Tag Archives: Catholic Education

Goodness In Action

The Sisters and I came across this scene as we left school at 4:45.

teddyLook closely at the little fellow, he’s hardly as tall as the pews, when on his knees as pictured here.  He’s praying the Stations of the Cross.  I’m not sure if he can read the words in the book he is using or if he uses the pictures, but it doesn’t matter, prayer is more important than reading, and this little fellow is at prayer.  His family has a holy hour and we often see them on the same day of the week as we gather in Church to check out with the Lord before returning to the convent.  He does my heart good, I know Catholic Education is good, very good, but Lord thanks for the confirmation in the flesh.

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Speaking of confirmations of goodness, our Student Council also did a beautiful job with the Flag Folding Ceremony.  Mike Smith our custodian, is a career military man.  He would want me to add in, not just military, Army!  Quite some time ago we spoke of a short Veteran’s Day commemoration after Mass on Nov. 11th.  Mike said he would take care of it.  When you have a good man saying he will take care of it, you trust he will do so, especially a military man.  So I asked few questions, other than, Mike it can’t be longer than 10 to 15 minutes, please.  Kids and teachers have to get back to class and to work….WOW did he and the kids put on a beautiful Flag Folding Ceremony.

Mike began with the two daily bugle calls from military bases, retreat and call to colors during which the Student Council processed in with a large flag.  The music and the colors were very striking.  The attention of all was riveted.  Then as Mr. Smith read the meaning of each fold the students folded the flag beautifully.  For adolescents, whom we later learned were new to flag folding, to do such a solemn job with dignity is a tribute to them and to Mr. Smith.  WELL DONE.

Just over a week ago, our children presented our pastor with a spiritual bouquet for his Feastday.  For those of you who are not familiar with Spiritual Bouquets, they are a gathering of prayers for an individual.  Here the artist of the card presents the card to Father.  Inside the prayers of the students are listed, thousands of them!  You can see the card a little better in one picture than in the other.

first-grade-prayersFinally, first graders are taking their rosaries to Mass and diligently praying for the poor souls.  On their way back to the classroom after Mass, their teacher heard one of them say to another, “I think I got one today.”  (Praying for souls to be released from Purgatory……one more in heaven?)  If he didn’t have one before that act of faith, I think the Lord would bring another soul to heaven on the merits and confidence of that little child.  And again this morning one of the little ones said, “I prayed one hundred Hail Marys for those guys.”  He used the time during communion profitably as well as those minutes before Mass!  Well done!

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The Power of Your Blessing

The power of a parent’s blessing to protect and sanctify children was the topic of a portion of Jesse Romero’s talk at the Christ Our Life Conference in Des Moines last weekend.  Twenty of us CK Sisters were privileged to attend.  As parents, you are charged with an awesome responsibility when God gives you a child.  It follows that He would grant you the corresponding gifts to raise them well.  What sense that makes that He would charge your blessing with efficacy!  The primacy of the supernatural over the natural would point toward the power of a parent’s blessing.

As teachers, we also have a formative responsibility.  Therefore, grace is to be had in blessings.  Our teachers often intercede for their children.  Some also bless them, either physically, or silently.

I asked some sixth graders how they feel about their daily blessing by Sister Mary Guadalupe as they leave the classroom.  I edited a few things in their comments, (mostly taking out “like”) but here’s what they said:  (The pictures do not necessarily correspond with the text under them.)

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I feel like she really cares about us.

She wants us to be safe.

They make me feel good inside especially if I have been flustered.

It makes you feel grateful; grateful for everything.

It makes me feel like you love me.

Happy that I learned a bunch of stuff and that good things happened during the day and that we had a fun time.

It just keeps God with you the rest of the day and throughout the night and it just seems to keep me happier.

She wants us to have a nice day.

I feel holy.

I feel that she does it to make us happy and to give extra graces to go on with our day.

It is hard to put into words….it makes me feel special.

It makes me feel safer and happier at the end of the day.

I think it’s great that she gives us an extra blessing; we always need extra blessings.

It makes me feel like our teachers really like us.

I feel like I am good when I leave.

The blessing at the end of the day means she cares for us.

At the end of the day I like it because then you feel like you’re not just leaving all empty.

I feel like it’s a good way to end the day.

