Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Children by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No cold feet

Written by Karen Mahoney
Thursday, 24 September 2009 14:34
Karen Mahoney and son Erin (submitted photo)

It was the socks that did it.

The large puffy envelope from St. Lawrence Seminary High School arrived this past August containing a brown pair of socks bearing the initials SLS – a gift to my son from the rector, Capuchin Fr. Dennis Druggan, “… so you don’t get cold feet,” according to the accompanying letter.

Cold feet?

I pawed through the envelope looking for another pair. Certainly there must be something in that package for me because I surely had cold feet. I was supposed to be the brave one, the rock – and the comfort to my nervous son. Did anyone care that my knees were knocking, and I was feeling a bit light-headed while placing folded, solid colored polo shirts into my son’s footlocker?

I began to cry. Not just a few tears, but loud, blubbering, sobbing, gut wrenching wails. I tugged our 16-pound moppy Bichon Frise onto my lap, held him tight and cried into his fur for an hour. My youngest son, Erin, and my husband Blaise, his step-dad were attending a movie. It was a guys’ night out, and thankfully, I was home alone or they might have decided that Mom needed medical attention.

14-year-old off to boarding school

While many parents are still kissing their young teens goodnight and tucking them into bed beside a well-worn stuffed animal, Blaise and I opted to send 14-year-old Erin to St. Lawrence Seminary, a boarding school located in Mt. Calvary in Fond du Lac County.

At first, when Erin came to us and mentioned that he was interested in becoming a priest, and wanted to go to a different school for high school, we were stymied. While we have Catholic high schools near us, none of them seemed as if they would allow Erin the freedom to explore and discern God’s call upon his life unencumbered by outside influence.

After mentioning our situation to a friend, Sam, he suggested we look into St. Lawrence as an option. Both his sons graduated from the school and while neither discerned the priesthood as his vocation, he spoke so highly of the school, we decided to inquire.

Not long after our inquiry, a DVD and large colorful brochure arrived in our mailbox. The school seemed to be just what Erin might be looking for, but I figured that after Erin realized that he would have to live on the premises, he would not be interested.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. After watching the DVD and reading the material, he said, “When can we go there to check it out?”

Shortly after the informational packet arrived, we received a call from the school inviting us to a casual meeting with other interested families at the home of an SLS student in Kenosha.

First impressions positive

We went and were impressed by the students who spoke to us about the school. The young men were polite, made eye contact, held doors open for us and were eager to answer all of our questions.

The next step was the seventh grade “Day of Discovery” that included attending Mass, touring the campus, attending a play and meeting students and staff. Again, we were all impressed.

When Erin was an eighth grader, admissions coordinator Kenneth F. Maciejewski came to our home and brought Erin to SLS for a four-day weekend to shadow current students, take some pre-admittance tests, and learn what it was like to eat, sleep and live with other young men.

The parents arrived on Saturday to attend their own informational sessions, to discuss finances, their son’s test results and to meet with students, staff and their families. On the drive to the school, Blaise warned me, “Now don’t be surprised if Erin is very clingy and will be feeling homesick because this is the first time he’s been gone this long.” I agreed and knew that since we were closely knit that most likely Erin would want to spend all of his time with us and probably decide against going to the school.

Yeah, right.

After a two-second hug, Erin said, “This is a great place; do you mind if I go play ping-pong with my friend Phillip?” and took off sprinting for the recreation area.

We stood there with our mouths hanging open.

The next day, and not more than 1,000 feet out of the SLS driveway on our way home, Erin piped from the back seat, “When can I go back? I love it there.”

No matter what it took, we realized that if God was calling our son to a seminary high school, he would open the doors for him to attend, and we would do all we could from our end.

School promises to be affordable for all

Private schools are expensive and we are not affluent. However, the 150-year St. Lawrence reputation for fine Catholic education has left the school with many benefactors and funds to cover a substantial portion of the tuition costs. Additionally, parents are urged to apply for private school financial aid to further reduce costs. In the end, with some assistance from our parish, attending St. Lawrence was affordable. Their motto is, “No student has ever been turned away due to inability to pay,” and they mean it.

Well-meaning but painful remarks

While we adapted to the concept of Erin moving away, family members and others did not seem to understand. Aside from our very supportive parish family, comments from the outside world were as varied as the personalities that offered them.

“A boarding school? What did he do wrong?”

“Are you tired of being parents?”

“Don’t you want him around?”

“Aren’t there Catholic schools nearby?”

“We would miss our son; it is too bad you won’t miss yours.”

Ouch. Many of the remarks, while generally well meaning, were painful. Throughout the two-year discernment process, we continued to query Erin if he was serious about going. We didn’t want this to be our decision, but his.

Although he was excited to go, he was concerned for us, especially Blaise, who is recently disabled. We have come to rely on Erin for help around the house.

“Who will do the lawn if I am gone?” he wondered aloud. “It will cost too much. What if Pops needs me to lift something heavy and I am not here? Who will take out the garbage?”

Part of me wanted to say, “Yes, yes! You are needed here and you need to stay with us.” But I took a deep breath and assured him that we would be fine. A friend would take over the yard work and I could do the heavy lifting and take out the trash.

Mom’s worries continue

In the days that preceded the Aug. 22 registration day, my mind was rampant with thoughts. I wondered if he would miss us, would feel abandoned or get homesick. Would he make friends? Who would he talk to during tough times? Who would help him with his homework? Will he still want to become a priest? Will we still be needed?

Neither Blaise nor I slept the night before – we missed him already, worried that the new clothes we bought for him wouldn’t fit, as he seemed to be growing in front of our eyes. No longer is he the smallest child in the family; he has surpassed both his older brothers. We wondered if Erin would miss our nightly routines of home movies, hugs, popcorn and games. Did we cram in enough activities during the summer to make up for his absence during the year? Time really played tricks on us – wasn’t it just June the other day?

Registration day went fast, after signing all of the forms, and meeting with the school nurse and staff members, we moved him into Cubicle 17, his home for part of his first year. Our meeting with Fr. Druggan offered a lighthearted view of homesickness from a rector who has watched hundreds of boys transform during his tenure at the school.

“In 150 years of this school, no one has ever died of homesickness,” he said, and Erin laughed. “The best thing you can do when you see another freshman feeling sad is to stay away from him and go find one who seems happy. If you don’t, then there will be a whole bunch of sad, homesick kids clustered together and that is not good for anyone.”

Saying a difficult good-bye

At 3:30, we said our goodbyes to Erin, who suddenly seemed very small and very young. I studied this boy who I used to pry off statues of the Blessed Mother when he was 2, the same one who used to run up onto the altar during Mass and suddenly I realized that he never belonged to me. He belonged to Christ and I was returning him to be molded into the man God wants him to be. After what seemed hours, we finally turned our backs and got into the car. Slowly descending the steep driveway of the St. Lawrence Hilltop, the tears began to flow.

