Tag Archives: Education

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.

blessings

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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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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The Gift of Life

Pope Francis with a baby

The Loyola Press catalog adds this caption to the picture:  “You can — you must–try to seek God in every human life.”  – Pope Francis

Who will have that zucchetto on in the next picture.  I can readily picture it on the baby.  Pope Francis probably can, too, and I’ll bet he’d let the little fellow keep it.

January 22 is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and a day that has profoundly impacted our country, our city, our Church, and our lives.  Let us foster a love of life and all that goes with it.  I see a love and support for life in our parish at Christmas in your generosity.  I see the love of life in the care that you have for your children.  I see the love of life as I watch the children roller-skate in the gym (don’t worry, they guarantee the skates won’t hurt the floor).  I see it in Mrs. Richter as she teaches the kids to skate.

We will see a love of life on an amplified level here next week as we celebrate Catholic Schools Week.  May we all live well the life with which we have been blessed and praise God for the grace and gifts that come to us through our Catholic School.  May that grace fall upon open hearts eager to build the Kingdom, may mine be one of them, yours and theirs, too.

In Christ’s Love.

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Children Giving

Can 13 year olds change the world?  They certainly can do good which changes things!  This week I heard a testimonial about some faith filled 13-year-olds. It reminded me of some of our own kids. To help prepare for Jesus’ coming, the student council has begun a penny drive for Catholic Relief Services. The children with a little direction from their faculty advisor have put together a simple school wide program.  They have containers in all the classrooms and are encouraging the children to give from the goodness of their heart. The Student Council members went from room to room to tell the children of the program.

In the midst of their presentation they stated that the main reward for giving will be from our Lord for your goodness as well as your own knowledge of having done good to others.  That reflects level D and C motivation, to please the Lord and help us get along well with one another (as opposed to A and B which serve myself only).

Today before school in the courtyard it was good to see many kids clutching their change, some in plastic bags some in bare little hands.  I could see kids showing something to one another, when I went to check it out…..little fists of change.

Missionaries and donations

As two Student Council members were preparing to announce the program to all the children in the school after Mass on Monday, I had an interesting dialogue with one of the girls. We were talking about the good that can be done with a little money in some of the very poor countries.  She told of her sister’s sponsorship of two girls from Guatemala, providing for them on a monthly basis for a number of years.  After several years she was notified that the young women were on their own and no longer in need of the support for education and daily sustenance. This young woman was a little disappointed that they didn’t need her sister’s sponsorship anymore.

When her birthday rolled around she asked her mom if she could sponsor a child of her own. So at the ripe old age of eleven, she adopted the sponsorship of Wadley, a four-year old boy from Haiti, pictured below.  She told of Wadley, who shares her same birthday, with great joy.  She spoke of planning for his birthday and buying things that would be useful to him, little, simple things like pencils, school supplies and stickers. The blessing of giving exuded from this young woman and brings great delight to my heart to see such generosity and joy in living the Gospel as Jesus would have us. Amen Alleluia and thank you for helping me prepare for Jesus coming this Advent

.WadleJoyful Sponsorship

Here’s one more example from beyond our walls, from Matthew Kelly:

Every day I am impressed by the incredible and generous people I meet who are willing to lay down their own lives to re-energize the Church in America. Below is a message from one of the most remarkable people I know who has teamed up with Dynamic Catholic to make history. I am excited to share it with you.-Matthew Kelly
In January 2014, I decided to make history… by helping re-energize the Church in America. At 13 years old some say I am too young, but I knew I could prove them wrong!It started 3 years ago when I would go with my mom to pick my brother up from school. In the car, my mom always played one of Matthew Kelly’s first CDs, and I loved it. A year later, my mom and I started going to daily Mass together, even though it wasn’t always easy to wake up. After Mass I would go to the Adoration Chapel. I think there’s just something amazing about sitting and talking to Jesus about your life.Then, last January, my dad and I went to a Matthew Kelly event. We loved it! I always wanted to help Dynamic Catholic, so when I heard about the Ambassadors Club I signed up to be a Dynamic Catholic Ambassador, committing to a monthly gift of $5.

It sounds strange that a 13-year-old would give away money, but it’s not as hard as you think. I can usually earn $5 per month by serving weddings at my church. From that, I earn enough to make donations.