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I encourage you to bless your children.  Trace the Sign of the Cross on their foreheads before they go to bed.  A little holy water can also help, but don’t let the lack of holy water hold you back.  Your love and the physical touch of blessing, reinforces the love you have for them and makes it tangible in yet another way.  A blessing mixes your love with the Father’s love, and pours it over them.  Can you think of anything better?

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WATERMELON!

img_37158B is the winner of the 18 hour turn in challenge for P4P.  The prize was two of our very own Motherhouse watermelons.  Being the chief gardener I snagged a couple melons.

img_3716The reception of the children was perfect.   They were courteous, grateful, appropriately pleased with themselves, and surprised.  For a moment I forgot I was dealing with children, they had the decorum of adults.  (In the society in which we live I probably should add refined adults.)  By the way, seed spitting in outdoor watermelon eating was encouraged, and can be done with dignity.  Note the perfect form on the young man on the right below!

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As we ate the watermelon and conversed, I learned that one of our eighth graders who is a recent arrival with his family from Ireland, had never eaten watermelon before.  They don’t grow them there.  He’s the one on the left below.  (I’m not allowed to use student names here.)  We are glad to help with the enculturation experience!

img_3711I’m not sure how they brought in $1500 in 18 hours, but nothing appears to be illegal; well done!  I love it when the big kids do what they can and take the leadership which they are capable of doing.  It makes positive reinforcement so easy.  So eighth graders, thanks!  May God continue to bless you and may you, along with all our children continue to grow in wisdom age and grace.  Thanks for your ready smiles!

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And thanks to all who are helping us build a playground, may our children know the freedom proper to the children of God.    They evidenced it beautifully today.

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(If you are reading this from a distance please consider visiting our website to contribute online, God bless.)

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Dabo Swinney and Civility

All of a sudden I like Clemson football.  I had never heard of Dabo Swinney until a few minutes ago, and it is dangerous to support a stand when you know little of what is behind it, but Dabo made it clear.  He said, “If we would live by the two greatest commandments a lot of problems would go away….”  Jesus is the foundation of his statement and I respect a Christian who will put His light on a stand to be seen.

The world is full of good and there is also plenty of evil.  Where do we want to focus?  Do we let the media take us for a ride down slopes we would really rather not go?  Dabo reminds me of a question I heard quite some time ago, “If Jesus were to comment on what is going on in the world right now, what would he say?”  After I shuddered a bit, I listened to the answer (I don’t recall from whom).  Jesus would say, “Look at all the love.  Look at the goodness.  Look at the way spouses are working together for their families.  Look at the love of parents for their children and children for their parents.  See neighbors helping one another.  Kindness to others is being prompted by another’s need.  Note the acceptance of suffering, offered for the good of others.  Etc., etc., etc.”  Jesus would go on and on, because HE HAS EYES FOR LOVE.  He sees love first and foremost.  He recognizes love in places where we miss it. He sees it often and almost everywhere.  Today we celebrate the Triumph of the Cross.  He was Love on that cross, and His Father saw that love.

I asked a few people where they have seen love recently?  A few samples….

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Student choice reminding us to keep God first.

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Jesus Loves Us All!

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“Mr. May helped with my medal that fell off 150 times!”

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my-grandma-loves-me

My Grandma Loves Me!

Jesus in this year of mercy, this year of an outpouring of love, help us to see love.

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Mother Teresa and the Playground?

I doubt that Mother Teresa would build a playground like ours. It is clearly a first world playground. Having said that, there are certainly a number of things about the playground of which she would have wholeheartedly approved.mother teresa

First and foremost, Mother Teresa would approve of loving and taking good care of children.  She would promote a culture which values life and has a deep-seated desire to do good for The Father’s children.  I pray that is the essence of our playground.IMG_3522

Though it’s only Wednesday there have been several things this week in the construction process in which Mother Teresa would have delighted. We had a mat construction crew here which originated out of New York State. They were very hard-working men whose job was more complicated than it originally appeared. The chalk lines reminded me of the process for laying ceramic tile.  The tiles were all a little bigger than the space between the lines to allow for contraction of the tiles in the winter and expansion in the summer.  The men were of Hispanic origin, Arturo was the foreman. He was a delightful man with a heart for people. We checked on his daily progress. It was not uncommon for the perimeter of the playground to be lined with youthful observers who were always welcomed.