“Are you sure we did the right thing?” I questioned Blaise.

“I hope so,” he said, brushing at the corners of his eyes. “I pray so.”

The next day was strangely quiet. I looked around the house, which suddenly seemed much larger.

“Well, what do we do now?” I questioned Blaise.

Transition went well

Weeks later, we have made the transition. At first it was difficult finding times to call Erin when he wasn’t involved with classes, cross country, study hall or astronomy club, but after a few miscues, we entered into a routine of every-other-day phone calls.

“It is hard here, but I like it,” Erin announced. “The kids are great, the teachers are pretty good, but I do miss you.”

“Whew!” he misses us, I smiled to myself. “Thank God.”

The first Sunday Blaise and I drove to St. Lawrence for Mass and to take Erin out for the day. My eyes welled with tears during Mass as I realized what my friend Sam meant when he said I would be proud to hear my son sing with the other boys and that sending him to boarding school would make sense to me then.

Already he seemed more self-confident and independent. And grateful. Not that he wasn’t grateful before, but he seemed to appreciate more of the things we had done and were doing for him, almost as if he were peering at us through a different set of eyes.

Yes, his course load of biology, Latin, religion, English, geometry, liturgy, guidance, keyboarding, chorus, history and physical education is a hefty one, but he seems to be adapting well. More importantly, he is learning what it means to be a Catholic young man, and that is the greatest lesson of all.

“No, Fr. Dennis – I guess I don’t need the socks.”

Fr. Hying gives seminary voice on Relevant

ST. FRANCIS — Something magical happens when people tell stories about their experiences with God. By sharing these stories, people enter the places between heaven and earth where it is possible to glimpse the eternal that Fr. Donald Hying hopes to capture for his new radio audience.

“New Heart, New Spirit” debuted Aug. 1, and Fr. Hying, rector of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, is excited to bring his love for Christ, of the priesthood, seminary and other lively topics each month for the half- hour radio program on Milwaukee’s Relevant Radio.
Fr. Donald Hying, rector of Saint Francis Seminary, St. Francis, is host of a 30-minute monthly radio program on Relevant Radio, 100.1 FM. Through the program, “New Heart, New Spirit,” Fr. Hying hopes to spread the word about the seminary and the priesthood. (Submitted photo courtesy Emerald Isle)

“Through this program I really want to get out the word on Saint Francis Seminary and the priesthood,” he said. “I’d like to introduce a variety of personalities in the archdiocese and get them to talk about different aspects about the priesthood, the seminary and the like.”

Fr. Hying hosted a live radio program in Spanish when he served at the archdiocese’s sister parish in the Dominican Republic, but he wasn’t sure if a similar program would work in Milwaukee.

“I was going to look into doing something like this because I thought it would be a great medium to promote vocations and Catholic lifestyle in general, and Relevant Radio beat me to the punch,” he said, adding, “It was all God’s doing and we are excited about it.”

When Relevant Radio offered a 30-minute timeslot for $175, Fr. Hying accepted the opportunity. The seminary is financing the program, but hopes to find sponsors for it. In exchange for their financial support, benefactors would be offered commercial time during the program.

“If we can get enough support, we might be able to offer the program more often, even weekly,” Fr. Hying said. “For the amount of money it costs to produce this program, the benefits and results are well worth the cost.”

So far, “New Heart, New Spirit,” which began with Fr. Hying’s story of his call to the priesthood and to the seminary, has been popular with listeners, according to the priest. The September program featured an interview with Peggy Hughes, co-chair of the seminary’s fall dinner and director of liturgy at Lumen Christi Parish, Mequon.

“I just completed an interview with Leonardo DeFelippis, who recently brought his one man show ‘Vianney’ to area churches, and that will be our October program,” said Fr. Hying, adding, “This fit in quite nicely as we are celebrating the Year for Priests.”

According to Relevant Radio general manager Lillie Roohana, “New Heart, New Spirit” is for all Catholics, but especially is targeted toward the male listener who might be interested in becoming a priest.

“Our audience ranges in age from 25-64,” she said. “But over half are between the ages of 35-54 and we have a split of 60 percent female and roughly 40 percent male listeners.”
To listen:
“New Heart, New Spirit”
airs at 11 a.m. the first Saturday of every month on
100.1 FM. Show topics and guest ideas are welcome.
Comments or suggestions: newheartnewspirit@sfs.edu This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A long-time friend of Fr. Hying, Roohana recalled meeting with him a year ago at the seminary to discuss the radio program.

“Nothing happened for a while, and then we received a phone call from Emerald Isle who the seminary works with for its public relations to find out what it would take to get the program started, and the rest is history,” she said. “I have known Fr. Don for over 10 years and I (was) blessed to have him as my pastor at Our Lady of Good Hope. The show has been a great success with our listeners through the comments thus far.”

Future programs will include interviews with seminarians and the parents of the seminarians, as well as discussions about the future of Saint Francis Seminary.

“I am also interested in talking with our benefactors and finding out why they are so passionate in supporting us. There are so many topics to explore, such as the many people involved in the archdiocese, different opinions and slants on the seminary and the priesthood,” he said. “For a long time people thought the seminary was closed, and through this radio show, we can demonstrate that not only are we open, but we are thriving here and welcoming to new seminarians.”

Other than hoping to offer the program more often, the only drawback for Fr. Hying is that the program is not live.

“If it were live, I would not get as nervous,” he joked.

“It’s a lot of fun to do and I enjoy doing the show,” he said, adding, “Matt Beardsley is the producer at Relevant Radio and he makes the whole job easy for me.”

St. Pat’s ‘Irish person of year’ is German, Polish

While she might look puzzled if asked whether she would care for a helping of boxty, a slice of black and white pudding or a pint, Sharon Sweeti Ingles is the Irish person of the year, at least according to St. Patrick Parish in Racine.

With not even a wee bit of Irish in her blood, Ingles, of German, Bohemian and Polish descent is as devoted to her parish as the Irish are to their motherland.

Last March, the parish honored Ingles as the Irish person of the year for her devotion to the parish. The annual award is presented to someone in the parish who has contributed time and talent to the church to make the community a better place to live.
POF-ingles1BAt the young age of 11, Ingles realized the importance of faith and convinced her parents to join a church. For weeks, she accompanied a friend to Mass and when it was time for her to receive her first Communion, she asked her parents to bring the whole family.

“My dad decided to join St. Patrick,” she said. “And I have been there ever since.”

