Monday, July 30, 2012

Exerpt of my Br. Beekeeper Story on Catholic News Service

Beekeeping a spiritual endeavor for Wisconsin Redemptorist brother
 

OCONOMOWOC, Wis. (CNS) -- If one roams the Redemptorist Retreat Center's 20 acres of natural woodlands, the only sounds to be heard breaking 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 columbine, lilies and other wildflowers that line the property. Affectionately known as Brother Beekeeper, 62-year-old Redemptorist Brother Gerry Patin, director of the 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 Brother 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.'"

Sunday, July 29, 2012

She’ll always have Paris

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Paris still reawakens Mary Emory’s senses even though she’s been to the city more than 25 times.
emoryMary Emory is pictured outside the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee on Tuesday, May 8. She is holding a copy of an invitation to the French dinner at the cathedral on July 14, a fundraiser for the cathedral held during Milwaukee’s Bastille Days. More photos can be viewed at photos.chnonline.org. (Catholic Herald photo by Ernie Mastroianni) 
Enamored with the French culture, Emory shares that love with others in Wisconsin and throughout the United States.
On May 31, the retired Brookfield Central High School French teacher received “La Médaille d’Or du Mérite Francophone” – an award created by La Renaissance Française, founded in Paris in 1916 by Raymond Poincaré, president of the French Republic.
The award, given to those who render eminent and exceptional service in promoting the French language and culture, was presented to Emory by the French Ambassador to the United States, François Delattre, at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., and is only the third such award presented to someone in the United States. Candidates are selected by the American delegation and endorsed by the French committee.
According to Jane Robert, president of The American Delegation of La Renaissance Française, Emory was selected because of her long-term sharing of her knowledge of and passion for the French language and the culture it represents.
“Her efforts have made an impact in members of the Alliances Françaises, the American Association of Teachers of French and Beyond,” said Robert in a congratulatory letter. “Students, teachers, travelers and many others have all benefitted from Emory’s successful and rewarding activities.”
“This is really an honor and just wonderful,” she said of the award, noting the celebration took place at the residence of the French Ambassador and included a reception after the ceremony.
The 67-year-old member of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist serves on the committee for the annual Bastille Days fundraising dinner and planning for the annual French Mass.
According to the cathedral’s time and talent coordinator, Helen Gadwa, when the original planning for the French dinner began, Emory was the first name that came to mind when looking for assistance, ideas and leadership.
“Mary has been a key member of the committee, planning ‘An Evening in Paris,’ since it began two years ago,” she said of the cathedral fundraiser held annually during Milwaukee’s Bastille Days festival, explaining that Emory brings leadership, ideas and “a dynamic French flair for the event.”
The “Evening in Paris” event took place in the gardens and atrium at the cathedral, Saturday, July 14, and featured an elegant five-course meal following the French Mass celebrated by Fr. Steve Lampe. 
“The French-inspired dinner (was) prepared and served by the Pfister Hotel, wines (were) selected for tasting and dinner service by the Waterford Wine Company,” said Gadwa. “Entertainment is provided by the Trio du Monde. The fundraising event took place just feet away from the Bastille Days Festival.”
Emory has also served as past president and current board member of the Alliance Française de Milwaukee, a school she founded in Shorewood to offer French language classes. The mission of l’Alliance Française de Milwaukee is to promote, share and enjoy the culture, language and friendship of the French-speaking world.
Emory also serves as a board member of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
“The museum was a train station back in the 1800s and 25 years ago it was turned into an impressionist art museum,” said Emory. “It’s located on the Seine and has a large collection of paintings by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh and other masterpieces.”
In addition to her recent award, the French government honored her with the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques for promoting the French culture in America.
For more than 40 years, Emory has been involved with art, music and French programs throughout the Milwaukee area, and has no plans to slow down.
“I just love volunteering, and I love the French language and culture,” she explained. “I took French at Whitefish Bay High School and got hooked on the language. I majored in French in college and loved everything about it.”
Married to John for nearly 45 years, Emory admitted that her husband knows few French words, but enjoys traveling about once a year to her adopted homeland.
“He is very supportive of everything I do with promoting the French language as well as a lot of the other things I get involved in,” she said. “In addition, we have two grown children – a son and a daughter and four grandchildren. We babysit every Wednesday and really enjoy it.”
She enjoys being able to share her love of the French language with her faith while serving as lector during the annual French Mass at the Cathedral, and when attending Mass while visiting France.
“I have attended quite a few church services in France and like it very much, but I admit, I do miss some of the words as they speak quite quickly,” she said, laughing. “We attended Mass one Palm Sunday in Paris and it was wonderful. It is always a treat to share my love of France and incorporate it with my Catholic faith.”

