Saturday, May 30, 2009

Flat Stanley spends time in governor's mansion

Wisconsin first lady Jessica Doyle shows students in Litza Janowski’s second grade classroom at Blessed Sacrament School, a photo album chronicling her adventures with the paper cutout Flat Stanley that the students sent her. Doyle returned the paper boy to the Blessed Sacrament students on Friday, May 1 in a visit to the Milwaukee school. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

Jessica Doyle personally returns paper boy to Blessed Sacrament

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

MILWAUKEE - Flat Stanley is one popular guy. The cutout paper boy seems to be popping up everywhere, going home with friends from school, doing homework, helping with chores, eating dinner, going shopping and playing video games. And his social calendar rocks. Every day is an adventure, whether practicing with the Milwaukee Wave, the Milwaukee Bucks, going to the dentist or visiting foreign countries, Flat Stanley has a blast.

Blessed Sacrament students from Litza Janowski's second grade class could hardly believe their eyes Friday morning, May 1 when Wisconsin's first lady, Jessica Doyle, entered their classroom toting a bright red album chronicling her adventures with Flat Stanley.

Stanley is a character author Jeff Brown created over a series of six books based on bedtime stories he created for his two young sons. Published in 1964, the book "Flat Stanley" describes how the average boy woke up one morning to discover that during the night he had been flattened by a bulletin board that once hung at the head of his bed. Unscathed but changed; Stanley quickly learned the advantages of being pancake-flat.

Mr. and Mrs. George Lambchop, Stanley's parents, are sensible about their older son's new shape. When Stanley wants to visit friends in California, the parents fold him into an envelope and send him - all for the cost of a postage stamp.

The concept of traveling for 44-cents is one Janowski's students delight in replicating.

"This is my eighth or ninth year doing the Flat Stanley project with my students, and each year they seem to get more excited about doing it and try to outdo the grade before them," she said. "They each make their own Flat Stanley and we generally send him to relatives and friends, but this year decided to also send them to celebrities such as the Bucks, the Wave, Archbishop Dolan, President Obama and Jessica Doyle."

A cover letter asks the recipient to care for Flat Stanley and goes on to request a little information on the location he is visiting.

Eight-year-old Alfonso Deluna sent his Flat Stanley to Mexico.

"I sent him to my Grandpa in Mexico and hope he is having fun," he said. "I am still waiting for him to send him back. I think he probably will; it just takes a long, long time to get here."

Deciding to send Flat Stanley to the governor's mansion was Janowski's idea as Blessed Sacrament students participate in the Sharp Literacy Program each year and a couple of years ago donated their rendition of a Georgia O'Keefe Oriental Poppy painting to Doyle. They were surprised to receive a thank you letter from her with the message that the painting would be displayed in the mansion.

"I figured I would remind her of that when we sent her a Flat Stanley and hoped it would help her to respond," said Janowski. "I sent it in March and figured it must have gotten lost. That is, until this week when her office called and said she wanted to make a personal visit to the school children. Apparently, she wanted to bring Stanley back in person because she had such a wonderful time with him."

The students were nearly speechless as Doyle explained the political role of a governor caring for the people in the state, and compared his duties to that of the mayor who watches over the city, and a school principal who watches over students.

"And the president watches over us all," she said.

Doyle explained her extensive responsibilities and noted how much Flat Stanley helped her at her home in Madison, on the road, and prayed with her during Mass at her parish, Queen of Peace.

The first lady's album was packed with a variety of personal anecdotes, as well as photographs of Flat Stanley with school children, dignitaries and in the dining room.

"He helped me visit elementary students in Tomahawk where I gave a prize for a geography contest, he dined with state legislators at the executive residence with the governor and the first lady, and helped set the beautiful table," said Doyle, reading from her album, titled, "Flat Stanley and Mrs. Doyle's Adventures in the State of Wisconsin."

"Flat Stanley was a great host when we opened the executive residence on Thursdays for tours to students," she said, "But his favorite place was helping Chef Kevin in the kitchen. They became good buddies and his favorite thing to eat was chicken. It was really something, the whole time Flat Stanley stayed with us, chicken kept disappearing from the kitchen."

Eight-year-old Isabella Charles was mesmerized by Doyle and let her see the bulletin board filled with Flat Stanley characters that had returned.

"This was awesome and fun," she said. "I am very surprised to have Mrs. Doyle here at our school."

While most of the characters eventually return via the U.S. Postal Service, Janowski admitted that this was the first time he was hand delivered to the classroom.

"This has just made my whole week," said Janowski. "It is so cool and touching that she would do this for us."

Doyle seemed genuinely moved by the experience, even making sure to include a photo of Flat Stanley posing in front of the O'Keefe Poppy Painting.

"Do you notice your painting in the background?" she questioned the students. "Flat Stanley loved it, as the governor and I do. It has been so wonderful to be here with all of you students in this wonderful school."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Mary Garden

Here is my Mary Garden this year--the blue and yellow theme is in honor of my late, but never forgotten precious mother, Bonnie Rose Pieh. I miss you so much Mom--I hope you like the flowers this year--can't wait to see you again in heaven.

If you notice in the first picture, see the tiny violas peeking between the red rocks?---funny thing about them. Originally I was going to pull them out because they 'didn't belong' but then decided to leave them because in many ways, I don't belong. I don't belong in a couple of my kids' lives, I don't belong in this world-per se, but I do belong to the spiritual world and the flowers did represent to me that all are welcome in his kingdom--even though we often struggle to find our space upon the rocks. I am happy to be here among the other blossoms who are struggling like I am--together we will make it with our dear Lord's help.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Honoring the Sacrifice of Soldiers

Jim Becker of Racine salutes during the Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Cemetery in Union Grove Sunday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

Honoring the sacrifice of soldiers

‘We need to find ways to keep their memories alive’
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UNION GROVE — On Memorial Day, the thoughts of most Americans generally turn to picnics and the unofficial start of summer instead of attending ceremonies to honor the nation’s war dead.

