Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Funniest Father's Day Story ever

So, when my stepson, David asked his 6 year old daughter Linzy (our granddaughter) if she was going to make him breakfast in bed for Father's Day, she looked dumbfounded. She seemed anything but interested, so imagine David's surprise Sunday morning when he woke up with a tray on his lap.

On the tray was his breakfast especially prepared by Linzy.

What was on the tray, you ask?

A can of beer.
Two Scooby Doo Yogurts
One Scooby Doo Push up
and a Scooby Doo Popsicle.....and according to a reliable source, the popsicle was 2 years old!

Needless to say, 90% of the breakfast was consumed by Linzy.

Kids, gotta love 'em!

Things I contemplate

That without Jesus, I am nothing
That dogs really are man's best friend
That a wonderful husband is the better than all the money in the world
That sometimes we have to say goodbye to unhealthy people-even if they are related to us
That I am most proud of my children
That I am grateful for everything in my life because it is all part of God's great plan
That every persecution prepares me for His kingdom
That granddaughters make me feel like a kid again
That good friends are often closer than family
That my parish is a gift from God
That I am lucky and blessed to be working
That it does take effort to pray for my enemies, but it is worth it

Monday, June 29, 2009

Perfect comebacks for inquiring minds who have no business inquiring

I got these lines form a friend, and considering this past weekend, I realize how appropriate they are.

"why do you ask/' is a perfectly fine answer to people who ask questions they have no business asking.

'Thank you for your concern" works well when others are in a judgmental mode.

But the best one and most priceless is"

Be Careful not to bleed around sharks!
Good morning, yesterday
You wake up and time has slipped away
And suddenly it's hard to find
The memories you left behind
Remember, do you remember?

The laughter and the tears
The shadows of misty yesteryears
The good times and the bad you've seen
And all the others in between
Remember, do you remember
The times of your life? (do you remember?)

Reach out for the joy and the sorrow
Put them away in your mind
The mem'ries are time that you borrow
To spend when you get to tomorrow

Here comes the setting sun (the setting sun)
The seasons are passing one by one
So gather moments while you may
Collect the dreams you dream today
Remember, will you remember
The times of your life?

Gather moments while you may
Collect the dreams you dream today
Remember, will you remember
The times of your life?

Of your life
Of your life
Do you remember, baby
Do you remember the times of your life?

Do you remember, baby
Do you remember the times of your life?

Happiness a quote by Anne Frank who had every reason to be miserable

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dress for my niece

This is the dress that I made for my niece. I spent all week working on it, in between my freelancing jobs and caring for my disabled husband and 14 year old son. It was a labor of love--unfortunately, due to my aunt and uncle's humiliating behavior towards me, I never got to see her open it. I will never regret doing this because I love the little girl--it is just so sad that we were basically left out on the plank yesterday.

Quite a day

This is a most difficult post to write because it lays my entire soul out naked, parched and open to the world. The only reason I write it is that it helps me to release my feelings and hopefully will go on to help someone else going through a similar experience.

Yesterday, in the company of relatives, we were persecuted terribly. What made the situation even more troubling was the fact that it occurred in front of about a dozen six year old girls at my niece's birthday party.

My Uncle and Aunt (who are just a couple years older than me) began attacking me personally and my faith in front of the throngs of people. It was not enough that the chose to attack me, but they attacked my husband as well. Thankfully, my husband came to my defense--sadly, none of my other relatives followed suit. This sent a strong message to me that while related by blood, we are not necessarily family.

The attacks were unjustified, accusatory and false--but I was not going to stick around and allow them to destroy the fantasy birthday party of my niece, so we graciously bowed out, while they continued to spew profanities, and horrid accusations down the driveway as we went to our vehicle. To further add to the pain they were causing, they made sure to bring up a couple of very personal issues we are going through in front of everyone--it was their final stab into my heart.

Only my husband and my young son stood up for me---everyone else stood by strangely silent. No phone calls today. No follow up. Nothing. What I did learn was that Jesus was right about our faithfulness dividing households. My Aunt and Uncle have a unique manner of corralling my siblings and some of my children to their side. How do they do this? It is simple, they have money and enjoy lavishing it on those who bow to whatever they want and to whomever agree to what they want.

I do not follow the same idol worship and neither does my husband and therefore, we are now the enemies. We are openly persecuted for our faith and despite all the false accusations of this couple, I know that those accusations are from the evil one who seeks to rob, ruin and destroy. I did not bring up any of his gravely inappropriate behavior towards me as a child in front of this group, but certainly the enemy tempted me to do so.

