Violeta’s Miracle?

Maria, Violeta’s mom, came into my office with Mr. May.  He said, “Maria has a story for you.”

She began in her broken English, pausing frequently to find the right word.  Occasionally, I guessed at the next word, until she said, “Just wait, you listen.”  I shut up and listened.

She continued slowly, “In January, when I found out I was expecting, I thought, ‘Oh, Lord, I have three girls, how can we manage another baby?’ and I cried for three months.  Then in March, we found out Violeta had leukemia, and I cried for two more months.  Then the doctors were trying to figure things out and who might be the best match for treating Violeta……and guess what……even though the baby was not born yet, the baby is the best match.  Rosa Maria is the best match!  So when she was born…”  There was a very long pause….

At his point the Holy Spirit is buzzing every bone in my body, and I can’t stay quiet and I said, “They saved the umbilical cord blood rich in stem cells and will use it for the transplant!”  Her smile and tears confirmed the blessing.  We smiled, laughed and hugged all at the same time.  Maria continued, “I said to the Lord, ‘Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.’”

Lord, thank you for using two crosses to bless one another, and thank you for reminding us to trust in You.  Thank you for Violeta and Maria Rosa, who is now about two months old.   Her stem cells were given to Violeta on Monday, October 23rd, after the chemotherapy in which all her potentially diseased blood cells were killed.  I just spoke to Maria and she said, “Right now Violeta isn’t feeling well, but the doctors say it is all good.  We have to be very careful she does not get sick, but it is all perfect.”  (This story is retold with Maria’s permission.)  Violeta will not be back to school for a long time yet, but the road to recovery is unfolding.  Let’s thank God for His goodness!

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Fun Fatima Friday!

That was the response of a child when during Friday’s homily Father Danek asked what was going on special today.  I hadn’t named it that, but, oh, does it fit!

The day began with special events even before Mass.  The Bishop sent Miraculous Medals for all the children, which we strung on Blue Cord and distributed to the children with the recommendation to “Love your Mother” or “Listen to your Mother”.

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Special events continued with the Living Rosary.  The third graders always do it well, but this was particularly beautiful.  Not only did we pray the rosary, but with visuals of each bead and meditations articulately read with a precision of which Mary’s Blue Army would be proud.  The crowd knelt and sat alternately with each decade as directed by the third graders, making it particularly good for the kids who should not be expected to stay in one spot for too long.  I hope they enjoyed it half as much as I did.

We do the Living Rosary annually, but we don’t always follow it with a helium balloon Rosary launch!  What do you think a helium balloon Rosary will look like?  No idea?  Me, either.  It was gorgeous.  Kudos to the committee who farmed the job out to the right group!  In the hallway by the music room as the kids were lining up, we were popping the water balloons which hold it down while waiting for the carriers.  We asked any children named Jacinta, Lucia, Francisco or Mary to help carry out the Rosary.  (We also recruited a few student council members at the last minute when we needed a couple more students, lest those of you who know them think we don’t know their names.)

Our kids are used to the honor guard line-up from our Eucharistic Processions.   This one was different in one big way.

No need for silence this time.  We told the kids to give a cheer for Mary and her Rosary as the Rosary went by.  They then followed in line as the end of the line came by and we all got to the new parking lot.  It was delightful to hear the children’s exclamations as the rosary bobbed through the lines.  Wasn’t the cross on the end particularly well done?  Its scale, color and variation on shape compared to the beads gave it just what was needed.

Once all were in place, we sang the Hail Holy Queen and let ‘er go!  A countdown seemed just the way to go to help everyone be sure to focus on the launch.  Here’s a two minute video of the launch and a few more pictures.

After the launch we came inside to enjoy excerpts of the movie, The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima.  Made in the 50s, the movie has some humorous scenes, as well as some that helped us understand the children and what it was like in the grotto that day.  Sister Mary Angela carefully selected the scenes so the story could be followed and enjoyed.  Of course you have to have a little popcorn if you have a movie.

In honor of the Miracle of the Sun we followed up with ice cream SUNdaes.  We had to send the Sun Chips home with the kids lest we make some of them ill from too much indulgence.  Our Lady’s message has a good deal to do with penance in life, but Lent is coming, (lest you think we were just partying and not listening to what Mary had to say.)