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Still in love after 65 years

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They were in high school when they met. He was one of the neighborhood boys who gathered at girls’ homes in the evenings. She lived nearby, and from time to time, the teens visited her home, especially in the winter, when they wanted respite from the cold.
marriage1Jean and Joe Van Tuyle met in high school and married at St. Dorothy Church, Chicago, on July 19, 1947. The couple, members of St. Andrew Parish, Delavan, recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Top right photo shows them in 1947 and photo at bottom right is from the anniversary party. (Submitted photos courtesy the Van Tuyle family)“We usually picked out some girl we knew and then hung out at (her) house,” said Joe Van Tuyle. “We would play records on the windup record player, dance and play basketball by throwing paper balls at a wastebasket and just talk until the fathers would kick us out. Jean was one of those girls, and that is how we met. I kept coming back.”
Joe was a junior in high school when WWII began so he and his friends hired a teacher the summer before their senior year in order to graduate high school before enlisting in the Navy when they turned 18.
After serving in the U.S. Navy on Peleliu Island in the Pacific, he married Jean on July 19, 1947, at St. Dorothy Church in Chicago.
The couple raised eight children on Chicago’s South Side, Robert, 62, Patricia LaBella, 62, Sharon Bedell, 61, Linda Mucrone, 60, Carol Van Tuyle, 59, Joseph Jr., 55, Mary Kathryn (Katie) Salo, 51, and Jean LaMarre, 47, and belonged to St. Catherine of Genoa Parish, an “Irish” parish about two miles from their home.
Decades-long love story continues
Their decades-long love story continues as Joe, 86, and Jean, 85, recently gathered with nearly 80 family and friends to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary at Assembly Park in Delavan. Relatives, including 22 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren traveled from Massachusetts, Georgia, Tennessee, California, Illinois and Wisconsin to attend the celebration, share stories and reminisce.
Although the children grew up poor, their parents’ love, work ethic and strong faith carried them through trials.
“Times were hard, but they made sacrifices to send us to Catholic schools,” said Patti. “They brought us to Mass every Sunday and made sure that we completed our sacraments. Through their example, they taught us to love and respect God, our parents, grandparents, siblings and other adults.”
Joe and Jean cared for their parents as they grew older. And while they raised their growing family in a three bedroom home, they found room for a relative or two (or three or four). Somehow there was always enough food to go around when unexpected guests arrived, although the family used the emergency code, “FHB,” which meant “family hold back” until the guests were served. 
“They showed us how to give back to our church, our family and our community,” said Patti. “They have always been there to love and support us, even as adults with our children and grandchildren. They have been faith-filled and stoic through years of emotional and physical pain.”
Couple works hard to make ends meet
Early in their marriage, Joe went to American Television Engineering School and worked for General Electric installing television antennas and repairing TVs, later opening his own shop.
“In order to supplement our income, I also went to work for the B & O Railroad,” he said. “At the urging of Jean’s aunt, I used my technical certificate and started teaching adult education, then basic electronics after that, so I had three jobs all at one time. After 13 years, I quit the railroad and later closed my TV shop. I taught school for the next 25 years and retired in 1990.”
After their fifth child was born, Jean worked as a bookkeeper at a Chicago dress shop until she had more children. marriage2
“I stayed home until I began to teach in sewing and tailoring in1967,” she said. “I took more courses at Chicago State College for academic certification and taught school in the inner city for the next 23 years.”
They were also active in their parish’s Young People’s Club and Joe sang in the choir, coached the seventh and eighth grade basketball teams and was a lector and leader of songs at church.
“We always put God first and always asked for his help in raising our children,” said Joe, who volunteered for organizations including the Moose Lodge and served as the team captain and treasurer for the bowling league. “We always tried to teach our children right from wrong.”
“Dad showed me that you need to contribute to the community that you live in,” said Carol. “He has always contributed. He taught us to work hard and play hard. Both parents gave us an example of a strong work ethic and I remember that neither of them ever called in sick from work.”
4 gallons of milk, 4 loaves of bread daily
With so many mouths to feed, Patti remembered her parents going through four gallons of milk and four loaves of bread per day.
“We rarely had desserts, so once in a while, we would sneak a sugar sandwich, which was sugar and butter on bread, or a banana and peanut butter sandwich,” she said. “We never watched TV on school nights; we all started babysitting or getting odd jobs by the time we were 10.”
Because the family couldn’t afford to have the children ride the school bus, Joe drove them to school in the mornings and they walked the two miles home. To supplement the family’s income, the older children sold tomatoes from the Campbell’s Soup Farm door to door in the fall.
“We gave the money to mom to help pay for our tuition and uniforms for school,” said Patti. “And even though Dad was a TV repair man, we rarely had a working TV.”
Katie remembered that despite the hand-me down television sets, TVs being used as TV stands or stacked televisions with the bottom providing the sound and the top set providing the picture, her parents worked hard and they were grateful for what they had.
Rich in spite of being poor
“We had to stand in line for the one bathroom, we had old cars in the yard and at times gave up a bedroom for Granny,” she said. “I felt rich though, because we always had exactly what we needed, their love and support, which is what makes us who we are today.”
Carol remembered the love between her parents and how they instilled in them love for each other, not to gossip about others, and not to fight in public.
“Daddy drove us to school and they always made sure we went to church,” she said. “Daddy was a very hard worker and they never argued in front of us.”
When Carol’s marriage ended in divorce, Joe and Jean helped her pick up the pieces.
“Dad made sure I took my children to church and made their sacraments,” she said. “Mom has always been there to listen to any problems I shared, and kept them in confidence. They have both been generous and giving with anything they had. They put God first and their relationship with each other right behind him, and then their children and other family.”
The family took a vacation to Delavan each summer and attended St. Andrew Parish while there; they fell in love with the quiet, tree-lined town with the cobblestone streets.
Those summer days would be spent languishing on the beach, where Joe taught each of the children to water-ski, said Jeannie.
“We always played games together and the whole family still loves to sing together,” she said, adding. “I think they were hoping we would turn into the Lennon Sisters.”
With all the chaos, activities and clutter of a large family crammed into a small home, a sense of humor is useful. Joe and Jean often left love notes around the house for each other and as a joke, signed different names to the notes. Joe became a professional clown and he often clowned for many parties.
“I guess that alone is funny in itself,” said Jeannie. “He went to one of my sisters’ concerts once with a Groucho Marx mustache and glasses on, and there is a rubber chicken floating around the family somewhere. There are jokers in every family and we have our share. We have always played gags and jokes. We also love surprising each other and have thrown lots of surprise parties for birthdays, anniversaries and weddings over the years. They definitely instill a sense of humor in all of us. In fact, we surprised our parents with a talent show at their anniversary party.”
Family prays together
Aside from his family, Joe is most proud of his military career, and Jean is enamored with religious history, explained Carol.
The family ate meals together and said grace before eating. They prayed as a family and believe in the power of that prayer. Jeannie jokes that Catholicism was instilled in each of them out of fear of God and their mother.
One of the best memories for the entire family is Thanksgiving dinner.
“Mom cooked two huge turkeys and we set the ping-pong table for all of us and the relatives to eat on,” she said. “I have been blessed that this tradition was handed down to me when Mom gave it up, and it is still the family’s favorite holiday. One of the only times we almost all get together. Now with all the grandkids growing up, we are all so busy in our own lives, it is harder to get together, so we are all so excited we were able to have this big celebration for our parents.”
In 2007, Joe and Jean made Assembly Park in Delavan their permanent home and joined St. Andrew Parish.
The memories of their parents’ love, hard work, support and unwavering faith are etched in their children’s hearts and minds. As the guests came and went, Joe and Jean reflected on their lives.
“The best part is how wonderful our children are to us and to each other,” said Jean. “And the second was having our church deacon, Phil Kilkenny, come to the party and give us a blessing and we were able to renew our vows.”
What is the secret to a 65-year marriage?
“Jean said she married a patient man,” joked Joe. “But we always thought marriage was forever.”