Instead I am rejoicing in God my savior. I am rejoicing in this persecution for His name sake.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

John 15: 18-20

We rejoice in our sufferings and in our persecution

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5: 10-12

Jeremiah 20:11

But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble;
they will not overcome me.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can I never receive the host at Communion again?

Written by Karen Mahoney | For The Compass
Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Finding the blessing after a diagnosis of celiac disease

The most difficult part of the diagnosis of a disease that prevents us from eating wheat was not that we could no longer have Friday pizza nights, bakery cookies, or crusty loaves of bread. It was realizing that the most precious aspect of our Catholic faith - the Eucharist - had become dangerous to our health.

Church teaching requires that Communion hosts, which are consecrated during Mass, be made of wheat. It was a terribly painful Sunday three years ago, when two of my five children and I realized that we could no longer receive the host.

A prayer card rests near stacks of hosts made by Cistercian sisters in Wisconsin. Catholics with celiac disease are unable to take regular Communion hosts made with wheat flour. (Sam Lucero photo | The Compass)
We felt a sense of emptiness and a spiritual hunger. While we knew we could receive Jesus under the species of the wine, it didn't seem an option for us. Our digestive systems were very reactive and we risked ingesting a bit of host. (Called the fermentum, a bit of the consecrated host is placed into the cup by the priest.)

We suffer from celiac sprue, an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine when wheat, rye, barley, oats and gluten-containing products are consumed. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, about 1 in 133 people in the United States has the disease. The only treatment is lifelong avoidance of gluten, the protein in grain that triggers the damage. Yet, the remedy leaves few options for Catholics, since the Communion wafer is the center of our faith.

While rice and soy-based wafers are available, canon law states that only unleavened bread made from water and wheat flour may be used for Communion.

For two weeks, we stayed in our pews, bowed our heads and silently mouthed the words to receive spiritual Communion. Our pastor, Fr. Terry Huebner of St. Francis de Sales Parish, Lake Geneva, noticed. He stopped us after Mass to find out why we were abstaining.

Tearfully, I explained and told him that I would step down in my role as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion because it would be awkward not to receive our Lord on the altar.

Immediately, his faced brightened, and his cheerful response changed our lives forever.

"You know, there are other Catholics, even in this parish who have celiac disease," he said. "There are special hosts that you can order. They are made by a group of Benedictine nuns, and approved by all of the bishops in the United States."

Fr. Huebner directed me to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Mo. After 10 years of experimenting, they had invented the first low-gluten altar bread that can be consumed by most people with celiac disease. Fr. Huebner also said he would provide a separate chalice for us, so that we would not risk cross-contamination by the fermentum.

In addition to prayer, the mission of these Benedictines is to bake Communion wafers. They are the largest religious producers of Communion wafers and ship more than two million per week.

It all began with a phone call to customer service in the early 1990s. Sr. Jane Heschmeyer heard the voice on the other end asking if the sisters could make hosts without gluten because she could not tolerate gluten.

Stumped, Sr. Jane turned to Sr. Lynn D'Souza, who had a degree in biomedical science, and they began to develop a low-gluten wafer. Sr. Lynn admitted that making the wafer was tricky because it needed enough gluten to satisfy canon law, but not too much to affect those with celiac disease. The sisters experimented with two types of wheat starch containing only trace amounts of gluten, but nothing seemed to work until they combined the two.

After placing what Sr. D'Souza called a "sticky messy glob" on the baking plate, it produced a light, bubbly wafer. Tests found the wafers contained 0.01 percent gluten, an amount considered safe for most celiacs.

While the sisters attributed their success to the Holy Spirit, they still needed approval of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In 2003, they received it. They now serve more than 2,000 parishes and individuals across the U.S., Canada and other countries.
Some celiac patients choose to partake in the Blood of Christ only, rather than risk a reaction to the low-gluten altar bread. (Full participation in the Eucharist can be had under either species, bread or wine.) However, for my children and me, the host is a gift from God.

While our parish orders the low-gluten altar bread for us, we also order a supply to keep our freezer and carry it in a pyx when we travel. Before Mass, we bring it to the parish priest and he consecrates them at the altar so we can receive the Body of Christ like everyone else. For our family, it was the perfect solution and we are most grateful to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

For more information on low gluten altar bread, contact the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at 1-800-223-2772. Their Web site is www.benedictinesisters.org.

Mahoney is a freelance writer who lives in Salem, Wis.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Weekend in Virginia

Spent a few days with some doll collector friends--here are a couple of photos. We had a lot of laughs, especially Mariah and I!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This is Erin shortly after being stung multiple times by paper wasps--since he is allergic to them, we gave him an extra measure of Benedryl to keep the swelling down--however, it knocked him out for a while.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Praying the Rosary

For Roman Catholics, May is the month we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since the 18th century, we begin our month with the annual May Crowning. Young children often dressed in First Holy Communion dresses and suits carry roses, placing them in vases at the foot of the Mary statue in their parishes.

