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Violeta Update

We’ve been filling you in relatively frequently, but mom’s with sick kids have them on their minds, so too, we here at school are a lot like moms: Violeta is on our mind.

Two days ago Violeta’s condition was grave.  She was put on a ventilator and her kidney function was compromised.  Her dad confirmed the report that yesterday was a much better day when he came by to pick up Violeta’s older sister.  He said she had a kidney stone lodged in the tube that led out of her kidney and nothing could get out.  She is unable to tolerate surgery due to the cancer treatment, so they put a small tube around the stone that successfully allowed her kidney to drain.

Violeta's kidneyAfter that the doctor said, the recovery will be up to Violeta.  Yesterday she became more responsive, her kidney function improved and she is breathing mostly on her own.  Her dad was so pleased, and so grateful for her turn toward recovery and for our prayers.

He said one other thing that struck me.  I asked if Maria had the baby, Rosa Maria, in Omaha or if the baby was here in Lincoln with him.  He said the baby is here with him.  Maria’s parents are here and help with the baby through the day.  He said, “When I wake up at night to feed her, I am just so grateful that we have her and for the prayers from you all here and so many people.”  That’s a dad open to God’s grace and goodness in the middle of the night, night after night, in the midst of sacrifice that has become a part of normal life.  May God bless him, Violeta, Maria and all their family.  Let us continue to keep them in our prayers.

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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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Landon the Bug Whisperer

I’m not real fond of bugs.  I can kill a big spider if I need to, but if there’s another capable party, I’ll watch thank you.  Not so for Landon!

IMG_4515Before school in the courtyard, the second graders are pretty much all on an insect hunt!  It is obvious they are in the midst of a bug unit.  Though we have yet to complete two weeks of school, they are all about the bugs.  I find Landon in the courtyard with a HUGE CICADA on his shirt.  IMG_4512He is not screaming, not squirming, not chasing other children around with it, not doing most of the things I might expect an average second grade boy to do with a large scary looking bug.  Rather, he is calmly putting it on his shirt where others are getting close up to take a good look.  If it moves he gently picks it off his shirt and moves it to where he wants it.  As he pulls it off his shirt, I’m glad to see those little pinching gripping legs are not pull threads loose on his shirt.  I’m also working hard to look very calm and asking him to not let it crawl very far up toward his face, which he seems not to mind in the least.  Right after we took these pictures, Landon points up and says, “Look there,  a moth!”  IMG_4517It was way up on the roof of the awning; yes, he has a clear dose of love of the great outdoors and the Father’s little animals.

He is a Bug Whisperer of sorts.  Calm, draws them to himself without hurting them, he enjoys them.  I won’t go so far as to say the bugs enjoy him, as I can’t read the enjoyment level of a bug, but they sure are not scared of him, or that thing would have flown, ran, bit or scratched.

There’s pretty much a room full of Bug Whisperers in there.  I went in for the photo op this morning and asked who really likes bugs.  The hands shot up everywhere, so here’s a few of them in front of the themed bulletin board.  IMG_4519Clearly Mrs. Magnuson, too, is a Bug Whisperer.  Sister Mary Maximilian collected a few specimens at the Motherhouse for the crew, but she does not get the title of Whisperer, me either.  Nevertheless it is beautiful to see the Spirits gifts in others and in His creation appreciated by his children.  Well done, Father, Mrs. Magnuson, Landon and the whole lot of you!

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Jacob’s Leg and Grace

One of our older boys , Jacob, was involved in a very odd accident when a vehicle in attempting to avoid a car in front of them struck a group of students on the sidewalk as they were leaving after spending some time standing up for life.  I have observed many things since then, among them:

  • Jacob has built the Mystical Body of Christ through his suffering.
  • The remorse of the man in error has been noted by many, even Jacob’s mom.
  • Deb, Jacob’s mom is also witnessing to grace received.  When asked what it was like getting that call, Deb who was out of town at the time, commented that her husband, Wayne, was close by and what a blessing that was.  (She didn’t get stuck on being out of town, I think I would have.)
  • Jacob’s joy in the midst of the cross has been beautiful.  His mood at the hospital has been so good.
  • A few days into the hospital stay Deb arrived for a visit.  Can you imagine a mother’s pain upon arriving and hearing your son in the next room getting the packing removed from the wound?  He doesn’t know you are there, but you can hear him in a whole lot of pain.  Deb didn’t dwell on the trauma of hearing that, but was only concerned about her son.  I couldn’t get past that detail in my own mind, I’m not sure who experienced more pain from that scene, Jacob or Deb.  Deb must understand Our Blessed Mother a bit more after that experience.
  • Staying upbeat when you have three chipped vertebrae and a severe wound, builds not only the Mystical Body, it also sets a great example for those around you.  Thanks, Jacob.
  • The students and staff here have been visiting Jacob, and inquiring about him.  Visiting the sick is a corporal work of mercy.  Keep it up, 8th graders!
  • The children have gladly joined together in prayer for Jacob, and he and his family can feel the benefits.
  • Jacob and his family have been grateful for the prayers and works of mercy.
  • Father Townsend has been to visit a few times and brings back a good report.  That’s our pastor!

I just got off the phone with Deb, Jacob is headed home, and very soon this afternoon it looks like!

Lord, help Jacob continue to heal well, bless him and his family, and bring good from this accident as only You can.   (Deb thanks for permission to print this.)

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Violeta and Our Kids

In the words of her sister, “Violeta has cancer in her blood”.  Only six years old and a beautiful little girl, these events remind me again that He is God and I am not, as it doesn’t make sense to me.  Still we trust in the Lord and do all we can to help.  (See the Litany of Trust from two weeks ago if you need help there.)