Friday, July 27, 2012

He’s not just fiddlin’ around


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Erv Kovara can hardly believe it himself. On July 10, he became 97 years old. kovaraErv Kovara, 97, accompanies the St. Mary by the Lake Parish choir on his violin at Mass each Sunday. Pictured after Mass on Sunday, July 8, Kovara has been involved with music ministry at the Racine parish, for about 10 years. More photos can be viewed at photos.chnonline.org. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)“It’s hard for me to believe it, because I don’t feel that old,” he said. “But the good Lord has blessed me with the wherewithal and physical ability to play my violin.”
And there lies the secret to his long life: music.
Every Sunday morning, the nonagenarian accompanies the adult choir on his violin at St. Mary by the Lake Parish in Racine.
His music is the culmination of a lifetime of playing that started when he was 15 years old and the late Dominican Sr. Mary Benedict taught him the instrument.
“She was great – just something else,” he said. “She made me want to play all the time.”
According to Jeff Rasmussen, St. Mary music and worship director for 33 years, Kovara is a faithful and faith-filled member of the choir, playing during the 9:30 a.m. liturgy every week.
“About 10 years ago, he approached me one Sunday and told me he played the violin,” said Rasmussen. “He wanted to know if we were interested in having a violin player. I told him, ‘Sure.’ He showed up the next week, I gave him the music we were singing, and he proceeded to play it without even needing to practice with us. He was an excellent sight-reader.”
A widower for more than 30 years, Kovara originally drove his Volvo station wagon to and from church each week, approximately a 2.5-mile drive each way. Although he is still mobile and has good eyesight, a minor accident on the way to Thanksgiving Mass a few years ago convinced him to voluntarily relinquish the driving responsibilities to his son, Dan.
“Now Dan drives Erv to the 9:30 liturgy, where he plays his violin,” said Rasmussen. “And although the choir is off for the summer, Erv and my flute player usually play most summer Sundays. I think it is the ‘grace of God’ that keeps him going. God has a mission for him, as he does for all of us. I believe his is sharing his gift of music with others, especially SMBTL parish.”
Kovara has a different explanation.
“I think my bad disposition keeps me going,” he said, laughing.
Kovara and Rasmussen realized that they share much more in common than their Catholic faith and their love of music. Both men learned to play their instruments from Sr. Benedict.
“I believe I mentioned to someone in choir around the time of her death, how it was she who asked me in seventh grade if I would be interested in learning to play the organ, so as to accompany the students at the Friday 11 a.m. Mass while I was attending St. Patrick Grade School,” Rasmussen explained. “I told her I was interested, as I had been taking piano lessons from the Dominican sisters since the first grade. That is what started me on my path on my 48 years in music ministry. Erv overheard me talking and mentioned that Sr. Mary Benedict had been his violin teacher, having taken lessons from her at the Siena Center. I commented how ironic it was that we were both involved in music ministry and Sr. Benedict was our common denominator.”
While members of the parish are astounded to learn the age of the talented Kovara, he is a bit self-effacing of his prowess.
“People do come up to me and tell me that they are surprised that I am playing and surprised at my age. Physically, I am lacking some ability and I can’t do quite as well as I used to, due to some arthritis,” he said. “I should practice more and would sure like to play better than I do, but the Lord gave me the physical ability to play as well as I can and I accept that, and God also made me healthy to live my life as it is.”
The retired Johnson Wax employee and farmer was married to Emma, who died in 1970. The couple had six children, one of whom died in an auto accident. He said he has too many grandchildren to count, but there are a lot of them.
“My wife is the one who actually brought up our six children and if it wasn’t for her, we would not have had the family we had,” said Kovara. “She gave me something that can never be taken away from me and God gave her to me.”
Kovara resides in Caledonia in the Parkview Gardens senior living center, where he lives on his own, but is grateful for the expert cooks who provide meals in the residents’ dining room.
“That is the best part – because I really don’t care to cook. My apartment is small, but that’s OK; physically, I am unable to do that much,” he said, adding, “I just take the bitter with the sweet and try to at least show a little ability and love for my neighbors and family and my children. I see my family quite often and I am very blessed by that.”
In gratitude for the blessings of his life, Kovara is insistent on giving back in any means he is able. Whether it is donating funds toward music materials or being available in his music ministry, he attributes everything to God and is thankful for each day.
“I know that there are other people who are giving time and effort to play in the choir, and I am just one of the parish members who tries to correspond with that and help the Masses continue,” he explained. “I figure that I am making a little contribution and I hope that I am sharing my faith through my music to the parish. I am blessed by being able to attend St. Mary by the Lake. I love the people there, the administration, the priest and especially our choir director, Jeff. He is one great human being and I would do almost anything for him to make things well.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Stop by for the most decadent gluten free pizza ever!



