Friday, September 30, 2011

After 30 years, 'Jack of all trades' says goodbye to St. Andrew School

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POF-nancyflood
She considered herself a “Jack of all trades.” To the kids, a nurse who fixed up their bruises and grabbed an ice pack when they bumped their heads. She provided a listening ear to students, parents and staff needing some spur-of-the-moment counseling. As an administrative assistant, she was the friendly voice on the other end of the phone, typed letters, memos and filed paperwork.
After 30 years of service at St. Andrew Parish School, 74-year-old Nancy Flood retired in May. The school honored her with a Nancy Flood Appreciation Day, on Thursday, May 26 with a Mass, followed by a presentation and social in the school cafeteria. School staff knows she left a void.
“She will be greatly missed by myself and everyone here at St. Andrew Parish School,” explained principal Julie Kadrich, in an interview with your Catholic Herald last spring. “Nancy is the very first person people see when they come up the steps into the school and she always meets them with a smile and friendly hello.”

Nancy Flood

Parish: St. Andrew Church, Delavan

Occupation: Retired administrative assistant, St. Andrew School, Delavan

Age: 74
Favorite movie: “Gone with the Wind,” “Sound of Music”

Book recently read: “The Last Convertible,” by Anton Myrer

Favorite quotation: “Love everyone, forgive everyone, share with everyone, and judge no one,” by Fr. Don Zerkel, senior priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee
(Submitted photo courtesy St. Andrew School, Delavan)
When Kadrich began as a new principal a year ago, Flood was there to support, help and serve as her personal cheerleader.
“She commended me when I felt on certain days that I couldn’t do anything right,” Kadrich said. “She always came back with a compliment. She not only was my administrative assistant, but in the very short time I have been here, she has become my friend. I will miss seeing her every day and talking with her about all kinds of things.”
After Flood announced her retirement, Kadrich listened to the stories and shouldered disappointment from staff, parents and students.
“Nancy is St. Andrew School,” said Kadrich. “So many people have come to her for everything from Band-Aids, to snacks when they forgot theirs, to advice and for her constant ability to make others happy and to make others feel good about themselves. I could go on and on about Nancy. She is our school and a major piece of our school community and she will be greatly missed.”
It was difficult for Beth Muehlenkamp Nateghi to see Flood leave after developing a close relationship with her the past seven years.
“My daughter goes to school there and I’ve worked with her in the Parent Association and in promotion for the school,” said Nateghi. “She loves the kids, is a wealth of knowledge and a great person. She always has the answers to your questions, and if she doesn’t know them, she finds the answers for you. I will miss her a lot.”
She never intended on becoming the administrative assistant. Flood was a volunteer 45 years ago when her children attended St. Andrew, and joked that they wouldn’t let her leave.
“I just started working as a way to help out,” she said. “And I have met so many wonderful children and their families who are so generous to the school and willing to share their children with us. Many people thought I would leave after our last granddaughter left here, but I stayed on five more years. I am ready to leave, but it will be strange not to walk through those doors each day.”
Through the years, Flood has seen her four children and three of her six grandchildren graduate from St. Andrew. She has seen other children graduate and enroll their children at the school. She has worked for five principals and many pastors. Yet, her greatest challenge was always defining her position as a job.
“I consider what I do a ministry, and always try to help reinforce our Catholic faith and being welcoming and caring to all who entrust their children to us,” she said. “It has increased my faith to work here. You watch how faith works for children and it is gratifying. You are happy to see those families here on Sundays and while you wish to see more of them, it is rewarding to see them. We have one Mass per month done by the school children and tons of families come, it’s so gratifying to see their eagerness to take part. Fr. Jim Schuerman, our pastor, has a good relationship with them and is a wonderful man who is supportive of the school and all the parish ministries.”
The devotion to the Delavan school began with her husband of 52 years, Neill, who was baptized at the parish, attended the parish school and was in the third graduating class.
“His dad assisted the pastor in building the school,” explained Flood, “so it is a long history for our family.”
While she plans to take a year off to walk, read, tend to her geraniums and simplify her house, Flood won’t stay away from St. Andrew forever. She hopes to come back occasionally to volunteer where needed.
“I just need a break now and want to give them a break from me,” she said, laughing. “I don’t have any major plans to travel or anything like that. Neill still works full time in outside sales for Dunn Lumber in Lake Geneva and is the fire chief here and he shows no signs of retiring soon.”

New steeple marks 110th anniversary for Caledonia church

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CALEDONIA — After a severe windstorm damaged the cross and copper base atop their steeple, St. Louis parishioners rang in a hearty welcome to their new copper shingled steeple, finished in time to celebrate the parish’s 110th anniversary after all Masses on Aug. 27 and 28.p.8PICT0684ABOVE: The old steeple is removed after an Oct. 25, 2010, storm cracked the support beam of the cross, loosened the cross and caused it to sway in the wind.

BELOW
: A new steeple is placed atop St. Louis Church, Caledonia, in late July. Parishioners celebrated the new steeple, along with the parish's 110th anniversary, Aug. 27-28. (Submitted photos courtesy St. Louis Church, Caledonia)