Now 60, Ingles, who is retired but manages several of her real estate properties, devotes much of her time to the parish. She is the vice chair of the parish council and co-chair of the DAWN committee, which assists with funerals at the church. She is a member of the social life committee, volunteers as a greeter, and helps count the money after the Sunday collections.

According to Amalia Pardo, parish secretary, Ingles is always ready and willing to give of herself.

“She is very involved here with the parish council and a lot of other activities,” she said. “She is a very good person and really deserved this award.”

Ironically, for the past 20 years, she has also coordinated the decorations for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration; and chaired the committee that put together the party for six years. But, this year, the party was a tribute to her.

The award was a surprise for Ingles, who volunteers because she feels called by God to do so, and not for any public acknowledgment. A bit self-effacing, Ingles would prefer to speak of the accomplishments of others, rather than herself.
People of Faith

: Sharon Sweeti Ingles
Age: 60
Parish: St. Patrick, Racine
Occupation: Retired, but
manages real estate properties
Book recently read: “Roseflower Creek,” by J.L. Miles
Favorite movie: “The Ten Commandments”
Favorite quotation: “You learn what you live and you give what you got,” Dr. Phil McGraw
(Catholic Herald photo by Amy E. Rewolinski)

“I just have been so blessed and just feel that I have a responsibility to others to give back what I have received,” she said. “I also feel better about doing things for other people rather than having things done for myself.”

In addition to her devotion to her parish family, Ingles spent 26 years as a member of the Junior League and became a sustaining member in 2007. She volunteers with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and is active in Vittoria Colonna, Roma Lodge’s women’s auxiliary, an organization dedicated to maintaining Italian traditions. She also is a member of the Kiwanis Club of West Racine.

“I grew up in Racine and I love it,” she said. “I have not even thought of moving anywhere else.”

With years of Racine family history, the city is almost part of her ancestry. On her mother’s side were some of the first settlers to the Racine area.

She has a several-decades-old certificate that was passed down to her from her great-grandfather that recognizes the family having lived in Racine for more than 100 years.

The St. Patrick community is a unique family, according to Ingles who is often surprised by the amount of outreach it accomplishes in the community with so few funds.

Much of their outreach serves the Hispanic population that has become a large part of the parish community.

“They started a Thursday night meal program 25 years ago that is still going strong,” Ingles bragged. “They are always willing and find ways to help others either through the St. Patrick’s Day party or offering the gym for those who need space to gather.”

The parish outreach seems to mirror Ingles’ own philosophy and desire to put the needs of others first. It is through giving to others and volunteering where she can, Ingles feels that God strengthens her.

“My faith is built on the premise that we are here to serve the Lord and we serve the Lord by serving others in need,” she said. “This is a great parish – they are my family and I love them all.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

New baby Mourning Doves

These precious babies live in our Blue Spruce and are the sweetest little things

Gorgeous Jack in the Pulpit fall show

Stumbled across these beauties in our wetlands the other day. Aren't they beautiful?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mission to Honduras

Seven men and women from St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in New Munster and St. John the Evangelist Parish in Twin Lakes returned August 8 from a week in an exotic locale. But instead of lounging in the sun and sipping cocktails, they painted six homes at Farm of the Child Orphanage in Trujillo, Honduras.

The country of Honduras is the poorest and least developed nation in Central America. Poverty and hunger prevail leading to disease, violence, crime, alcohol and drug abuse. Because of this, many families are broken and the children left orphaned and abandoned.

Most of the children arriving at Farm of the Child suffer malnutrition and other health problems, limited education and a lack of love and affection. Through the generous hearts of staff and volunteers, children thrive in a loving home-like environment.

The team, led by Robert and Susan Riley included Fr. Michael Erwin, pastor of both parishes, who, in addition to physically working with the team, celebrated three Masses in the chapel at the orphanage. The experience was humbling to the 42-year-old priest, after witnessing the faith of the volunteers, staff and children.

“I think my greatest impression of this orphanage was the support for these children who would otherwise be lost to society and dead at an early age due to difficult situations,” he said. “They bring love, education and lead them out to the other end as leaders back into the community and are changing children’s lives.”

While he heard many stories from the Rileys after three previous trips to the orphanage, experiencing it in person, gave him a greater appreciation for the missionaries and those who run the orphanage.

“This is a little town and they take these high risk children and transform them into very good members of society,” Erwin said. “Being able to be a part of this is a way we live out our faith. There are so many young people in their mid 20’s who work there and volunteer there and help run this place and do it filled with grace. They take their faith very seriously and multiple times per day offer their hearts in prayer. God can work through them to accomplish the significant goals set before themselves.”

In addition to the physical work included in painting the interiors of the six homes, the team brought along 16 suitcases filled with school supplies, flip flops, scissors and nearly anything else they could cram into a suitcase. Donations poured into the two parishes, for their ‘Pack a Suitcase’ drive.

“We had a tremendous outpouring of help,” said Riley, member of St. Alphonsus Parish. “I couldn’t believe we had so much support from little St. Al’s and St. John’s –people really cared and stepped up to help these little children.”

Originally, the team numbered 14, but due to the recent coup in the country of Honduras, part of the team opted to postpone their mission until the political situation stabilizes.

“It was scary at first,” admitted Erwin, “And even I was debating whether to go or not. Some discerned it was too risky and situations in their lives didn’t lend themselves to go—but they will be part of a group that goes next year.”

Despite the political upheaval, Erwin discovered a peace loving culture, who are proud of their nation and are interested in empowering the citizens of Central America. While they were nervous, they prayed and continue to pray for the country’s stability as it deals with a challenge of presidents. He was pleased that a peaceful state has been maintained and credits the Honduran people and leaders who are able to manage the situation.

“It was a marvelous thing and fun to be a missionary,” he said. “We were able to take our faith on the road and the risks that went with it. We were able to get to know new folks and let them know us. Anytime we can do that, it is a good thing, whether it is meeting new people at church or taking a risk by going to a different area of the world. The difficulty might be in the language but we stretch ourselves anytime we take risks like that.”

Making a difference by providing hands on religion is one way Riley chooses to live his faith. Most families live in tiny homes, with dirt floors, and make an income of approximately $300 per year. Despite their incredible poverty, the residents are welcoming, friendly and willing to share what little they have with the Americans who come to help.

“My wife and are I are 68 years old and I guess we are nuts to keep going,” he said. “But the Holy Spirit calls us to remain involved and we will keep going until he tells us to stop.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finbar's Heavenly Father

Book features priest and his dog

FONTANA — The priest, dressed in his green chasuble, celebrates Mass. He proclaims the Gospel, delivers a homily, prays for the sick, and consecrates the bread and wine. He could be at any Roman Catholic Church in the diocese, except for the dog in the sacristy.