Canadian Bacon version

cheesy corn version
Living gluten-free and regimented to an anti-inflammatory diet, thanks to Levaquin toxicity might get the most seasoned food aficionado bored out of their minds!

I was very bored today!

In an effort to comfort my wounded spirit and body, after falling and cracking a couple of ribs the other day, I was ready for something a bit more exciting and enticing to emerge from my grill.

Oh boy, do I have a recipe for you!

Gluten Free Grilled pizza with cheesy corn, fresh tomatoes and basil

I used the Gluten free Olive Oil bread dough recipe from Healthy Bread in Five minutes a day for my base.  

After allowing the dough to rise, I placed some non-stick aluminum foil on two baking sheets. Then I drizzled some oil, and plopped on the dough. This stuff is incredibly sticky, so I oiled some plastic wrap and spread the dough to the edges of the pan.

 Normally, with regular dough, this crust could be placed directly on the grill--but gluten free has nothing to hold it together, so putting in on a solid base gave it a chance to cook without falling through the grates.

After getting the grill to about 500 degrees, I popped those crusts into the grill, let them cook for about 5 minutes, then flipped them over for another five.

Once that was done, I removed them from the grill and topped them with this awesome recipe from the August Martha Stewart magazine--hope you don't mind me writing this down, Martha, but it was a keeper and oh, so easy!

  • Cut the corn from 2 ears of fresh corn
  • one garlic clove (I used two because I am nuts for garlic)
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (please use fresh)
  • sea salt
  • 2 sliced tomatoes
  • thinly sliced Mozzarella cheese (I did not have fresh, so I used the sliced stuff in a package-sorry Martha!)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil (right from my garden--oooh boy!)

Take the corn, olive oil, garlic,  Parmesan cheese, salt, and pulse in a food processor until fairly smooth.


Spread corn mixture on the grilled crust, and top with tomatoes, basil and cheese.  Grill on low for another 5-6 minutes.

You will totally love this! The blend of the sweetness of the corn, coupled with the garlic and cheese, is an incredible base for the fresh tomatoes and aromatic basil. If I did this again, I would use fresh mozzarella, as this recipe screams for freshness through and through--but it was incredible, all the same!

For my son, who thinks pizza has to have red sauce to make it pizza, I took another grilled crust, topped it with pizza sauce, Canadian bacon, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese. I think he inhaled 10 pieces in under 5 minutes. Guess it was good.

Anyhow--this will be regular fare on my grill--so let me know if you are in the area as I always have bread dough in the frig and it will only take me a few minutes to fire it up for you!



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Creating Space for God

We are such busy people.

Our intentions are often admirable, but we rarely find the time, or rather make the time for that which is essential....eternal.

Like others, I have a laundry list of things to do: read a certain number of spiritual books, volunteer, work on my sewing, my writing, household projects and chores, gardening, visiting family and friends and of course, honing my spiritual life.

It is easy to become bogged down in the busyness of this world. To become so engrained in the nuts and bolts, the nitty gritty of life that we ignore that which is most important.


This morning, those feelings of overwhelming angst were plaguing my mind, my spirit--- and I was unable to enter into the communal nature of God.

So, I sat.

In silence.

The windows were opened, so I closed my eyes as the shards of light pierced the darkness and absorbed the waking of God's creation.


As the world woke, I listened to the birds greet the morning, chirping their thanksgiving to God for another moment to eat, drink, play and to soar.

As with us, all of their needs are provided, save the angst over bills, work, business, and family.

But we, are so complicated that we often forgo the simple for the difficult--thereby filling that space with chaos, rather than prayer. Solitude and quiet can be prayer, and can often be more effective than praying with words. Perhaps, for me, my mind needs to settle and allow God's simple beauty to speak between the spaces--and I need to open my soul to receive more space and consequently, more of God.


