Tag Archives: Catholic School

Our Lady’s Rosary Makers – Not What You Think

IMG_4401Sixth graders are on fire.  They have made hundreds of cord rosaries and it appears we are still early in the process.  Eighth grade Giana Girls are also engaging in the process.  Even some fourth graders have gotten involved.  Sister Mary Guadalupe is the main instigator, and she is willing to teach a new Rosary Devotee how to tie a knot any chance she gets.

This week a small group of sixth graders came to me with a charitable request.  IMG_4397One of our kindergartners has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.  The girls, some of whom have very close associations with leukemia in their own families, wanted to help that kindergartner and her family.  They’d like to market their rosaries for her.  I love how their hearts that are making the connection that we could do this to help another.  The boys will be helping, too, but this core group has a good dose of the feminine genius that we will fan into flame.  They have the green light from me to proceed with their plan.  They have a strategy for posters as well as a time and place to engage not only the school community, but also our parish and a couple other parishes.  Some have also begun to reach out to their family members.  The leadership ability of these young people is growing, as is their charity to those in need.

IMG_4402We have been communicating with the cord manufacturers to see if they, too, would like to contribute to our cause.  I’m wondering who they think is on the other end of the communique.  Sisters in their 80s are a grace for the Church (someday I hope to be one), but that is not the “Rosary Makers” of today, here at our school!

Just yesterday a few eighth graders proposed a project to promote solidarity and prayer for the same intention…more on that next week.  In the meantime, join us in prayer for that little one and her family.  Many of our children have “tied one on” literally.  May they tie Rosary knots for charity and the good of the Mystical Body with regularity throughout their lives.

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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.


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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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!


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!


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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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.


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.


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.


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.


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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The Implications of the Bow

Occasionally I catch something spontaneous that makes me really proud of our children.  It is a blessing to see living breathing proof that the formation toward which we are striving is working.  And the best part is that the blessing comes from within them, I’m just seeing an outward manifestation of what’s inside, being lived out.

It has happened with the little ones and with the big ones.  The big kids brought the biggest smile to my face.  They were in the midst of being adolescents, with lively chatter, possibly a little louder than what would serve good order in our school, coming back from choir, band or music.   A mix of boys and girls were coming through the vestibule of the church toward the school.  In the midst of the movement of the little traveling swarm, as they reached the center of the vestibule, not quite, but almost on que, the group stopped, silently bowed to the tabernacle and altar of sacrifice in Church, then continued on, picking up in the buzz of their conversation where they had left off.


Students approaching the vestibule




Departure (OK we had to stage the replay)

There is a culture in every school, some of it tame, some of it less so.  We work with their minds, hearts, actions and words, with the intent of helping form the conscience and the soul.  I was thrilled to see the freedom reflected in such action; the initiative taken by some and the willingness to follow by others in reverence, the group is headed in the right direction.  And all done as a lay adorer was leaving the church after her hour of adoration.  Our kids edify others on occasion, let’s all work on making our edifying moments, seen and unseen, more frequent.  May the Good Lord continue to bless us all.

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Doused. The seventh grader in front of me must have had some military training somewhere in his past. When Father came by with the broom and the holy water the wave of water made a direct hit from short range! The fellow never flinched. I was smiling and I think he must have been smiling, too, but not a movement was made.  He didn’t even jerk when it hit.  We ask the children not to overreact when they get hit, and this veteran server’s training was showing in his composure.


post doused

Post “sprinkle” only it hit him across the front like a wet sash.

The sacramentals of the church are very good thing for us humans. Our flesh and blood needs the material things that can remind us of the nonmaterial, the supernatural. Psychologists would say that is especially true for children, who are less abstract and in need of sensory impulses to learn well.  So the words “get out the broom” have particular meaning here.  I must say they cause a considerable measure of excitement.  The “sprinkling” of holy water is to remind us of our baptism.  There’s not a one of us in church who doesn’t want to get at least a drop of holy water on us during that sprinkling.  The fellow in front of me didn’t dry until noon, but he was still very glad he got “hit with the broom”.  As Father sprinkles it is beautiful to watch as that arch of water sails from the broom swung in just the right manner.  It not only reminds me of baptism, but God sending his ample graces to us there in the pews.  St. Peters is the only parish I know of that uses most of the water in that bowl in the sprinkling rite!

On September 29, we will be celebrating the Feast of the Archangels and Saint Michael. Due to the anniversary of our church dedication along with the patronal feast of both father and yours truly, we will be celebrating the feast in a big way as we have in recent years. We will be having a Eucharistic procession around the grounds complete with Jesus, the canopy, the sensor, boys and girls in first communion attire, flower petals, bells, the altar boys in red cassocks and the white gloves, and an honor guard of 420 children.  Sister Mary Catherine, who is more of a techy than I am, helped me change the blog picture at the top to one from last year’s procession.  I would encourage you to join us that Tuesday, September 29, if you are able.  The Mass with procession will last about an hour.

The procession as well as the Liturgy preceding it will be a multi-sensory experience of the church at its finest. Let me itemize those multi-sensory elements so we can see the wisdom of Holy Mother Church in greater detail.

  • Water in the sprinkling rite – wet and observed – sense of touch and sight
  • Water at the entrance in the holy water font – wet and observed – sense of touch and sight
  • Bells at consecration and in the procession – heard – sense of hearing
  • Music – heard – sense of hearing
  • Incense at the entrance, consecration and in the procession – smelled and seen rising – sense of smell and sight
  • Eucharist – seen at the elevation and later consumed – sense of sight and taste
  • Canopy – seen – sense of sight
  • Monstrance – seen – sense of sight
  • Flower petals – seen and smelled – multisensory
  • Responses throughout Mass – hearing and speaking – multisensory
  • Procession – see most of the above!

There are several more, but we will end here for now.  I’m praying for God’s blessings on your family.

In Christ’s Love,

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Ashes in Action

We are off to a good start.  We are wearing our Ashes well here.


So far I’ve kept my Lenten resolutions well and it’s already noon, 1/80th of the way to Easter.  Several reminders of the reason for Lent have been handed to me recently, the reminder that had faded from my mind was solidarity with those entering the Church.  It is important for us to work at being broad minded, it is easy to fall into a “me and Jesus” focus, or a vision that does not go beyond our own walls.  The Church calls us to see beyond ourselves in many ways.  Lord help me focus on You and Your People, one of whom I am.  May we all become more pleasing to You.


May we receive well the graces of Lent, He surely is not lacking in providing them.


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Sister Mary Michael, CK



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Impersonator Pictures

Catholic Schools Week – Tuesday we focused on those who give service, both in honoring our staff, and the children could dress as someone who gives service, either a Saint or a service professional.  What creativity some displayed!  While there were many that were unique, I’d like to highlight three of my favorites.

Starting with the youngest, there was the Mr. May impersonator.  The glasses and the tie were the clincher along with the name tag, jacket and smiling face.  You just had to laugh.  The size contrast of the individuals added to the fun.

service professions 3

I’d like to quote a faculty member about the Mrs. Decker look alike:  “She nailed it, starting with the curl on her hair, her striped shirt tucked into black slacks with a belt, accompanied by shiny black flats.  Oh, and she didn’t forget to wear glasses and a cross necklace.”

service professions 1

Then there was the true classic.  A 1940’s nurse provided a blast from the past.  The young woman when interviewed said, “You can take off the cap and the stethoscope and you have a blue candy stripper dress.  I hope to volunteer at the hospital sometime in the future.”

service professions 2

Thanks for contributing to the enjoyment of education.  God bless.

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