Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another blog award

This must be my lucky day--another blog award. Thank you Linda!

Blog Award

Wow, I don't know what to say, but I have received my first blog award! Thank you so much Loretta Houban for giving this to me. You made my day!

In Honor of Dad and Leo

Burlington Catholic Central students, Jaide Gunther, left, and Helen Hulsey participate in a science lab at the school. The freshmen are recipients of the newly instituted Gorman and Zinnen Scholarship, established in memory of two former Catholic Central schoolmates, Robert Gorman and Leo Zinnen. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)

In honor of Dad and Leo

Gorman and Zinnen Scholarship offers helping hand

Karen Mahoney
Special to Parenting

BURLINGTON - Most parents have big dreams for their children, but sometimes their dreams come with a hefty price tag, leaving mom and dad eager for a bit of outside help.

Although more expensive, choosing a Catholic school provides an education based on traditional values and growing in the Catholic faith, sweetened by the personal attention of like-minded teachers.

Two Burlington Catholic Central students have reaped their bounty of dreams from the newly instituted Gorman and Zinnen Scholarship.

The scholarship program makes Catholic education more affordable for Charles and Julie Gunther of Salem, and Dr. Maureen Lavin and Wayne Hulsey of Kansasville who each recently received $1250 scholarships for their freshmen students Jaide Gunther and Helen Hulsey.

The Gorman and Zinnen Scholarship was launched by the Robert Gorman and Leo Zinnen families, graduates of St. Mary/Catholic Central High School.

Robert Gorman graduated in 1945 and dedicated his life to serving the agricultural community of southeastern Wisconsin. He and his wife, Joyce, founded Racine Grain Company in 1960, and earned a reputation for treating farmers more like business partners than customers. After his death last June, his family, which still runs the business, wanted to find an appropriate manner to honor their father and his best friend and business associate Leo Zinnen.

"My dad and Leo were a couple of years apart in school, but they were lifelong friends," said son, Chris Gorman. "They had five kids like we did and we pretty much grew up together."

After his graduation in 1948 from St. Mary's/Catholic Central, Zinnen worked in the Burlington business community and, upon retirement, worked with Gorman at Racine Grain until his death a couple of years ago.

With a large family of his own to support, Chris remembers his dad talking about the expense associated with Catholic education, especially when it was his turn to go through the Catholic school system.

"I am a product of St. Catherine in Racine and I remember my dad talking about how tough it was to come up with the tuition," he said. "My dad enjoyed his time at St. Mary and made good friendships. He often attended the class reunions and those times were very special to him."

After Robert's death, the family used memorials in a scholarship for students associated with the agricultural field.

"To honor Dad and Leo we wanted to relate the scholarships for something in the agricultural field in a rural area," Chris said. "We know that farms have enough trouble alone so we wanted to find a way to help those sending their kids to Catholic Central. We asked that they have some agricultural background such as living on a farm, having a family member involved in farming or being involved in 4-H."

With six children in his family, Jaide Gunther knows how difficult it is for his parents to afford the annual tuition, so when he was notified of his award, he felt great relief. He credits his dad for his award.

"My dad, as a child, worked on his cousin's farm and worked on his uncle's farm. Because of him, I had the farming background that was needed for the scholarship. I was very excited," he said. "With our big family, it is very hard. It made a big difference and really helped me out."

According to Lavin, whose family farm is located along Highway 75 in Kansasville, Helen was thrilled to get the scholarship funds to help make her first year affordable.

"This made it so much easier to send her," said Lavin. "We found out about it right after school started and we were all very excited."

Happy to help both families, Chris admitted that he is hopeful that the scholarship will continue for many years.

"It is a wonderful place to put your money," he said.