Some 13-year olds might give money because their parents force them. But in my case, I was the one who really wanted to donate. I like to see exactly what my money goes toward, and I see Dynamic Catholic inspiring many people, old and young, to a deeper love for God. I know that our Church needs some help, and I think that Dynamic Catholic is doing what needs to be done!

 13 year old testimonial!

In Christ’s Love,

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Spanish – Speaking the Lingo in Real Life

Our SFA gave a fleece to the teachers a few years ago.  Today I took a fleece to those who were not here when we did the original gift, one of whom was Miss Winter.  She was teaching 5th grade and so I asked her to leave for a minute and go out of the room beyond ear shot.  I asked the children if they could tell her we have a fleece for her using only Spanish.  At first they thought they couldn’t, but then someone found jacket on their vocabulary sheet, and they all knew blue, azure.  It became clear that the communication was possible.  So back she came and away they went.  We were mispronouncing the Spanish word for jacket, but with a few hand gestures the communication came off well.  Blue, helped as did San Pedro….Here’s the class with Miss Winter and her fleece.  Sometimes the enjoyment of education surpasses our anticipation, and sometimes the education we are instilling far surpasses our own.  (It is a bit embarrassing to say the kids here know more Spanish than I do.  But the measure of a good education is not calibrated to my education or yours, but that which we are capable of accomplishing.  We aim to give the kids our best, and all that we can.)  Thanks, fifth graders and Miss Winter for a delightful educational encounter, both in giving and in communicating.

looking at the fleece

looking at the fleece

Miss Winter and the 5th graders

Miss Winter and the 5th graders

In Christ’s Love,

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Censorship – wise parents do it regularly.

We were in the midst of the candy tithing a few years back, when in a group someone commented, “What a good program for helping the kids learn to give.”

One of the dads in the group said, “I’ve been tithing my kids candy for years.”  A chuckle went up, but the point was made, “We share things in our family, and as a parent, it is under my supervision that the kids make sure they share with me, too.”

Censorship looks different at home than it does at school.  You determine what comes into your home via print, TV, internet.  You would never welcome a stranger about whom you know nothing to babysit your children.  Likewise you are vigilant about what they take in physically, educationally, psychologically.  As parents, you set the rules for your children and within the domestic church of your home, you are the bishop.  I pray your diocese is cooperative for the most part.

Reading and censorship is the challenge at hand.  Getting some kids to read is a really hard sell, others read every word on the cereal box and any other print material that comes their way.  For kids who will read anything it is easier to guide them well toward that which will most uplift their hearts, minds and souls.  Then comes the challenge for the kids who don’t like to read as much, and are drawn toward some of the early reading series, that while not overtly negative, yet, reflect a lack of respect for which your child would spend a LONG TIME in time out if they reflected to you in reality.  Some kids read the book, and seem to go on unscathed.  Others take it in a bit more and the come down a notch in the respect they display to their parents, working against that which we would have for them.

You, as parents, are the ones who decide the rules for your child.  We, as a Catholic School, are here to support you in your role as parents.  We strive to help your children thrive as good members of your family.

library time

Here kids are enjoying an A to Z Mystery, wholesome good literature by all counts.

Some books are great, others are over the edge and the decision to exclude is easy.  RL Stine has a series that many kids like.  The series of young adult literature which follows the one for elementary children has many inappropriate scenes.  We don’t have carry the books in our library, in part because of the content of the children’s books, but primarily due to where the books lead the children.

I’d like to hear from you as parents about whether you think some of the books we have in our collection are worthy of being there.  On one hand with technology use your kids are up against content much more potentially damaging than words on the written page (we use vigilance here with a filter that keeps me out of half of the content I need to see that is not offensive!).  On the other hand, just because there are other issues we don’t ignore the ones that on our radar.  Whatever we do we will not ban books with a lot of fanfare.  The last thing kids need is for us to highlight inappropriate books to them.  That’s why this is a parent newsletter not one for the children.  We bring many issues before you we would not bring before the children.

We have read most of the books in our library but if there is another book about which you have a concern please let us know.  I’d particularly like to hear from you about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate and/or Junie B. Jones.  Nothing will happen today or tomorrow, but as we look forward and strive to be a support to you in our building of family life, I’d like to hear what you have to say.  Feel free to comment here, or let me know in person what you think.  Thanks, and may God bless us all.

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