But a shift is occurring, according to Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Jamie L Binion, engineering instructor at the Center for Naval Engineering in Great Lakes, Ill.

During a Memorial Day ceremony Sunday at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove, Binion said Americans are becoming more aware of the sacrifices of American soldiers fighting around the world, and they’re attending remembrance services.

“I am not sure when the shift began, if it was lessons we learned from the way we treated our soldiers from Vietnam or to our current battles in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, “or if it is the influence of newer war movies — but something has changed about the way we think of our heroes.”

Memorial Day began after the Civil War as Decoration Day, a ceremony to place flowers on the graves of those who had given the last full measure of devotion in America’s bloodiest war.

“Over 5,000 people helped decorate graves in remembrance and honor of our soldiers who had given the greatest sacrifice,” he said, “It was a torch passed through the communities, through the generations, and kept burning brightly, and we continue to do this today.”

While our nation has erected physical monuments dedicated to remembering those who died in service to our country, Binion reminded the overflowing audience that not only are the memorials and services important, but it is equally important to remember our living veterans each day.

“Are there things you can do, such as assist families who are grieving the loss of a son or daughter in war?” he said. “Or visit an injured soldier, or a veteran in a veterans home.

“We need to learn their stories, and they are more than the 20-second sound bites we might see on television. We need to find ways to keep their memories alive and give them proper honor for their sacrifices. Pay homage to them, and treat them with reverence and respect, and others will follow.”

Sunday’s ceremony included music by the Milwaukee American Legion Band and Celtic Nations Pipe and Drums, the presence of several veterans organizations and state representatives and several speakers.

There was also a remembrance table, which served as a haunting awareness that the fate of many soldiers is still unknown.

Sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Wisconsin Chapter 767, the small isolated table was set with a white tablecloth in remembrance of the purity of the soldiers as they went to serve their country. Five place settings represented the five branches of the military.

The chairs sat as bare as the soldier’s feet. The bread plate contained a lemon indicating the bitterness the soldiers must feel at being left behind, and salt on the plate symbolized the tears shed by the families as they await the fate of their loved ones.

The glasses were dry as the lips of the soldiers are dry. A red rose in the crystal vase symbolized the love the families and their fellow comrades have for these soldiers, and the black ribbon on the vase provided the crystal-clear message that the veterans organizations will not rest until the country receives a fair and accurate account of those prisoners of war and missing in action.

Veterans dabbed at their eyes rimmed with tears as they were reminded that freedom is never really free, and the fate of their fellow comrades may never be known.

“We have soldiers who are lost but not forgotten,” Binion said. “God bless America and all who serve our country.”

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Retired Nurse on First name Basis with St Monica Residents

Frances Hartwick plays a form of volleyball using a balloon during a recreation class at St. Monica Assisted Living Facility in Racine on Wednesday, May 13. Hartwick, 87, says retirement living is never boring, there’s always something to keep her busy. (Catholic Herald photo by Ernie Mastroianni)

Retired nurse on first-name basis with St. Monica residents

For Frances Hartwick, life after retirement far from boring

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

RACINE - Frances Hartwick knows that life after retirement need not be boring.

"People sometimes think all you do is sit around," said Hartwick, 87, resident of St. Monica Assisted Living and Residential Facility. "But there is always something to do."

A retired nurse, Hartwick moved to St. Monica five years ago after she was diagnosed with colon cancer and her children were concerned about her living alone in a big house.

"My husband Harold passed away in 2002, and my four kids were worried that something might happen to me," she said. "Harold and I were married for 58 years. I had a lot of stuff, so I sold everything, including the car, and came to live here. My kids ran the sale because they kept teasing me that I would keep more than I sold - and they were probably right."

Hartwick's decision to move to St. Monica was easy; she had visited the residence often for parties and other social events, and felt comfortable in the home run by the Sisters of St. Rita, an Augustinian religious community committed to the physical, social and spiritual well being of families.

"I came and had a tour and already knew one of the nurses because she was someone I worked with at High Ridge Nursing Home," she said. "I liked everything in general about the place."

The St. Monica community spans 40 lush acres in a park-like atmosphere. Hartwick often sees deer, turkeys and pheasants roaming outside her first-floor window. Her large room accommodates a living space on one end and bedroom space on the other. Ample storage is located in the lower level for her off-season clothing.

"I face the south and I pull the drapes wide open to let the sun shine in," she said. "I feel very safe here because there is always staff around and the outside doors are locked at night."

Not one to sit still, Hartwick attends daily Mass, recitation of the rosary, Scripture sharing and Bible study. She also belongs to an exercise group, plays Bingo a few times a week and belongs to an offsite bridge group.

"There are days that I am gone the entire morning," she said. "We have parties and entertainment, too, I never get bored here."

While she participates in most activities, she draws the line at bowling and crafts.

"Nope, that is one thing I won't do, because I get gutter balls most of the time," she said, laughing, "and crafts and I don't get along, especially if I have to glue anything, I am all thumbs and not too talented."

A member of St. Lucy Parish, Hartwick appreciates the compassion of the sisters and Fr. Paul Daniels, the chaplain who celebrates daily Mass and is available for spiritual guidance and the sacrament of reconciliation.

"He is retired and is wonderful and makes himself available to all of us" she said.

Hartwick enjoys three meals a day at St. Monica's, as well as housekeeping and linen service, laundry facilities, transportation for shopping and other group events, an onsite convenience store and beauty shop.