Now that’s a Catholic School celebration done well if I’ve ever been part of one!  There was enjoyment for body, mind and soul!  Special kudos to those who contributed to the fundraiser Messages 4 Mary, and for the parents who helped with the process and the event.  It was a witness to community also!  God be praised in the event and for His goodness in making it possible, complete with good weather and a Catholic School full of kids to enjoy it all.  I can just picture our Blessed Mother smiling upon us all.

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Miracle Overshadows Eclipse

God in His providence has put us in the “zone of totality” for the recent solar eclipse in the same year as the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima Portugal.  If you aren’t familiar with those three little children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, and our Blessed Mother’s six visits to them, the story of God’s love for us is evident in His message.  We’ve been preparing in various ways for the culmination of the hundredth anniversary on Oct. 13, the actual day of the Miracle in the grotto at Fatima.

The eclipse and the Miracle have many similarities as well as differences.  Some children have constructed Venn Diagrams comparing and contrasting the two events.


marker Venn

In the final analysis there surely is no debate about the greater.  In the Miracle that day at the Grotto in Fatima, not only did the sun spin and move about in the sky, but it grew in size and appeared to be coming rapidly toward the earth.  The people in attendance screamed thinking the world was coming to an end.  Some saw the Holy Family, but all saw the sun’s movement, even those who came as agnostics to mock the event, as they thought nothing would happen.  Though convinced by the visual, the instantaneous drying of their soaked clothes as well as the mud all around them confirmed their new found faith.  I love the magnitude of the Miracle and how God shed his grace on all, believer and non-believer.  (Though after the event, there were no non-believers left in that grotto. God be praised)

pencil Venn

Among my favorite pictures taken that day in 1917 is this one of a policeman carrying Jacinta to the event.  He was there to protect her, as they feared the crowd would harm her if there was no miracle.

Jacinta with policemanIf I had access to a planetarium and accomplished multimedia special effects experts, I would recreate what was described by those present in that Grotto.  Stephen Spielberg where are you when we need you.

I loved being on that parking lot with all the children taking in the eclipse with sight, sound and temperature change.  But when I consider our eclipse experience, and let it lead me to consider what those present at Fatima saw that day in that muddy grotto, the eclipse is overwhelmingly overshadowed.  Our loving Father has a history of overshadowing the natural with the supernatural on occasion to bring His love to us and get our attention.  Amen.  Alleluia.

Join us if you are able on Oct. 13, we will be celebrating, and observing some of the directives of Our Lady, particularly praying the Rosary. We will also be doing several other activities that afternoon to celebrate the day and pray for our benefactors.

We pray for those we love often, but we will be intentional about praying for them repeatedly, but especially on Oct. 13, too, as we celebrate the end of our Message for Mary promotion.  Here’s what we have lined up for the day:

  • 12:45 Living Rosary – led by the third graders in the church
  • 1:15 Rosary Launch – we will have a helium balloon Rosary, which we will watch ascend to the heavens like our prayers.  The new parking lot is the place.
  • 1:45 Movie excerpts – “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” with SUN Chips, and popcorn to munch on in the gym or take home.
  • 2:45 SUNdaes to celebrate the Miracle of the SUN

Thanks to all of you who made M4M a success and also to Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother for that gift at Fatima 100 years ago.  Help us listen well!

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Make Me a Channel of Your Peace…











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The Before School Huddle

When you see a group of adolescents in a huddle before school, wise crowd control monitors check it out.  There have been two lately:

  • Girls – Fifth graders to be exact. It was a tight group, obviously quite taken with a common focal point.  It was their first day to lead the rosary before Mass and they were looking at one another’s rosaries and making sure they had the prayer leaflet well examined so they could find the right spot, as “You get nervous when you lead,” they told me.


  • Boys – This one was fifth graders, too. They were a couple people deep.  They were clearly intent upon something on the bench.  Band instruments!  It was one of the first days of band and the shine of the new musical tools had them captivated.  It was good to see the mutual sharing.IMG_4533

God be praised that we have a school where kids are gathered in huddles sharing truly good things (sometimes anyway, I ain’t no fool to think know it isn’t always this way, but let’s praise God when it is, and take reparative steps when it is not.)

