By M-C Scarlett
Special to The Texas Catholic
At a prestigious Dallas college preparatory school, a small group of student-leaders has planted seeds for a school-wide spiritual movement.
Most local Catholics think of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas as an academically rigorous institution that cultivates competitive and career-oriented students. While the academic prestige certainly remains stellar, a portion of the student body has begun to ask deeper questions and build a community that extends beyond their classes and extracurriculars.
About a year ago, a handful of Jesuit sophomores formed a group oriented towards community-building and spiritual growth. With the faculty sponsorship of sophomore English teachers Brian Goll and Ian Berry, and theology teacher Will Ellis, the “Godly Guys” officially formed at Jesuit on Feb. 22, 2022.
When approached about starting this group, Goll said “The young men sought an environment in which they could be honest and vulnerable about the challenges that surface in their lives.”
Although attendance at the 30-minute Friday meetings fluctuates somewhat throughout the school year, the Godly Guys draw about 10-15 students per weekly gathering.
“Mr. Ellis, Mr. Berry and I—it’s one of our favorite parts of the day. Because it’s when we get to participate in conversations that are driven and dictated by students,” Goll said.
Goll noted that students have been wrestling with questions of their identity, shifting their focus away from what they want to do and more on who God is calling them to be.
In addition to facilitating club meetings, the leaders of the Godly Guys organized and ran a school-wide prayer service on Jan. 10. The service consisted of prayer, scripture excerpts, student presentations and reflection questions on the book of Ephesians.
In his reflection, club leader Jack Bradshaw discussed the importance of finding his identity in Christ based on the reading from Ephesians 1:1-14.
“Although our natural tendency is to place our value in merit-based achievements, Paul is encouraging us to recognize that our destiny is in Christ alone,” Bradshaw said. He pointed to his tendency to over-focus on his GPA, SAT scores, and athletic performance.
Bradshaw said that his reading of Paul’s epistle has led him to recognize that “Although all hard work and worldly pursuits are worthy of pride and best efforts, there is a fine line to where these achievements become more than accomplishments and they become your identity.”
Luke Santoni followed Bradshaw’s presentation with his reflection on Ephesians 1:15-23.
“I think as a Jesuit community, we need to start asking ourselves and reflecting on the journey God presents us to reach unity in Christ,” Santoni said. “Although it will be a lifelong experience, creating an identity in Christ will make life joyful.”
Discussions about the future operations, structure, and leadership of the Godly Guys are ongoing. The young men at Jesuit certainly will continue benefiting from building a brotherhood that challenges them to ask scripture-oriented questions about their vocations and hold one another accountable for growing in their relationship with Christ.