"Every Friday morning at 10 a.m. I have a standing appointment to get my hair done," she said. "They have two operators there and I really like being able to stay right here to have my hair styled."

Once a month shopping is available for those who are interested, but Hartwick is fortunate to have a daughter living in the Racine area that will pick up items for her, or take her out for a day of shopping.

Living in a Catholic community is important to Hartwick, who finds the staff accommodating and friendly, always going out of their way to please and assist the residents - whether it is holiday treats, seasonal placemats in the dining room or social events.

"They will even come to our parties when they are available and will dance with the residents," she said. "We are one, big, happy family and you don't find that in a lot of regular families."

As a family, the residents find opportunities to share their personal lives with those who care for them. The activity director's daughter recently celebrated her quinceañera and decided to do so in the chapel at St. Monica's. It was an experience Hartwick will never forget.

"They had two Spanish (speaking) priests and a Spanish choir," she explained. "It was so beautiful and lasted over an hour. I had never been to one before and I am so glad I went because it was a beautiful experience."

A newcomer to St. Monica's will find an array of activities, bus trips to the Mitchell Park Domes, musicians, scouting groups, crafts, exercise, gardening and spiritual enhancement. Although the new resident might be a bit shy at first, most likely Hartwick will be waiting to provide a proper welcome.

"I try to make it a point to know everyone and to be friendly," she said. "I want to make a lot of friends and I call them by their first names; I know some by their last names, too, but I think first names are most important. It makes people feel good, don't you think?"

Respect, Patience, Humor

After literally meeting in the cradle as infants, George and Lorraine (Framckowiak) Brzozowski were married at St. Martin Catholic Church in Cecil in the Green Bay Diocese nearly 63 years ago. The couple attribute their long marriage to respect, patience and humor. (Submitted photo courtesy the Brzozowski family)

Respect, patience, humor

Couple’s secrets to happy marriage

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

MILWAUKEE - While newlyweds may struggle to keep the flame alive six months after they marry, Lorraine (Framckowiak) and George Brzozowski are a tightly woven couple and blissfully in love with each other.

George, 82, is retired from the Milwaukee Park Commission where he worked as a welding supervisor. Lorraine, also 82, worked in food service with the Milwaukee Public School system, and later for the federal government as a clerical worker.

They have been married for nearly 63 years and celebrated their anniversary on Monday, May 11.

Not bad for a couple who were introduced to each other in the cradle! Their first date was a nap together with chubby toes touching when they were one and two months old respectively. George is exactly 28 days older than Lorraine.

"Back in 1927, near Pulaski, it was a common practice at the time for the farm wives to gather at each other's homes for quilting, feather stripping, harvesting, canning or whatever job needed doing," explained George. "When the two families got together on such occasions, the women would put both babies together in the same cradle."

After a year of these little dates, George's family moved to Milwaukee and the families lost touch. Sixteen years later, in 1943, they reunited at the wedding of Lorraine's cousin. There was electricity between the two, but neither knew they had a history.

"We were attracted to each other right away," Lorraine said. "And the people who brought George to the wedding assumed we were related somehow, but we really didn't know each other until we figured out after we exchanged names, that we knew each other as babies."

For George it was love at first sight as he considered Lorraine the prettiest girl in the world.

"I knew I loved her five minutes after I met her," George recalled.

With phone calls being an expensive luxury in the 1940s, the two exchanged addresses and agreed to write letters. And since Lorraine wasn't as smitten, George knew he had his work cut out for him.

"He thought I was impressed with him, but I wasn't as swept off my feet as he was," laughed Lorraine. "We kept mailing letters back and forth and then I fell in love with him."

Nearing age 18, George knew his chances of being drafted into World War II were high, so he enlisted into the Seabees and continued to correspond with Lorraine. After obtaining written permission from his father, the two were married at St. Martin Catholic Church in Cecil, in the Green Bay Diocese, while George was home on leave.

"Our family accepted everything, although they thought we were young," George said. "Because we were to be married when we were 19, I had to get a signature because I was under 21. A girl could get married without one, but not boys."

The newlyweds lived on a California naval base until George was discharged from service. Afterward, they moved to Milwaukee where they raised three girls and one boy. While times were often tough, the couple admits that the key to their longevity is learning to overlook a lot.

"A lot of people think that when you marry, things are going to be hunky dory all the time," Lorraine said. "There are many ups and downs in marriage and it is important to try to manage living through these times while still properly respecting each other highly."

Of course, periodic disagreements occur in any marriage and George and Lorraine's was no exception. Rather than let the problems consume their relationship, both let the situation ride itself out and most of the difficulties would go away by themselves.

"We never took any course in anything like that," George said. "It is just respecting and riding out the storm. We hate divorce and that is one thing in our house that we never talked about and it was never brought up in conversations. I think that's what made us last this long; arguing happens but you can't have it take over. You have to be patient and patience is a virtue that has to be learned."

Along with respect and patience, humor comprises a large portion of their relationship. The two learned to laugh at their mistakes, and often joked their way out of arguments.

"Our kids inherited our sense of humor, too," Lorraine said. "We try to joke around with each other to get ourselves out of feeling upset and then we realized that things were really not that bad. We've always had good times - we danced, traveled and did whatever we could. We've traveled to Europe and gone out West a few times; we've had a lot of fun over the years."

Lifelong Catholics, they said faith was integral in their relationship as a couple. For years, they belonged to St. Vincent de Paul Parish where George served as an usher and Lorraine in the altar society. They volunteered wherever they could. George often utilized his carpentry skills to help remodel the church and to do other assorted tasks.

"Later on it got to be too much for us, because we had to travel a lot, so we moved to St. Matthias, which is a lot closer for us," George said. "We like it there, too, and are happy that we brought our kids up in Catholic schools, and all have stayed Catholic to this day."

