De La Salle Collegiate Alumnus Brian Simpson, Class of 1994, was especially moved by the DLS online Mass in May, with DLS Alumnus Father Brian Meldrum, '02, as the celebrant. Simpson penned these thoughts afterwards:
“Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.” A distinctly LaSallian phrase, spoken daily wherever Pilots and Pilot supporters meet. It feels like a chat with friends. A calming voice. It feels like home.
I graduated from De La Salle in 1994 after attending the school for three years. During my freshman year, I attended my local neighborhood school, but it didn’t feel like home. On a cold winter day in 1990, my mother Christine and I walked past the DLS school bus as the students were filing into the bus, and I was about to speak with Brother Tom Lackey about becoming a Pilot for my upcoming sophomore year. Dennis Koch (a classmate from St. Anne grade school days) saw me walk past the bus and yelled from an open bus window, “Hey Simpson, are you going here?!” I replied, “I sure hope so.” Even before I walked into my Brother Tom interview, I felt welcome. Home.
Many years have passed. Most recently I lived in Chicago from 2004 to 2016, returning to metro Detroit in early 2017. It was an adjustment returning to Michigan, especially having lived the big city life and all its allure. While coaching sports or participating in other activities with my children, I have run into many Pilots, several from my class. I have also run into Pilots while traveling in Mexico and playing catch with my son in a Chicago park. While the years have passed, we share the connection from our formative years. The memories flow.
From 2016 until April 2020, I worked as an international trade and expansion consultant supporting US companies seeking distributors and a foothold in international markets. Without the ability to jump onto planes to Mexico, Brazil, and beyond, COVID-19 forced an abrupt pivot in my career. I never thought it would happen to me. It did. The first thing I did was walk eight miles in my neighborhood to collect my thoughts and speak with trusted confidants.
In early May I was just about to begin an important virtual interview from my attic office. Ten minutes before the interview, I cleared my mind, and for a reason that I do not fully understand, I texted my parents: “Mom and Dad, thank you for sending me to De La Salle. It made a difference.” In that moment, I felt moved to thank them for a sacrifice that they made thirty years ago. I felt a calmness that I was ready for the interview (from all my accumulated experience), and I did not feel alone.
A couple of weeks later, I was fortunate to accept a new role that promises solid growth opportunities for the years to come. I had some help along the way -- I didn’t do it alone.
A couple of days after accepting the new role, I was flipping through my email and serendipitously saw that the school year’s last All-School Mass would be celebrated online (live) in five minutes. I was sitting in my attic office and clicked the link. A few minutes later a student said, “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.” The student talked about the importance of celebrating Mass together, even if virtually, and remembering all that the students accomplished at De La Salle. I kept thinking about the first line he said. We are never alone. Our family, our friends, our teachers, our colleagues -- they want to hear from us. And also God. He’s always been there, even if I didn’t always realize it."