Parishioners brought bells from home, and rang them during a dedication ceremony outside the church while the bells in the tower rang to mark the celebration.
According to business administrator Mary Ann Schroeder, the Oct. 25, 2010, storm cracked the support beam of the cross, loosening the cross and causing it to sway dangerously in the wind.
“There were some concerns that it would topple over and hurt someone,” she explained. “In the process of investigating this event, we had to crawl through the steeple and it was at this point, we discovered how decrepit it was.”
After members of the Milwaukee-based KOMP Engineering Firm assessed the safety and structural soundness of the steeple, they described the spire in their report as “a rather rickety collection of loose boards.” The insurance company recommended replacement of the steeple as the extent of damage to the structure posed a significant liability.
Overall damage to the cross and cupola was $12,245 and determined by the insurance company as related to the building’s 110 years, rather than from the storm.
Fundraising efforts began to build a new steeple for the 1901 Cream City brick church. While the current building reached its 110-year milestone, the parish dates to 1843 when Fr. Martin Kundig, a German priest, reached out to area Catholics to build a log church in 1844-45. p.9PICT1060The parish was formally organized in 1857 and in a newly built frame church, but it was destroyed in a fire in 1930.
“The excavation and foundation of our current church was done entirely by volunteer parishioners,” said Schroeder.
The second frame building was used as the parish hall until it was razed in 1954 to build the parish school. The school closed in 2005 due to low enrollment.
With hopes for another 100 years to add to its history, members of St. Louis Parish chose building materials for the new steeple. Under the advice of church restoration and construction experts, Krause Konstruction Inc. of Coon Valley, the parish chose copper shingles for their longevity and ability to withstand high winds over traditional asphalt roofing shingles expected to last just 50 years.
As a unique means to preserve the names of those who participated in raising funds for the new steeple, parishioners signed their names on the backside of the shingles. Signing on the reverse side ensured that the names would be safe from the elements.
“It was the contractor’s idea to have the parishioners sign the shingles as a fundraising event,” said Schroeder. “We had done some fundraising already, so we didn’t want to require our people to give yet again for the right to sign a shingle. We just invited all parishioners to join us for hospitality, refreshments and a shingle. We had a wonderful response, although I am not sure the exact number of people who signed the them.”
01-0410-Church-PicSt. Louis Church, Caledonia, after the new steeple replaces the old one in late July. (Submitted photo courtesy St. Louis Church, Caledonia)While planning and fundraising for the steeple took 10 months, the structural work began July 25 and attracted the interest of parishioners eager to see the demolition of the old steeple and rebuilding of the new.
“The old steeple was so decrepit, there was nothing to salvage,” said Schroeder. “However, we still have the original cross and are discussing possible uses or ways to display it.”
After a large crane removed the remainder of the damaged steeple, construction began to erect the 25-foot high steeple mounted with a six foot cross.
While there were no construction surprises along the way, three funerals during the month of construction brought work to a halt until the mourners vacated the church.
“The crew was extremely diligent and they quickly got back to work after the funerals,” explained Schroeder. “As an aside, Fr. Mark (Danczyk), our pastor, treated the workers to ice cream in honor of the St. Louis feast day, (Aug. 25). But, the guys would not even eat their treat on the ground. So there were four men hanging from the top of the steeple in harnesses eating their Reese’s Peanut Butter Blizzards.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thorn appointed to Pontifical Academy for Life

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MILWAUKEE — When Vicki Thorn, Project Rachel founder and executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, flipped through her mail one day in May, she was stunned to see that intermingled among bills, catalogs and other correspondence, was a letter from Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the late Vatican nuncio to the United States who died in July. p.5vickiconferenceVicki Thorn, founder of the post-abortion ministry Project Rachel and executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing, addresses participants during a conference on abortion in Oak Brook, Ill., Sept. 8, 2008. Thorn, a frequent presenter worldwide on respect life and healing after abortion issues, was named to the Pontifical Academy for Life in May. (CNS file photo by Karen Callaway)Upon opening the letter, she learned that she was appointed a “Corresponding Member” of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Admittedly, she wasn’t quite certain what this title meant for her, but quickly made a few phone calls and did some research on this prestigious five-year, renewable appointment. “I didn’t even know about this; it isn’t something you apply for, it just comes from the Vatican as an appointment,” said the Milwaukee native. “I was, and still am, shocked and very, very honored by this. These are people who really bring to the Vatican, their expertise and knowledge and keep the church apprised of things going on in the country. My first thought when I read the letter was, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I doing and what am I going to bring to this?’”
Priests for Life founder, Fr. Frank Pavone, is also a “Corresponding Member” of the Pontifical Academy for Life and was appointed in May 2010. According to Leslie Palma-Simoncek, communications director, Priests for Life, Thorn joins approximately 160 members from around the world who are charged with studying ethical and moral issues surrounding the sanctity of life from an interdisciplinary perspective and informing the church, the scientific and health care communities, the media and society at large of its findings and conclusions.
“The members of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life form an impressive who’s who of international advocates for life,” she said in a May 2010 Priests for Life press release.
Founded in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, the Pontifical Academy is composed of 70 “ordinary” members and a similar number of “corresponding” members. Members become “honorary” when they reach the age of 80.
“I don’t really know all of what this appointment requires yet,” explained Thorn. “The Pontifical Academy for Life is a consultative body for the Holy Father. We work with others, and I know that the whole group comes together in February and we work on subcommittees. It is an incredible honor to be able to have this kind of input into life issues. I will be able to work with people who are movers and shakers in terms of the world’s pro-life and natural family planning issues.”
In 1977, Thorn became the first respect life director for the archdiocese, and on Sept. 18, 1984, Project Rachel was formed as the Catholic Church’s healing ministry to those who have been involved in abortion.
“Thanks to a lead story in the Milwaukee Sentinel, this story went around the world, and I only learned two years ago that Sept. 18 is the Feast of Our Lady of LaSallette, Consolation of Sinners,” she said. “The bishops of the U.S. had called for post-abortion ministry as part of their Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities that was issued in 1975. They called for education on the sanctity of all life, from womb to tomb. They called for pastoral care for those facing an unplanned pregnancy and post-abortion care, but no one knew what that looked like in 1975.”
The bishops’ call bled into Thorn’s heart as she grappled with the ongoing despondency of a close friend forced by her mother to have an abortion while in high school.
“There was abuse in the house and her brother was the father of the second baby, and I am guessing of the first one, too,” she said. “It was her pain that sensitized me to the need for this. It was clear that as church we had what was needed – confessors and mental health professionals and others who could provide one-on-one care. When I asked the priests about it, they had all heard the confessions, but didn’t think they knew enough.”
With the support of Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, Thorn received the financial resources to begin Project Rachel.
“He was, in fact, at the first training day and I believe he was the one who told the reporter that there was a ministry coming,” she said. “I had only invited the press to cover the training day, the first of its kind in the world.”
The National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing began in 1990, and when there was need for ministry space, Archbishop Weakland provided an office.
“A local Project Rachel priest found a donor to allow me to begin and a man that a Project Rachel priest had connected me to arrived from New Jersey with a truckload of furniture, files, Xerox machine, etc.” she said. “He also purchased our phone system and our 800 number, 1-800-5WE-CARE and we were in business. Our office remains in the Cousins Center with the blessing of Archbishop Jerome Listecki.”
Thorn has traveled worldwide presenting her recent research on the biochemistry of sex and the biology of bonding and attachment and the biology of the Theology of the Body. She has written and spoken about the sociological changes in society since 1960 and the spiritual and psychological wounds carried by Generation X and Generation Y because of those changes.
She has also authored a book on Project Rachel, titled “Progetto Rachele: Il Volto Della Compassione,” published by the Vatican Publishing House, Libreria Editrice Vaticana and currently available in Italian, Spanish and French.
“This book on Project Rachel means that there will be accessibility to information on the ministry all over the world, such as ‘here’s what it is and how to help.’ This isn’t a healing book,” she explained.
thornVicki ThornThorn, 62, holds a degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, as well as a certificate in trauma counseling from UW-Milwaukee. She is a longtime member of the Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health and a frequent workshop presenter. She is also a trained bereavement facilitator through the American Academy of Bereavement and was certified through Resolve Through Sharing Prenatal Loss as a prenatal loss facilitator.
She and her husband, Marquette professor William Thorn, have six children and two grandchildren. As a couple, they were inducted into the Pontifical Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in October 2008, as Knight and Lady. In August 2009, she received the People of Life Award from the Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops for her pro-life service to the church.
“We are blessed to be members of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre as this has given us the opportunity to get to know people from other countries, especially with Bill’s role in the International Catholic Press,” she said. “If I had a woman (dealing with abortion issues) in a another country I could probably find her a priest because of my connection to the international press. The aftermath of abortion is not unique to the United States or to Catholics, and I am blessed that Project Rachel is spreading around the world and not just addressing women, but the men who are suffering parental loss.”
The appointment serves as a boost to Thorn’s tireless work in the aftermath of abortion, pro-life advocacy and Natural Family Planning, and while this service to the Catholic Church is voluntary, she is excited to play a role in furthering education and healing in the world.
“I hope to be able to make a difference, and work with others to facilitate the movement of Project Rachel,” she said.
Archbishop Listecki is pleased and proud that Thorn will be serving the worldwide Catholic Church in her new role.
“For more than 25 years, Vicki Thorn has been devoted to defending the sanctity of life and providing support to those who bear the scars of abortion,” he said. “We are proud of her connection to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and confident that her good work will continue as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. I am proud to be her archbishop and friend.”