Saturday’s “community build” was a blessing.  Kurt Daberkow recommended the day and made remote plans for it from the early meetings.  When I asked him on Sunday evening how it went as we looked at the equipment, his response was adamant: It was a true example of teamwork.  He said the foreman from Miracle really knew what he was doing, and had no issue with keeping 40 capable workers profitably occupied.  The Knights of Columbus teamed up with many of our parents to complete the project by 6 pm.  Thanks for working together well, reminding me of the Kingdom where we will all be working together to praise the Lord!

Mother Teresa, in union with the Church, promotes the dignity of the human person as we are all created by God in His image and likeness. Can you imagine those men’s job?  How hard to be on the road so much, away from home.  From here they go to Chicago, then Indianapolis, then back here Saturday to seal our tiles.  A little kindness seemed in order. On Monday one of our parents brought some sandwiches and about 45 second graders took them lunch. Four carried the card table.  A child or two took each chair.  Five kids transported sandwiches.  Five more carried chips.  Four kids were the beverage cart with bottled water.  Five kids took napkins (OK here we were scraping for jobs). One had the trash bag. Several held the doors along the way.  In the end we were only a couple jobs short of having something for everyone to do.  By the time the last ones got out there the first group had the table and chair set up nicely in the shade and soon everything was set.

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The gentlemen were thrilled with lunch.  We were going to get a picture.  Arturo wanted a picture also to send to his family. It was a good day. IMG_3520

Later another group took him cookies and a drink. We wanted to get everyone we could in the act.  We witnessed to kindness.  Mother Teresa did that every day many times.IMG_3492

During one of the recesses one of the workmen was headed to the trailer to get some supplies when the soccer ball came his way. We didn’t know we had a soccer player among our workers. He enjoyed those few minutes of dribbling the ball around with the kids.  Sister Mary Angela was out there for that scene and she said his smile couldn’t have been broader.FullSizeRender

Mrs. Seigrist took advantage of the opportunity to practice Spanish.  She went out with several groups and prayed with the children and the men.  Sometimes the children needed a script which she had readily provided.  The kids had an opportunity to ask a couple questions.  It was also fun for the children to listen in to a short lively and meaningful conversation between Mrs. Seigrist and the workers.

I think mother Teresa would’ve also enjoyed the blessing of the playground. The gathering was prayerful, invoking the Father’s goodness on the project, along with thanking the many donors for their help. We blessed the playground as the last tiles are being installed so that the blessing could be there before the play began.  “Run the race so as to win….”, the reader proclaimed…..Father Townsend used the asperges to sprinkle us with the blessing that reminded us of the Polish broom. There was no broom but we were thoroughly blessed. When we arrived for the blessing the workmen were busy finishing up. As we began, they, too, made the sign of the cross and a couple of them knelt down joining us in the blessing. The unity of our faith was evident.

After the blessing, as the workers were preparing to leave, Arturo asked if he could pray in the church for a few minutes.  I said, “of course, that’s what the church is there for! ”  I had one last item to retrieve and said I would meet him back there.  A few minutes later I went over to church and saw one man kneeling at the communion rail praying. He had on a bright orange shirt; Arturo’s shirt was black both days. I got the feeling that the chief always wore a black shirt. Wondering if that was him, I went up to the front of the church where I could see and knelt down to pray until he finished. He stayed there quite some time and when he left I met him in the vestibule thanked him again and gave him the information.  With heartfelt gratitude Arturo spoke of what a blessing it was to work at our church and school. The kindness we had given was obviously recognized and received with gratitude. God be praised in the simple giving and receiving among His people!  Yes, Mother Teresa would be pleased.IMG_3525signature with links

 

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Top Three Reasons I’m Glad to be Back

It is a joy for me to be returning to St. Peter School this year!  Having been at several schools in my Religious Life, can I tell you want makes our school unique, “It’s like coming home.”  Here are my top three:

  1. The family atmosphere of the teachers and staff struck me immediately as I returned to the opening meetings. I remember well from my previous years here, the beautiful rapport and the caring for one another.  I saw it again displayed at our open faculty meeting as we shared about summer experiences and prayer intentions came up.  There was a genuine concern and reaching out to those in need.
  2. A second highlight of our school is the beautiful respect shown by the students and reinforced by the teachers. When walking down the hall, a class will stop to let you pass.  Children hold doors for one another and for adults.  The junior high has students who hold the church doors for everyone and another student who has a hymnal ready to hand Father as he walks up the aisle to begin Mass.  Older boys being gentlemen letting girls precede them in the Communion line.  Such signs of respect and other-centeredness are skills/virtues that do not come naturally – especially in our culture!  The teachers and staff work together to promote this atmosphere and to instill this reverence for others in a way that is exceptional.
  3. Leadership is instilled in the children. I’ve had two opportunities to meet with new volunteers to the school.  But instead of me giving a tour, there are trained “tour guides” in each of the classrooms who can be called upon to show the adult the parts of our school and answer questions.  It is beautiful to see such initiative!  Again, this reflects highly of the leadership of the administration, teachers and staff who have taken time to prepare the children for this role so that they can grow in confidence and initiative.

Such a family atmosphere in St. Peter School reflects the beauty of family life and, ultimately, the beauty of the life we will have someday with the Blessed Trinity.  Your children are learning self-discipline, respect and reverence for those around them, and feel a sense of belonging.  Someday, they will be embraced by God’s love for all eternity and be in a relationship of love with all the saints.  It’s a gift to be a part of such an environment and I look forward to the abundance of graces the Lord has in store for all of us this year.

Finally, I look forward to meeting you for the first time, or again if I have taught your children in the past.  Please forgive me for being slow with names, however, as there are a lot more of your names  to remember than there is of mine!  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and your children at St. Peter’s!

God bless you!

Sister Mary Angela

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Heavenly Playground

We are building a BEAUTIFUL PLAYGROUND!  Progress is being made and quickly, finally.  We have been saving for this playground for several years, and what a blessing to see the effort of years becoming incarnate.  In the next few weeks we hope to make steady progress through to completion!  We will keep you posted (do this with your children and you will probably get your wings clipped).  I am not a child and as principal I have a few privileges, therefore I took a close look at the equipment, to the point of unpacking a couple items.  Some of them look like great fun on which to play!

Two in particular really make me wish I was a kid again.  The group swing is a hit with adolescents, as they can be with their friends as they play, according to Eric Crouch, the CEO of Crouch Recreation who is our equipment vendor.

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Group Swing in brown cardboard in the lower right with the green edge showing.

The green edge on the swing with a little “give” to it should keep teeth intact for the most part.  The holes in the center allow for drainage from the disc.  The foundation under the anchor poles should allow for half our school to be on that swing and still be soundly grounded. I can hardly wait to see the kids using it.

The other which I can’t wait to see operational is the Ten Spin.  You can sit in five places and stand in five places.  A “Merry Go Round” on which you can stand – as a kid I would have loved that.

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Ten Spin in it’s wrapper.

There are handles for the standing riders.  The standing children will likely be the ones spinning the ride using the stationary wheel in the center.  I can only imagine trying to spin the thing as fast as my little arms would allow.  (I’m also glad this equipment is fully safety tested, as I revert to adulthood.  The Merry Go Round we used as children certainly wasn’t safety tested.  Did you ever get in the middle and use leverage and mechanical advantage to push the thing?  If you fell down, you lost your head if you got up at the wrong time.  We learned quickly.)IMG_3467

Heaven:  the equipment reminds me of heaven in a very real and parallel way.  We are here now, looking toward a future reality that will be “so much fun” in a way that will go beyond our wildest dreams.  We get to anticipate snippets here and now as we gaze on the equipment, but the full reality has yet to unfold.  Now, we try to imagine what heaven will be like, but the experience is beyond us.  As a matter of fact, the reality is so far beyond us that what will evolve will have a dimension beyond anything we now see.  (At present the equipment is flat on the ground, it will be 3-D very soon.) IMG_3471

The equipment is firmly anchored.  The Kingdom of God is grounded so firmly nothing will ever shake it.  In this constantly changing world we long for such permanence, and goodness.  Let us long for that which is to come, and may every longing of this life, large and small, remind us that we are made for Him and for heaven.

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Waiting for the tree to grow? Won’t the shade be great!