We are praying for Violeta.  Several things have converged together as we learned of Violeta’s illness:

  • Cece, who assists in our school, suggested we pray to St. Jacinta. (Cece’s suggestion reminds me of the young girl in the story of Naaman the leper who suggests the army general go to the prophet in Samaria to be healed.  (2 Kings 5: 1-13)  I love it when the little among us have great ideas on which we take action.)
  • Jacinta is one of the three children of Fatima. She along with her brother Francisco will be canonized in a few weeks on May 13, the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance in Fatima.
  • Jacinta was a six year old girl who was ill, much like Violeta.
  • Jacinta was Portuguese, Violeta is Hispanic; they even look a bit alike!
  • And the clincher for me, which came after the other realizations……Violeta’s last name is Jacinto!

And so we pray often.  Each day at the closing announcements we pray, “For Violeta, St. Jacinta, Intercede for her,” three times.  The children are also praying in their families and classrooms, as are the faculty and many adults.

Helping is taking the form of prayer and action.  The Student Council members are getting white bracelets with orange lettering, the colors of Leukemia Awareness.  They will say, “Team Violeta” on one side and “St. Jacinta, Intercede for her!” on the other. They are teaming up with the Rosary Makers for a package deal, or will also offer an ala carte option, I would imagine.


The Rosary Makers have gone mad; mad as in making rosaries like crazy and marketing them for the cause, even faster than they can make them.  Taking orders for specific colors has allowed them to manage the flow.  The girls who channeled the rosary-making efforts in the sixth grade toward helping Violeta are clearly evidencing the feminine genius in their desire to help, as well as organizing the project and carrying it through.  Sister Mary Guadalupe hardly knew what she was starting when a few months ago she offered to teach anyone who wanted to learn how to tie the knots.


After the children launched the rosary-making for Violeta, and Sister was placing yet another order for rosary rope, we wondered if the twine makers might be willing to join in the work of charity.  Sister sent the following email:

Praised be Christ our King! What high quality twine and beautiful colors you provide for our rosary making!  A few of us, Sisters, have been making rosaries for several years, and your company has become the “go to” place for the best materials.  This year I taught my 6th grade students to make the knotted rope rosaries and many (about 40 out of 61) have become rather proficient making them. Since January, I have placed 2 orders for 10 spools of twine and many of my students have ordered on their own as well. We run out quickly each time. This morning two of my students had an inspiration that they would like to help one of our kindergartners (who was diagnosed with leukemia last week) and her family by selling some of the rosaries that they have made (and will make) as a fundraiser. They also want to make rosaries for children in the missions through the Holy Father’s Missionary Childhood Association. Would you consider assisting with this project by donating some twine or giving us a discounted price, or maybe even free shipping? We would be grateful for any assistance that you would be able to give and are grateful for the resources you provide to spread the kingdom of God through the rosary.  Recently I had to limit the children to taking only one rope to tie at a time, as they have become rosary-making maniacs.  The troubles we have some days are not what one might think!  Thank you and God bless you!

In His Love,

Sister Mary Guadalupe

The response of Twine By Design:

Good Afternoon Sister Mary.  After explaining your needs to our President of Twine By Design, he would like to make a donation of the twine.  Please email us your order instead of going through the website.  It is so wonderful that your students are interested in doing this as a fund raiser to help the other student and their family.  I am so sorry the youngster is ill.  I could not imagine having to go through that at all.

Thank you and God Bless,

Twine By Design Customer Service


Then a little later they added:

Hi Sister Mary, I wanted to also maybe make a suggestion, I don’t know which colors you were interested in, but we do have the option of making some or all of them the Leukemia Awareness colors (orange and white).  We were not sure how much you were looking at having donated, but we can mix and match if you want certain colors that are on our website and if you wanted the Leukemia Awareness colors we would be willing to make you some of that as well.  Please let us know exactly what you would like and we will get it together for you.

Thank you again,

Twine By Design Customer Service

What a beautiful response from the company!  That’s http://twinebydesign.blogspot.com/  if you want to support them, a good number of our kids are launching off on making their own rosaries.

Thank you for your prayers for Violeta.  She is doing considerably better and is in the midst of a four-week round of chemotherapy in Omaha at Children’s Hospital.  If you’d like a rosary or to contribute to a fund for Violeta email to office@stpeterslincoln.com. or send a note to school.

For Violeta, St. Jacinta, Intercede for her.

St. Jacinta, Intercede for her.

St. Jacinta, Intercede for her.

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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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Only a Good Friend Tells Me There is Breakfast on My Face

A while back a few of the little people in my life were visiting with me after lunch.  I had some fragment of lunch on my habit.  One of the little ones said, “Sister you have something on your……on your……..on your altar.”  How do you not laugh at their comments! We all need a little chuckle especially during Lent.

In Baptism each of us is given a share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  My altar is the desk of my office, my pew in chapel, the dining room table, the kitchen, the garden.  From each of these I offer to the Lord a sacrifice of love.  Some are so easy to give, even a joy to give, others, well, not so much a joy, but probably even more meritorious to give.

If I had a child, or better yet children, in diapers, I would put a crucifix over the changing table.  Just high enough that the little one wouldn’t be able to reach it at the maximum size for that changing table.  That would be my place of sanctity, the best place to offer to God a sacrifice of love.  (I have yet to run into anyone who says, “I just love changing a good dirty diaper!”)  As a former student of mine who now has seven children said to me just this week,  “I’m counting on God’s grace for all the little things I do to keep our home running.  I couldn’t do them without Him, and I wouldn’t do them all if it weren’t for Him.”  That’s a woman becoming holy.  God be praised.  May we all be among the faithful becoming a bit more holy.  Where is your altar of sacrifice?

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