While both are saddened to see young couples divorce so soon after marriage, they urge husbands and wives to seek counsel from those whose marriages have withstood the test of time.

"Whenever our kids got married, we always hoped they would look to us, and if they had troubles, we would steer them in the right directions and hope that some of our years of marriage would rub off on them," said George.

Lorraine agreed, and added that couples needed to remember, above all, to respect each other.

"Pray together, work together and at the end of the day, kneel down by the end of the bed and pray that the day will go by real nice and the next day will be better," she said. "Our parents were hard working and took everything in stride and we learned from them. Times were hard when we were just married, but we didn't think we were poor. We were happy to be together and took each day as it came. We never wanted too much from anything."

Catholic Daughters of the Americas

Audrey Heine, left, vice regent of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court Felicitas #1061 and Kathleen Furrer, regent, discuss the hosting of the state convention in 2011 during a recent meeting at Gesu Church, Milwaukee. CDA is the largest organization of Catholic women in the United States, Mexico and the Caribb

Catholic Daughters helps women 'live like Catholics'

Longtime member encourages younger members

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

For Audrey Heine, faith is the most important facet of her life. She is proud to be a Catholic and a member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas.

At 89, Heine, a member of St. Catherine Parish, Milwaukee, values her 40-plus year membership with the international organization. When she joined Court Felicitas #1061, in the mid-1960s, she didn't know much about the group, but felt that it would help her increase her faith and spirituality. She wanted to become more involved in her parish and community and viewed CDA as a way to begin. Her commitment to Catholic Daughters helped define who she was as a woman and as a Catholic.

"I got into it when Antoinette Carini was regent and her brother was the pastor at Old Saint Mary at the time," said Heine. "His connection with CDA was through the sailors who came to town; he wanted to help them in any way possible. A lot of them were very young and if they had problems he would help them."

One of the national projects of the CDA is to support the Apostleship of the Sea, a Catholic organization dedicated to welcoming sailors and providing them a safe haven. In addition to his work with Apostleship of the Sea, Fr. Carini was the chaplain for the young court.

CDA is the largest organization of Catholic women in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. Members are united by their faith in Jesus Christ and inspired by his directive to minister to the sick, feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Its motto is "Unity and Charity," and its mission statement stresses the promotion of justice, equality, and the advancement of human rights and dignity for all.

Court Felicitas meets the first Wednesday of each month at Gesu Church. Under the guidance of Jesuit Fr. Kenneth Herian, associate pastor, members attend Mass at 11 a.m. followed by lunch and a meeting in the parish's Fr. Herian Hall.

"Fr. Herian is wonderful. By the time we gather for our meeting, he has made coffee for all of us," said Heine, who serves as vice-regent of Court Felicitas. "During our meetings we discuss various efforts we want to do to support our community and our country. Sometimes we have speakers and each year we can attend either the state or the national convention. The group of women are very close-knit and fun to be around."

Catholic women 18 years of age or older, who are active members of their parish, are eligible for CDA membership. There are 18 courts in Wisconsin.

From its foundation in 1903, CDA has grown into an organization involved in religious, charitable and educational endeavors. The group originated as the Daughters of Isabella in Utica, N.Y. and made significant contributions to the life of the church and to the benefit of society in the United States and beyond.

During World War I, members acted as nurses, performed clerical work, conducted sewing and knitting classes for the Red Cross and gave parties for weary servicemen. A sister group to the Knights of Columbus, the organization helped the Knights raise $3 million for recreational activities for the enlisted men.

By 1921, the order changed its name from the Daughters of Isabella to Catholic Daughters of the Americas. The first court outside of the United States was established in Cuba and during that time, the organization became separate from the Knights of Columbus.

As it evolved, CDA's humanitarian efforts grew and in 1997, CDA opened a legislative office in Washington, D.C with access to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. CDA offers support to the bishops in areas such as pro-life issues, domestic policy and social justice matters.

In order to assist courts and members in their humanitarian endeavors, the national office formulated a program called Circle of Love, which offers creative and spiritual ideas for members and courts. This program oversees projects in seven areas: leadership, education, legislation, quality of life, spiritual enhancement, youth and national projects.

Some of CDA's national projects and charities include: Habitat for Humanity, Apostleship of the Sea, Morality in Media, Smile Train, the Pontifical North American College in Rome, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and SOAR (Support of our Aging Religious).

During her tenure as CDA regent and now vice-regent, Heine has participated in numerous outreach programs. One favorite is Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit housing ministry. Members help achieve Habitat's mission to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.

"Another program I really like is Smile Train," she said. "Through our donations, we help children all over the world to surgically repair cleft lip and palate. It makes me happy to know that our small contributions join with others in the CDA to change lives."

In earlier days, more than 50 members belonged to Court Felicitas. While membership has dropped to a couple dozen or so, the enthusiasm is still there. While many members are older, Heine said it's important for younger Catholic women to join and become part of the oldest Catholic women's organization.

"We seem to have a lot of younger members in some of the other states, but in Wisconsin it seems that the younger members are not becoming as involved," she said. "I hope that more become involved because we need them and we want them. We have junior courts all over the nation, too, and it's important because we need every bit of religious backing possible and it's important to not only be Catholic but to live like a Catholic."

As an avid supporter of CDA, Heine anticipates former Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan will visit the national headquarters in New York.

"He has a great love for CDA and we told him that if he goes to our headquarters that we will back him up in any enterprise he has in mind," she said.

