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The Father of GIA-WS Program

Bro. James F. Adams, FMS

23 Dec 01 Reunion
Marist Brothers of the Schools
272 West 91st Street
New York NY 10024

Dec. 3, 2001

Dear Alumni/Alumnae of the W.S./G.I.A. Program,

Greetings from your old brother, this American-Filipino Marist, now in New York City!

You all know, of course, that this city, the financial capital of the world, was victim recently of an act of terrorism almost beyond anyone’s comprehension. In declaring war on America, those terrorists cremated almost 5000 civilians: mostly young men and young women of many different nationalities including a considerable number of Filipinos. I am writing this on Sunday. Yesterday there was one more funeral, almost three months later. And the funerals will continue as DNA evidence identifies still more of the cremated victims.

Having been exposed to such evil, however, the multi-ethnic inhabitants of the "Big Apple" did not curse God or despair of their horrible fate. Rather, they united together and sought out God. I have no doubt that God, in his turn, wept with the people. He made His presence felt. We saw God on Sept.11, 2001! We saw Him in an outpouring of selfless generosity: first as hundreds of police and fireman lay down their lives attempting to rescue victims trapped in that towering inferno; and second in the overwhelming response of people everywhere, offering vigils of prayer, donating their blood, their service and their money. In fact I received dozens of email messages from friends in other countries, especially from the Philippines, particularly Notredamians (lots of former GIAs, too) consoling, comforting and offering prayers. I want to thank you for that, and I want to encourage you to grow and further develop your GIA spirit.

"Once a GIA, always a GIA." This is not a cliché. You knew the meaning of personal discomfort, even hunger, as you strove, with the help of God and Notre Dame to succeed in college studies. You graduated with a Notre Dame-GIA education. You have long forgotten the facts and the formulas drilled into your short-term memory, which came in handy to pass an exam. However, you have not forgotten the values, the spirit, and the habits of the heart that you developed over the years as a working student.

As you struggle for new heights, with bigger responsibilities of family and livelihood, I encourage you not to forget those now in the GIA program. As you move on through the ups and downs of life, don’t forget to extend a helping hand to those less fortunate than yourself. You know who they are. Give God a chance to be seen. Let Him use you to make His presence felt in the lives of the working students of today and tomorrow. As an ex-GIA once said to me, "Brother, it’s now ‘payback time’. God bless you all.

With love and prayer,

Brother James F. Adams, FMS