Tag Archives: Religious institute (Catholic)

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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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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http://stpeterschool.homestead.com/

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Barbarian Meets St. Peter’s Fifth Grader

Barbarian meets St. Peters 5th grade girl

OK, she wasn’t a fifth grader here, but she could have been, nor was he a barbarian (The rest of the story is true.) It was Saturday night and at the family reunion a generally unchurched fellow found himself mixing with a Catholic family, much like many of our families.  The ten-year old who was “all boy” heard that some of those gathered for the weekend would be going to Mass on Sunday morning; he was welcomed to come along.  “Mass, what’s that?” he asked.

“Well, it’s ‘church’; we go to pray and learn about Jesus,” was the response from the mom present.

“You have to sit very still for a whole hour,” the little girl chimed in, thinking this would be nearly impossible.

“I think I’ll pass,” the little fellow said.

The next morning, the five minute warning went up, “You have a few minutes to finish up whatever you are doing so you can get ready for church.”

The little fellow says, “I’m going, too, I love Jesus and you can always learn a little more about Him,” and off they went.

New evangelization takes many forms, let’s not miss our chance, even though we mess up occasionally (which I do regularly).  Thanks be to God we get to start again.

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The Gift of a Life, or Two

Last Friday on the Feast of Mary Our Queen, a major Feast of the CKs in addition to being Sister Regina Marie’s Patronal Feast, I sent a few pictures to the staff and some friends.  As both of our Sisters who made perpetual profession about three weeks ago, Sister Mary Gabriel and Sister Regina Marie, served here last year, I’d like to share the pictures with you, too.

I must add, how beautiful to see the great support and numbers of school families who came to the ceremony at the Cathedral.  Thank you for sharing in our joy, supporting our sisters and community, and praying for us.

SMGa profession

Sister Mary Gabriel receiving the sign of peace from the Bishop.

Prostration

The sisters lie in the sanctuary of the Cathedral, symbolic of death to self, necessary for the vowed life.  We all pray the Litany of the Saints for them while they are there, dying and praying for us.

SRM Signing

Sister Regina Marie signing the official register on the altar of sacrifice.  The altar is intentionally used as the place of signature as they lay down their life for Jesus, His Church, and His people.  The only other thing the altar is used for is offering the Mass.

SMGa Parents

Sister Mary Gabriel giving her parents the sign of peace.  Humanity doesn’t get much happier than this!  One teacher said she covered up Sister and asked her daughter whose parents these are.  She figured it out in short order!

For more pictures visit our community Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/schoolsisters.christking

May the Lord bless these Sisters and all of us as we make use of the grace of our vocation.  May the children be open and find the road the Lord calls them to follow to Him.

In Christ’s Love,

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Sister Mary Michael, CK

http://www.stpeterschool.homestead.com/
http://www.cksisters.org/

 

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Lent and Mercy

Lent

There are many things we can give up for Lent, but it is also wise sometimes to add something good as a Lenten resolution.  An act of charity usually makes my list somewhere.  This year the Lord is fine tuning my concept of virtue and charity particularly.  The greatest virtue is (fill in the blank)….I always thought I knew the answer, but recently Pope Francis has given additional insight.  The most perfect form of love is mercy.  And oh, isn’t Our Father good at that.  I think he would like to see a little more of it reflected in me.  We I do need to work on remediation of the parts of me that are out of order, but an act of charity, better yet and act of mercy, can send us forward in goodness

May we truly grow in love and mercy.  As I looked at my list of things I’m thinking about doing for Lent this week.  I asked myself, which of these will make a difference for eternity.  Love never fails, neither will mercy.

I’ll close with three quotes from Pope Francis on mercy and one of my favorite works of prose for Lent and Ash Wednesday.

I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think — and I say it with humility — that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy.  — Homily on March 17, 2013

It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! … “Oh, I am a great sinner!” “All the better! Go to Jesus: He likes you to tell him these things!” He forgets, He has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, He kisses you, He embraces you and He simply says to you: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more” (Jn 8:11).   — Homily on March 17, 2013

In the past few days I have been reading a book by a Cardinal … Cardinal Kasper said that feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient. … Let us remember the Prophet Isaiah who says that even if our sins were scarlet, God’s love would make them white as snow. This mercy is beautiful.   — Angelus on March 17, 2013

FASTING AND FEASTING

Fast from judging others; feast on Christ dwelling within them.

Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.

Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.

Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on words that purify.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from worry; feast on divine order.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.

Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.

Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.

Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.

(Fast from worry about yesterday, feast on the good you can do now.)

Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from the shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.

Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

~William Ward (+ anonymous addition)

Blessed Lent to you all!

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Sister Mary Michael

St. Peter Principal

http://stpeterschool.homestead.com/

www.cksisters.org

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Library Fines – real life humor

“Sure, you can go pay your library fine,” Sister answered with a slightly puzzled look on her face.  “You have money today?” she asked.  He opened his hand to show the quarter, with a big smile.

Quarter   Pair

It was about 3:00 and he had forgotten his money for about a week.  Usually when they do remember, it is not 3:00 when they want to go take it to the library.  So off he went.  In a few minutes he returned and Sister noticed he was having a pleasant conversation with the girl who sits beside him.  She saw him give her a coin, so she went over and asked what he was up to.  “Well,” he said, “you know how I have a hard time keeping my desk clean.  Jamie promised me a quarter if I kept it clean for a whole day, and I DID!  She paid, I paid my fine, and I had a nickel left so I gave it back to her.”  My friends, how do you not laugh out loud in the midst of such goodness, innocence and creativity!

“Very well.” She responded and got out of the neighborhood before the giggle accompanied the smile on her face.

Library Fines – part two – “How Kidwell Paid the Ransom.”  The names in both of these stories are changed to protect the innocent, to some degree anyway.

Occasionally we watch a movie at the convent.  We own a few of the Catholic classics, and occasionally we “fish” for a different title.  Our standards are high, and we choose carefully.   Recently when it was my turn to find something, I thought a trip to the library might help.  On the way to school we were talking about the possibilities.  The question, “Does anyone have a library card?” turned up two interesting facts.  One of my sisters was, at one time, the proud owner of five different library cards….that’s from five different libraries, now that’s a reader!

The other sister hung her head, wearing the “cone of shame”.  “I have a card,” she admitted, “but it has fines on it from my childhood.”  We all had a good chuckle.

“How much of a fine?” I asked.  In my college days I worked at the library and knew some people could really pile them up.

“About $13.00,” she said, “but I used that card for well over fifteen years.  Look here where I signed it when I was four, some of the letters in my name are printed backward”.  Sure enough she not only still had the card, there were some letters backward in the manuscript name

“Do they fade away in time?”  I asked.  She shook her head no.  “Do they charge interest?”  Again, she nodded no, head bowed, as we laughed once more, and arrived at school.

That day Kidwell Electric was installing our cameras.  It was a work day with no students and one of my appointments for the day was to give a tour to a new family.  As we toured, there right on the mat in front of the door was a $20 bill.  Nobody else was in the area other than the parents just behind me so I picked it up, immediately knowing the Lord, probably through one of the many workmen in the building, was sending $ for the fine.  Now it’s not as though we don’t have availability of funding for sister’s fine, but it was comical how the Lord dropped it right there, with change to spare.

Later on the way home, as we emerged from the library with several options of videos, it felt a little like coming out of the confessional, sins forgiven, fines taken care of, everything OFF the record and now it’s squeaky clean.  (We returned the videos in ample time to avoid the fine issue.)

May the Lord bless your library time as much as He has blessed ours.

In His Love,

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Sister Mary Michael

St. Peter Principal

http://stpeterschool.homestead.com/

www.cksisters.org

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“Is that a costume or are you real Sisters?”

“Is that a costume or are you real Sisters?” the young fellow asked. The sisters had just finished participating in the Newman Center’s Eucharistic Procession along with about a thousand others. It was late, and they were heading back to the car when a small group of college fellows kept looking at the sisters. Finally one of them approached the sisters and asked the question.
“Are you real Sisters, or is that just a costume?” one of the young men timidly asked.
“Yes, we are the real thing,” one of the Sisters responded.
“Oh, I was just wondering, because there are a lot of people dressed up these days,” he replied. It was the night before Halloween, thus they would not have been the only ones on the street in alternate attire.
“I am Sister Mary Grace, and I’m a real sister,” said the usually soft spoken SMGrace with unusual fortitude and determination as she shook his hand.
“I am Sister Regina Marie, and I’m a real sister!” chimed in SRM, his hand shaking again, as his mouth began to hang open a bit.
(As we listened to the story unfold in the car, Sister Mary Gabriel, who was not present at the scene proposed the next line. “I’m Pinocchio and I’m a real boy.” After considerable laughter, the story continued.)
The Sister’s introductions must have been sufficiently convincing, as from that point on the fellows were converts to believing the Sisters were real. I’m wondering what the Sisters would have done next to convince them. I think the matching rings on their left hands would have convinced the fellows these were true Brides of Christ, but they were convinced so the fun ended there.
The world in which we live is in dire need of evangelization. We Sisters are familiar with that odd glance at the grocery store, or little children saying, “Mommy who’s that?” (And don’t think we miss that opportunity to talk with both mom and the little ones!) Mainline culture is becoming more divergent with a life of faith. The contrast between Consecrated Life and the lived reality, not only on college campuses but at the typical grocery store, illustrates the need for witnesses. May we all witness to Jesus and the Gospel message of love as we live our daily life. May our fidelity enable us to shine brightly with His grace.
In Christ’s Love,
Sister Mary Michael, CK

