Boys will be…. Men



Let’s face it. No one knows quite what to do with an adolescent boy. 

Like bears in a zoo, they’re large and awkward, short on words. They’re rowdy and unpredictable — making spectators relieved for the distance between them — and mothers sometimes wish they could simply toss peanuts, rather than endure strained dinner conversation.

And yet, deep inside each of those young men is a tender heart, a kind soul… a budding leader.

I just picked up my oldest son from a Kairos retreat, an intense four-day personal discovery where retreatants examine their personal relationship with God. 

This was a group of Central Catholic High School seniors. Central Catholic is San Antonio’s oldest all-male high school, and while it has a wonderful reputation for graduating tomorrow’s leaders, you can practically smell the sweaty socks from outside the front door. The testosterone is off-the-charts.

But it was here in the heart of Central’s musty old gym where I witnessed a thing of real beauty.

These boys ….these unshowered, unshaven, mismatched raggamuffins… one by one stood up to say how this retreat changed their lives. During these last four days, they had shared difficult stories, their worst fears, their doubts about religion, worries about the future and found that, well, they weren’t alone. They spoke up in front of a gym full of grown ups and, with great eloquence, revealed….  That it’s OK to share your feelings. It’s OK to cry. To love. 

They learned that the Central brotherhood was more than a marketing phrase. That being a man has nothing to do with drinking beer, hazing others and demeaning women. Being a man means having the courage to show you care, to admit your weaknesses to embrace your feelings. That real friends are the boulders left behind in the sieve when all the other pebbles wash away.

As these boys departed with warm abrazos, I saw a glimpse of the future. They were armed with all they needed to be men. No AP class, no football touchdown, no ROTC award will matter as much as the knowledge that they can rely on each other.

These boys will be…. good men.


~ by Donna J. Tuttle on September 27, 2009.

11 Responses to “Boys will be…. Men”

  1. That is awesome. My father is an ROTC instructor at Central Catholic, and he will go on and on about the quality of the school and the brotherhood he witnesses among the students. I myself am a Judson HS grad. And when I hear stories like this, I feel like I missed out on something. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time at Judson, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have gone the Central route.

    That being said, the day God blesses me with children and they get to be HS age, I will be looking at getting them a Central Catholic education.

  2. What a great story. Although I had more fun than I deserved in high school (if I’d had more, there would be two of me), I can’t say that I experienced anything like this. These types of support systems and lessons in sharing real feelings with my peers simply did not exist. Actually, it would have led to massive ridicule. Your son is fortunate to have seen this and he’ll certainly be a better person for having gone through such a transformational experience. Unfortunately, many of us men are too guarded to be able to honestly share what he did in front of their friends, much less other adults at any age. It will certainly be interesting to see how he reflects back on the process.

  3. What an inspiration! I think about what the future will hold for our boys all the time. My hope and energies all focus on raising smart, sensitive and thoughtful young men who will be well respected for their kindness, compassion and passion for life. Then some days I say, keep it simple Kelly — and hope they don’t kill themselves or someone else doing something stupid! There truly is no greater challenge than being a parent! Congrats to you and Dave, clearly you are doing a fantastic job.

  4. First of all- well-written! Many laugh-out-loud moments! I was very fortunate to attend a spiritually and academically rich school in the area. Reading your post is a great reminder that we (I) often dismiss character and integrity in young adults. I think this formation builds great leaders and great communities. Glad to hear the men experienced an incredible, important milestone!

  5. Donna, how well written and insightful. You give me hope for all of our sons.

  6. This is so beautiful, Donna. That glimpse of seeing our children wrestle with the big questions is so amazing.

  7. There is nothing more moving than to see these young men form, develop, and bond together before one’s very eyes. There has always been a mystique about being a Central Catholic young man. Entering my 23rd year as an educator and now principal of this high school, working here is more then just a job. One has to love these guys. One has to enter their world. One has to be able to prepare these youg men for life’s lessons. It’s not about earning a diploma. It’s about making a life. Thank you, Donna, for entrusting Central Catholic to educate your sons for life.

  8. It’s great to read that my Alma Mater still develops such well-rounded young men. I never had any doubts; our time at Central is often taken for granted. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I realized the full value to my Central experience. Thanks for sharing, Donna.

  9. At least once a day I look into my baby boy’s dark brown eye and think, “One day he’ll be a man. This baby, will be a man.” And while I can’t yet imagine the sweaty, stinky socks or the awkward stages he’ll no doubt pass through I can imagine the warm, caring, honest, wonderful man I hope he’ll grow up to be. Your post reminds me that he won’t get there on his own.

    This is such a great post, Donna.

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