Intergenerational Baseball League

5/21/2009 12:00:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article
Watching their Milwaukee Catholic Home team play softball on Thursday, May 14 are front row, left to right, Jean Burg, Clarence Burg, Doree Zimmermann, Carl Zimmermann; middle row: Marianne Beckman, Jack Stilin, Rita Roth, Mary Pat Kochanski and back row: Elinor Honigsberg (red jacket), Phyllis Babb (purple jacket).
Bill Brandt, 81, a retired junior high and high school coach was talked into “coming out of retirement” by his friend, Jack Poehlmann, a Milwaukee Catholic Home resident, to coach the MCH softball team. (Catholic Herald photos by Ernie Mastroianni)
Cheer them on!
Games are held Thursday evenings

throughout the summer at the

Pumping Station near the corner of

Locust Street and Humboldt Avenue

in the Riverwest neighborhood. Games are

May 21 at 7 p.m.; May 28 at 8 p.m.;

June 4 at 7 p.m.; June 11 at 9 p.m.; June 18 at 9 p.m.; June 25 at 8 p.m.; July 2 at 9 p.m.; July 9 at 8 p.m.; July 16 at 7 p.m.

Intergenerational softball team a hit at MCH

Squad boasts only chaplain in tavern league

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

MILWAUKEE - Dorothy (Dode) Cook was a young girl and perhaps a bit of a tomboy when she spent steamy summer days on wooden bleachers cheering for her favorite baseball teams.

"I yelled at high school and college games, and I guess I have always been a bit enthusiastic," she said. "I am crazy about baseball and was raised to be a Cubs fan. And as I had my kids, I became fans of the teams of the cities we lived in, such as Baltimore Orioles, Red Sox, and because I live in Milwaukee, I am a Brewers fan."

Now, 87, Cook still gets into the game, screaming until her voice is raspy, but this time she is rooting for the Milwaukee Catholic Home softball team, made up of staff and a few residents of the retirement home, where Cook has lived for four years.

"I just love to go to the games and yell my head off," she said. "It is a lot of fun and generally a bunch of us take a bus; I try not to miss any games."

As one of a handful of the team's cheerleaders, Cook admits that they aren't as agile as the cheerleaders for major league teams are, but their enthusiasm and spirit more than make up for their slower movements.

"We don't have too many creative cheers, and we aren't too good at summersaults and things like that," she admitted. "But we do have team T-shirts and enjoy having a team of our own and getting out to see games during the year. I am not sure how many members of the team know who I am by name, but they sure know my voice."

Last year, Diane Krentz, a food service supervisor at MCH, created the team for ballplayers of all ages after witnessing the enthusiasm she received each Monday evening from the residents when she played softball in Brown Deer the past couple of summers.

"Some of the residents would drive their cars and come to watch me play, and cheer!" said Krentz. "Instead of the residents taking a field trip to see the Brewers, they boarded a bus to watch me play. You have no idea how great I felt to see these residents with walkers, wheelchairs and canes, carrying pom-poms; it was incredible."

Because Krentz's fans were so energetic, she and the MCH administrators created their own co-ed team, the only independent living home in the tavern league. About 20 staff members, ages 18-55 and from a variety of departments throughout the organization, play. Three of MCH's residents and one non-resident serve as the team's coaches.

Resident coaches are Jim Wudi, Jack Poehlmann and James "Gym" Kelley. At 85, Kelley enjoys having something to do in the evenings and being a part of the team.

"I am basically just an honorary coach, but it's fun to go and watch them practice and see the staff doing different things," he said.

While he wasn't always a baseball fan, living in a baseball city has changed Kelley's mind.

"I grew up in Pewaukee, in the village, and there wasn't too much to do when I was growing up," he said. "But then the Brewers came to town and I became a fan."

Retired sports coach Bill Brandt never expected to be thrust back into the coaching arena at 81. A retired junior high coach, high school coach, Whitefish Bay athletic director and former commissioner for hiring at the North Shore Conference, Brandt was talked into helping the MCH team by his friend, Jack Poehlmann.

"Between Jack, Wudi, Diane and a few others, they said I should coach the team," admitted Brandt. "I said, 'Sure I would do it.'"

In preparing for their first game of the season, May 14, Brandt started working on concepts, such as rules, hitting, catching and running bases.

"I am having fun with it," he said. "I also have the help of Fr. Chuck Keefe, who is the chaplain of MCH; he is the scorekeeper. So I think we are going to have a great season."

According to Krentz, who plays first base, Fr. Keefe becomes quite involved in the games, oftentimes scolding the umpires for calls that he felt were unfair.

"He is great," she said. "He really gets into the game and when Fr. Chuck showed up with a Bible in one hand and a scorecard in the other, it just took this team by surprise and they kept running with it."

Krentz said the team has brought MCH closer together and boosted morale.

"Many of the team members are from different areas of the complex and we wouldn't have known about each other if it hadn't been for this team. In this community, we feel as popular as the Brewers do," she said. "We didn't win or lose every game last year, but with the cheering and yelling - they got us all riled up to want to win the games. Other teams hated us because we had so much support."

Playing left field is a diversion for Laura Sadowski, who generally works behind the scenes as the marketing coordinator for MCH. Not only does she say that residents are rejuvenated by the experience, staff members are also growing closer.

"This is really positive for the work environment at MCH," she said. "There are players from many different departments, and it's nice to meet and become friends with MCH employees who I wouldn't otherwise get to know. Many of our coworkers who do not play on the team come out every week to cheer us on as well."

Residents often host their own tailgate parties by bringing hamburgers from local restaurants and their own beverages. The team hosts a picnic after the final game of the season.

MCH is a nonprofit continuing care retirement community for older adults. The residence, 2462 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee, is a 126 unit apartment complex, and the health and rehabilitation center, has 122 private skilled nursing rooms, 29 assisted living apartments, intergenerational adult day programming, and specialized Alzheimer's and dementia care. The two buildings are connected via an underground walkway, which is also connected to St. Mary's Hospital.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I needed to read this today

Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of "The Doe of the Morning." A psalm of David.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 "He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death. 16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.