May Crowning is a tradition in which the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church honor the life of Mary for her role as the mother of Jesus and Queen of Heaven. The faithful place a crown of flowers on a statue dedicated to her and often a rosary is recited in honor of her sacrifice.

Similar to First Fridays, the month of June is a time to consecrate ourselves to honoring Our Savior’s Sacred Heart. We can honor Jesus by attending daily Mass, with a novena to the Sacred Heart and by praying a daily rosary.

For modern Catholics it may seem odd to pray a rosary once a year, let alone every day. Many have not grown up in households where vocal prayer was commonplace.

In my home, we prayed grace aloud before meals, but never a family rosary or alone on our knees before bed as we often see in old movies. We prayed silently in our heads or whispers at church, our prayers hushed so as not to call attention to ourselves.

“Say your prayers,” my Dad occasionally reminded me as I climbed the stairs to bed. But he never prayed with me, and neither did my mother. They never stayed to hear my “God blesses” or to pray with me. In all the years of my life, I never heard my parents pray at home.

We had a crucifix in the living room, and a dusty Bible on the bookshelf. We attended Sunday Mass with our Dad, and my mom, the reluctant convert, remained home. As if to make up for it, she often sent money to Catholic organizations and would sometimes receive rosaries as a gift for her donations.

“What do we do with this?” I would ask her.

She had no idea, and my Dad was too busy to show us, so the rosaries were tossed in a drawer. Forgotten.

It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I began to embrace my faith and learn what those precious beads meant. In the beginning, I stowed away about once a month in the corner of my bedroom, silently fingering the beads and whispering the prayers.

I began the prayers in desperation, to help me through a difficult time in my life. Through my fingers traveling over the little bumps, God was working at smoothing the bumps in my life.

I began to heal.

As I began feeling the power of the rosary bringing peace to my life, I began praying more often, in the car, aloud with my children, before Mass, and with prayer groups. It became a source of comfort and identity and a link to Our Heavenly Father and to the Blessed Mother.

The Rosary is powerful and life changing. For those just beginning, take it slow, pray a decade a day and try to complete a rosary in five days. After you become comfortable with the prayers, try to pray two rosaries a week until you pray one each day.

Remember that the Blessed Virgin Mary herself instituted the rosary. In the 13th century, she appeared to St. Dominic, gave him a rosary, and asked that Christians pray the Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be prayers.

The rosary is a meditative form of prayer. Through the mysteries, we meditate on the great episodes that brought about our salvation by Christ with Mary as co-redemptrix.

Regular praying of the rosary is an excellent source of strength, especially in times of crisis. Somehow, we are delivered from adversities in a way we don't know how it happened. Take time out to pray the rosary, and see how your life will change.

I promise, it will.

In the name of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Karen Anne Mahoney

Teen vocations effort invites young men to 'think priest'

Kenosha group gathers monthly to discuss futures

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

KENOSHA - Dropping his backpack to the floor and draping his Bradford High School lettermen's jacket over the back of the metal folding chair, 16-year-old Nicholas Mowry seems every bit the typical teen.

Like his friends in sports or his classmates hanging around the malls and subdivisions of his community, Mowry has pressures: grades, girls and keeping an open relationship with his parents.

In the past few months, though, he has found a salve. It sets him apart from his family, his neighbors and even his high school friends. He sat beaming during a teen vocation group one recent Wednesday night at St. Mary Parish in Kenosha.

Mowry is considering becoming a priest.

"I love this group," he said. "It's cool that a bunch of guys can get together and talk about faith. I started thinking about it last year when we went to the Steubenville Youth Conference in St. Louis. Then this group started for discernment; my faith was strong then, and it is helping me keep up with it."

Fr. Jim Lobacz, archdiocesan vocations director, is eager to hear comments such as this as he looks forward to reversing the plunge in Catholics pursuing religious vocations.

"This wonderful group could be a great model and uses strategies to encourage younger men to consider the priesthood as an option," he said.

Fr. Joe Shimek, ordained in 2007 and named associate pastor of St. Mary the following year, knew that one of his missions would be to reach out to young men who are open to the priesthood. He and St. Therese youth minister, Brian Magliocco, began thinking of ways to encourage high school students to consider vocations.

"Brian took the young people with him to the Steubenville Conference in St. Louis and when he was there, he sent a paper around to ask if there would be any interest in attending a discernment group," Fr. Shimek said. "Bringing an interest in vocations is my priority; we have a call to meet vocations in all that we are to do."