 "I believe you can look at solitude, community, and ministry as three disciplines by which we create space for God. If we create space in which God can act and speak, something surprising will happen. You and I are called to these disciplines if we want to be disciples."
--Henri J. M. Nouwen

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Last year at SLS--No cold feet-only eager anticipation!



Four years ago, I received an overstuffed envelope filled with many sheets of paper that I was to complete before sending my son to school at St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mt. Calvary, WI, a Catholic all-boys school that is now in its 153rd year. The myriad of information was not what grabbed my attention and began the flow of tears, that still, upon remembering it four years later, well up in the corners of my eyes again. No, not the paperwork, but the pair of brown SLS socks, sent by the school's rector, Fr. Dennis Druggan--in case we got "cold feet."

"How did he know," I wondered aloud as I clutched the socks and my fluffy white dog and sobbed for what seemed like hours alone on my back porch. How did he know that I was having cold feet about sending my youngest child, my baby, to a boarding school?

The sweetness of the gesture, accompanied by the many visits to the school and speaking with Fr. Dennis about this new journey in our son's life, melted my soul and I knew, just knew, that despite my missing my son, this would be OK.

As we prepare for his senior year where he will be serving as the school president, I could not be more proud, or more grateful for all that this school has done for my son and for our family. My son is no longer a boy, he has become a man. He is strong in his faith, educationally at the top of other students his age, has a great work ethic, is respectful, honorable and sensitive to others. He carries with him, the Capuchin Franciscan spirit to "preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words."


The entire staff works as a team to help students succeed academically, athletically, spiritually, socially, morally and ethically. Each member is part of the SLS family from the rector to the custodial staff, and all are dedicated to the mission of St. Francis of Assisi.


"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” 



While my son has not yet decided upon his career goals, I know that through his formation received at SLS, the focus on faith, family,education, social justice and diversity will make him a success in whatever road he chooses to follow after graduation in the spring.

I am, and will forever be a proud parent of a St. Lawrence Seminary student and will support this school forever. Thank you Fr. Dennis, Fr. Gary and all of the wonderful Capuchin Franciscans for helping my son to become a fine, moral, young man!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Assistant DA gives time to daughter, parish, pro-life groups

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A couple of years ago Annie Jay was sitting at Mass in St. Mary Church, Kenosha, as Fr. Michael Newman announced a need for Christian formation teachers for classes that fall. jay Despite her longtime desire to teach Christian formation, Jay did not sign up and had not planned to volunteer. But after a couple of weeks of appeals, she called to see if she was needed and learned that the director was desperate for someone to teach seventh grade.
“I told her that I knew how to talk to seventh graders because I had a daughter who was in sixth grade at the time. I enjoyed teaching right away,” said Jay. “I asked to keep seventh grade this year as I was used to the program.”
A similar situation happened last summer when the appeal went out for parishioners to become members of the parish council, only this time, her 11-year-old daughter Melannie prodded her into being considered.
“She gave me a hard time last year because I didn’t do it, and I told her that I didn’t have much time and I had only been a parish member for a couple of years,” said Jay, “And then this year, when the announcements came in, she began poking me in the ribs every time it was announced.”
After looking down at her daughter’s beseeching blue eyes each week, Jay finally added her name to the list and figured that if the members wanted her as part of the parish council, they would call, and if not, she would be content sitting in the background.
After a couple of weeks, she was called for discernment, and began serving her term as a member of the parish council last August.
“They immediately checked me in to being a secretary,” said Jay. “I love it though, and it is so exciting to be part of a decision making process and to know what is going on and doing my best to contribute.”
According to her pastor, Fr. Newman, Jay is a passionate member of the parish who uses her gifts for the betterment of the parish and community.
“I personally have found her insightful and very enthusiastic about the future of the church,” he said. “She teaches in Christian formation and the fact that she will tackle that of her own free will and is not blowing her own horn is indicative of her character. She takes excellent parish council minutes for us and with 15 people having various views on things, trying to summarize that and have a professional rendering of the minutes while cutting through the chatter to get through to the essence, is a gift.”
Serving as parish council secretary and Christian formation teacher are only two of the hats that Jay wears. In addition to her primary role as mother to Melannie,

Annie Jay

Age: 32

Occupation: Kenosha County assistant district attorney
Parish: St. Mary Parish, Kenosha

Book recently read: “War Horse,”  by Michael Morpurgo

Favorite movies: “All that Jazz” and “Beauty and the Beast”