Sometimes it is just the little things

When we are wrapped up in church politics, family discourse, financial and health woes that literally suck the life out of us--there are days that we tend to look for some sort of sign that we are still written in God's book of life. Perhaps I can be accused of doubting God's plan more than others, but face it--who hasn't doubted their purpose, significance or reason for being on this earth, when faced with years of countless battles?

While I try to remain stoic and convincing in sharing my faith with others, a little voice inside me frequently whispers, "failure, loser, and insignificant." I hate that voice--for it is too familiar and has lived within me since my earliest memories.

That voice is often apparent in the 'well-meaning' voices on the outside who find reasons to criticize or assume they know the workings of my heart--those are often the most difficult to ignore.

But a simple, yet memorable moment squelched all of those doubts the other night at our Lay Eccelesial Ministry Class as I witnessed the most beautiful and resonant outcome of the total love of one man for Jesus Christ.

The priest who was lecturing us that night on early Catholicism, began witnessing to us on the benefits of reading daily scripture. "It is important," he said. "To read scripture every day, so that after you breathe your last and open your eyes, you will know where you are."

His eyes sparkled with a heavenly countenance as he then explained that in ancient times, an annual celebration culminated with dancing with the Torah. Grabbing his bible and clutching it to his chest, he danced around the room and challenged us, "When was the last time you danced with your bibles?"

Suddenly, it all made sense----And I wept

Friday, September 16, 2011

911 Widows Turn Tragedy to Outreach

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Duo directs grief to helping Afghan women
Susan Retik had every reason to hate. Seven months pregnant with her third child, Susan Retik’s husband David was killed on Sept. 11, 2001. He was aboard American Airlines Flight 11 to Los Angeles, the flight that hijackers crashed into the World Trade Center.
Susan-RetikSusan RetikShe had every reason to hate and desire vengeance as retribution for the death of her husband as well as the death of all killed and injured from the attack on the U.S. However, Retik, of Needham, Mass., is no ordinary victim. Instead, she has devoted her life to helping women in the same country where the hijackers had trained.
She and Patti Quigley, also widowed on Sept. 11, and eight months pregnant with her second child when her husband Patrick was killed while traveling on United Airlines Flight 175, directed their grief toward helping Afghan widows, who were also suffering.
“We basically became aware of Afghanistan and the plight of the women through the news media,” said Retik. “We were struck by how terrible it was to be a woman and couldn’t imagine what it was like. I felt a kinship toward them, and remembered about all the people that helped me when I lost David, and knew that they had no one to help them.”
Decades of fighting in Afghanistan had left tens of thousands of women widowed. Their faces haunted Retik and Quigley, who realized the Afghan widows were also victims of violence. However, unlike the Afghan widows, grief-stricken individuals around their neighborhoods and country instantly embraced the women, and sent cards, money, stuffed animals, gifts and quilts.
“We had people making dinner for us, helping with our laundry, and sending us letters,” said Retik, who is Jewish. “And we had assistance from our husbands’ employers, the Red Cross and Salvation Army. These Muslim women have no support.”
Initially, Retik thought about helping one widowed Afghan woman financially so she no longer had to struggle. However, as she thought about it, she realized it would be beneficial to help many more. With Quigley’s help, the women began the non-profit organization, Beyond the 11th. The organization aids Afghan widows whose lives have been touched by terrorism and war, such as the ones whose faces they saw on the evening news after U.S. forces went in to remove the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
After raising thousands of dollars through bike rides, and various fundraisers, Quigley and Retik traveled to Afghanistan in 2006 to see the challenges burqa-clad widows face in a country that grants women few rights. Under the Taliban regime, women were unable to work or leave the house without a male escort. They have more freedom today, but still, widowed or not, are primarily illiterate and at the mercy of men and the government.
“But we have seen progress through out efforts, and it was good to travel to Kabul to see progress in the women we were trying to help,” said Retik. “The challenge, though, involves not only getting men to value the women more, but getting the women to value themselves more. Because they have never experienced true freedom or equality, they don’t think they are worth as much as a man.”
In 2005, Quigley, a Catholic, resigned from Beyond the 11th to shift her focus to Afghan Girls. She is now part of Razia’s Ray of Hope and helps pioneering activist Razia Jan fulfill her dream of educating the next generation of Afghan people in order to end the cycle of poverty, despair and terrorism.
A documentary chronicling the women’s six-day visit to Kabul and their work, called, “Beyond Belief,” a film by Beth Murphy, will be shown Friday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Gerhardinger Center, Room 109 on the Mount Mary College campus, 2900 N. Menomonee River Pkwy. Milwaukee.
Retik will be the featured speaker at a luncheon, hosted by Mount Mary College, at the Pfister Hotel on Thursday, Sept. 22.
Through the documentary, Retik hopes that others will understand the importance of the mission to help the Afghan women.
“I hope it gives people a much better understanding of why we do what we do, and the need we had to meet different women in Afghanistan,” said Retik. “It is important to see their struggles and how we all can make a difference in their lives. I think the documentary humanizes the women. I mean we hear it in the news, but they are real mothers, daughters, and sisters just like us, living uneducated and difficult lives.”
Retik is assisted in her work by her children, Ben, Molly and Dina, who help in fundraising when they can. In 2006, she married Donald Ger, and the couple has a 3-year-old daughter, Rebecca.
Last year, President Barack Obama presented Retik with the Citizens Medal in recognition of her efforts.
“It was incredible and not something I ever expected to happen,” admitted Retik. “I had never been to the White House and it was so amazing to meet the president and be surrounded by others receiving this same award. It makes me feel good that the president of the United States is aware of the work of Beyond the 11th, and by choosing me as a representative, it says to me that he understands the important role that widows play.”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Program helps maintain Wisconsin farmland