Great Online Newspaper

Check out West of the I--it is a great online news source for Western Kenosha County--you know, the often neglected area of the county!

Anyway, it's run by a great friend of mine, Darren Hillock, former Regional Editor of the Kenosha News.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Erin's Last Choir Concert in grade school

Congratulations Erin on receiving the MVP award!

Erin's Last Choir Concert in grade school


Indigo Buntings are Back!

If there is anything that can put a smile on my face (especially these days when there has been so little to smile about) it is the beautiful, petite Indigo Buntings. For three weeks, sometimes a couple more, they brighten our yard and feeders. I can get little done when they are around because they captivate me so much. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wilmot H.S going Green

Wilmot HS aiming to use less paper

Photo by chodra via

Photo by chodra via

Wilmot High School may be going green by September.

The district is planning to leave most paper behind and in the process, help to save trees and necessary funds. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Principal Chris Trottier outlined a plan to become more fiscally responsible and efficient by eliminating most bulk mailings.

“We already have a web page and an email system and a program for family access,” explained Trottier. “So the possibilities are endless by sending out PDF files.”

With an estimated savings of $13,000 by eliminating newsletter mailings, report cards, and other correspondence, board members will be voting on the electronic mailings at their next meeting.

If approved, the district’s newsletter will be mailed out to the school community one more time over the summer, before going paperless.

“We will print newsletters as needed because not everyone has access to email,” said Trottier, “But already 80 percent of our parents are receiving email correspondence as well as duplicate bulk mailings.”

School Board Vice President Wayne Trongeau suggested that the electronic system might exclude parents from viewing report cards, but Trottier explained that students often reach the mailbox before their parents.

“Parents have passwords to enter the sites and we keep a log when the page is accessed, so parents will probably have better chance to see the report cards than they do now,” he said.

Going paperless in the classroom and utilizing computer based forms rather than worksheets are a possibility.

“But we are taking baby steps,” said Trottier.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mom, you were the best!

I sure miss you mom! I am sorry that we were robbed of so much time together. You were not only my mother, you were my friend. I can't wait to see you in heaven and look forward to our reunion. Dance with Dad on your special day, okay?

I love you and Blaise says Hi too! Remember, neither of us wanted to give up in the E.R room--but we know you are truly happy with Jesus now!

Erin, Star of Pirates of Penzance!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Prayers help family cope with near skateboard tragedy

After a near-fatal fall from his skateboard last July, Jonah Prom, 12, and his family, members of St. Francis Borgia Parish, Cedarburg, have become vocal advocates for the use of helmets. Pictured above are parents Jeff and Denise Prom and their sons, left to right, Justin, Jaden and Jonah. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)
Jonah Prom was not wearing a helmet when he fell on his skateboard last summer. The injuries almost proved fatal for the 11-year-old Cedarburg boy pictured here after life-saving surgery at Theda Clark Level Two Trauma Center in Neenah. Since his recovery, the Prom family strongly advocates the use of helmets. (Submitted photo courtesy the Prom family)
Parents believe ‘God performed a miracle’ to save son

By Karen Mahoney
Special to Parenting

CEDARBURG - Jonah Prom has little memory of the Ripstick accident that nearly cost him his life.

The strong and athletic 11-year-old was zipping along on his skateboard on his grandparent's freshly asphalted driveway at their Shawano cottage last Fourth of July. Exactly what happened next remains a mystery.

According to his parents, Jeff and Denise, in their rush to pack for the weekend, they left behind the helmets that they required their three boys, Jaden, now 6, Jonah, 12, and Justin 14, to wear whenever doing anything on wheels.

"We are a helmet family," said Denise, "But Jeff's parents always had a gravel driveway, and we figured that they would be fine without them because the gravel wouldn't allow for too much speed."

As a surprise to the grandchildren, Jeff's parents added the new asphalt driveway from the road down the hill to the cottage, and it quickly became a favorite playground for scooters and Ripsticks.

"In fact, a few minutes after we got there, Jaden went down the hill on his scooter and put the fear of God in me as he came close to biting it at the bottom," admitted Jeff. "He got a stern talking to, and we decided we would need to go to town to get a helmet for him. For some careless reason, I never considered the same for the older boys."

Around 3 that afternoon, Jonah was speeding down the hill on his Ripstick and in a flash, his board, meet the concrete apron at the end of the driveway, slid out from under him with nothing to break his fall but his head. Jeff, who was 10 feet away, not only saw his son's head meet the concrete, but heard it as well.

"This was not going to be good'

"I was by his side instantly, knowing this was not going to be good," he said. "I was actually somewhat surprised, and thankful at the time that he was not knocked out cold, after seeing and hearing the severity of the blow."

From the cottage, Denise heard Jonah crying, but at the time decided to let "Dad" handle it as she was generally the one who came running for scraped knees, broken fingers and other accidents.

"Jonah came in the cottage and was frantic and continued to cry about the pain," she said. "We tried to calm him down and my sister, who is a nurse, was there and helped us to check for the signs of concussion. He wasn't nauseous, there were no cuts or bleeding, and his eyes looked fine, but he was getting more and more frantic - everyone thought it was because I was getting frantic, so I went outside and called the pediatrician."

Minutes after learning from the doctor that the family was doing what they should to check for signs of head trauma, Jeff came out and said they were going to the hospital because Jonah was getting delirious.

"I was driving him to the (emergency room) and as we drove, Jeff sat with him, trying to calm him and at the same time trying to keep him awake because he was going in and out of consciousness," said Denise, choking back tears. "Jeff was so strong that way, he was a rock and I have never loved him more than I did that day."

