Message From President Barry Thornton, Ed. D.

Dear Serra Parents and Guardians,

We all have stories that give us courage in times of challenge. They come from all over, our faith, our family, friends, and our own experiences.

For me, many of those stories of courage come from my father.  My dad was an officer in the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, and he parachuted into Normandy during the D-Day invasion. He jumped a second time a few months later into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden. For his drop into Holland, the plane had been hit by anti-aircraft rounds and was on fire when he led his men out of the plane. The D-Day drop was done at night, and to this day I have a hard time imagining the level of terror one faces jumping into the darkness in the midst of bullets ripping through the plane. 

Dad would always tell me with amusement how he exited the plane. One of the 82nd airborne patches had a devil with a parachute, and they were supposed to yell "Diablo!" when they jumped out. Dad, a devout Catholic, passed on the Diablo yell, and instead made the sign of the cross as lept out the door!

"How did you do it , Dad, seriously, how did you do it? Weren't you afraid?"  I would ask him countless times over the years. His response was always the same, and it continues to inspire me to this day.  "I was terrified; we all were. But we were fighting for a cause bigger than anyone one of us." Then he would look me in the eyes and say, "And I did it for the man next to me. I couldn't let him down." 

It is a lesson that I go back to all of the time. Courage is not the lack of fear, but the decision to move forward in the midst of it.  And to do that, you need to see the larger cause and put yourself at the service of the person next to you. Pope Francis echoes this in a tweet he sent out on Palm Sunday when speaking to young people.  " . . . life is a gift we receive only when we give ourselves away, and our deepest joy comes from saying yes to love . . ."

Certainly this is an incredibly challenging time, and the uncertainty of tomorrow makes it more so. But there is something larger at play here.  We are a community formed in love. As we put ourselves to the service of one another, we will live our values in a manner that will define our community far into the future. These will be the stories of courage that inspire countless generations moving forward.  

I would love to hear the stories of courage that inspire you.  
Are there any people or intentions that you want us to keep in prayers?  Please consider sharing your stories and prayers here.  

We will share these stories and prayer intentions with the community.

Siempre Adelante,

Barry Thornton, Ed.D.
Serra High School | 650.345.8207 |