Kicking off Catholic Schools Week with Compassion :: Rethinking “If there is anything I can do, let me know”

Each year, the Althoff Catholic High School community kicks-off Catholic School’s Week with a Monday morning assembly featuring guest speakers. The theme for this year’s assembly was the virtue of compassion which corresponds to the Virtue of the Week which is discussed in Virtue Period and the SportsLeader program.

Althoff Catholic alums Austin Frazier ’04, his mother, Liz (DeMarse) Messbarger ‘77, Tom Kelley ’06, Mo (Kuebel) Kelley ’06, Jared Neville ’97 and Adrianne (Gonzalez) Neville ’97 were this year’s guest speakers. The assembly began with each pair of speakers sharing a bit about their family’s stories of tragic loss and how the compassion they have received and have given continues to provide healing and comfort.

The Frazier, Kelley and Neville families each honor the legacy of their loved ones in a unique and special way. The thread that ties them together is the virtue of compassion – the strength to be aware of the needs of others and the desire to help them.

Having lost his brother, Mike, to cancer, Tom Kelley spoke to our students about being proactive in showing compassion to others. “We have all sent that ‘if there is anything I can do, let me know’ text to a friend going through a difficult situation,” said Tom. “What I would say to that is do not wait to give compassion, do not wait to be asked, do not ask for permission if you think you can help someone, just do it. We all have the power and responsibility to give compassion and to be there for each other. Don’t waste the opportunity.”

The Frazier/Messbarger and Kelley families’ friendships have spanned two generations. Austin Frazier expanded on Tom’s point of being compassionate: “Every year, on the anniversary of my brother Tim’s passing, Mike Kelley would send me a text first thing in the morning to let me know he was thinking of me,” said Austin. “When we lost Mike, one of the first things I thought of was ‘I’m not going to get that text anymore.’ When the anniversary of Tim’s passing came the next year, I got a very similar text from Mike’s brother, Tom. That small act of compassion made a huge impact on my life when Mike did it and for Tom to continue to do that means a lot.”

Austin went on to encourage each student to find ways to show compassion to each other. Small things like smiling, holding the door and saying hello can make a difference. “You never know how even a small act of compassion can impact someone’s day,” said Austin.

The Neville and Kelley families have both created foundations to continue their loved one’s legacies.

Eden’s Army

“The day we walked out of the hospital without our daughter, Eden, we knew we would start a foundation in her name,” said Adrianne Neville. “Being able to help those in similar situations in Eden’s name is therapeutic.”

Eden’s Army is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization created to help families at the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. The organization’s mission is to give financial support to families whose children are in the care of the CICU at the hospital. Eden’s Army wants families to have access to the support and technology that sustained Eden during her journey. “Together, in Eden’s name, we can help make miracles happen.”

In their 2017 season, the Althoff Catholic High School Boys’ Soccer Team chose Eden’s Army as their charity. The team passed a jug around after every goal scored, collecting a total of $1,302 to support the efforts of Eden’s Army.

To learn more about Eden’s Army, click here.

The Mike Kelley Foundation

“At the camp, we see kids from a variety of backgrounds from those who have been to every baseball camp in the area to those who have never picked up a baseball,” said Mo Kelley. “One year, a kid showed up after registration had ended, wearing shorts and sandals. Tom went over to greet him and his grandma who only knew she was supposed to drop him off for an activity, not knowing it was a baseball camp. This boy looked up at Tom and was so excited for the opportunity to play baseball.”

The Mike Kelley Foundation was established to not only carry on Mike’s legacy, but to provide unforgettable memories for the area’s youth while instilling in them the very qualities that made Mike so special.  The Mike Kelley Foundation hosts a four-day baseball camp every summer for youth in the metro-east area.  The baseball camp is geared towards youth players of all ages and economic backgrounds and is offered free of charge.

To learn more about The Mike Kelley Foundation and the baseball camp, click here.

In the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this earth.” We are grateful to Austin, Liz, Tom, Mo, Adrianne and Jared for sharing their stories with us and bringing the virtue of compassion to life for our students, faculty and staff.


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