Children’s book author Trudy Schubert and Fr. Jim McKitrick sit with Finbar, the priest’s Irish terrier, at St. Benedict Church, Fontana. The priest and his dog are the subjects of Schubert’s book, “Finbar’s Heavenly Father.” (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)
A red, Irish terrier sprawls out for a nap and gazes at his master, Fr. Jim McKitrick, as the priest incorporates the Gospel reading into life lessons for the upcoming week.

Is this God’s house or a doghouse? St. Benedict Catholic Church in Fontana is both. Fr. McKitrick brings his pooch everywhere, and that includes Sunday Mass. According to the retired priest of the Rockford, Ill. Diocese, 8-year-old Finbar the dog makes people feel at home and gives parishioners a sense of calm and peace.

“He is very well received by the people at church, because he goes to Mass every week,” said Fr. McKitrick. “After Mass, one of the ushers brings him out to greet the people. He is very much a fixture here at St. Benedict.”

While popular with the parishioners, Finbar is quickly gaining star status as the focus of “Finbar’s Heavenly Father,” a children’s book written by Town of Walworth author, Trudy Schubert. The book focuses on the relationship between Finbar and Fr. McKitrick.

According to Schubert, she and Fr. McKitrick met while swimming at the Abbey Resort in Fontana and soon became friends.

“He invited me to his golden jubilee and I saw that he brought Finbar to the celebration,” said Schubert. “He is such a cute dog and he was so well behaved. One day, I just told him that I wanted to write a book about his dog and he gave me his permission.”

Though the book is written for children, the story can apply to all ages as comparisons are drawn between Finbar’s relationship with his owner and Fr. McKitrick’s relationship with God.

In a fusion of humor and sensitivity, Schubert touches hearts throughout the book by comparing God’s relationship with humans to his with Fr. McKitrick. In a scene where Finbar breaks a vase, she demonstrates compassion for his mistake by bringing to mind the sacrament of reconciliation.

“I just wanted children to understand that the dog’s love for his master is like the priest’s love for his Master and how it compares to his feelings for Fr. Jim,” she said. “Fr. Jim forgives when the dog does something naughty. He has unconditional love like God has for us and with that there is a nice lesson that there is a heaven and there is a God and we will be together always.”

At the bottom of many of the pages are Bible verses to coincide with the scene that Schubert chose herself.
Where to purchase:
“Finbar’s Heavenly Father”
is available in the office of
St. Benedict Church for $10.
137 Dewey Ave.
Fontana, WI 53125-1239
(262) 275-2480
or from Trudy Schubert
(262) 275-2185

“I wanted to find a way to share the life lesson in the story and this was a good way to do it,” she said. “God was helping me and he gave me the idea; I enjoyed writing it very much.”

“Finbar’s Heavenly Father” is Schubert’s second children’s book. Her first, “Sweet Tweets,” is a story of hens who become jealous of the popularity of the Easter Bunny. Proceeds from that book went to Lakeland School for students with special needs.

Schubert will donate proceeds for “Finbar’s Heavenly Father” to Lakeland Animal Shelter at the request of Fr. McKitrick. She has already raised more than $2,000 to help the animals.

“Fr. Jim liked the idea of donating to the shelter because of Finbar, and he said it’s hard to go in that place and not bring a pet home,” she explained, adding, “It is an honor to do this for them.”

Although Finbar seems to be adapting to his recent celebrity status, Fr. McKitrick’s presence doesn’t seem to net the same results.

“Whenever we go out, he is quite high profile – at least with the Catholics. But that’s OK; it’s for a good cause,” he admitted. “For me, I just keep a low profile.”

St. Stephen Parish Prepares to move to Oak Creek

OAK CREEK — Members of St.Stephen Parish in Milwaukee started talking about building a new church in 2001.

This fall, those words will become mortar and stone as construction is completed on their new worship home at 13th Street and Oakwood Road in Oak Creek.
Construction continues on the interior of the new St. Stephen Church located on 13th Street and Oakwood Road in Oak Creek. The nearly 27,000 square foot building should be completed this November. (Catholic Herald photo by James Pearson)
Designed to reflect the church’s rich German history while incorporating modern elements, the nearly 27,000 square foot building will be dedicated by Bishop Richard J. Sklba at the 11 a.m. Mass on Nov. 22. The church, set on a 15-acre parcel, will boast a larger worship space, fellowship hall and kitchen, office space, room for its thriving Family Life Center, offer first floor restrooms and will be handicap accessible.

“The entire process has gone slower than anticipated,” said Alice Pyzik, chairperson of the building committee. “The project was on hold for a few years because we were not able to sell the property and we needed that money to begin building. Finally, in 2006, we decided that rather than just waiting for things to happen, we would go back to the archdiocese and look for a smaller redesign. With a new budget, we knew we could begin and have faith that the property would sell – and it did.”

After its decommissioning service Nov. 29, the current property at 5880 S. Howell Ave., will become the site of two hotels. According to Pyzik, the hotels seem appropriate for the property located near the end of the runway of Mitchell International Airport.

“The company who bought the property are very good stewards and the hotels will look nice here,” she said, adding, “Besides, Milwaukee needs more space for people attending conventions and the hotels will provide much needed jobs.”

Church founded by German immigrants

The church dates to 1847 and was founded by German immigrants from the Cathedral of St. Stephen in Cologne, Germany. Fires caused minimal damage in 1884 and 1906, but a third fire in 1927 leveled it. In April 2008, lightning struck and damaged the steeple and bell tower.

As the communities around the church have developed, and other parishes shuttered, membership at St. Stephen has grown to more than 900 families. According to Pyzik, three options emerged from strategic planning the parish did a dozen years ago: merge with another parish, close or relocate.

“The archdiocese wanted another presence in Oak Creek due to the growth in the community,” she said. “And we did a demographic study at that point and found that two thirds of our parish were from Oak Creek.”
St. Stephen Parish
Dedication Mass

Sunday, Nov. 22, 11 a.m
Bishop Richard J. Sklba officiating
1441 W. Oakwood Road
Oak Creek, WI 53154
For more information on the
Family Life Center
Contact Debby Pizur
(414) 483-2685

Moving the parish to its first residential home will be welcoming for the many parishioners and visitors unable to attend Mass or other events due to a lack of handicap accessibility. Pyzik anticipates resurgence in attendance among many wheelchair-bound members, including her mother who has not attended since suffering a stroke.

“Once in a while we had a mom with a child in a wheelchair and the ushers would always help to carry her up the stairs,” she said. “But for most, including my mom, they had to find parishes that were accessible for them. It is very sad for the people – not only are they going through trying times, but they are cut off from the group that they were socializing with. Whenever we had dinners or other events, it was very heartbreaking to know that those who couldn’t climb the stairs could not attend.”