Perfect happiness is an ordered desire of our hearts which will be absolutely fulfilled in heaven.  That fulfillment will be one in which we will be in community.  The group with which we rejoice will be a unified group.  Together we will rejoice in the Lord.  The playground will be very good; let’s make it a stepping stone to remind us of the reality for which we are made.  Lord, every time I watch kids on that swing, help me see it as a sign of that which is to come.  There we will celebrate beyond any festivity this life has ever known.

Let’s also not expect perfect happiness from the things of this life which are to draw us to the next, we are not intended to live in permanent disappointment, but rather to continually look toward that which will not disappoint.  In heaven we will know perfect fulfillment.

God bless us all in the meantime.

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Sacramentals

Sacramentals – Things that draw our minds and hearts to the Lord.  To help us observe Lent well, we here at school wear crucifixes daily.  The children typically leave them on their desks when they head home at the end of the day, lest they be forgotten the next morning at home.  They are little simple crucifixes, but they remind us of Jesus, and they get us used to wearing such sacramentals.  Have you considered wearing something similar during Lent?  A friend of mine teaches in the public school system but always wears a crucifix or Marian symbol.

One of our newer substitute teachers, who is recently retired from a system outside Lincoln, was initially impressed when the students began each class with a student led prayer.  He was back this week, and when the kids began praying they knelt.  He was edified; they told him it was the Lenten penance they had chosen as a class.  Well done, my young friends!

Jesus is all over the place here, may it be so on the inside, also, as that’s what these pictures we see on the outside are to remind us of, His indwelling presence.

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May we find Him where He is, within and all around us!

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Got Knots?

Got Knots?

I do.  Let’s face it we all do.  The gifted parents helping with Catholic Schools Week, have proposed a beautiful devotion for us this year, Mary, Undoer of Knots.  Do you remember learning to tie your shoe as a child?  It can be a daunting task for tiny fingers.

 

Consider the knots in shoe laces, ropes or necklaces.  Knots are a kink in that which needs to be free.  Sometimes a knot that has been in a rope, in my recent experience a tetherball rope, for some time is pulled so tight it can’t be undone, or at least not without great difficulty.  Do you know any situations in life that seem as though they can’t be solved, can’t be undone, irretrievable?  Let’s put them in hands that can help, Our Lord’s through the intercession of His Mother.  In this Year of Mercy, let us recall, nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing is beyond His loving grasp.

Tomorrow we will introduce the devotion to the children and begin a very simple novena, which will end during Catholic Schools Week.

 

May Our Blessed Mother help “straighten us all out” in the best sense of the phrase.  Thank you for all you do to help the children in our Catholic School thrive.  May the Lord be the cause of, and may He bless, all our efforts.

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Gender Identity and Our Kids

The children’s exquisite clothes did not match their ripe old age of seven.  They were decked out for May Crowning in their first communion clothes in honor of our Blessed Mother, flowers in hand. As they waited in line to process down the center aisle, the beauty of the scene was felt by all. One young man in the line knelt down next to the girl beside him and asked her to marry him. She proceeded to hit him with her flowers.

First Communion Line

The play was phenomenal. The acting far exceeded what one would expect from junior high students.   They had acted their part so well, and now it’s time for the final scene on the foot bridge. Both Harold and Marian sang beautifully. At the end of the song they looked deeply into one another’s eyes through the end of the song as we clapped.  They had played their part so well, I thought, “Hurry up, finish clapping they’re not old enough to date, and they are playing their parts so well!”

Marian and Harold just before "the gaze"

Marian and Harold just before “the gaze”

92 Questions, they are quite a tradition here.  The Bishop was the original author, these were the questions used for confirmation a few generations ago.  Bishop Conley has changed a few of them.  Here are four of the changes with the references for them:

  1. For whom did God make marriage? CCC 1601, 2360; Gen 1:26-28; Eph 5:31

One man and one woman

  1. Is it possible for two men or two women to get married?  CCC 2360, 2357; Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:9

No

  1. When can a man and woman begin living together? CCC 235; 1 Cor 6:18-20

Only after their marriage

  1. What are the three marriage promises a husband and wife make to each other?  CCC 1640, 1641, 1664; Mt 19:6; Gen 1:28

Faithfulness, permanence, and being open to having children

Gender identity, there is so much of life packed into the way God creates.  I’m seeing it in our school in so many blessed ways.  May grace and the truth enable our children to see clearly in a cloud covered culture.  God bless us all.

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