Tale of Two Principals

Ed Kovochich, left, principal at Dominican High School, and Deacon Andy Meuller, principal at Racine St. Catherine High School, pose before Mass at Mother of Good Counsel Church in Milwaukee on Jan. 25. (Catholic Herald photo by Ernie Mastroianni)

Tale of two principals

Administrators travel similar path to Catholic education

Karen Mahoney
Special to Parenting

RACINE - This is a tale of two principals in the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Catholic High School System. One of them, Deacon Andy Meuller, 60, joined St. Catherine High School in Racine this year. The other, Ed Kovochich, 58, came to Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay a year ago.

Both share more than lifelong careers in education; they are close friends.

Deacon Meuller and Kovochich say their friendship began more than 30 years ago at their parish, Mother of Good Counsel. They became acquainted when their children attended the parish grade school together, but that is just the beginning.

Both live in Milwaukee, and coincidentally, within walking distance of each other and both served many years in the Milwaukee Public Schools system.

"Andy and I used to kid each other when we were teachers in the Milwaukee Public Schools system because we had so much in common," said Kovochich. "We went to the same parish, had kids the same ages who went to the same schools. We both became assistant principals after teaching in the public schools. Then we were each promoted to principal while we continued at the same parish while our kids still went to school there."

After Deacon Meuller retired as the chairperson of the MPS High School Principals Association in 2006, it seemed only fitting that Kovochich would assume the identical role until his retirement a year later.

"It is a very unusual thing that we have so much in common," admitted Kovochich. "Here we are both retired and I ended up as principal of Dominican High, which is a Sinsinawa Dominican order, and Andy is principal of St. Catherine, which is Dominican order, Adrian Council."

The ironies continue as both recently learned that Dominican president Maureen Schuerman attended both St. Catherine and Dominican for two years, graduating from St. Catherine High.

"She began at Dominican and her family moved to Racine and she attended St. Cat's for her last two years. After graduation, she was employed by St. Cat's," said Kovochich. "Now she is president of Dominican and interestingly, some of her old teachers are still teaching here at Dominican, even her old basketball coach."

For Deacon Meuller, the opportunity to oversee St. Catherine High School after 16 years as principal of Rufus King High School was too good to pass up; he has been drawn to the Dominicans and their promotion of peace and justice issues.

"Last year I was doing some campus work at St. Joan Antida; it was fun and kept my foot in education a bit," said Deacon Meuller. "St. Catherine's was looking for a principal and contacted me; I'm not sure where they got my name but they found me and asked me. It's working out great."

After 35 years with MPS, Deacon Meuller said he wasn't looking for another job. But when the opportunity came up, he felt he should apply for it, as he might always regret not trying for it.

"I'm glad I took the time off for my retirement, though, because it allowed me to take a six-week mission trip to Tanzania," he said. "I enjoy working in Catholic education because it offers something to those families looking for support from the Catholic Church along with education."

For Kovochich, retired principal of Bradley Technical and Trade High School, the chance to lead Dominican High School was an opportunity to return to his roots in Catholic education.

"When I retired, I told my wife I was going fishing," laughed Kovochich, "My wife said, 'No, you started your career at Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1973 and you said you would someday continue with Catholic education - you can always go fishing.' So I applied to Dominican and somehow I got the job. So I took this as a sign from God that my mission is not over with children."

So immersed in the basics of his Catholic faith, Kovochich can still recite his altar boy prayers in Latin, and credits his family for his faith-filled background. He and his wife raised his five boys the same way, and sent them all through the Catholic educational system.

"My Catholic faith is integral in my life," he said. "I love that I can practice that part of my spiritual life with the academic life at Dominican; that is so rewarding to me."

While both men embarked on a long and parallel journey, both remained nearly in the same place. Even the early years at Mother of Good Counsel Parish had both families involved in the annual Musical Follies.

"It was about 1977 or so, and my wife played piano for the Follies and Andy was one of the top singers," said Kovochich. "We both got involved in scouting through the parish, the parish council, and just grew together with parish activities and other school events."

When Deacon Meuller began the diaconate program, he urged Kovochich to pursue the same vocation, but busy with other ministries, Kovochich admitted he wasn't ready to make the commitment. However, he said the unassuming Deacon Meuller is perfectly suited to his vocation.