Church will eventually seat 1,000

The new church will seat 600 initially and eventually will have the capability to seat 1,000. A reservation chapel will have chairs for 40 people and will be used for daily Mass and Tuesday evening Mother of Perpetual Help devotions.

The majority of the $8.3 million in building expenses was covered by the sale of church property. Additionally, funds from a capital campaign were enough to pay most of the debt.

While it took several years to get the project underway, once construction commenced in January, it went quite quickly, with only a few major challenges, such as working around two wetlands on the property and putting in two detention ponds rather than the one initially expected.

“This was not outrageously fast, but manageable,” said Joe Yanisak, superintendant for CG Schmidt, General Contractors for the church. “We are very pleased with the way everything is turning out and for the most part, the feedback has been very favorable.”
Fr. Richard A. Liska, pastor of St. Stephen Parish. (Catholic Herald photo by James Pearson)

Building will have modern, but Gothic appearance

To incorporate history into the new structure several elements from the current building will be included in the new, giving it a modern, but Gothic appearance. According to Pyzik, the Groth Design Group, architects for the project worked diligently to retain historical presence in the new building.

Most of the stained glass in the current St. Stephen is simply painted glass, but the single large stained glass window of St. Stephen often goes unnoticed by visitors to the parish as it is placed over the doors in the church vestibule.

“Most people didn’t even know it was there,” said Pyzik. “People would focus on the priest or the parking lot and didn’t see it. Now, in our new parish, it will be placed underneath a pedestal where we have the cornerstone from the first building located. Now more people will be able to see it.”

Incorporating the 23-foot hand-carved reredos or back altar into the reservation chapel is the single largest challenge, according to Yanisak.

“That piece is a priceless, very unique, large piece of work and we will have to dismantle it and load it onto a truck,” he said. “We will have to make some slight modifications and reassemble it into the new building.”

Other accoutrements such as parts of the Communion rail, statuary, tabernacle, and podium will be moved and installed in the new church.

“We are also taking the Stations of the Cross from the existing facility and installing them in the new church with a few slight modifications,” said Yanisak.

Time capsule from original structure found

One of the more interesting discoveries occurred after opening the original cornerstone and time capsule from the original structure, no easy feat for construction workers, admitted Pyzik, who added that the job was a hot and difficult one for the men who removed the stone.

“We found a scroll wrapped in a rosary in there that we couldn’t get open because of water damage from the original fire that leveled the building,” she said. “But we found coins from the year the church was built and several local German newspapers. We put everything back in
the original box and then inside a new box that will be on display. You can even view the fire line on the original box.”

The second cornerstone and the one from the current building will be contained in a time capsule containing photos, a history book, cookbook, parish roster, coins minted this year, and a few other items.

“We have room to put a number of things in there,” she said. “So we are still trying to come up with a few things, such as information about our dedication day and photos.”

Although the original St. Stephen had a school, that now houses the Family Life Center, the new facility will allow for expansion and, according to director, Debby Pizur, the organization will be able to serve additional people each month.

Family Life Center mission remains

The Family Life Center mission remains part of outreach to Southeastern Milwaukee County. FLC collaborates with charitable organizations in the area and has formed partnerships with Cudahy, St. Francis, Franklin and Oak Creek public libraries.

“Once in the new location we will hold our two annual community parties, The Great Pumpkin Party and the Easter Bunny Bash,” she said. “We will continue our children’s clothing bank and food pantry, but the days and time might change after the move.”

While it plans to continue its mission, Pizur is hopeful that a new area of ministry will grow with the new location and greater space allotment.

“I do know that being in a handicap accessible building will open up new opportunities for us to have activities for senior citizens or people with disabilities,” she said. “But we do know that not all our friends, volunteers and customers will be involved with us once we move, but we are looking forward to making new friends. I welcome anyone to contact me at the FLC if they are interested in partnering with us.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gorgeous sunset

A good lesson

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they were eating breakfast, The young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside.
'That laundry is not very clean,' she said.
'She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.'
Her husband looked on, but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, The young woman would make the same comments.
About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:
'Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.'
The husband said, 'I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.'
And so it is with life.
What we see when watching others depends on the window through which we look.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bath time!

Our little feathered friends really enjoyed splashing around in their pool today!

Let's please pray for the Homeboys!

This article below breaks my heart. I wrote a story about Fr. Boyle a few months ago after he spoke about his program to a Racine audience. He has such a good heart for our youth and works long hours to get kids out of the gangs and into the workforce.