Favorite quotation: “If any good thing shall go forward, something must be adventured.” – St. Thomas More
(Submitted photo courtesy Annie Jay)
she is a Kenosha County assistant district attorney, and serves as secretary of the Kenosha Bar Association and is a long-standing member of the pro-life organization Democrats for Life of America and the Feminists for Life.
Acting was Jay’s first career before leaving it to attend University of Delaware to major in political science and minor in German, and then University of Wisconsin Law School. Since middle school, she’s performed in local theater, touring shows and television commercials until entering college at 22.
“While I had always wanted to be an attorney, I didn’t know anyone who went to law school and it seemed like one of those things that others did. But then some friends of mine from high school were in law school and weren’t any smarter than me, so I decided to go. I moved here to Kenosha in August of 2008 due to my new position as the assistant district attorney,” she said. “I had always wanted to be a prosecutor from as long as I can remember – even before acting. It is so incredibly cool to go to court and protect victims which is really combined theater with law while protecting crime victims.”
Last October, her efforts were recognized when she received the Lee & Lynn Copen Family Justice Award for her work with sexual assault and domestic violence victims. The award is presented each year by Women and Children’s Horizons in Kenosha.
“It was a total surprise and a major honor because I became a prosecutor to protect the most vulnerable victims in society,” said Jay.
Her involvement in Pro-Life Democrats and Feminists for Life go back about 10 years ago when she was still living in Pennsylvania.
“The Democrats for Life is a national group that brings people together and makes you feel better about politicians who are working for the Catholic values of life and social justice issues,” she explained. “I got involved because Bob Casey was our governor (in Pennsylvania) and was very vocal about being a pro-life Democrat – in fact, he was so pro-life that he wasn’t allowed to speak in primetime (at the 1992 Democratic Convention) about pro-life issues. Now his son is active and that was part of how the organization came to my attention.”
Similarly, her association with Feminists for Life occurred after hearing “Everybody Loves Raymond” television actress Patricia Heaton thanking her mom for having her, and she later learned that she was part of that organization.
“Feminists for Life do college women outreach and believe in the strength of women and the potential of every human life. They refuse to choose between women and children,” she said. “The problem is so many college women are not aware of resources to help them.”
Careful scheduling of her workdays and weekends ensures that she and Melannie have dinner together each evening, and spend fun time together on the weekends.
“This past summer, I was able to travel with my daughter’s CYO marching band, and that was such a great experience,” said Jay. “With the number of things I do, I am very careful of the time I have with my daughter. It is so important for me to set a good example for her, and I want her to know that everyone has different gifts and talents that can be used to help the church and the community.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Joy in the Journey


It's not the same plane--not even close.
But it was a reminder of where I once was
What I took for granted
What I have gained
What I have lost and what lies ahead.

Snob that I was, I thought all kids had dads who owned their own airplanes. We had two in my lifetime--both 7 seaters, room for each person in the family. Before that, my dad owned planes with the local flying club. I lost my lunch in countless Piper Cubs, Cessna 150s, 180s, and a myriad of other planes that I have long forgotten.

My head buried in my latest mystery novel, I ignored my dad as he shared God's magnificent artwork with me. Angry storm clouds looming below as we rode in blue skies punctuated with wispy cirrus clouds.

"Just look, see how beautiful this is? my Dad begged.

"I'm reading, Dad."

"OK for you."

Now and I then I looked up to appease him, and grunted as pinks, fire orange, violet hues combined to create sunsets that most individuals have never witnessed. They were there-- a gift for me, but I didn't care.

 Instead.

"When are we going to get there?" I would ask impatiently.

And as we awaited transportation from a weary blacksmithing friend in the middle of the night, I would complain.

 "Why can't we fly in regular jets so we get to places on time?"

He didn't care.

He was lost in his own world, of peace, and joy--whistling and singing, despite my whining and complaining.

This was his heaven. His journey and he was sharing it with me--and I could have cared less.

It wasn't until his health deteriorated and he relinquished his pilot's license and sold his plane that I began to appreciate the blessings he offered and those that I took for granted. Giving up his freedom in the air deflated him and probably did more to end his vibrant life, than just about anything else.

How shameful I behaved! After all:

How many kids had a dad fly them and their friends to music camp, not once, but 6 times?
How many were able to take spur of the moment vacations to Mackinac Island by plane and not have to stand on the crowded ferry with thousands of others?
How many could get out of school to travel by private plane on business trips and take side trips to pick oranges or ride the roller coaster at Knott's Berry Farm?
How many were blessed  to attend Fly-ins and EAA conventions with their Dad?

We did this stuff all the time and it wasn't until it ended, that I realized what a gift this was. What a gift he was.

Our journey to Christ is the same way.

The gifts are with us always--but do we open our eyes and see the tapestry being woven before our eyes, or do we choose to look at the back and complain about the knotted, mismatched, and loose threads? I have.

I think God wants us to find Joy in our journey each day--no matter if we are in the midst of rain, drought, weakness, pain, periods of wealth or dearth. There is always joy. There is always something to be grateful for. Where there is life--there is hope!

Don't wait until it is too late to say Thank you.

Thank you Dad. Thank you God!

German Fest partnership ‘inspired by God’

