"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi
One can't help but think of Serra High School Director of Campus Ministry Kyle Lierk when reading Gandhi's quote. For six-and-a-half years, Lierk has made a significant difference in the lives of Serra students, faculty and staff members. Humble and kind, Lierk's gentle spirit, compassion and dedication to service have made him a friend to many and a respected role model.
On December 9, Lierk was honored with the In Via Award, which is given to a non-alumnus of Serra who has led by Christian example and has provided outstanding community service.
"When we created a new vision for Campus Ministry seven years ago, we needed to find someone who could execute the plan," noted Serra Principal Barry Thornton, Ed.D. "Little did we know that we would find a person as exceptional as Kyle. His leadership, interpersonal skills, pastoral ability and, most important, authenticity of faith have helped transform Serra's Campus Ministry Department into the place it is now - the heart and soul of Serra High School."
"I am beyond honored to offer this reflection today," said Lierk, right after he was honored with a plaque and the In Via medal. He went on to talk about his acceptance into the Serra "family," and thanked the Serra community for challenging him to be his best self and showing him how to live a life of courage.
"I love you because you are a school family who models the love of Jesus, and you strive to be better every day," he added. "I can think of no community I have been more honored to serve."
Next week, Lierk will leave Serra to pursue a new career at Creighton University, where he will serve as Director of Campus Ministry. Creighton is Lierk's alma mater - a place where he had a spiritual awakening that influenced his decision to pursue campus ministry as his life's calling. He and his wife, Meredith, look forward to returning to Nebraska to be closer to Lierk's family. Meredith is a trained lay minister who met Lierk at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.
"We grieve Kyle's departure, but celebrate with great pride his move to Creighton University to be closer to his family," Thornton said. "With our conveyance of the In Via Award, Kyle is a Padre in name and in spirit."
Lierk is passionate about his work.
"I think it's because I see such value in people being able to find their truest, authentic selves," he explained. "I enjoy being a small part of that. I try my best to listen. In today's society, a lot of other things are vying for our attention, our time and our hearts. However, God is already present and active."
Lierk has left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of his students and colleagues at Serra. He will be deeply missed and he certainly will not be forgotten.
"Mr. Lierk has a great presence," said senior Justin Baptista. "He's a great guy to be around - he is funny and knows how to make jokes about how Chuck Norris doesn't even compare to Jesus. Mr. Lierk is very hardworking, and he always makes everyone around him feel positive."
"I consider Kyle a true brother - I have the greatest respect for him," agreed Serra Coordinator of Liturgy and Prayer Patrick Vallez-Kelly. "I have learned a lot from Kyle about authenticity, integrity, faith and hard work, all sprinkled with a healthy sense of humor. His role in the development of Serra's Campus Ministry Department cannot be overstated. He was the right man at the right time for Serra, and I have no doubt that God is leading him and his wife back to Nebraska because he is needed there. Kyle is an exceptional person."