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The Man Behind the Mission

by Regis Rouzier

Within the busy hallways and buzzing classrooms of Christopher Columbus High School, there exists a quiet yet powerful force that silently guides the hearts and hands of every student toward a shared purpose of service. 


Meet Marist Brother Al, the unsung hero who not only orchestrates the countless service projects undertaken by students but also ignites the compassion behind them. His name may not be on the headlines, but his influence runs through every corner of our school, shaping our very idea of what service truly is.


Raised in the vibrant city of New York, Brother Al Rivera’s journey to become a pillar of service at our school started with his upbringing around Marist brothers and schools. At a young age, he was exposed to the values of compassion and service, and these principles would eventually become the guiding lights of his life. 


“What influenced me the most were the relationships I built with brothers in high school; seeing everything they did and how they interacted with students truly determined the reason I became a brother,” he said. 


Prior to his life as a Marist brother, Brother Al had aspirations that differentiated from his eventual path. He dreamt of owning a restaurant, envisioning a life centered around culinary creations that would create memorable dining experiences. His culinary skills were honed through work at a prominent hotel corporation, where he served as a gourmet chef. Little did he know, that the flavors of his future would be a different kind of nourishment, one that feeds the soul.


But it's within the walls of Christopher Columbus High School that Brother Al Rivera has found some of the most rewarding moments of his life as a brother. He said that his best moments as a brother have occurred right here at our school. He pointed to the exceptional relationships between the core group of teachers and students, emphasizing the genuine sense of fraternity that permeates the school community.


"At Columbus, we really have a lot of freedom to interact with our co-workers and students while being creative and doing things differently," he said.


Overseeing all service projects and hours at our school, his dedication to this task comes from a profound belief in the transformative power of service. Brother Al's approach to service extends beyond merely tallying hours; he actively seeks diverse opportunities where students can engage with individuals facing challenging circumstances.


By balancing various service opportunities, Brother Al ensures that students not only meet these individuals but also have the chance to broaden their horizons and cultivate a deeper understanding of the world around them. 


Through his guidance, students embark on a journey of self-discovery, compassion and the realization that their actions can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.


“We want our students to meet with people who’ve experienced difficulties with the hope that their interactions with them will change their perceptions of people who are poor or homeless but at the same time get the chance to help them, Brother Al said.


Brother Al has always been an inspiring figure to students at Columbus, and his impact goes far beyond the walls of his office. Through his guidance and mentorship, Brother Al helps students foster a profound sense of service in their lives. He leads by example, demonstrating that acts of kindness and selflessness can transform not only the lives of others but also the individuals who perform them. 


Students look up to him as a role model, and his influence encourages them to not only participate in service projects but to internalize the values of empathy and community. Brother Al's legacy extends through the students he has taught, shaping them into compassionate, service-oriented individuals who carry the torch of his inspiration.


“Brother Al really changed the way I thought of service, he showed me that it's not only about hours but about the lives we touch and the empathy we cultivate. He's the reason I've come to believe that service isn't just an obligation; it's a way of life," said senior Javier Diaz Alonso.


His journey from a culinary dreamer to a devoted Marist brother underscores the transformative power of following one's true calling.  Brother Al not only inspires students but empowers them to embrace service as a way of life. His legacy, imprinted on the hearts of countless students, serves as a reminder that in a world filled with opportunities to make a difference. It is the kindness, dedication and belief in the human spirit that leave an indelible mark. 


Brother Al Rivera embodies the essence of service, reminding us all that we have the power to change lives and, in doing so, change our own.



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This was beautifully written. Br. Al may be an unsung hero at CCHS, but not for those of us who are blessed to call him “friend”.

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