Written by Karen Mahoney | For The Compass   
Monday, 29 August 2011 10:43

 

 

Catholic farmers, rural life officials support agricultural conservation

Wisconsin farmers have been growing healthy, local food since before James Polk signed the statehood bill in 1848.
With rich fertile soils, flat terrain, ample water and an adequate growing season, Wisconsin is an ideal region for growing food and raising dairy cows and other farm animals. Local farms provide communities with extraordinary dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as jobs, open space and a sense of history.
However, the very qualities that make Wisconsin a farming mecca also make it attractive for suburban development.
1126farm1web2
Cows graze near a silo in 2009 on a farm at sunset just outside Postville, Iowa. Protecting Wisconsin farmland is the goal of Wisconsin Working Lands Initiative. (CNS photo | Bob Roller)

Many areas in the state are close to cities and jobs, the land is flat and easy to build on, and the seasons are enticing to those wishing to shelve the grind of city life. But for farming families like Doug and Mary Behnke, who operate a third-generation dairy farm in Waupaca County, they are deeply concerned about entrusting their land as a permanent legacy to their three grown daughters.
"We currently milk 250 cows and grow 800 acres of alfalfa, corn and soybeans to feed to our animals," said Mary, a member of St. Mary Parish in Bear Creek. "Additionally, we raise our own heifers for a total of 500 animals on the farm. It is our goal to produce high quality, nutritious and wholesome milk for cheese production. All three of our daughters have remained in agriculture with hopes that one will take over the family farm after college." The family also employs three full-time and three part-time workers.
When Doug, who serves as the Town of Bear Creek chairman, and other community members were involved in the Comprehensive Land Use Planning Program, also known as Smart Growth, a few years ago, they learned about the importance of preserving farm land while allowing future residential development in designated areas.
Together the township worked with the Wisconsin Working Lands Initiative, a statewide plan to retain as much agricultural land as possible.
Working lands initiative
The Working Lands Initiative established a new program to provide 50 percent of the cost of purchasing agricultural conservation easements, including transaction costs. Through the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) program, the state was to provide funding to cooperating local governments or non-profit organizations to purchase easements from willing landowners. Land with an agricultural conservation easement cannot be developed for any purpose that would prevent its use for agriculture.
As one of the 16 farms in the state chosen for the PACE program, the Behnke's were excited to know that their farmland would never be developed or utilized for any other purpose other than farm land. However, in trying to balance the state budget, Gov. Scott Walker's plan called for eliminating PACE and the bonding authority to fund those first 16 projects.
With an already downward spiral of family-owned Wisconsin dairy farms, legislators from both parties were outraged and voted 16-0 in May to keep PACE on the state statutes and to honor the state's commitment to the 16 PACE projects approved during the first-ever statewide selection process. The $5.2 million funding will come from the state's Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund.
"Keeping the PACE program in the budget was a testament to how vital the $59 billion agricultural industry is to Wisconsin," said Behnke. "It shows that lawmakers understand the impact agriculture has on rural communities and the jobs the industry creates. .... Keeping farmland in production will be a fundamental component of the future of agriculture in Wisconsin for generations to come."
The Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance modified the governor's plan and will permit farmers to sell the development rights on their farms and agree to keep the property in agricultural use for perpetuity. The compromise plan calls for a yearlong PACE study to consider how to strengthen the program. Beyond the first 16 applicants, there is no money in the budget for future PACE purchases, but the program is still on the books, according to William Berry of American Farmland Trust/Protecting Wisconsin's Farm and Forest Lands.
"Just a few years ago, we were losing up to 30,000 acres of farmland a year in Wisconsin," he said. "In that regard, we were one of the top states in the nation for farmland loss. That acre of farmland is actually the loss of much more. Talk to any farmer and they will tell you their ability to do their jobs is hindered by rural residential development. A house here and another one there on five-acre plots spell trouble for farmers who suddenly encounter complaints about noise and odors and other realities associated with farming."
The Legislature did concede to the governor's plan to eliminate conversion fees when land is rezoned out of farmland preservation zoning districts for development.
"These fees were intended to discourage the conversion of farmland to other uses," explained Berry. "Realtors and developers opposed the conversion fees."
The other components of the 2009 Working Lands Initiative remained, and includes requirements for counties to update their farmland preservation plans and grant funding to make it happen.
"This is important, because local people are asked to identify their priority farming areas, which then can be protected through local zoning and other tools," said Berry. "When plans are updated, farmers who choose to can receive enhanced farmland preservation tax credits."
However, losing any of the requested state backing to protect Wisconsin farmland supports an overall downward trend of the American Dairy business, according to Thomas Nelson, coordinator of the Rural Life Office of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Madison.
"Back in 1960 there were 95,000 dairy farms in Wisconsin, and today, we have just 12,000," he said. "We are rapidly consolidating, and big farms are eating up the small dairy farms," he said. "Then we have these big 4,000-head dairy farms that are upsetting small community politics and causing a number of environmental issues."
While exact numbers of Catholic farmers in the state are unknown, Nelson admitted that it is far less than it was just a year ago. Historically, Catholics comprised a large percentage of the overall farming community.