Let's all offer a prayer for our Lord's intervention for Homeboy Industries

GANGS-BOYLE Sep-9-2009 (830 words) With photo. xxxn
Priest says LA will suffer if his anti-gang jobs program shuts down
By R.W. Dellinger
Catholic News Service
LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Both the city and the county of Los Angeles will suffer if a nationally acclaimed gang-intervention program has to shut down, even temporarily, said the Jesuit priest who founded the program more than two decades ago.
Homeboy Industries, whose motto is "Nothing stops a bullet like a job," dodged its own bullet of meeting the next payroll when the City Council voted Aug. 14 to negotiate a $340,000 contract with the organization, paying for it with money from a U.S. Justice Department gang-reduction grant.
"Homeboy is really a consequential place," Jesuit Father Greg Boyle, who started Jobs for a Future in 1988 that morphed into Homeboy Industries, told The Tidings, Los Angeles archdiocesan newspaper. "There are 12,000 folks who walk through our doors here during the year -- 8,000 gang members.
"There's no place like it on the planet, and we've been around for 22 years," he added. "Since 1992 we've been offering wraparound services, and it's made a difference. Gang-related homicides have decreased steadily since then, and we're one of the essential reasons for that. A lot of other places do parts of what we do in terms of comprehensive services, but we do it in a way that's kind of writ large."
He described the Homeboy headquarters as "a symbol as much as it is a place where you can locate concrete help. So it would be of great consequence if we had to padlock those front doors even for a time."
The 55-year-old priest said Homeboy Industries serves as a steam-release valve on LA's gang pressure cooker, by being a place where active gang members along with others getting out of prison who want to redirect their lives have a place to hang.
He said young men and women from more than 700 different local gangs have used the services at Homeboy, which include case management, mental health counseling, job training and placement, legal services, 12-step meetings, education classes and tattoo removal.
So what exactly is the current state of Homeboy Industries?
"We're just living from payroll to payroll," said Father Boyle. "It's a terrible way to live. Mainly it's the recession. We built a new place and moved about two years ago, and now we run a program that's commensurate with this bigger place. But to do that, you know, tripled our payroll to about $300,000 every two weeks or $9.5 million every year."
Then he ticked off the different programs that generate $3 million annually: Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Cafe, Homeboy Silk Screen, Homeboy Maintenance, Homeboy Merchandise and, the latest enterprise, Homeboy Solar Panel Installers. But all are training programs and not profit-making businesses, he said, and every month some 350 trainees need to be paid.
About 40 percent of Homeboy's funding comes from foundations. "But that has sort of evaporated," he said. "Everybody says 'not this year' and a lot are even saying 'not next year.' So that's a tough one."
Most of the rest is raised from individual donors and targeted fundraising, which have also fallen off significantly. Occasionally, a grant from the government will augment some program or project. But what Homeboy Industries really needs, he said, is for somebody to endow the organization with steady cash flow.
Father Boyle is not a fan of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's new Gang Reduction and Youth Development program, which started last spring and focuses on a dozen gang-reduction zones. A key element of the program is street intervention, where workers rush out to gang shooting scenes to do rumor control and try to stop retaliatory acts of violence.
"It's buying into a gang-intervention model which I think is probably not good," he said. "I think it keeps gangs alive. It provides them with oxygen. It says, 'Gangs will always be with us, so we might as well get them to get along together.'"
Such an attitude has the "huge unintended consequence" of saying "your gang is a stakeholder like anybody else in the community -- the church, the boys' and girls' clubs," he added. "Now, what's wrong with this picture? Gangs are not stakeholders. And anybody who says that doesn't speak for my community."
Father Boyle, who has celebrated 167 funeral Masses for gang members during 25 years as a Jesuit priest, said he believes hard-core street intervention romanticizes gangs.
"People always raise the question, 'My God, you're against violence interruption!'" he said. "I take the longer view. I think the community could have been empowered to say to gang members: 'We love you. We will refuse to demonize you, and there's not a single good thing in your gang.'
"At Homeboy we do not work with gangs; we work with gang members," he added. "And so you come here, we'll help you start your life. We have no interest in saying, 'Can we get these two gangs to get along?' I'm sort of the lone voice on this. But I'm not going to say something that I think is unsophisticated."
09/09/2009 11:17 AM ET
Copyright (c) 2009 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Milwaukee's Polish Catholics inspire budding author

Milwaukee’s Polish Catholics inspire budding author

(Submitted photo courtesy of John Smallshaw)
He grew up in the Milwaukee area surrounded by them, but it would take a date decades later to open John Smallshaw’s eyes to the glimpse of heaven that most locals take for granted.

Smallshaw, now of Libertyville, Ill., was surprised when his father suggested he take Anna, his girlfriend and a Polish immigrant, to Mass at St. Stanislaus Parish on the South Side during a visit to Milwaukee when he brought her to meet his parents.

“He thought she might like to see the beautiful mosaic of Our Lady of Czestochowa and find it interesting,” said Smallshaw. “She really loved the inside of the church and was surprised that although the parish could seat 1,000 people, there were just a few in the pews.”

Smallshaw’s eyes were opened as he gazed upon the mosaic, the ornate altar and beautifully carved wood.  And although he had lived in Europe for a time and visited cathedrals there, he was ill prepared for the overwhelming beauty in his own backyard.

“How did it get there?” he questioned himself, “And who had built it, what was it doing in this neighborhood that had seen better days? I had studied Milwaukee history in school, but didn’t remember a thing about this church being mentioned in class. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.”

A vice president in sales for Engis Corporation in Wheeling, Ill., Smallshaw has written several articles for beer magazines as a hobby. Anna urged him to put his literary skills to better use, and she suggested he research all the Polish churches in the area and write a book.

Although the two are no longer together, Anna helped Smallshaw compile information, translate documents from Polish to English and learn to appreciate the lives of the scores of Polish immigrants who poured into America and into Milwaukee.
People of Faith

Name: John Smallshaw
Age: 53
Occupation: Vice president in sales for
Engis Corporation, Wheeling, Ill.
Parish: St. Edna, Arlington Heights, Ill.
Favorite movie: “The Lives of Others,” a
2006 German drama, “Das Leben Der
Book recently read: “The Last Adventurer,” by Rolf Steiner
Favorite quotation: “Time isn’t money,
time is life.” – Jay Conrad Levinson
More info on Smallshaw’s book:

Setting up separate communities based on language and culture, Polish immigrants assimilated slowly into American culture because, unlike others who immigrated around the same time, they expected to one day return to their homeland.

“It was part of their culture when people came, they felt it was absolutely necessary to build a church in their neighborhood with Masses in Polish,” explained Smallshaw. “They wanted to retain their Polish language and culture and a big thing is building a parochial school in Polish to continue the faith.”

In Milwaukee alone, 17 Polish Catholic churches stand in testimony of a dedicated culture that valued faith above individuals’ own comforts. The commitment to building houses of faith astounded Smallshaw, who discovered that many parishes required the equivalent of a year’s salary to build the massive structures.

His book, “Polish Churches of Milwaukee,” chronicles the history of those Polish parishes; he hopes that once published it will generate interest in preserving this history.

“Working on this book really reconnected me to my Milwaukee roots,” he said, adding, “It has given me insight to the tremendous faith that the immigrants had when they came to America. They couldn’t speak English, but had this incredible commitment to provide faith-based education and wanted to have a place to worship in their own language.”

When building these churches, many immigrants put second mortgages on their homes to fund church buildings, such as St. Josaphat Basilica, which nearly collapsed financially.

“When this church was in trouble, the people were literally in danger of losing their homes,” he said. “These immigrants worked in tanneries, foundries and machine shops and earned less than $500 per year. Yet they donated their pennies, nickels and dimes to build houses of worship.”

Struck with their devotion, Smallshaw learned the Poles were barely recognized by the public. Few knew how difficult it was for them to get representation in an archdiocese dominated by Germans. Because the German Catholics looked down on the Polish Catholics, it was a struggle to finally get a Polish auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese.

“The churches were separated along ethnic lines and often there were two Catholic churches within two blocks of each other because the Polish wanted their own church in their own language,” he said. “They were told that if they did not take confession in their native language it would have no meaning, so they wanted to be sure that the sacrament was valid.”

While he has no Polish ancestry, Smallshaw found great respect for the immigrants and found his own faith growing through his extensive research.

“I went through a divorce years ago and found myself becoming disconnected to my faith,” said Smallshaw, who attends St. Edna Catholic Church in Arlington Heights, Ill. “But by the grace of God, this project helped me to connect with my life and get it back in order. It has been a big epiphany to me that came from just seeing a mosaic on the side of a church.”

While “The Polish Churches of Milwaukee” remains unpublished, Smallshaw is hopeful to find a publisher soon. He has found interest, especially from the Milwaukee County Historical Society, who has placed his book on file.

