture. It is a confusing and difficult time to be a young man. While these events make for a difficult and dark time for us as a nation, I left Mass inspired and recommitted to our very important work at Saint John’s. I find comfort in the fact that we know what we value. We know what is important. And, most importantly, we do not hide or shy away from those values as a community. In fact, in our daily interactions with our students, families, alumni, and guests at Saint John’s, our values are at the center. Within our community, we demand a great deal from ourselves and from others. This “high bar” approach, within the context of deeply meaningful and authentic relationships, is what makes the experience at Saint John’s unique and special.

    What do we value? What we value begins with the example of Jesus Christ. Whether you are a faithful Christian, a believer in another faith tradition, or a non-believer, the example of Christ, either as the Son of God or as just a man who walked the Earth, is powerful and inspiring. His message was love - love for God, love for others, and love with no limits or conditions. It does not, and should not, matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from - Christ’s call is for us to love one another as we love ourselves and to reflect the love that He has for us to others.

    We value the legacy and tradition of the Xaverian Brothers embodied in our five spiritual values: humility, zeal, simplicity, compassion, and trust. They are prominently displayed on campus, in our main lobby, by the Coach’s Pavilion, and on banners at all-school assemblies, Masses and graduations. In speaking with many Brothers over the past few years, they often connect these values to the Gospels and Christ himself, who is the most perfect example of them.

    We value respect. As you walk through our campus or interact with our students, you see that we value respect - respect for self, respect for others, respect for our surroundings. Respect is integral and deeply linked to love and foundational to the enduring personal relationships here at Saint John’s.

    We value our mission. When I reflect on key aspects of our Mission Statement like our priority to educate the whole person, the importance of personal growth, our interdependence and mutual obligations, and the focus on not only respect, but appreciation for our individual differences, I take comfort that we are equipping our young men with the values that will aid them in doing the right thing, all the time, even when no one is watching.

    What we value as a school and as a community runs in stark contrast to what is valued outside of 378 Main Street in Shrewsbury. It is vital that the nearly 900 young men who will walk onto campus this fall know and feel that difference, and that begins with us - all of us, deeply committed to our mission and our values -  not just in words, but in deeds. Every word, gesture, and action should be rooted, inspired and informed by the vision of love that Christ had for the world and continues to have for all of us. It is a tall order - a “high bar” we may never reach, but one that will make us and our community better for trying.

    As we approach this new school year, I invite us all, as a school community, to “put on the new self,” “to put to death all that is earthly,” and to answer that call to love more deeply. Let us recommit ourselves to our mission and values as a Catholic and Xaverian Brothers institution in the service of great young men, their families, our alumni, our community, and our Church. That example will be the best education our young men will have this year and moving forward.

    All the best and God bless,

    Alex Zequeira P’19
    Headmaster
     
     

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