The monthly meetings attract approximately eight high school-age men.

"We gave the boys a Christian prayer book, which is a shorter form of the breviary, and a rosary and a Catholic prayer book," the priest said.

The format for the meetings is constant: Members gather at 6 p.m., go to confession if they are interested, pray the rosary or evening prayer and celebrate Mass.

"After Mass. Fr. Joe and myself take the teens out for dinner," Magliocco said. "This is a great opportunity to just talk to them and do some real bonding as Catholic men. It has been very fruitful so far."

Funds for the monthly dinner night come from the Serra Club, parishioners and private donors who support the religious life.

Because the vocations group is open to all Catholic young men regardless of parish affiliation, Fr. Lobacz is hopeful that other parishes will adopt similar groups and form clusters throughout the archdiocese.

"This could easily boomerang and I think it is affirming that we have finally turned the corner on cultural vocations because I am seeing more support from vocation summer camps, teachers, religious education support and even parental support. The period of silence has ended," he said.

While he isn't certain if he will enter the seminary, Victor Aiello, a junior at Kenosha's Tremper High School and member of St. Mary, admitted that he is happy to have time to share his faith with his peers.

"It is a great way to meet with a group of guys to talk about different things," he said. "I am learning about all types of perspectives, such as priesthood, single life and marriage. We talk about it all."

Since Nick Hartnell, a St. Joseph High School senior and member of St. Mary Parish, began attending the discernment group, he has been thinking seriously about pursuing the priesthood.

"It is nice to have this leadership and guidance to be able to talk about things," he said. "It is giving a group of guys the right path to consider our future. I am discerning the priesthood and will be going to Marquette University next year. Right now I am 95 percent sure that I am going into business, but I plan to take theology and philosophy courses, too."

For Tim Gleeson, a member of Mt. Carmel Parish, Kenosha, the opportunity to speak openly with Fr. Shimek about his path to the priesthood is an experience he might not have if it weren't for attending the discernment group.

"I have learned a lot from Fr. Joe about what led him to the priesthood," said Gleeson, who is home-schooled. "I also have had a chance to talk with Brian about considering married life - both of them help us figure things out. Who knows? Maybe it will be one of us who becomes a priest."

Attracting people to a religious vocation means knowing what the average American teen faces and offering an alternative to the usual work or college plans. Magliocco begins with establishing openness and encouraging questions through his Life Teen group or through the vocations group.

"We want a culture open to the priesthood, single life and to discern and be open to what God is calling them to do," he said. "We are not pushing them to do this. We certainly don't want to make disgruntled priests, but we want to foster the need to be open to this universal call to holiness. We are all called to this and we all need to strive for this."

For more information on the group:Contact Brian Magliocco at St. Mary Parish (262) 694-6018,

For more information on the priesthood, contact Fr. Jim Lobacz or visit www.thinkpriest.org.

Poor economy fells school that served low-income families

Poor economy fells school that served low-income families

San Juan Diego Middle School closes

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

RACINE - Emblazoned with dollar signs printed with green crayon, the manuscript paper was folded in half - a handmade card decorated and given to his mother to bring to work. The words were straightforward, "Please help save our school!"

Young Luis (last name withheld), a fifth grader, proudly brought the card to the teary-eyed school secretary with 37 well-worn $1 bills enclosed. A glimmer of hope included, and along with it, a small testament of love the young student has for the tiny Racine Catholic School.

"This was the hardest part," admitted Laura Sumner Coon, executive director for the fifth through eighth grade school. "His mom brought that little card to her entry level, minimal wage job and her co-workers all donated a dollar to help."

But it was too little and too late to keep the 70-student school open after the final desk closes this month. The unique school opened in 2003 to offer Catholic education to children living in poverty and relied upon charitable funds for its survival. Due to the present economic condition, the board of directors determined that keeping the school open was no longer an option.

"We exist on donations and have from the beginning, and our primary funding sources are individuals, most of whom lived their careers and are in retirement. They had resources invested and lost lots of money in the economy," said Coon. "We also had some funds coming from grants and foundations, but they also lost lots of money. We have never had a situation where we had an anchor of funding from any steady sources."

Unlike in Milwaukee where school choice vouchers are an option for the low income residents, San Juan Diego struggled to make ends meet with low parental donations. Although neighboring parishes and individuals have helped over the years, the downward economic spiral has affected them and they are struggling to hang onto their parishes and schools.

"The community really supported us in the past six years; we had over 1,600 contributors donate $4.5 million because they believed in our model," said Coon.

The school had planned for its biggest fund-raiser on June 5 at Festival Hall, but it was cancelled following the decision to close. School officials urge all San Juan Diego supporters to continue their pledges and commitments of financial support to help the school meet its financial commitments.