"He is one of the most patient and humble individuals that I know," he said. "He speaks with wisdom and from incredible experience. He gives good advice and analyzes well. He has a lot of compassion for fellow mankind and has incredible depth and breadth in his homilies which speak to everyone whether they are 8 or 80."

Calling him intensely passionate about every aspect of his professional and personal life, Deacon Meuller appreciates the years of friendship and camaraderie the two have shared.

"There are so many good qualities about Ed," Deacon Meuller said. "Whatever he gets involved in he puts everything into it. I know that when he was at a number of schools in Milwaukee he was so caring in every position he had. Now he is at Dominican and he is all set on making that the be all and end all of his career. He always talked about getting back into Catholic education; that is his dream job."

Both principals appreciate the smaller class sizes in the Catholic schools, the opportunity to combine faith with education, celebrating school Masses with the students, and gathering for meetings with other Catholic high school principals in the archdiocese.

With all the positives, are there any drawbacks to coming out of retirement?

Just one.

"Getting up early is the bad part," mused Meuller, adding, "Other than that, the job is fine!"

Tom Aldrich Coach of Year

Life lessons top championships for 'coach of the year'

Faith, family are focus for Tom Aldrich

Karen Mahoney
Special to Parenting

BURLINGTON - A distinctive cold settles over a football field at sunset in late November. The mud, spongy no more than an hour ago, crunches beneath your feet. You could see your breath in these conditions - if you weren't so busy making sure each play was right.

This is where you would have found the Burlington Catholic Central High School football team each frigid afternoon late last fall.

Because only the very best high school football teams still play as November turns into December. The extra hard work paid off for the determined team, however. Carrying a 14-0 overall record, they overcame powerful Hilbert High, 37-14 to take the WIAA Division 7 State Championship.

While the late November game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, was memorable for Catholic Central coach Tom Aldrich, who was voted All-Racine County Coach of the Year, more important are the life lessons taught.

"I never expected to get this award because there are a lot of good coaches out there. I just coach because I enjoy it, and never would do it for the awards," said the 49-year-old Aldrich. "More than any awards, I want my team to learn something from the game that will stay with them later in life. The most important part about team sports is that (they) are not out there doing it alone - they are working with other people."

Aldrich began as assistant coach in 1990 and assumed head coaching duties in 1992. Although he puts in as many hours as his full-time job at Wachovia Securities in Burlington, coaching is more of his passion than it is side work.

"It isn't always easy and consumes a fair amount of time; I have the full time job, a wife and five children, too," he said. "But I have a super group of kids. They are outstanding young men and we have had some ladies who are managers and part of the team as well. They are all first class people and kids that you can trust and that really says it all."

Most of his students credit Aldrich with being a father figure to them, someone they can go to with problems, joys or concerns without hesitation. The sentiments only seem to echo what Aldrich strives to achieve in his team - a sense of family and commitment.

"I try to run a fun program and am a big believer in families," he said. "I believe that families who eat, play and pray together stay together. My faith is responsible for all that I do and it is part of my life. I get a lot of enjoyment out of these kids and hope to continue coaching for a long time."

Siobhan Fallon: won't compromise her faith for roles

“New in Town,” a romantic comedy rated PG, opens in theaters Friday, Jan. 30.
"New in Town," a romantic

comedy rated PG, opens in

theaters Friday, Jan. 30.

Actress won't compromise Catholic faith in TV, films

Siobhan Fallon Hogan stars in ‘New in Town’

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

MILWAUKEE - Siobhan Fallon Hogan is counting her blessings while she ascends as a popular movie actress.

Known for her roles in movies such as "Holes," "Charlotte's Web" and "Baby Mama," the 47-year-old funny lady is shaking up the "big screen" again.

This week, the New Jersey native appears in a starring role opposite Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. in "New in Town." The film stars Lucy Hill (Zellweger), a high-powered consultant from Miami who is sent to her company's plant in subzero New Ulm, Minn., to assess, downsize and most likely close the cheese factory that's been employing the townspeople for years.