May God continue to bless us all, which He surely will, may we receive well his grace.

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Why do you send your child to a Catholic School?  In a homily last spring, Fr. Townsend shared the following quote:

“When we teach our children to be good, to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous, to love others, we instill virtue in their souls and reveal the image of God within them.  This, then, is our task:  to educate both ourselves and our children in godliness; otherwise what answer will we have before Christ’s judgment-seat?”  St. John Chrysostom

Afterward, many of us teachers were commenting on how this was exactly what we are about here at St. Peter’s!  We liked it so much we added it to our PeaceMakers Program.

As I mentioned last week, we are preparing for PeaceMakers Week next week.  Some special activities for the children include:

  • Grades PreK-3 The NED show: this is a nation-wide assembly program on instilling virtues that involves yo-yo’s.  Students will be able to purchase NED yo-yos following the program.


  • Grades 4-5 will learn about resilience and responding to differences from a former graduate of St. Peter’s, Mary Flattery.
  • Grades 6-8 will hear from Tram Rademacher on her powerful story of resilience in escaping Vietnam as a child and being a refugee.

The overview of our whole program (which encompasses every day of the year and not just a single week) is listed below.  On the attachment you can find the “Core Concepts” that will be specifically taught by grade level in each classroom next week.

Sister Mary Angela

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Blessed Are the Peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers…”  This month I began visiting classrooms teaching the children what it means to be a peacemaker.  As a Beatitude, this one carries with it a powerful promise, “…for they shall be called the children of God.”  We used simple actions to help us memorize the phrase as is demonstrated by three fourth graders below.  But why did I choose this theme to begin our year?


It all actually started with the concept of bullying.  This word has been thrown around the education world for at least 40 years.  The definitions and reactions of individuals range from “Boys will be boys” to “My child was pushed in line so the school has a bullying problem.”

The most consistent definition to date of bullying goes something like this:  “Repeated, intentional hurtful behavior toward another that involves some imbalance of power.”  But one of the bigger issues in addressing this type of behavior is our use of terminology and the underlying emotional reactions that they trigger.  One author puts it this way:

“There is the question of whether or when we should use the terms ‘bully’ and ‘victim.’ Common sense should help us decide. If you want to stigmatise someone and get them to oppose you, call him or her a bully. If you want to permanently dis-empower people, keep insisting that they are lifelong, irredeemable victims. However, if you want them to cooperate with you or be empowered you will do nothing of the sort. You will focus on their behaviour, not their character, and encourage them to behave better. BUT this does not mean we should close our eyes to the fact that some are much more prone to bully and/or be bullied than others and need special attention.” (Ken Rigby)

At St. Peter’s a team of teachers and I researched this topic last year from multiple perspectives (social, psychological, religious, academic).  Our findings resulted in creating a program unique to St. Peter’s that we have called the “PeaceMakers Program.”  It pulls from multiple sources on what we found as the best practices for working with children and families in this realm.  The following are key areas in addressing bullying behavior:

  • Every child/person is created good as an image of God and is to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Due to original sin, every child/person has tendencies toward negative and hurtful behavior toward others, thus everyone has tendencies toward bullying behavior.
  • Calling someone a “bully” demeans their dignity and implies that he/she is not capable of change and will always be labeled as a bully. (Would you like your child called a bully when he/she does hurtful behavior?)
  • Aggressive and hurtful behaviors need to be addressed seriously, but in a way that looks for the dignity of each person involved and tries to help each one grow in the way that is needed.
  • Teaching virtue and social skills is the key to diminishing aggressive/negative behavior. It’s one thing to simply tell children, “Don’t hurt others.”  It’s another thing to instill in them a desire to do and to be good and give them tools to help them do so.
  • The more people in a child’s life who reinforce a message, the more likely the child will embrace and live that message.

That’s enough to chew on for now.  Tune in to next week’s newsletter to see an overview of the PeaceMakers Program and to help you and your child prepare for PeaceMakers Week, Sept. 25-29.

God bless you!

Sister Mary Angela

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