Newman Center Eucharistic Procession

Newman Center Eucharistic Procession

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“Religion….We Don’t Do That Here”

Teachers were sharing some comments from past and present Diocesan Visitations which occurs annually.  Today was the day for this year.  Monsignor Perkinton, Sister Collette and Father Kilcawley visit the classrooms.  We may be crazy for having it on Halloween, but sometimes you have to go with the date given.  In one of the visits to the classrooms, Father asked the children, “What are you learning in religion?”

“We don’t have religion here,” one little fellow piped up.

The teacher, calm as could be, but a little confused rephrased the question, “What are we learning about Jesus?”

The same little fellow chimed in with something like, “Oh, I don’t know what religion is, but  we learn a lot about Jesus, we talk about Him all the time.”

It just goes to show you, don’t stop too soon with the questions.  We learn a lot about Jesus and His friends, too, especially this week with All Saints Day.  The First graders dress up as their patron Saint and do a beautiful program for the school.  Preschoolers dress up, too; this picture from yesterday’s group.

All Saints Day in Preschool

All Saints Day in Preschool

They all knew who they were representing.  St. Florian patron of fire fighters was among them.  You learn something new every day, and sometimes from preschoolers!

Blessed to count myself among His friends,

Sister Mary Michael

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Passion for Vocation

Perpetually Professed Sisters

Perpetually Professed Sisters

 

Sisters in First Vows

Sisters in First Vows

Last night as the sisters spoke on vocation and how God worked in their lives, I too, heard things anew.  Two lines stick in my mind.  The first was Sister Mary Gabriel’s search for passion and a way of life that would provide the fire of excitement for living.  Allow me to paraphrase her talk.  She was trying to figure out what to do with life, her parents were asking about what she planned to do after graduation.  She described a few options for using her teaching degree in northern Illinois where her sister lived, as well as a few other options.  Later as she recalled the dialogue with her parents she realized, “I get excited about many things, like Rueben sandwiches and playing chess, but here I am about to use my college degree and I have no fire.  Something is not right here.”  Her discernment continued and she found the missing link.  Teaching is good, but combining it with the gift of self to the Lord creates excitement, and brings passion to life in the gift of self through Religious Life.

The second memorable line which Sister Regina Marie delivered with great affect was a quote which her mom used frequently.  Michele loves the Marian sisters and took the family there often to help with this or that project or to pray with them, so Sister went there often.  On the way off the grounds, after a long pleasant sigh of satisfaction, they would hear the line, “Oh, I just love those women!”  Speaking positively about the Church and vocations fosters love of the Lord.  You should have heard sister deliver it!

Another moment of God’s grace that I will never forget, was God’s response when I was discerning and asking Him what He wanted me to do with my life.  After praying my first novena (I had just learned of them from my holy friends), I was confident that somehow the Lord would answer, though I didn’t know what it would look like.  Then in the midst of it He came, (pause please) I had no idea He could work so powerfully.  There, in the old Newman center, in the fourth pew back on the left side, He came.  He came with an overwhelming sense of His presence and two enlightenments:  first of His love for me as an individual, and secondly, His choice of Religious Life for me.  Those sentiments along with great joy not only washed over me, but went all the way through me.  The first words out of my mouth were.  “Wow, Lord, I knew you’d answer, but I had no idea you would be so powerful and clear!  Thank you!”

What a blessing to live with passion, and to be formed in a family where there was positive regard for not only vocations and the sisters, but for the Church.  You can’t out give the Lord, we give a little and He gives infinitely more.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Community view from Epiphany House loft

Community view from Epiphany House loft

In Christ’s Love,

Sister Mary Michael

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