Showing up to the factory in designer suits and open-toed heels, Lucy endures as frigid a reception from the locals as she does from the weather and slippery roads. Eventually she acclimates to the town's charm and endears herself with the locals, including Hogan who plays Blanche Gunderson, her assistant-secretary.

"I loved playing Blanche," Hogan told your Catholic Herald in a phone interview. "She is a Christian and not afraid to talk about it. She frequently talks about Jesus, but it isn't done in a mocking way or treated like the typical Tammy Faye Baker way, that you might see in movies."

As a cradle Catholic, Hogan scrutinizes potential scripts carefully to ensure her roles will not compromise her strong faith and high moral standards. While her principles remain high, she often battles the decision of reconciling her beliefs with the kind of projects that Hollywood and audiences value.

"I have quit TV shows and I have said 'No' to scripts that would help me advance my career, but I have to live as an example to my kids and live with myself at the end of the day," she said.

As the mother of three children, Bernadette, 14, Peter Jr., 10, and Sinead, 7, Hogan, who is married to Peter Hogan, relies on her faith to guide everything she does. She said that her greatest role was not Mrs. Zuckerman in "Charlotte's Web," but rather her role as a Catholic mother.

"I am the opposite of many actresses in Hollywood because I don't want to work that much because of my kids," she said. "It is so perfect because I am guided by my faith and I can say 'No' to many things because they don't work with my faith."

The family resides in New Jersey where their children attend Holy Cross, their parish elementary school. They are busy scouting Catholic high schools for Bernadette who will enter ninth grade next year.

"I am one of those 'boring' Catholics who was raised in a very Catholic family and never once questioned my faith. I am happy we can send our kids to Catholic schools because when I grew up, we lived in the country and it was too far to drive to Syracuse where the nearest Catholic school was, so I went to public school," said Hogan. She added, "It seems funny now to say we lived too far, but it seemed really far at the time."

Morally, Hogan is often confronted with roles that would compromise her beliefs, and she finds herself turning down more and more scripts each month.

"In fact, I was recently tempted with a TV show that would pay a lot of money. My part was clean but the TV show wasn't and for two days, I thought I could do it. After two days, I just couldn't stomach it and couldn't take the role. I felt sorry for my agents because I came to that realization, so instead of having them contact the producer, I handled it myself."

Turning away roles and storylines that contain inappropriate material may seem admirable to an outsider, but Hogan's choices have had a few significant repercussions, notably financial.

"Well, it's really hurt my bank account," she said. "Typically, people will understand and won't think you are a freak or blackball you for your beliefs - so I still do get called for roles."

At times a few gentle words to the producer will change the role enough to accommodate Hogan's Catholic faith, as was the case in "New in Town."

"These producers are fantastic," Hogan exclaimed. "I talked to them about my role as Blanche because some of the things they wanted her to say or do were not how a Christian woman would typically behave. They made some changes after I talked to them and we got this movie, which was originally a PG-13, down to a PG. Hats off to them; this is huge. They have to know that they don't need the swear words or the suggestive comments because they would be turning families away."

Comparing it to a Frank Capra film, Hogan is enthusiastic about her role as Blanche and her relationship with Lucy, who, in the beginning, tries to push her weight around as a hotshot executive.

"Blanche is not stupid and doesn't let Lucy walk all over her in the cheese factory, and she has this great sense of humor," said Hogan, adding, "She is warm and open and in one scene when Renee comes to dinner, the basic family values that Blanche has feels like tapioca pudding. This whole town is old fashioned with everyone working for the cheese factory - it's just wonderful."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Getting older

My age seems to be marked by the ages of my children. Erin turned 14 today---that means not only is he getting older, but so am I!