Within minutes, doctors whisked Jonah for a CT scan and determined that the blow fractured his skull and severed an artery - internal to the skull but external to the brain lining. With injuries as life threatening as the one that recently claimed the life of actress Natasha Richardson, a ThedStar helicopter arrived to take him Flight for Life to Theda Clark Level Two Trauma Center in Neenah.

At Denise's insistence, Jeff rode along in the helicopter as Jonah, who was sedated and intubated in preparation for surgery, fought for his life.

Before Denise drove the two hours to the hospital, she began a flurry of phone calls, asking for prayers for Jonah. She remembers falling to her knees in prayer, placing her son's life in God's hands.

"I just said, "Dear Lord, Jesus, Mary, all the angels and saints, we need you here now and please come to our son's rescue,'" she said.

As Jeff flew to the hospital and sat beside his son, he began his own conversation with God.

"I committed to God that if he chose to continue to grace us with Jonah, we will do our best to give him right back," Jeff said. "To nurture him, to guide him, to support him -to love him as God loves him so Jonah can live a life God wants for him - whatever that life may be. When you are flying in a helicopter, praying next to your child whose life is hanging by a thread, the clarity and purpose of what is important to him and for him gets boiled down to its basic essence. I did not make a deal with God, but more a reaffirmation of a commitment to him."

Prayers pour in

The prayers poured in and carried Denise and Jeff through the most terrifying moments of their lives. Both said they felt lifted and able to flow with the steps necessary to save their son's life. And God performed a miracle.

"I didn't know this at the time, thankfully, but given the amount of blood already in the small space available, there was no way he could continue to bleed until we got him to Neenah," admitted Jeff. "Had the bleeding continued, it would have pushed onto his brain stem and shut down his organs. Fortunately, and miraculously, the blood clotted and pushed on the artery hard enough to stop the bleeding temporarily to give us time to get to Theda Clark."

Within 10 minutes after the 20-minute flight to Theda Clark, the neurosurgical team moved Jonah to the operating room, removed a blood clot, measuring 8 centimeters by 2 centimeters in diameter, off his brain, and repaired the severed artery. The next day, doctors brought Jonah out of a drug-induced coma; the following day, he was able to get out of bed and sit for short periods.

"God heard the prayers'

Jonah's progress was measured in baby steps, in minutes and then hours for signs the medical team needed to determine whether the boy would recover. Each hour was another miracle, Denise said, adding that Jonah's progress surprised everyone.

"He came out of his coma quickly; he was sitting quickly, communicating, walking in a couple of days and was able to leave the hospital after just five days," she said. "I honestly and truly believe that the immediate prayers from so many saved Jonah's life. The blood clotted because God heard the prayers. It clotted because God decided that Jonah was going to live."

As members of their Cedarburg parish, St. Francis Borgia, rallied around the family and bathed them in prayer, Denise recalled taking a moment on a rainy afternoon to look out the window of her son's hospital room, which overlooked the helipad.

"I was trying to take everything in, was still in shock, but thankful," she said. "About 10 minutes later, I saw our former parish priest, Fr. Mike Lightner, come into the room. He was dressed in his leather jacket, with jeans and T-shirt. I ran up to him, put my arms around him, and sobbed."

According to Fr. Lightner, he had wanted to visit with the family, but he was on his way back from seeing his family up north, and he needed to head back to Milwaukee to prepare for Mass at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, so he knew he wouldn't have time to come to the hospital.

"He told me that it began to rain hard and since he was on his motorcycle, he pulled over and the next exit was the one for the Neenah hospital," she explained. "He said, "OK, God, I get it,' so he came to see Jonah and was a wonderful support for us and prayed with us."

Prognosis is excellent

Neurologically, Jonah's prognosis is excellent. While, he is limited in the participation of contact sports for now, he is expected to make a full recovery. The Prom family credits the prayers of hundreds of God's faithful in the outcome.

"We thank everyone who has shown such compassion and strength and faith in God," said Jeff. "Their prayers shook the heavens. I believe God is pleased with the faith and strength of his flock and we humbly accept your outpouring of love. It has truly given all of us strength."

'Why no helmet?'"Why wasn't he wearing a helmet?" was the question posed to Denise and Jeff by Jonah's neurosurgeon, as he stared at the wires, the breathing apparatus, IVs and monitors that kept the small boy alive.

That question has haunted the couple since the day of the accident and both have become vocal proponents of helmets for skateboarding, biking and any activity on wheels.

"We don't want any parent to go through this with their child, ever," cried Denise, who has heard many parents complain that they have difficulty getting their children to wear helmets. We can't prove that wearing a helmet will save a life, but if Jonah had been wearing a helmet, Jeff would not have been riding on that Flight for Life, praying for his son's life."

While most younger children willingly don helmets, older children often view it as uncool, and parents often stop seeing the danger or give up the fight. As an incentive for teens to wear helmets when their parents are not present, the Proms are planning to present gift certificates to a local candy store and ice cream shop for those Jonah's age and older who are caught wearing helmets.

"We are also working on making some local contacts to help with a helmet awareness program," she said. "There are so many possibilities out there to encourage teens to wear helmets."

Although the helmets are a non-negotiable with their kids, the Proms realize that other parents battle daily with getting their kids to wear them and willingly offer to share Jonah's hospital photos to assist parents in getting their point across.

"We keep it simple and suggest you do the same," emphasized Denise. "No helmet! No wheels! No debate!"

And if you need to appeal to a "celebrity" bike helmet wearer, invoke the name of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.