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Seven years ago, Linda Schmitz struggled with serious questions, feeling down about her life, and wondering how she fit into God’s plan. Steeped in her thoughts, she took a walk and found herself asking tough questions about her life and about the Catholic faith she’d practiced since the cradle. germanfestLinda SchmitzAs she walked, she felt closer to God, and somehow paved the way for the annual Capuchin’s St. Ben’s Run/Walk for the Hungry at German Fest.
“I took a walk after work and just began asking him, ‘Lord, what is it you want me to be doing with my life? Why aren’t I married? Why haven’t I met anyone? What am I supposed to do? Just lead me,’” Schmitz explained. “I just felt that there was something really missing in my life. All of a sudden, I heard a man’s voice say, ‘Feed my children.’ I looked around and wondered where that voice came from. I pray all of the time and I have never heard anything like that.”
She and God talk
With no explanation for the voice she heard, Schmitz, now 56, pondered the message on her way home, had dinner, went to bed and went to work the next day.
As she did the day before, Schmitz prayed and walked after work, asking the Lord the same questions as before. Again, she heard the man’s voice say, “Feed my children.” Stopping, she lifted her arms and began to speak to God.
“How do you expect me to feed your children? I am not Angelina Jolie. How can I feed your children?” she said. “’I don’t have millions of dollars.’”
After a few moments Schmitz, a member of St. Gabriel Parish, Hubertus, realized she was shouting to God in broad daylight, and warily looked around to make sure no one heard her.
“I just didn’t know what to do after I heard the message again, so I went to the food pantry and dropped off a bag of groceries,” she said. “I had recently started going to St. James Parish, (Menomonee Falls) because my mom wasn’t well and it was closer to her.
Each week in the bulletin, there was a list of seven things needed for the Sussex Food Pantry and while people began charging out of church to get on with their day, I would sit in the parking lot and page through their wish list. Then I’d go to the Piggly Wiggly and pick some of the things off the list and would bring it to the food pantry – I began starting my week out that way.”
German Fest loses run/walk sponsor
For a year, Schmitz delivered food to the food pantry, thinking that this was God’s meaning behind his words to her on those two summer afternoons. However, asgermanfest2Runners leave the starting line at the beginning of the 2008 Capuchins’ Run/Walk for the Hungry at German Fest. The St. Ben Community Meal has been the beneficiary of the funds raised during the run/walk on the opening day of German Fest since 2006. (Submitted photo courtesy German Fest) the office manager for German Fest, Schmitz was accustomed to phone calls each summer about the walk/run preceding the festival. However, after the latest sponsoring organization became overwhelmed with the amount of work entwined with the event, it backed out, leaving German Fest without a walk/run sponsor.
“I kept getting these calls asking about a run/walk, and when the advertising promo chairperson came in, I asked if we were having a run/walk, because I wasn’t sure what to tell people,” she said. “I was told that the public relations firm had not been able to find anyone because they wanted someone to take it on, but they would have to do everything to get it going.”
Call surprises, intrigues Br. Dave
Without another thought, Schmitz volunteered to find a sponsor willing to do all of the work associated with the event, in exchange for all of the financial remuneration.
Quickly, she compiled a list of four charitable organizations that might be interested in hosting the event and picked up the phone.
“I decided not to call the first group on my list because I was upset with them because they refused to help a friend of mine when they were in need. So I went to my second choice and made a call to Br. Dave Schwab, who ran the St. Ben’s Community Meal,” she said, laughing,  “I think I surprised him.”
Surprised, indeed.
The unexpected call piqued the interest of Br. Dave, a Capuchin Franciscan and former St. Lawrence Seminary High School cross country and track coach, who remembers little, other than his own naïveté about the conversation.
“Linda was honest about how much work it was and I was naïve; but after a quick meeting with my development office and human relations, I said, ‘Let’s just jump in here and do it,’” he explained. “We had 380 runners the first year, but we were so blitzed by all the detail work that I was really uptight when I went down to put up the finish line banner.”
With help, he strung the banner across North Harbor Drive from one tree to a post on the other side of the street. As soon as the banner was in place, a city bus made its way down the road, so Br. Dave and his assistants held the banner high enough to clear the bus, however, not high enough to clear the strobe light on the back.
“The bus caught the banner and we had to let go of the rope and the banner and just watched it go down the road,” he said. “At that moment, I said, ‘I don’t think I want to do this anymore.’”
Now features 2,400 participants
Perseverance won, and Br. Dave was determined to continue using this run/walk as the primary fundraiser for the St. Ben’s Community meal. The monumental

If you want to go

Thursday, July 26, 7 p.m.
North gate of Summerfest

The Capuchins’ Run Walk
for the Hungry at German Fest
is accessible to everyone.
Committed runners can compete
in a professionally managed,
chip timed 5K on a USATF certified course. Walkers can stroll all or part
of the two-mile course on an island
off Lakeshore State Park.
The walker’s course is handicapped accessible so walk, stroll, push a stroller, use a wheelchair or walker
and enjoy an evening on Milwaukee’s lakefront. After the run/walk
concludes, all participants and their guests receive free entry into German Fest. Registered participants also receive a $5 gift card good for food or beverage that evening at the festival plus a commemorative T-shirt,
and two for one coupon to return
to German Fest.

Entry fee for a single runner
is $25 Two mile walking fee is
$20. After July 18, registration
increases by $5.
Team rates are available