I notice the distinct changes in my children as they age--a bit more maturity, the ability to reason, understanding of difficult situations...they are growing up. Why is it though, that I feel exactly the same as I did when I was in my 20's? My dreams, desires, goals, and emotions are quite near to the internal workings I felt as a young woman. Despite some obvious physical changes---a few creaks here and there, a knee that isn't working as it used to--I am the same girl I was before!

I wonder if there isn't a time when maturity stops or are the ongoing changes ever so gradual that we don't realize that we no longer feel the flutter of excitement when we anticipate a special event, or seeing a cherished friend?

Do we become callous to the melodic chirping of a Rose Breasted Grosbeak as he thanks us for providing him crackling nuts and seeds to feed his babies?

Do we forget to thank God for the buttery hues across a December sky when the sun is setting?

Do we take for granted falling asleep in the arms of a loving spouse and waking to hear your breath moving in unison?

Do we feel the magic as we strap on a pair of snowshoes and brush across the carpet of sparkling white diamonds after a 12 inch snowfall?

I want to remember to be grateful for all the magic in my life. The gift of unselfish friends who call just at the right time. The gift of another day. The sweet voice of my nephew when he calls to tell me about his school day. And family--thank you to my unselfish parents who brought five children into this world never believing that any of them might one day be friends too.

All my life, I tried to be mature. To do the right things. Be responsible. Set an example. I set aside childish things to be grown up. I missed the simple, innocent blessings of the day--the magic and gifts that God has provided free of charge.

I spent my life being old--I want to stay a child until I die. I want to keep the magic going.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Saving the Black Holocaust Museum

Above, Paulette Bangura sings a spiritual as an exhibit of church-burning photos is unveiled at America’s Black Holocaust Museum in March 1997. The exhibit was co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The museum has been closed since last summer due to lack of funding. Below, the late James Cameron, a member of All Saints Parish, Milwaukee, founded the museum. He died in 2006. (Catholic Herald file photos by James Pearson)
To help the museum reopen:

Donations can be sent to America's Black Holocaust Museum, 2233 N. 4th St., Milwaukee, WI 53212; or through the Web site:

Youth join effort to save Black Holocaust Museum

Benefactors needed to revive historical tribute

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

MILWAUKEE - It's quiet at the Black Holocaust Museum.

Since 1994, the museum, which started in the basement of the home of James Cameron, a Milwaukee man who survived a lynching in 1930 in Indiana, was housed at 2233 N. 4th Street. Although the museum served more than 25,000 visitors per year, it closed last July due to financial reasons.

In December, the Milwaukee Common Council approved the city's purchase of the former Black Holocaust Museum building. The city paid $250,000 to North Shore Bank, which held the mortgage on the building and the museum artifacts which are in storage. The City of Milwaukee's Redevelopment Authority's purchase of the property to control a key site in the Bronzeville District offers the museum the chance to re-open.

As the building had neared foreclosure, supporters of the museum sought benefactors willing to provide funds to keep the facility viable. It is estimated that the museum needs between $125,000 and $175,000 per year to run properly.

Some help came from youth at the parishes of St. Martin de Porres and All Saints, where Cameron was a parishioner until he died in 2006. Under the leadership of Margaret Lee, youth minister of both parishes, students held a pancake breakfast in October to raise money for the museum.

"We felt a need to assist financially to reopen the museum," Lee said. "We always have a pancake breakfast twice a year to raise money for a good cause; it's a service project for our youth. So, we decided to use the opportunity to help a cause that is near to our hearts."

The museum chronicles African American history from slavery through the Civil Rights movement.

At 16, Cameron, a shoeshine boy, and two other blacks, Thomas Shipp, 18, and Abram Smith, 19, were arrested for the robbery, rape and assault of a white couple in Indiana. He had followed the two men as they planned a robbery, but refused to go through with the act when he recognized the man in the car as Claude Deeter, one of his customers. Deeter died the next day due to severe injuries.