In his first message on the Catholic Kids' page in June 2005, Archbishop Dolan wrote, "Do you know what I always wear when I go for a bike ride? A helmet. I hope you wear one, too. I know there are some cyclists who don't wear helmets because they aren't riding very far or they think they look funny in them.

"Heck, I look funny with my helmet strapped on my large head, but I still wear it. I'm used to looking funny and wearing funny hats! But if I hit a bump and get thrown from my bike, I want to make sure my head is protected. Please, wear your helmet whenever you ride your bike."

- Karen Mahoney

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tridentine Mass in Kenosha

A traditional Latin Mass will be celebrated at St. Peter Catholic Church on May 10. Among those who will be in attendance are, from left, top row, Charlie Maurer, 15, retired priest Father John Richetta, Thomas Maurer, 16; center row, Peter Stephens, 16, John Maurer, 11, Michael Maurer, 12; front row, Joseph Maurer, 9, and Vincent Maurer, 7. All the boys, except for Vincent, who is too young, will serve as altar boys during the Mass. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )
Charlie Maurer, 15, helps his brother Vincent, 7, dress in liturgical vestments. Charlie will be an altar boy for a traditional Latin Mass to be celebrated at St. Peter Catholic Church on May 10. Vincent would love to be an altar boy for the service, too, but he is still too young. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )
Published May 2, 2009 | 12:22 a.m.

Mass appeal

Church hopes Latin service will unite Catholics in community
Kenosha News correspondent

For most local Catholics, the traditional Latin Mass is either a hazy memory or a footnote in church history.

But on Mother’s Day, May 10, the rite that was set aside more than 40 years ago in favor of a new, vastly different Mass, will be welcomed back to Kenosha thanks to a 2007 apostolic letter from Pope Benedict XVI and a group of dedicated Catholics.

St. Peter Catholic Church, 2224 30th Ave., will hold the Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass, on a monthly basis beginning with the one held at 3 p.m. on May 10. The Rev. William Hayward will attend, but the celebrant will be the Rev. Oliver Meney from the Institute of Christ the King and St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Milwaukee.

“We were approached by a group of families to have the Mass on our site,” Hayward said. “The Archdiocese encouraged it, and I am very interested and impressed with people like Kamela Gleason who have done wonderful work to get this started here in Kenosha.”

For Gleason, a member of St. James Catholic Church, bringing the Tridentine Mass to St. Peter Church has been divine providence.

“Many dedicated Catholics have been involved in its initial coordination and planning,” she said. “This journey to bring the traditional Latin Mass has unified many Catholics in our community. Supporters can be found from many different local parishes and come from all walks of life. Even young people are asking for and desiring this sacred liturgy. Catholic home-schoolers have also shown an interest. They feel that this is an educational opportunity and wonderful way for their children to appreciate and experience the fullness of the Catholic Church’s teaching.”

When the Vatican released the 2007 document in which Pope Benedict reached out to alienated traditionalists and relaxed restrictions on the use of the Latin Mass after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, priests can celebrate the Tridentine Mass without requiring authorization from their local bishop. Pope Benedict also said the priests who celebrate according to the Tridentine rite cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating the new Mass.

The old-style Mass requires the priest to face the altar and tabernacle, turning away from the congregation to demonstrate unity with the parishioners in worshiping God together. Members kneel to receive Holy Communion on their tongues, and more women and girls wear lace veils, called mantillas, on their heads. Missals with Latin on one page and English on the other allow those attending Mass to follow along.

Since his ordination in 2000, Father Oliver Meney has celebrated the traditional Latin Mass daily and has found a significant increase in interest among Catholics throughout the world.

“This Mass is a treasure of the Church,” he said. “Any time you have a chance to go into your grandparents’ attic and find old pictures or other old stuff from them you want to discover more about how they lived and what life was like before. That is similar to the interest now in the Latin Mass.”

For Meney, this nostalgia for a Mass most Catholics never have experienced is not only surprising but also joyful.

“It is really neat and excellent. I think it helps a lot to understand what is done today in remembering the past speaks a lot about the present,” he said. “Everywhere I see the same joy and unity and love, and it is becoming more obvious.”

There are six local boys already training to learn the procedures of the traditional Latin Mass. These brothers — Thomas, 16, Charlie, 15, Michael, 12, John, 11, and Joseph, 9, Maurer — and their cousin, Peter Stephens, 16, all are members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.

According to Charles and Donna, parents of the Maurer boys, Mass in Latin for their three oldest won’t be too difficult, as the children are all home-schooled and have been learning Latin for a few years.

“This has helped a lot,” Donna said. “They have also gone to St. Stanislaus Parish for some training in the Latin High Mass. They are all excited and think it’s pretty cool.”

For nearly 1,400 years, the Latin Mass was the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. The growing interest in it has enthused Gleason and other traditional Catholics.

“One question I have received multiple times from people in the community is, ‘Why can’t we have it at my parish?’ This tells me that there is a longing and great need for the Latin Mass. I guess it is time to start training more priests so it can be more readily available,” Gleason said. “I have personally spoken to a few local active priests who are interested in learning the old form of the Mass. These priests are not only young, but energetic. They can see its peace, serenity and beauty.”

Offering to officiate when needed, retired priest the Rev. John Richetta is happy to be part of the return to the traditional liturgy.

“We see the unbroken continuity of apostolic times from this time to the last four centuries,” he said. “We have a continuity with the past, and I think people are longing for a return to the order and dignity of the Mass, as well as a sense of the sacred.”

If you go

What: Traditional Latin MassWhen: 3 p.m. May 10, June 14, July 12 and Aug. 9Where: St. Peter Catholic Church, 2224 30th Ave.Information: There is no need to understand Latin. Missal booklets are available with Latin and English words. All are welcome.To learn more: Go to