"Now we have farmers taking multiple roles, such as farming and in other businesses to make ends meet," he said. "I am hoping that people will take back the power from the states and the federal government. In fact, the Holy Father just wrote a wonderful article on the family farms for the Vatican Information Service in July for the United Nations' Committee on Agriculture's 37th annual conference."
Pope supports farm families
In Pope Benedict XVI's July 1 letter, he stressed the importance of family-owned farms, encouraging their growth to rebuild and to re-grow a healthy food system that would go a long way towards eliminating poverty, underdevelopment and hunger in the world.
The pope also addressed food security as an authentically human requirement and it should be guaranteed for present and future generations. He encouraged solidarity as essential among all political and strategic actions and called upon international institutions to support work that strengthens human dignity, especially among the world's children.
According to American Farmland Trust's Berry, while PACE was not completely eliminated by recent state budget cuts, most in the farming community are disappointed that conversion fees were eliminated.
"The purpose was to strengthen farmland preservation," he said. "Without the fees, it's sort of like another government giveaway program."
However, the effort to save key components of the Working Lands Initiative were interesting and encouraging to Berry, who attended numerous public hearings with members of all political parties.
"It showed deep commitment to and high interest in farmland protection in Wisconsin," he said. "All of our legislators were united about the need to protect the best of our farmland. Agriculture has a $59 billion-a-year economic impact on Wisconsin. Preserving farmland and helping farms stay viable supports rural communities, schools, churches, businesses and all the other pieces of the pie."
Keeping PACE in the state budget was very important to Town of Windsor resident Vern Treinen, a third generation farmer, whose land was selected as the first PACE farm in the state.
Farming on his own since 1978, Treinen, a member of St. Olaf Parish in DeForest, grew up working the land and raising Holsteins with his father, and now his father helps him with caring for the cattle and planting crops. While not an easy life, it is one he enjoys and has allowed him to provide for his wife Vicki and two daughters.
All in the family
While he could easily have cashed in on millions to sell his land to developers, Treinen insists that there are more important things than money.
"How much money is enough? Some things have no price tags," he said. "We have enough money. We work hard, but we live pretty comfortable and now I will rest a lot easier someday when the dirt is kicked on me, that this land will never be developed."
Treinen's roots grow deep, and his principles were planted into his soul as a young boy when he promised his grandfather that the farmland would remain as it was intended.
"When people asked me why I wanted to preserve this land, I told them that when I bought this farm from my dad, who bought it from my grandfather, that I would always keep this as farmland," he explained. "Now I know this will be forever. I can rest more comfortably and I know my grandfather is resting comfortably too. It was kind of neat, when the PACE funding went through, I got all kind of congratulations from other farmers—they treated me like I saved the world, because I protected my farmland."
Pride in farming
Doug and Mary Behnke also feel that serving the earth in farming means much more than the money they could earn by selling their cherished farmland.
"Being a farmer is more than a profession, it is a lifestyle," said Mary. "We are proud to take care of the land with the same passion for farming our fathers instilled in us. Maintaining the fields of corn, pastures of cows, and a rural community of farmers means more to us than the dollar value of commercial development. We have been blessed with fertile soils and want to keep it in production."
According to Jim Ennis, director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, the effort to save the key parts of the PACE program is good for the entire state and provides an option for willing farmers to sell their land through the PACE program, rather than succumb to developmental pressure.
"If this program had been eliminated, then the 16 projects representing nearly 5,800 acres would not be dedicated to agricultural production in perpetuity and farmers would have fewer options," he said. "Rural communities could lose out if more and more farmers have to sell their land to developers and/or speculators."
The church affirms farmers and all those involved in agricultural and food production, added Ennis.
"The church views agricultural workers in high esteem," said Ennis. "The vocation to farm is a high and noble calling and the church strongly supports family farms and the need to keep the farmers on the land, growing food for communities and for the world."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Slow Love by Dominique Browning is captivating


In many ways, this book “Slow Love” hit home. Like me, Dominique Browning was a writer who went through a reinvention process. For more than a decade, she was the editor of Home & Garden magazine and was accustomed to the exclusive lifestyle attributed to life in New York City. She managed a large staff, raised her two boys as a single mother and managed to have dinner with them nearly every night. All that she did was driven by her fast paced and often frenzied lifestyle—and she thrived on that.

Suddenly Browning’s life changed in 2007 after losing the job that defined her as a worthy human being. In almost diary form, she exquisitely describes her feelings being suddenly without purpose and frantically trying to learn who she was, to a depression that, at its low point finds her visiting the farmer’s market in her pajamas, forgetting it was Friday, and eating vast amounts of homemade chocolate chip cookies, while hidden in the confines of her home.

After about six months of random activity, she sells the house she expected to leave as a legacy to her children, to a simpler home and lifestyle. She becomes more introspective and contemplative in her mannerisms and slowly becomes to love herself and live in peace.

Her move to her second home in Rhode Island, which she has knocked down and rebuilt seemed to be a necessary process to become the spiritual being that God intended her to be. 