“That is life,” he said. “You have to take risks, but I hope that someone somewhere will hear about it and take an interest.”

No Newmans at St. Mary this fall

No Newmans at St. Mary this fall

MENOMONEE FALLS — When the doors opened for classes this fall at St. Mary School, it marked the first time in 61 years that there was not a Newman in attendance.

When 13-year-old Jacob Newman graduated from the school in spring, it was about more than the culmination of his elementary school education. It was, perhaps, the end of an era.

Jacob Newman, son of Randy and Danielle Newman, the most recent Newman family graduate from St. Mary School, holds the portrait of St. Mary and baby Jesus that was presented to the family in June. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)
The son of Randy and Danielle, Jacob marks the end of three generations of Newmans to attend the school over the past 80 years, with 61 of those years in continuous attendance.

St. Mary Parish and School honored the family on June 21 with recognition at Mass. For Randy, the recognition was bittersweet, as he would have liked the legacy to continue.

“I wish it wasn’t the end. I would like this to continue because it is a neat little streak,” he said, joking, “but I am not having another kid to keep it going. We held out as long as we could and had three boys who all went there.”

Jacob’s legacy began with his grandfather, Michael Newman, who attended the parish school with his siblings beginning in 1929.

One of 13 children, Michael’s family struggled after his father lost his herd of cattle to disease and when the Great Depression claimed their Lisbon farm.

After relocating to Menomonee Falls, six of the remaining children – one died shortly after birth – attended St. Mary School, with Michael beginning in fifth grade. Two siblings attended third grade and Kathleen, the youngest, graduated in 1939 after attending all eight years. Michael, who died last year at 90, and his wife, Clarice, raised their 13 children, including Randy, the newly-elected Menomonee Falls village president, in the Catholic faith and lived in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood. Each child attended St. Mary Parish School.

“This school has been a big part of all our lives,” he said. “Each of us lived in the shadows of St. Mary when we grew up. Our relationships are based there. Our kids went there, and, as parents, we met other parents of kids who attended St. Mary and the relationships last beyond the years in school. In fact, many of the kids I went to school with, I still see in the summers – we hook up and get together and talk. I will never forget my days at St. Mary. That part of my life is strong.”

According to Randy’s sister, Shelley Newman Kohl, 27 Newmans attended St. Mary School beginning with Jim, the oldest of Michael’s children. Included in the count are numerous siblings, nieces, nephews and cousins. While her children were not among the 27, she is a member of St. Mary Parish, was involved in the religious education program and has fond memories of her years at the parish school.

“The staff members and teachers are like family,” she said. “I grew up around the School Sisters of St. Francis teaching our classes, in the convent and saw them praying and singing every day. It was totally different when I went to school because we had nuns teaching us in every grade. Now we don’t have a single nun teaching here.”

Without any family members attending the school, Kohl will miss attending the various concerts, sporting events and plays that occupied much of her nieces’ and nephews’ extra curricular activities.

“Unless a neighbor is involved in a play or sports, I probably won’t see the plays or other things anymore, and that is a bit sad,” she admitted. “When my dad was living, he always took the nephews and nieces to the after-school activities and told them stories about what it was like when he went to school there.”

Randy considered it a priority to educate his three children at the same school that he credits for giving him a solid foundation, and good moral and ethical role models.

“I figured that I could help my kids with reading, writing and math, but I really needed help with religion,” he said. “I am not the perfect Catholic and that is an area I need help with and appreciate the support. It was an investment in their futures and worth the cost to do that. The children get a good exposure to religion and see how it can be a strong part of everyday life.”

Aside from the religious education, Randy is pleased with the academic program as well as the interest that staff and other students take in helping all to succeed.

“It is a great learning environment here,” he said. “They teach learning skills that will benefit them later on in life. I really like the group environment where the higher achievers help those who might be struggling a bit. They all work together as teams to make each other better.”

The same principles apply to the sports teams, according to Randy, who marveled at the top players helping the others to make the teams better.

“This not only helps the ones who are struggling, but improves the top players as well,” he said. “There is such a kindness here and that goes a long way to getting along with people and finding success at the next level. This is one of those side things you don’t get at public schools.”

Because the school is small, teachers and other parents are able to realize if a student is having difficulty and will quickly bring it to the attention of the struggling student’s parents.

“Everyone knows each other’s business and who is having trouble,” Randy said. “Oftentimes parents will call another parent, ask how their child is doing on their project, and find out. We have smaller class sizes which foster a great foundation for learning.”

Although his children were enrolled in St. Mary accelerated classes, Randy was apprehensive as to how they would fit in with their peers once they attended public high school. His worries were unfounded.

“They used their skills and kept maintaining good grades; it wasn’t a problem for them,” he said. “Now I have sent a couple onto college and they are doing well. I have to believe that it had a lot to do with the program at St. Mary and how it helped my kids get the keys to success."

Movie Producer Lives his Faith

Movie producer lives his faith

Except for the first couple of months of his life, Stephen McEveety has lived a Catholic life.

“Well, I can’t count those first weeks because it was before I was baptized,” he joked. “But I was raised in a big Catholic family, attended Catholic schools and send all my kids to Catholic schools.”
The California native and movie producer takes his faith but not himself seriously as he describes himself as the father of “four great brats,” ranging in age from 14-23, and husband to Susie for more than 30 years.

McEveety’s latest film is no laughing matter. “The Stoning of Soraya M.” comes on the heels of an extensive career of award-winning films such as “Braveheart,” “We Were Soldiers,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “Bella,” “An American Carol,” and the comedy, “What Women Want.”

Stephen McEveety
The film, based on the book of the same name and inspired by events that took place in 1986 during the reign of Ayatollah Khomenini, tells the story of Soraya, a woman who lived with a womanizing, abusive husband for 20 years.

In his quest to leave her for a 14-year-old girl, the husband turns her two sons against her and ignores his daughters as if they do not exist. When she refuses to divorce him, he falsely accuses her of adultery. She is tried and convicted. The villagers in the small Iranian town bind her arms and legs, bury her up to her waist and bombard her with rocks for hours until she bleeds to death.

Only her aunt, Zahra, is brave enough to stand up for her and speaks out against this atrocity. She unexpectedly meets up with a passing journalist played by Jim Caviezel (“The Passion of the Christ”) when he stops in the village to get his car repaired.

After weaving him through the story, which he puts on tape, she unravels the political components that combined to make this tragedy happen the day before he arrived.

While McEveety hopes the film will shed light on the existence of stoning practices in the world, he also explains that the corruption and injustice issues go far beyond such practices.