"Even though the school is closing, we still have staff to pay through the summer," explained Coon. "Like many schools, we have contracts that provide for this. It is unique but we still need to raise money to pay the teachers and staff. We are hoping that the people who understood our mission and supported it will help us close responsibly and be able to meet staff, vendor and creditor obligations."

For the remaining students, San Juan Diego staff will assist parents in placing their children in new schools for the upcoming year.

The public can still help share the mission of San Juan Diego, to offer children from low-income households an opportunity to attend a Catholic school they could not otherwise afford. Some families will wish to place their child in a local faith-based school but will need tuition assistance. San Juan Diego Middle School officials urge local parishes to help provide assistance for families who wish to continue their children's faith-based education and will help coordinate a match among donors who wish to sponsor a student at another faith-based school.

Coon believes the school closing should act as an alarm for the Racine community, because for too long, children in poverty have been sliding into educational duress and hopelessness.

"We have not acted quickly enough to reorganize our public schools into successful learning institutions and opened the door of private, faith-based schools for people without the means to pay for such education," she said. "It is my hope Racine learns from this experience and that people demand better education for the poor, push our legislators to expand the parental choice voucher program throughout the state and begin opening doors to educational opportunity for the most vulnerable children among us."

The eighth grade class graduated on June 9. The last day of school was June 10. A public gathering to celebrate San Juan Diego accomplishments, thank the school's donors and volunteers, and bid farewell to students will be at 5 p.m., June 14 at the school.

If you go:Public gathering to close San Juan Diego Middle School June 14, at 4 p.m.

1101 Douglas Ave., Racine

For more information, contact Laura Sumner Coon at (262) 619-0402.

Salem Grade School Graduation

Check out my photos on West of the I


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Congratulations Erin Student of the Year 2009!

Not only did he give the graduation speech, he received a presidential academic award and received the Student of the Year Award. Great Job Erin! We are so proud of you!


Today Erin graduates 8th grade and prepares to enter a minor seminary. Hard to believe that this is the same child who climbed over church pews, scaled the Blessed Mother statue, tugged on Fr. Mike's alb and burped loudly during Mass.

In the words of a wise Franciscan Priest to me one day as I sat sobbing in the vestibule after Mass.

"He may well be Pope one day--don't give up," he said, tracing the sign of the cross on his tiny forehead.

Thank you Fr. Joachim--just maybe you had a prophetic moment.

Regardless, Erin has turned out to become a fine young Catholic man. Enjoy a few photos with me, will you?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do they remember?

Do they remember me staying up all night to make matching Christmas outfits for them?
Do they remember soothing their fevered brows with cool cloths?
new shoes when we had no money?
freshly baked bread each day?
chocolate chip pancakes?
baking cookies?
daily Mass?
reading stories in my bed?
never leaving their sides in the hospital?
dance lessons?
school dances?
first cars?
my love?

I remember slobbery kisses at midnight
floured fingerprints on my shirt after a tight hug
toothless smiles
first steps
first day behind the wheel
first dates
whispered secrets in my ear
hearing, "I love you forever" and knowing they meant it
and I remember when it all ended

Thank you most merciful God
for giving me Your love in the absence of my earthly father
Thank you my Blessed Mother
for your comfort in the absence of my earthy Mother
thank you Jesus for your comfort in the absence of two of my own.
Watch over them,
guide them,
bless them, and
if you can,
please let them know that despite my imperfections
how much I love them.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ending one climb, Central High students look ahead

Ending one climb, Central High students look ahead

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PADDOCK LAKE — Rachel Martin has made the most of her high school experience.

She was involved in the band program and was especially fond of performing in the jazz ensemble. She is a member of the National Honor Society, earned an Advanced High School Diploma, immersed herself in forensics, and wore pink Tri-M cords at Sunday’s graduation ceremony for her participation in music.

Now the Central High School graduating senior is eager to start the next phase of her life: majoring in chemistry at Carthage College in Kenosha.

“I plan to pursue a master’s degree in chemical engineering,” she said. “But I have to admit that while I am excited to graduate high school, I am also a bit sad because it just hit me that I won’t see many of my close friends again. I can’t be a kid anymore, and realized that I am actually an adult now.”

As one of nine valedictorians of the 251-member graduating class, Dana Sorenson reminded classmates at Sunday’s ceremony of the support they were given over the past four years and encouraged them to give back to benefit future generations.

“Whether it is tutoring, aiding a Third World country, or cleaning streets in your community, it is our turn to be part of the same community that helped us to get here today.”