Friday, September 2, 2011

Brother Beekeeper creates buzz at retreat center

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CHN11Redemptorist Br. Gerry Patin, affectionately known as Brother Beekeeper, looks over a honeycomb from one of the 14 hives he tends on the Oconomowoc property of the Redemptorist Retreat Center. Br. Patin, director of the center, raises funds for the center by selling honey, lip balm and soaps made from products from the hives. (Submitted photo courtesy Redemptorist Br. Gerry Patin)
While roaming the Redemptorist Retreat Center’s 20 acres of natural woodlands, the only sounds injecting themselves into the silence are those of nature. Listen closely, and the hum of honeybees busy at work may draw even the most unnerved a bit closer.
Several hives in a corner of this Oconomowoc haven contain thousands of bees. They fly out; they fly in, collecting pollen from the sweet smelling flowers on columbine, lilies and other wild flowers that line the property.
Affectionately known as Brother Beekeeper, 62-year-old Redemptorist Br. Gerry Patin, director of the Redemptorist Retreat Center, lovingly tends his bees.
Each of his 14 hives contains between 50,000 to 60,000 bees during the honey flow season, and can weigh more than 100 pounds by the end of summer. Each colony has a queen, tens of thousands of workers who make the honey and hundreds of drones who mate with the queen, then die; to that, add the weight of the comb with eggs, brood and larvae, pollen stores and honey. In general, beekeeping is easy and fun, according to Br. Gerry, and while considered a hobby, it was one he entered into unexpectedly early in his religious life.
“It was 1969 when stationed at our high school seminary in Edgerton, Wis.,” he explained. “The brother taking care of the bees was transferred and I was asked if I would be interested in taking over the 10 bee hives that were at that facility. I responded, ‘absolutely.’”
After a crash course in learning about beekeeping, the brother gave him an instruction book on the subject. Quickly reading anything he could get his hands on, he found the beekeeping to be not only calming and enjoyable, but a great success.
“Eventually, we closed our high school seminary and I sold all of the bee equipment, along with the hives,” Br. Gerry said. “I was transferred to Holy Redeemer Parish in Detroit for the next 17 years.”
In 2003, Br. Gerry was transferred back to Wisconsin to direct the Oconomowoc facility. 08-29-11-CHN-08Jim Molnar, who assists Redemptorist Br. Gerry Patin in tending the bees, looks over a honeycomb at the Redemportist Retreat Center in the Town of Oconomowoc, on Monday, Aug. 29. Molnar also assists Br. Gerry in making soaps which are sold at the center. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)To his surprise and delight, his love for beekeeping would once again become part of his life.
“In 2005, with the encouragement from a man that attended our retreats, and was also a beekeeper, I once again began the project of beekeeping,” he said. “I started out small with three hives, and gradually increased them to the 14 I now tend.”
Br. Gerry began selling the honey to help support the center, and as he witnessed the great interest in purchasing the golden syrup from those coming on retreat, he began thinking of other ways to utilize the honey and beeswax for additional revenue.
“I receive a monthly beekeeping magazine and in it there have been frequent articles on using the products from the hives for soap making and also making lip balm,” he said. “I began that hobby, and the all natural soap and lip balm I make are also in great demand in our gift shop at the retreat center. People love the natural soap with the natural glycerin in each bar. People with skin problems using store-bought soap tell me that their skin responds beautifully to my soap. People coming to the Redemptorist Retreat Center are so happy to be able to buy these products as gifts that are really made right at the retreat house by Brother Beekeeper.”
Honeybees are lumped in with other stinging creatures that invade late summer picnics and other outdoor activities, but they have been given a bad rap insists Br. Gerry.
“I enjoy the beekeeping because the honeybee is often overlooked in today’s busy world. The amount of good that the honeybees do is more far reaching than just the honey they provide,” he said. “Many fruits and vegetables require the pollination that only the honeybees can provide. The bees work in perfect communal harmony. It is rather spiritual to work with them throughout the spring and summer months – they actually teach me a lot.”
One of the more commonly asked questions surrounds the honeybee stinger and how often Br. Gerry irritates his brood enough to warrant a sting.
“I do get stung, but usually it is my own fault,” he explained. “I’m sometimes in a hurry to vest in my beekeeping suit and have left open a zipper or snap and in come the bees to remind me that I left an opening for them in my carelessness. The stings hurt, but soon the pain leaves and I forget that I was even stung.”p.11-08-29-11-CHN-01For more information on Brother Beekeeper's products, including honey, soap and lip balm, visit the website. Orders may also be placed by phone: (262) 269-6125. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)
While the hobby might seem to be a full-time job to those unaccustomed to the process, the bees do most of the work. For Br. Gerry, one day a week is usually sufficient to keep track of his hives and the health of his bees, and to tend their needs during all seasons.
As a Redemptorist brother for 43 years, Br. Gerry finds it interesting that he got into beekeeping early in his religious life and now later in his religious life.
“The bees treat me well, even though I am a more senior presence with them at this time in my life,” he said, adding. “People who have made retreats and friends of the retreat center sometimes come out and I suit them up and show them the inside workings of a beehive. It is an opportunity that doesn’t come along too often in today’s busy world.”
As a retreat director, Br. Gerry is often asked whether he will ever provide a retreat on the life of the honeybees and the spiritual connection they seem to share with us in this vast world.
“I just reply, ‘Stay tuned,’” he said.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My inner pilgrim began with ten pounds of green beans

Yesterday, my elderly neighbor was having a little trouble with her back and asked me to pick her green beans yesterday. She is 86, and aside from the remarkable fact that she still tends a substantial garden, I was happy to help. We are often the recipient of her garden goodies and I have been wanting to find a way to repay her.

After spending about 40 minutes plucking beans in the noonday sun, I not only developed a greater appreciation for all that she does,  but filled a bucket with about 10 pounds of plump string beans and carried them into her home.

She promptly took a pound or two out and insisted I take the remainder, including a dozen tomatoes and a few cucumbers. If they had not been a gift from her, I may have simply tossed the beans into the refrigerator and forgotten them, but this gift held great responsibility for me. This is her ministry--she lives with the knowledge that she is blessed by God by blessing others. So, I blanched all the beans, sliced the tomatoes and threw them all into the dehydrator overnight. This morning, they were all bagged and stored in the basement for the winter.

Something about dragging out the dehydrator and preserving the produce ignited my inner pilgrim. Walking to get the mail,  I noticed the neighbor's pear and apple trees. All are dropping fruit each day and he never uses any of it. Then, for some unknown reason, the chokeberry bushes in our yard captured my attention. Until yesterday, I thought they were poisonous. Thankfully, I did a little research and found that chokeberries, otherwise known as aronia berries--are extremely healthy. In fact, they are one of the newest Superberries.

This little black gems are packed with
  • Antioxidants
  • Polyphenols
  • Anthocyanins
  • Quinic Acid
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Flavonols
Studies have found that they help to prevent colon cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation,  circulatory problems, influenza and urinary tract infections.


Who would have guessed those little gems would be flourishing in our yard? I did my research, snipped the berries, popped them in the freezer so they would be easier to pull off the stems, picked up a hot water bath canner, some jars, pectin, sugar and found some recipes.

Because these berries are rather tart and on the bitter side, it's best to mix them with other ingredients.
Bright and early, I popped on a colonial style apron to get in the mood and got busy. 