As Cameron sat in a cell in the Grant County jail, a lynch mob numbering into the thousands formed outside. The mob stampeded into the jail, grabbed one of the boys, beat him unconscious, dragged him outside and lynched him. The second man was treated the same way. The mob came for James, dragged him outside and placed a rope around his neck. During that moment, James recalled hearing an angelic voice above the crowd say, "Take this boy back, he had nothing to do with any killing or rape."

Someone removed the noose and he returned to his jail cell. Later, Deeter's girlfriend admitted that she had not been raped. Cameron spent a year in jail and was convicted of being an accessory before the crime and served four years in prison of two 21-year sentences. In 1993, then Indiana Gov., now U.S. Sen., Evan Bayh officially pardoned him. No one was convicted of the lynchings.

After his release from prison, Cameron moved to Detroit, where he drove a laundry truck and met Virginia Hamilton, the woman who would become his wife.

Years later, the couple and their five children moved to Milwaukee, and after hearing of plans to build the Jewish Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C, Cameron decided a Black Holocaust Museum was needed.

He made it his lifelong mission to teach others about the historical struggles of blacks in America. The museum is the first to pay tribute to the victims of lynching.

"I believe the museum is a good teaching tool for our youth. They are so far removed from this past and take many things for granted," she said. "So to bring them back to our history - one that is not so long ago - and try to explain to them why they are so blessed, it is then easy to go further and engage them in conversations on how their journey is brighter, how their opportunities are better, and so on. From that, we can demand, insist, and encourage them to use these opportunities in the best way they can."

"Although it isn't a pretty history, it helps put into perspective our growth as a nation," she said. "It helps people realize what our ancestors fought so hard against, how that benefits us and on that alone, it is worth our efforts to be knowledgeable on our past."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wind Lake Parish offers Rectory to FIre Victims

A fire of an undetermined cause that began Dec. 7 in Tim and Bernadette McShane’s garage destroyed the couple’s Wind Lake home. They plan to rebuild on the same site. Below, the couple poses in front of the St. Clare Parish rectory, which has become their temporary home as they prepare to rebuild. The rectory was empty because the parish had recently put it on the housing market. (Catholic Herald photos by Allen Fredrickson)
A fund has been established to assist Tim and Bernadette McSchane:

The McShane Benefit Trust

1st Banking Center

9918 S. Loomis Road

Wind Lake, Wis. 53186

Account #2643935

In fire's aftermath, couple looks for God's 'open window'

Wind Lake parish offers them sanctuary after home is destroyed

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

WIND LAKE - St. Clare Church gave Tim and Bernadette McShane the best present recently - a home for Christmas. After fire destroyed their home at 26000 S. Wind Lake Road, officials at their parish offered the rectory to the devastated couple, along with healing and a rekindling of the spirit of Christmas.

Recovering from painful surgery to rebuild the joint on his left hand, Tim McShane stayed home from Mass the morning of Dec. 7.

"I remember waking up around 9:30 a.m. and turned on 'Meet the Press'" he said. "I went outside to get the newspaper and took an ice pack with me to the bedroom. I laid down and placed the ice pack on my hand and about 10 minutes later heard a loud bang."

Thinking it might have been his wife coming home early from Mass and banging the closet door, Tim called out to her, but there was no answer. Getting up to investigate, he was shocked to view smoke in the upper right hand corner of the living room, and went outside to get a better look.

"The garage door was open and I wasn't sure why because it had been closed when I got the paper," said Tim. "I heard a noise to my left and noticed five feet of fire on the common wall between my home and the garage."

An unidentified man in a red car pulled up in front of his home, and screamed to Tim that his house was on fire.

Dazed, Tim headed back into the home to get a flashlight to find their two black cats and a fire extinguisher. He called 911 and tried to put out the fire with the extinguisher, but the flames were 13-14 feet high and lapping at the vaulted ceiling in the garage.

"The fire extinguisher wasn't doing any good, so I went to get the cats and grabbed the flashlight to look under the bed, but I couldn't find them," he said. "That man came to the kitchen in the back of the house and banged on the windows, trying to get me out of the house. There was smoke in the kitchen and I had already burned the top of my head in a flashover, so I figured I had better get outside already."