After moving to four different high schools in four years, valedictorian Leigh Maltby expected her senior year to be a lonely one. From her past experience as the proverbial “new kid,” she was apprehensive to begin her first day at Central.

“I was very nervous and jittery,” she said. “I looked around and said, ‘Here I am the new kid again, and they all know each other.’”

What she never expected was that students at Central were welcoming, open-minded and accepting.

“This class listens to others, never makes others feel stupid, and has a unique quality to accept ideas, cultures and all individuals,” Maltby said. “I hope that we all keep those traits of acceptance and open-mindedness and show the world what this graduating class is all about.”

Becoming adults means that showing up late for work might result in losing a job, and skipping college classes will probably result in poor grades, explained social studies teacher Jonathan Lindh during the faculty speech.

“There will be no one giving tardy slips in the real world,” he said. “There are no requirements to do anything, but this journey you take will be your destiny. You will be challenged in your lives, and I encourage you to learn from those experiences.”

Free Picante Sauce

Hey check out this great $5 dinner website and register to win a free jar of Pace Picante sauce

Friday, June 5, 2009

Proverbs 23

Do not despise your mother when she is old.Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you. Do not forsake the teaching of your mother. It will be a wreath of grace to your head and a crown of joy upon hers.

Mother's Prayer

I pray you'll be my eyes
And watch her where she goes
And help her to be wise
Help me to let go

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe

I pray she finds your light
And holds it in her heart
As darkness falls each night
Remind her where you are

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Need to find a place
Guide her with your grace
Give her faith so she'll be safe

Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe

Thursday, June 4, 2009

2 Kenosha Schools to Merge

Two Kenosha Catholic schools to merge

Mt. Carmel-St. Therese to serve kindergarten through grade 6

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

KENOSHA - Officials from two Kenosha Catholic schools recently announced plans to consolidate St. Therese and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel elementary schools into one school this fall.

The new school, Mt. Carmel-St. Therese, will serve kindergarten through sixth grade and will address declining enrollment, escalating operating costs and rising tuition. Students from Mt. Carmel School will move to St. Therese School, 2020 91st St.

The action followed discussions between Fr. Michael Nowak, pastor of St. Therese Parish and Benedictine Fr. Donald Gibbs, pastor of Mt. Carmel Parish.

"Fr. Don and I pretty much looked at each other and wanted to find whatever way we could to salvage Catholic education," Fr. Nowak said. "Our numbers are down, we struggle with enrollments and the burden on the parishes is excessive. We tried to work together on this to see if we couldn't kill two birds with one stone on a monetary angle by preserving the schools and keeping Catholic education within our parishes."

The priests agreed the current economic climate precluded both schools running business as usual, and without the consolidation, one or both schools may have been forced to close their doors.

"Closing our schools is an option that is not acceptable," Fr. Gibbs said. "We do not desire to close. It is true that one school must close its doors but the parish is committed to this new joint venture and the traditions of both schools will be honored. This action of coming together is a prophetic and bold stance."

While there will be one principal and one classroom teacher per grade level, the cutbacks are intended to increase enrollment, while lowering tuition costs. The tuition for Mt. Carmel-St. Therese will be $1,995 per year, a decrease of approximately $400 for St. Therese students. Although tuition remains the same for Mt. Carmel students, scholarships will be offered to parishioners to offset costs.

According to Fr. Nowak, the teachers and principals were offered the chance to apply for the teaching positions.

"It's been hard on the principals and the teachers," he said "It's been up in the air for them and we are trying to do the best we can for them."

Eliott Kramsky from Neenah has been hired as principal, and according to Fr. Nowak, now that he's on board, his guidance will help with the transition.

With current enrollment at 57 for Mt. Carmel and 75 for St. Therese, closing the Mt. Carmel campus made more sense, as the majority of the students are closer to the St. Therese neighborhood.

The move to the smaller St. Therese location was a decision made without consent or approval of parishioners according to Teresa Belmonte and her sister Matilda Woodbury, lifetime members of Mt. Carmel, whose children and grandchildren attended the parish school.

"I am not as upset about the merger but about the way they chose to move to St. Therese," said Belmonte. "Our school is much better because we have bigger classrooms, lighting, gardens, a nice hall and bigger kitchen and nicer playground. No one was notified of this and nothing was done together."

Woodbury felt the merger was unnecessary and questioned the decision.

"No one tried to keep our school open. I am heartbroken over this and will miss the children's Masses; their Masses are beautiful and now all that is gone. I never missed one because the kids were learning so much about the love of God at these Masses - even the teachers cry at how sweet they are. I don't know what possessed people to do this. They just think about the money."