With the advice of friends and relatives who know more about these berries than I do,  a few concoctions were created in the confines of my own non-pilgrim kitchen:


Chokeberry-black raspberry jam
Chokeberry -strawberry jam
Chokeberry-grape-apple-pear sauce
and Chokeberry-apple juice

All in all, I canned about 6 quarts of juice and another 25 pints of the other mixtures. It was a very fulfilling day--and addictive. I find myself thinking about what else to can or dehydrate. Perhaps next on the list is to conquer my fear of the pressure canner. A little accident in 1980, in the Food Science building at UW Madison with an exploding pressure canner might be the reason for my hesitancy......and that's all I'm sayin'




'Best kept secret in Oconomowoc

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p.12-08-29-11-CHN-05The Redemptorist Retreat Center is located near Crooked Lake on 20 acres of land that was part of the estate of Gen. Otto H. Falk. On July 17, the Redemptorists commemorated 87 years of preaching lay retreats in Oconomowoc and the 50th anniversary of the retreat center. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)
Ever feel frazzled and pulled in many directions? Looking for a place to be still and reflect on God’s purpose for your life? For a half century, the Redemptorist Retreat Center has offered that to those needing respite from daily routines, stress and frustration.
The Redemptorist retreat movement began in 1927 when emerging technology began distracting people from God’s purpose in their lives. Whether it was Charles Lindbergh flying over the Atlantic or Admiral Byrd soaring over the North Pole, talking movies or overseas telephone calls, people began focusing on the world’s progress, rather than spiritual growth.
Seeing a need to focus on inner healing, the Redemptorists began their retreat movement at their Immaculate Conception Seminary on Lac LaBelle in Oconomowoc.
The Beaver Dam Knights of Columbus initiated the first retreat at the seminary with 41 men in attendance, led by a missionary, Redemptorist Fr. Walter L. Polk. The retreat was so successful that the movement grew with the support of the Redemptorists and Catholic laity throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
By 1960, interest in religious life grew, enrollment was up and 116 seminarians were due in the fall, leaving no room for the retreat program in the seminary. To accommodate the thriving retreats, the Redemptorists purchased a portion of the Gen. Otto H. Falk estate on Crooked Lake. Retreats resumed in 1961 after the estate was remodeled and later, a 58-room building was erected to house retreatants.
On Oct. 12, 1963, the first retreat in the newly constructed building was offered to 91 retreatants. The center was dedicated in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.p.12-08-29-11-CHN-04A retreatant walks the labybrinth behind the Redemptorist Retreat Center in Oconomowoc, Aug. 29. The center opened in 1961, and the 58-room building (above) was constructed in 1963. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)
Located on 20 acres of lush, rolling hills in the Kettle Moraine, the center is fully air-conditioned and handicapped accessible. There are 58 private rooms, each with its own bathroom facilities, a large conference room, four meeting rooms and chapel. Individuals desiring more seclusion can spend private time in the Poustinia, a furnished, but modest hermitage designed as an isolated place to live for a short time as a hermit to encounter God in solitude, silence and prayer.
To commemorate the 87 years of preaching lay retreats in Oconomowoc and the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the retreat center, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki presided at an afternoon Mass to a standing room only crowd on Sunday, July 17.
According to business manager, Susan Ristow, the overflow crowd followed the eucharistic celebration on a monitor from the library, dining room and hallway.
“The archbishop praised the good work of the Redemptorists in reaching out to the most abandoned, helping them be closer to God, and offering solid spiritual nourishment as St. Alphonsus Ligouri had done,” she explained. “He spoke of the message of Alphonsus, who preached of a God ‘crazy with love’ for all persons.”
According to Ristow, the retreat center is a popular destination for church groups and individuals.

If you want to go:

Redemptorist Retreat Center
1800 N. Timber Trail Lane
Oconomowoc, WI 53066-4897
(262) 567-6900

Preached retreat: 2 nights,
$180/individual
Preached retreat: 2 nights,
$300/couple

Directed retreat: 7 nights,
$465/individual
Women religious: 5 nights, $290
Women religious: 7 nights, $395

Retreat fees include room, board, and materials
“We have lay men and women, men and women religious, high school Kairos groups, religious groups and organizations of all denominations who come here,” she said. “We offer a variety of themes to meet the many needs of the individuals’ spirituality. It is a time to be renewed and celebrate the beauty and wonder of God’s love and the gift of peace God desires us to possess. Many retreatants tell us of the peace, renewal and powerful healing that takes place within. They return home and tell others of their great experience.”
In residence at the center are three retired priests, two priests who frequently preach at the retreats and Redemptorist Br. Gerry Patin, director of the retreat center.
Some of the retreats offered include weekend men’s silent retreats, women’s weekend silent retreats, weekend retreats for married couples, and recent offerings for fathers and sons, and another for mothers and daughters.
Four retreats in the summer are designated for women religious. Additionally, retreats are available for active priests and retired priests. Other offerings are contemplative retreats, Holy Week retreats, days of prayer throughout the year, private retreats for men and women, Celtic spirituality, directed retreats, Kairos retreats, as well as retreats for post-abortive healing, and members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon.
Upon completion of the retreats, a usual response is, “’I wish I had known about this retreat center before in my life and how wonderful it is to have a retreat in this busy and hectic world,’” explained Br. Gerry who leads the retreat team with Fr. Jim White, Fr. Ed Vella and Franciscan Sr. Susan Fischer.
“Once people attend one of our retreats, they are hooked and return year after year,” said Br. Gerry. “I always say that miracles always happen on a retreat. When someone gives themselves time away to renew their love for God, then change will take place in their souls and lives. A person really deserves a retreat. Some of the people coming on retreat have been attending from the beginning of our center, 50 years ago. It is a shame that we sometimes feel that the retreat center is the best kept secret in the Oconomowoc area and the archdiocese area.”