As soon as he exited the house, the man grabbed Tim by the arm and took him to the front of the house and into the comforting arms of police officers.

"He was my guardian angel and was so persistent to get me out of there," said Tim. "I have no idea what his name is, but I would love to find him - he was truly my angel."

After Mass ended, Bernadette was anxious to get home to see how Tim was feeling, but the escalating wail of fire trucks, numerous police and rescue vehicles and an ominous plume of thick smoke offered only a sick sense of dread in the pit of her stomach.

"As I was sitting in all that traffic, I knew it was my house that was burning down; I don't know why I knew that, I just did," she said. "The police let me through and told me that Tim was fine and staying with our neighbors, so I pulled over and stood there and watched my house burn. Then I went to the neighbor's and watched it continue until everything was destroyed."

With just their two cars and the clothes on their backs, the couple lost everything they owned, but Tim's injuries were not serious. The cause of the fire, which started in the garage, is not known, according to Tim.

"It was surreal watching the house burn, but then I began to think that we were both OK and that it was just a house and a bunch of stuff and that doesn't matter," said Bernadette. "I thought about what could have happened. Tim was on pain medication from the surgery and he could have been sleeping. Or this could have happened in the middle of the night when we were both sleeping - it could have been a whole lot worse."

Within hours, members of the church choir, of which Bernadette is a member, came by wanting to help. Neighbors and family members also dropped by, offering clothing, food, and expressing concern. The music director of St. Clare Parish spoke with the pastor, Fr. Aurelio Perez, about offering the rectory that was recently put on the housing market.

"They stepped up right away to offer the rectory free of charge," said Tim. "The first night we stayed with our neighbors, then at a hotel for two nights and then moved into the rectory. While the parish offered it free, our insurance carrier has provisions to pay for a rental home while we decide what to do. I'm glad that the rental funds will be able to benefit our church."

After meeting with insurance adjusters, the McShanes are planning to rebuild on the same location, but it will take many months to complete. Meanwhile, the opportunity to live within a mile of their house, in their community and next to their parish is an unexpected blessing.

"Our parish and community have been giving us so much support that we are happy to be able to live in the same area while our house will be rebuilt," said Bernadette, who works for M3 Insurance Solutions, Waukesha. "People have given us clothing - which enabled me to get back to work right away. They have offered us money, items for our home and free lunches at a local hamburger stand. It is overwhelming how sweet everyone has been to us. In fact, Tim tried to stand up at Mass to thank everyone for their support, but he was so emotional he couldn't get the words out. I was in the choir, so I grabbed the mic and thanked them. I told them I hoped they were blessed tenfold for everything they have done for us."

Beyond the stench of charred wood, ruined possessions and the haunting emptiness that accompanies such a loss came a renewed sense of Christmas that surprised Tim and Bernadette.

"We have no children and over the years have lost the sense of awe and wonder that Christmas often brings," said Bernadette. "But this year, in watching what everyone did for us, the concern and good will presented to us, gave me a sense of the true miracle of Christmas."

While the rectory remains on the market, the McShanes hope to continue living there while their home is rebuilt.

"There is an old saying that when God closes a door, he opens a window," said Bernadette. "We are just trying to find that open window."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Me and Mrs. Beasley

These are of me on my 9th birthday with Mrs. Beasley, my favorite doll from Family Affair.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baby Its cold outside

Gosh, I am so tired of cold hands, cold toes and having to cover up with a blanket when I am working! I know it is only January, but already I am tired of the slush that travels over my shoes and soaks my socks. I am sick of muddy, doggy footprints on my white carpet. I am tired of bone chilling cold, and the salt on my car that leaves a dusty crust on my clothes!

My poor husband has to wear a neck cover with one of those hand warmers tucked inside so the darn titanium doesn't freeze and paralyze his neck.

If we had the money, we would be moving asap to a nice warm climate--this living in Wisconsin is nuts. Spring--come on down, we miss you!