For more information, visit:
http://capuchinsrunwalk forthehungry.org 
effort by the Capuchin Franciscans feeds 2,000 homeless and mentally ill each week. Despite the extraordinary work, the Capuchins continued to host the 5K event, which doubled in participants the next year and the next until it leveled out to approximately 2,400 the past couple of years.
“The only change we made was this year, to change the event to include the House of Peace as well, as they serve 70,000 households a year from their food pantry,” said Br. Dave. “The event is a lot of work and it takes months to pull this off, but it is worth it as last year we cleared about $45,000 to help the hungry in our community. In addition, Usingers provided two pounds of product per participant last year, which amounted to about two tons of food that we shared with the House of Peace.”
Because of the busy schedule on race day, Br. Dave has never participated in the race with the other runners, but he makes sure to get down there before the event and runs the race solo.
“I just make sure to go down there and run it, so I have a sense what the other participants are going through,” he said. “I do participate in other 5K runs and try to keep in fairly good shape.”
‘Incredible invitation’ inspired by God
With only one disaster year, 2010, when torrential rain cancelled the event, Br. Dave knows that God inspired Schmitz’s call to him.
“She is a fine person and it was an incredible invitation,” he said. “I have to believe God is working because it has been such a win-win situation for us and for GermanFest. More people are coming into the grounds and participating in activities on Thursday night.”
Seven years ago, Schmitz ran in the run/walk, but since then has also been too involved in working at GermanFest to participate. However, while she realizes that God’s call to feed his children has positively affected the Milwaukee community, the call changed her life as well.
Logistically, St. Charles Borromeo, Hartland is closer to her, so, while she remains a member of St. Gabriel, she attends Mass there each week and contributes to the parish food pantry. Although the parish requests donations every third week, Schmitz gives every week, as she tries to remain faithful to God’s call upon her life.
“Those three words really changed me, and I trust him more and know that he is there. The answer to my selfish questions was never about me, but for the benefit of others,” she said. “I don’t do anything with the run/walk, that is all Br. Dave and everyone who helps him – they work like slaves down there. But, for me, I know that God inspired me to call, and it was God who got this Capuchin run/walk started. I still am unsure what God’s plans are for me, but I will continue to feed his children the best I can, help others in ways I never did before, and go to (Eucharistic) adoration every Monday night. It is what I am called to do right now.”

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Freedom initiative Catholics speak out against contraceptive mandate

7/6 11:37 p.m.
Updated 7/7 11:30 a.m.

By Karen Mahoney

Kenosha News Correspondent
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Around the nation, Catholics mobilized in a campaign to pray, fast and organize in support of freedom of conscience and religious liberty and set aside the two weeks before July 4 for a “Fortnight for Freedom” initiative.
This initiative followed the United States Catholic bishops’ exhortation to call on Catholics to speak out against the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate.
This came in addition to numerous lawsuits launched by 46 plaintiffs from dioceses, universities and hospitals against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ order that that requires all employers — including religious institutions — to provide contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans.
According to Catholic bishops, this mandate is an unprecedented assault upon the Catholic Church’s conscience rights and religious freedom, blatantly usurping the First Amendment.
Milwaukee Archdiocese Auxiliary Bishop Donald Hying said in a video that this is the first time the government has attempted to impose on a religious institution a legal obligation that violates its own conscience.
“The Catholic bishops have rightfully spoken out against this infraction of the Constitution and we have asked the government to rescind this unjust mandate,” he said. “This is not a fight of our own choosing, but we are simply standing up and asking the government to respect the Constitution and respect our religious freedom.”
Locally, Catholic priests are educating parishioners about the effects of the contraceptive mandate, as well as offering special Masses and prayer services.
“We have encouraged our parishioners to pray a Rosary each of the 14 days, and to attend Masses offered at various sites in the Archdiocese by Archbishop (Jerome) Listecki and Bishop Hying,” said the Rev. Dwight Campbell, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Therese parishes, before the initiative began. “I hope people will respond to this government’s unprecedented assault on our religious freedom and right to follow our conscience.”
Mount Carmel parishioner Colana Hutchinson blames much of the current crisis on a lack of proper catechesis of Catholics around the country over the last 40 years.
“Because of this, we are facing a crisis of huge magnitude and the evils of the HHS mandate is a wakeup call to our nation,” she said. “As Catholics, we can no longer be silent. We must defend the teachings of the Catholic Church, which as Scripture says is the ‘pillar and foundation of truth.’ (1Timothy 3:15) It is only through following these teachings that we will have authenticity, liberty, adherence to truth and love of God. There may be great persecution, but it is also an opportunity for all Catholics to become stronger in the Faith. There has always been a war on religion and especially against Catholics. We must not forget that we have Jesus’ promise that He would be with His Church all days until the end of time (Matthew 28:20) and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18).”
According to the Rev. Ben Reese, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Therese parishes, the Fortnight for Freedom was a reminder that America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, which means that the government cannot interfere with the practice of religion in our daily lives.
“There are some who are arguing that religious freedom should be reduced to freedom of worship and that our rights should be stopped at the church door,” he said.
St. James parishioner Teresa Hill agreed, and said she believes the Obama administration is very hostile to faith. She prayed a rosary each day in support for the Fortnight of Freedom efforts.
“It is actually very scary how hostile the administration is,” she said. “The government should accommodate religious beliefs. This government does not do this and is most definitely, against what the Catholic Church teaches. It is as if the government is desensitized. If you are around negative stimulus often enough, you start to think that it is OK. It is never OK. There is a war on religion going on. We live in a free country but religious freedom is at risk.”
Not only has this HHS mandate unified Catholics, but also many denominations around the country.
“Governor Mike Huckabee, a Protestant, said recently, ‘We are all Catholics now,’” said Reese. “Many Jews have also spoken on our behalf. Having just come from Ireland for the International Eucharistic Congress, I can testify that the struggle for religious freedom was a long bloody battle there after the reign of Henry VIII. As Americans, we have a supreme duty to fight for our religious liberty in a peaceful way at the ballot box.”