Mount Mary alumna devotes post 9/11 days to helping others

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10_05_21_Carlton_1Suzanne Carlton
It’s the little things she remembers – each one still reducing her to tears.
The general who gave up his seat on the U.S. Army Human Resource Council for another candidate.
The colleague who drove her home the evening before.
The early morning conference call at the Pentagon.
The young officer coming into the room, passing her a 3 x 5 note card, and the world coming to a screeching halt as she read of the plane slamming into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We were on this 6:30 a.m. conference call and my boss was in Singapore at the time when the plane hit. We brought in a TV to see what was happening on CNN and then we called him to find a TV as well,’ said Suzanne Carlton, 68, who worked in Army Recruiting Outreach Connections. “He asked me if I thought it was an accident, so I looked on the TV at the blue skies and told him that I didn’t think so, and it was then that I saw the second plane and knew it wasn’t.”
The stunned staff continued the meeting after Carlton led them in prayer for the safety of those involved, and just 20 minutes later, a loud thud shook the building, sending the group scrambling for an exit.
Due to recent terrorism threats, the Pentagon was reinforced with bombproof glass doors that would lock when the threat was high to prevent terrorists from entering the building. But those same doors kept the Pentagon employees locked inside.
“The security guards were on the other side and they couldn’t hear us, and if they could, they didn’t know how to open the doors,” Carlton said. “Finally, someone called to us and we ran down a stairwell and were able to get out through the exit near the Arlington Cemetery.”
As they walked to the corner, a large, black fireball of smoke billowed, a stark contrast against the vivid azure sky. At the time, Carlton assumed they had been bombed, for the enormous flames concealed the plane underneath.
“It was very surreal; I couldn’t imagine that this was happening,” she said. “None of our cell phones worked, and I was afraid to take the Metro back home for fear that it would be another target for terrorists. So I flagged down another officer who drove me to Falls Church where I found a payphone and called my husband Charlie to pick me up.”

Free documentary showings of 'Beyond Belief'

Mount Mary College will be holding three free public showings of “Beyond Belief,” a documentary about two 9/11 widows who established “Beyond 9/11,” a non-profit group to help Afghan widows. The showings will be Friday, Sept. 9 at noon; Monday, Sept. 12 at 3 p.m.; and Friday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. at Gerhardinger Center, Room 109 at the college, 2900 N. Menomonee River Parkway, Milwaukee. The documentary will also be shown Friday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. at Notre Dame of Elm Grove, 13105 Watertown Plank Road, Elm Grove.

On Thursday, Sept. 22, the college is sponsoring a luncheon with Susan Retik who is featured in the documentary, at 11:30 a.m. at the Pfister Hotel. Tickets are $50 each and are available by calling: (414) 256-1210 online.
The days that followed brought confusion, loss and disbelief to Carlton, who learned her close friend, Lt. Gen. Timothy Maude, the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, was killed when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into his office on the west side of the Pentagon.
Also in Maude’s office was the colleague who drove her home the night before, Gerald Fisher, affectionately known as “Geep” to his friends.
“It was so very hard to lose these good men and dear friends,” said Carlton. “For the next few days, I wandered around the Pentagon hugging people, trying to see who was there and who wasn’t. I was afraid to call anyone on the phone for fear that they weren’t here any longer.”
Transfixed in a cloud of disbelief, Carlton didn’t know how to overcome the anguish that robbed the country of so many lives and the loss of the sense of security. The turning point for Carlton came a month later on the site of the Pentagon, when President and Mrs. George W. Bush, and Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld spoke at a memorial service. “We were all given flags and sang hymns and songs, and the day was crystal clear, just like the day of the attacks,” explained Carlton. “Everyone was crying – the president, Mrs. Bush, everyone – but throughout the service, they gave us hope and it purged the sadness. We all left there that day feeling good about our country, and what they have done for our people and the Pentagon. It was a real turning point.”
Carlton continued on with military life, picking up the pieces and working for another 18 months before retiring on her birthday in January 2003. She and her husband moved to Pinehurst, N.C. to enjoy retirement and spend time with their three children and growing cluster of grandchildren.
While retirement was in the plan, Carlton, a 1964 graduate of Mount Mary College, quickly realized that she was not the type to play golf all day. As the wife of a retired career Army officer, she understood the difficulties the transient lifestyle had on the children, and after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began, wanted to help children in her community adjust to living a military life.  
“We saw the problem when our middle child, Dawn, had to move with us when my husband was transferred to another location,” she said. “Here Dawn was trying to get into good colleges, but her transcripts were not consistent from school to school. Some schools didn’t accept accelerated classes, some required state history classes in each state, and because of this, Dawn’s GPA appeared lower and her class ranking dropped just because we moved. Finally, the schools agreed to write a letter to put in with her college applications to explain this unique situation.”
With so many children in the school system in Moore County, where they live, Carlton wanted to find a way to help them to adapt to the changes involved with frequent relocation, separation anxiety associated with the frequent deployment of parents to war torn areas of the world, and parents returning home injured or deceased.
“These issues escalated after 9/11 and this lifestyle became the new normal for these kids,” she said. “I wanted to find a way to help build understanding and support in these communities so the kids know there are people who care about them and want to help.”
A longtime member of Kiwanis International, Carlton knew that Kiwanis was all about helping children. She approached her club to sponsor a membership to Military Child Education Coalition for the Moore County Schools, a group she had learned that was active in Texas. Through their sponsorship, a training seminar hosted by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) http://www.militarychild.org/ offered seminars to the school at no cost, to train staff in supporting the transitioning military student.
The group works to develop communication and networking with the students and school districts across the country, develop procedures to support students who are dealing with frustration and anxieties, and to support children in their frequent moves.
“We have several thousand children in our school districts and there wasn’t much help for them – in fact, there was nothing on the agenda to accommodate or provide support for them,” she said. “But the training symposiums were wonderful in teaching the schools how to counsel students, detect signs of problems and positively handle situations and deal with the fear of the unknown for them.”
The programs are growing as they teach children how to be resilient in difficult situations. Because of her work in Kiwanis and in the MCEC, Carlton has traveled to several states to promote the support of the program.
“This training dealt with why resilience is important in this world, and not just with children of the military,” said Carlton. “We have many stresses in the world, such as economic, hurricanes, and many other stresses in the world. It is good training for anyone.”
In addition to her work with MCEC, Carlton, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Pinehurst, and her husband are involved in tutoring Hispanic children and bringing medical and nutritional supplies to some of the poorest areas in Moore County. While much of their free time is devoted to helping others, neither would have it any other way.
“I think giving back is just the essence of who I am and how I was raised,” said Carlton, choking back tears. “I was brought up in Catholic schools and this mission of social justice and taking care of people comes natural to being Catholic and following Jesus’ example to look out for the poor and meek. I have always had an inclination to do this and really enjoy helping other people.”