Despite the years of sacrifice by both parishes to offer Catholic education, the change from independent parish schools to consolidated schools has created mixed feelings, but the decision was not solely about money, said Fr. Gibbs, but it was about providing the best quality education for their students.

"Of course, not everyone is happy with the outcome and my decision, and Mt. Carmel people feel the sting," he said. "Having the 'best' facility was not the only consideration in selecting the site; growing the school, potential areas from which to draw students and the willingness of parents to cooperate were also considered."

Fr. Gibbs has received some backlash due to the decision to close Mt. Carmel, but for each negative and hurtful remark, he is comforted by the words of encouragement and support he has received.

"The negative and hurtful ones have been personal attacks. I feel very badly about that. I hope those who think badly of me will pray for me. Change can produce uncertainty and few of us like that feeling," he said. "There is grieving that needs to be done and this takes time and God's grace. Jesus used the image of a grain of wheat that must die in order to produce new life. We take his words seriously and trust in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. We believe our grief, our surrender, will produce life and generate hope for all concerned. To be alive and grow is to change; life is a series of changes."

He explained that with the help of the archdiocesan Office for Catholic Schools, a new school board has been formed.

"Parents and other interested parishioners are being invited to participate in the many board committees. These committees will be where most of the work will be done and recommendations made to the full board," Fr. Gibbs said.

Although the decision to consolidate the two schools may be new to Kenosha, it is a trend affecting Catholic schools across the nation. While the economic times are difficult, both priests trust the Holy Spirit will continue to lead and guide them to creative and appropriate ways to preserve Catholic education.

"We are not alone in our quest for a viable future for Catholic education. Will there be need for additional changes?" questioned Fr. Gibbs. "I have no crystal ball, but I believe there will be need for wider and stronger collaboration in the future. We of Mt. Carmel and St. Therese look forward to such open and honest dialogue and collaboration."

As for the Mt. Carmel School building, the preschool program, which is housed there, is expected to continue its growth. Additionally, the vacant classrooms offer an opportunity to expand the religious education program, including adult formation.

"I see no reason not to make this the location for religious formation," said Fr. Nowak. "I could see this for kindergarten through RCIA - everything."

Fr. Gibbs agreed, and added that Mt. Carmel is still in the ministry of faith development and on-going formation.

"Our school will be well used," he said. "This is a time of new beginnings. It is a time when we will bring together the best practices from both parish traditions. Catholic schools enjoy a well-earned reputation for exceptional quality. Along with our parents, we prepare students to live the Gospel in today's world. Excellence in both faith formation and academic learning is our goal."

St. Joseph to add 6th grade in fall

By Karen Mahoney

Special to your Catholic Herald

KENOSHA - After more than 50 years serving Catholic high school students and 21 years serving seventh and eighth graders, St. Joseph High and Interparish Junior High add a sixth grade next fall.

According to Robert Freund, principal of the school, adding sixth grade might be a precursor to an eventual K-12 collaborative Catholic education system in Kenosha County.

"We already have Mt. Carmel-St. Therese collaborating efforts, and we've been approached over the last number of years about the ability to add a sixth grade component to our interparish junior high."

Several months ago, St. Mark's Parish council approached Freund about moving its sixth grade students to St. Joseph School. The school board unanimously approved the addition with hopes for more collaboration in the future.

"We hope to begin articulation talk next year with St. Mark to create a K-12 Catholic educational system and environment," said Freund. "It wouldn't be all in the same building, but we would plan to align the curriculum."

Merging the curriculum for all grades makes sense, according to Freund who believes that creating grade specific educational benchmarks is the key to long-term success.

"Another nice aspect is that because the sixth through eighth grades are located in the same building as the high school, they will have access to more resources than they would in their smaller Catholic elementary schools," he said. "We have computer tech, science and resources labs, and full availability of full time physical education, art, band and things like that."

Also aware of the mounting difficulty for parishes to support their own schools, Freund is excited to bring as many resources together as possible to create the finest Catholic educational system possible.

"We want the kids to experience success," he said, "And hopefully, we can keep all that at the table with articulation talks and see what transpires - we wait and see."

Deaf study Bible in own language

Communicating in American Sign Language, Deacon David Sommers leads the Bible study class at St. Andrew Parish in Delavan during a recent gathering. The group of Deaf Catholics meets monthly to discuss the Bible. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)
Deaf Bible Study

Though off for the summer, the Bible study will resume the second Monday in October.

St. Andrew Parish, 714 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan

Classes meet from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the basement of the rectory.

Contact: Patty Kostechka

Deaf study Bible in own language

Scripture discussed in ASL at monthly gatherings in Delavan

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

DELAVAN - It was a Monday evening, and a small group of people gathered in the basement of the rectory at St. Andrew Church waiting for Bible study to begin, chatting about their weekend and exchanging comments about the last meeting.