“I am hoping that it will serve as a mirror for victimizers, who regularly abuse women or children all over the world,” he said. “I think that certainly someone in an abusive relationship will take one thing from the film that no one else would take – especially about the role of victims, particularly women as victims. For some reason, this movie gives them some kind of meaning to their experience.”

For others, McEveety hopes that a message that violence and injustice cannot be tolerated.

“The movie is quite deep in terms of what people will take from it,” he said. “It was made by a group of artists and, except for Jim (Caviezel), the entire cast is of Iranian or American Iranian decent.”

A lesson is to be learned from each movie McEveety works to produce and as his films have evolved, his life has changed as well.

"The Stoning of Soraya M."
is in limited theatres, but McEveety urges those interested in the film to call their local theatres to request they show the film.

“I was exploring a world that I didn’t know a whole lot about and it affected me,” he admitted. “Movies like this explore the tragedy of what people’s lives can be given different circumstances. It is my responsibility as a Catholic and as a human to positively influence people in my movies. I am kind of a Christ-driven guy so I lean toward finding ways to promote Christian values. Sometimes you won’t directly recognize this and other times, it is right in your face.”

This film followed a lull in production, and McEveety picked up the screenplay written by Cyrus Nowrasteh and couldn’t put it down.

“It blew me away and after I finished it, my first question was ‘who would make this movie?’ and ‘who would distribute it?’” he said. “Our company is about this type of thing, so I looked at myself and said, ‘well, we will try to do it.’ So we raised the money and were off and running with it.”

“The Stoning of Soraya M.” took 18 months to film on location in the Middle East. As soon as production was completed, it was entered in the Toronto Film Festival where it took second place. It recently earned coveted first place in the Los Angeles Film Festival.

“It is great to be recognized,” admitted McEveety, who often turns projects away that conflict with his faith. While his movies can be quite violent, the violence is not gratuitous, but portrays the good and evil in the world.

“I will never do slasher or horror films,” he said. “But if violence is necessary to make the audience partake in the story, then I put it in.”

Although he allows the violence to tell a story, McEveety shies away from movies with sexual content because he finds it unnecessary.

“Most of the time when you see sexual stuff it doesn’t promote the story at all,” he said, but went on to explain his work in the Mel Gibson film ‘What Women Want,’ as ‘pretty soft fun.’ “I don’t feel like it was harmful at all. Not really, we all have to have fun in our lives and not all this serious stuff. I am OK with that one … but, we do change over time and now I would probably think twice about doing it, but back then, I didn’t.”

Nearing the end of production is the first family film he has done in years. “The Snowmen,” slated to open in December or January, has no political overtones, he said, but is a fun film with a great ending.

“It is really for kids and parents and just the whole family,” he promised. “You will laugh and cry and feel good after seeing it. I loved working on this.”

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday thoughts

I thank you Lord for the gift of wonderful friends for without them, life would be so lonely. Although there have been times of great despair in recent months, God has so blessed us with a wonderful cocoon of love from our parish family and our other friends. And for laughter--thanks to our friends who can so easily make us laugh and forget any sadness, you are all dear to us.

We pray for all of those who have been unkind, and those who have become estranged from us and always hold open the door and hope for reconciliation. Until that time, thanks be to God for allow us to survive grave health issues, financial ruin and the fracture of our family. We know that the enemy, the darkness cannot win.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, EPH 6:12.
Only the Light of Christ can win and can melt the hardened hearts. I thank you for transforming my life and thank you dear Jesus for your faithfulness.
The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between.
Mother Teresa

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mercury Marine impact

Community, parishes await impact of Mercury Marine move

FOND DU LAC — Days after Mercury Marine officials announced the Fond du Lac plant will close and consolidate much of its operations in Stillwater, Okla., community members are in shock and the ripples of concern have only begun to take effect.

The International Associations of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 1947, said its 850 members voted overwhelmingly Sunday, Aug. 23 to reject Mercury Marine’s offer to rework a four-year labor contract. The concessions included lower wages for new hires and employees called back from layoffs.

Throughout the week that followed, union leaders and Mercury officials met several times but, because the union did not vote again before a midnight Saturday, Aug. 29 deadline imposed by Mercury Marine, company officials affirmed their plans to close the Fond du Lac plant.

Mercury Marine employs approximately 1,000 people and plans to operate the Fond du Lac plant under terms of the existing contract, which expires in 2012.

In addition to the impact on the 850 employees and their families, the plant closing will ripple throughout Fond du Lac and neighboring communities admitted Fr. Victor Capriolo, pastor of Holy Family Parish.

“We have over 300 parishioners employed at Mercury and at least another half-dozen smaller companies that will be affected,” he said. “The majority of their businesses are directly related to Mercury Marine. The smaller businesses will be affected adversely immediately and this will have a humungous impact on our parish income and our school system as well.”

A recent merger between Holy Family School and St. Mary Springs High School looked promising as enrollment was up to 700, the first increase in years, but with the closure looking imminent, Fr. Capriolo worries that parents will move their children into the public education system.

“Additionally, we are the fourth phase of the archdiocese’s Faith in our Future campaign and had been just talking about that,” he said. “Our projected goal was supposed to be $2.7 million and well, good luck. It is not looking good right now.”

While parishioners are waiting to see if the jobs in the community can be retained, Fr. Capriolo is in discussion with Holy Family staff to schedule a prayer service to give comfort, hope and direction to the community.

“The impact is greater than most people realize because it will affect restaurants, hotels, and other suppliers,” he said. “And with the economy in such bad shape, St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army are already stretched to the max. There is talk that we will be the next Flint, Mich., or Janesville and it is a kind of gloomy atmosphere.”

Jerry Sullivan, St. Vincent de Paul conference president, agreed and said that the organization is already seeing people in need who have never required assistance.

“We are going to have to be very careful with funding if this closure happens,” he said. “Chances are that people who contributed to our funding in the past won’t be able to do so any longer. This is a tight time for us and it not only impacts our conference and county but smaller communities and farm communities will be touched by this as well.”

Despite concerns, Fr. Pat Heppe, archdiocesan vicar for clergy and former longtime pastor of Holy Family Parish, said that Fond du Lac residents are an impressive community who are accustomed to pulling together during tough times.

“This is a difficult time for the community, not only for the workers, but for all the related industries that feed into the city and it is a big issue,” he said. “I got a letter from an elderly lady the other day who said, ‘Things don’t look good when you read the contract, it is plain to see why things went the way they did. Imagine being told to go home and then being called back and told that you will be making less money than you did before?’”

“They will get out of this and they will make it – they are a community who sticks together and they have active community
leaders with vision,” Fr. Heppe said. “Look at what happened in Kenosha and it is not a ghost town. Whatever happens with Fond du Lac, they will not only get through it, but they will survive and prosper.”