But the tiny room was quiet despite all the chatter. Instead, the air was filled with hand gestures as members signed to one another in American Sign Language. Most of the people in the study group are deaf and they come once a month at 6:30 p.m. to interact and discuss the Bible in their own language.

About 15-20 deaf people usually attend the class in Delavan. Under the direction of Deacon David Sommers, the only deaf deacon in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, a recent class on the Book of Revelation addressed understanding complex text, translations, questions and answers.

"It's great being able to worship like hearing people," seminarian Chris Klusman, a member of the deaf Bible study, said through an interpreter. "When we come to the Bible study, we can talk to each other directly and not through an interpreter; I feel more personally involved in the discussion."

With nearby Delavan School for the Deaf, the number of deaf Catholics attending St. Andrew is a bit atypical for the archdiocese. While St. Andrew provides several interpreters to translate the Mass, using American Sign Language, for deaf Catholics, the amount of their involvement is limited in the ability to participate directly.

"I come here once a month to do the homily," said Deacon Sommers, a member of St. Matthias Parish. "But I have other parishes to travel to, so it isn't the same as being there each week to be there for the deaf members."

Because of the limited availability of deaf resources, the Bible study is paramount to bringing the Catholic faith and community to a group of people who are often excluded from traditional worship.

Deacon Sommers and his wife Susan, also deaf, began holding the Bible studies five years ago for a group open to discussing God's word in a way that was relevant to their lives.

"For me, the concepts of the deaf help me get a picture of what is being talked about," said Barbara Ryser. "When I attend someplace with the hearing, I watch the interpreter and listen as everything flies by me. I just don't get the picture of what is really going on."

For the parish deaf religious education coordinator, Patty Kostechka, who also serves as a deaf interpreter, the studies bridge the gap normally lost among the youth.

"I am a hearing person, but sometimes I notice that when we are teaching deaf children religion, that they don't have the background and knowledge because they didn't have the reinforcements of their faith as they grew up," she said. "They are not stupid, but they are not participating because when they have to do so through an interpreter, they are afraid to participate or don't realize that they have the freedom of expression to ask questions."

Members are quick to praise interpreters for the difficult jobs they do, but they also recognize their limitations. Because interpreters need to listen to the hearing person first and give translations, there is a lag time for the deaf individual and often by the time the deaf person is ready to respond, the speaker is already onto another topic. The situation can be frustrating and isolating for the deaf.

"The interpreters are never lousy, but sound waves travel much faster than hand movements," said Klusman. "There is a lot of lag time and the full concept doesn't always make sense so it takes time to get the whole idea and take ASL and phrase it into English."

Immersion into the hearing world poses other difficulties, even for those who are unafraid to participate in discussions.

While most individuals blessed with the gift of hearing are accustomed to others interrupting their conversations, the deaf are not and often feel as if their voice is not as important as the next person's.

"Even when I was attending seminary to become a deacon, it was difficult," admitted Deacon Sommers. "There were lots of people at the lectures; all of them were hearing except me. They would raise hands and cut in and here I was with an interpreter and the lag time, and it was very hard to participate. Even though my time is limited and once a month Bible studies are not enough, I try to find any way that I can to meet the needs of the deaf who are out there."

St. Andrew provides four interpreters who rotate every Sunday. These interpreters put in many hours before the Mass preparing so the deaf can get a comprehensive, accurate church experience. Despite those efforts, deaf Catholics find it difficult to feel a sense of community among the hearing members of the parish. The Bible study meets some of those needs.

"I think if they were just attending a Bible study with an interpreter, it would be good, but they would tend to daydream and maybe not pay attention," said Deacon Sommers, who prepares a Power Point presentation for each session. "But, with a deaf deacon, they pay attention."

For Roxanne North, the opportunity to attend the Bible study has given her a sense of family and a greater foundation in her faith and in the history of the church.

"It is so interesting," she said. "These classes have helped both my faith and my understanding of Scripture - something I had trouble with before."

All Catholics fluent in American Sign Language are welcome to attend the Bible study for the deaf at St. Andrew Parish.

Prayer Against Evil

Christ Our Lord
You suffered and were tempted.
You are powerful to come to the aid
of those who are assailed by the devil,
For you are the support of Christian people.
O Lord, protect with Your Right Hand
those who trust in Your Name.
Deliver them from the Evil One,
and grant them everlasting joy. Amen

St. Gregory of Khandzta (759-861)

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our defense against the wickedness
and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him,
we humbly pray.
And do thou,
O prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God
thrust into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world
for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009