CONSIDERING THINGS BRIEFLY
Mom and I do not watch TV or listen to the radio, which I think I have mentioned before, so we are often unaware of many “news worthy” events and are very grateful for this. Mrs. Torres, mother of six alumni and a current Seton senior (Justin, Jason, Josh, Dan, Jessica, Amy and Jennifer), periodically sends me, well, periodicals and Catholic newspapers. This catches me up on some things. I just learned that Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska, for example. The magazine said that she was going to resign – and I just asked Mrs. Carroll yesterday if she had in fact resigned. She said, “That happened a long time ago.” So, despite my knowledge being of late late breaking news, I am going to mention some things I learned from the Torres materials, some things I have learned from family and some things I have learned from experience. Some you may find interesting.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi is perhaps the only person to have survived both atomic bombs. He was a resident of Nagasaki and went to Hiroshima on business the day the 1st bomb was dropped. He was two miles from the epicenter. Burned badly, he managed to get on a train back to Nagasaki where he was treated. He returned to work on August 9th, heavily bandaged, but his boss did not believe his story and was in the act of berating him for missing work when the 2nd bomb fell on Hiroshima, two miles from his place of work. He is now 93 years old. Croagh Patrick is a holy hill in Ireland where St. Patrick fasted and prayed during the 40 days of Lent, and it is now a frequent place of pilgrimage. A mining company recently determined that there is “gold in that thar hill” and applied to mine it. Fortunately, the County of Mayo said the gold is fine where it is. Mr. P, Miss Pennefather (Laura), Shelly (Sister Rose Marie) and I climbed the hill on our Marian Year pilgrimage to Europe. On the way down the mountain, Mr. P got a good sized gash in his knee and lost a lot of blood. He got stitched up by a doctor, and when Mr. P asked about getting the stitches removed, the doc told him to take them out himself. And so he did. Is “snuck” now ok? In one edition of a newspaper, two different writers used the word “snuck” in their columns. Past tense of “sneak” is still “sneaked” or did I miss the change? Points of interest in Ohio. I had always thought Ohio was somewhat dull, but that might be because my primary experiences of the Buckeye State are of its bus stations. I can tell you that Toledo and Cleveland’s Greyhound terminals are nothing to write home about. However, it was in Cleveland while I was waiting for my bus that a man in a trench coat approached me and opened his coat to show me hundreds of watches and assured me that they were very cheap. My nephew has been working in Zanesville for the past couple months. (I went to Mass in Zanesville when I drove rather than took the bus from Virginia to Colorado and thought the people were so friendly waving and honking to me as I drove down the street – then I realized I was going the wrong way on a one way) Brent texted me that he had crossed the World Famous Y Bridge in Zanesville. I knew not of its fame, but you can see an aerial view of it by googling. It’s the only bridge you can cross and stay on the same side of the river or receive the direction of “Go half way across the bridge and turn right.” Then he sent me a phone picture of a building that looks like a giant picnic basket – this is near Columbus. It is worth a google. Has anyone reading this been on the Y Bridge and/or seen the Picnic Basket Building? First Frost. I like folklore and the folklore around here according to my sister Barb is that the first frost is six weeks after one hears the first locust. Our local locust says that the first frost will be October 1st this year. I’ll let you know on the 5th of October if our locust was accurate. California Smoke. The smoke form the fires in California was very visible here for two days – I mistook it for an early morning fog rolling in and then for a haze later in the day. It wasn’t until a dove hunter stopped in and told us that it was California’s smoke that I knew what it was. Tax $$’s at work. A man came to our house to ask if he could count and classify birds. A couple weeks later, a couple women came to the house to ask if they could count and classify trees because an aerial view of our farm indicated that it could be considered forested land. The bird man was here roaming around for quite a while. We do have lots of birds. The tree women roamed around for a while before returning to the house to say that our farm did not meet the qualifications for a forested area and they were not going to count trees after all. We have fewer trees than birds. The bird man said he would send the results of his count, so when we get that, I’ll let you know the official government summary of the type and # of birds on our farm. One of the tree women looked a lot like alumna Tess Kelly. 2nd Year Seeds. Learned this year that plants grown from seeds saved from the previous year’s crop will often cross with related plants in the garden. I can attest that pumpkins and gourds cross with zucchini and produce some strange looking vegetables. Not saving seeds anymore. Peach Pits. If you want to try to grow a peach tree from saved pits, about now is the time to plant. Wash and dry the pits, then plant. The success rate for germination is not high. Peach pits must get cold before they will germinate, so to start them in the house, one must chill them first. I am going to try planting five pits. Three years from now we may be eating homegrown peaches. Since we talked about the birds, we had better talk about the bees. For a really long time we have had a hive of bees on our roof or in the wall just below the roof. (Our house has a flat roof.) We recently had a new roof put on, and I had not thought about the bees. I called a bee man to find out what would happen to the bees with the new roof. He said that if they couldn’t get back to their hive, they would die and when the weather gets really hot their honey will probably start coming through the roof or wall. I think, maybe more hope, that the bees are getting back to their hive through a crack in the stucco. Year of the Priest. Father Vander Woude, you were great on EWTN. I don’t think your dad was embarrassed having you talk about him – I think he is even prouder to call you his son than we are to call you our priest and friend. When you said that your dad wasn’t perfect, I thought about his missing finger. How did he lose that?
Jesu, ufam Tobie.
Mr. Vander Woude died September 8, 2008, in a successful effort to save his son Joseph. The following is a tribute written last year by alumnus and long-time Seton teacher Tim Heisler for Seton’s school newspaper.
We are all Better. Thank you, Mr. VW.
“Mr. Vander Woude is a great man.” So I have heard, but what does it mean? Obviously, it does not mean being rich or famous, and I don’t recall Mr. Vander Woude being the life of the party either.
Yet he is truly a great man. So much so, that I am both honored and humbled to write this article. “Lord, I am not worthy…” came to my mind as I sat at my computer.
Greatness – in this year of St. Paul, it is appropriate to look to him for the answer. He tells us that the great men of the Old Testament, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses were great because they were faithful.
One particularly great man from the New Testament was neither rich nor famous, and, from his “biblical silence”, it is safe to assume he was not the life of the party either. But, we are told, St Joseph was an upright, or righteous, man, thus a man of deep faith.
Mr. Vander Woude let me borrow his chainsaw….twice. And I broke it….twice. Eventually, I bought him a new one. It was the least I could do. After all, he had put in my sewer line; helped me spread hay (which he had given me) around my yard so I could pass inspection; laid the pipe connecting the well to the plumbing; and saved our basement from flooding.
So buying him a new one seemed appropriate. He thanked me with such sincerity that at the moment I thought I was truly doing something charitable, or at least something beyond the minimum required. Then he told me he was still going to fix the old one. I asked him why. After all, now he had a brand new one.
That old chainsaw, he answered, was his favorite; it had been a gift from his son Steve.
Tom Vander Woude is a great man.
I also bought myself a chainsaw, embarrassed at the prospect of breaking his a third time. Within two weeks this new saw no longer worked. Mr. Vander Woude came over once again. He finally asked, as Josey hopped out of the pickup to play basketball with my kids, how I had been cutting down the trees. After I told him, he patiently explained that chainsaws were not meant to cut through dirt: a revelation. Then he gave me a course on sharpening the chain, which had grown inexplicably dull.
You may ask, “Why should we care about a chainsaw?” The answer is that he did care. I was no close friend who had helped him through thick and thin. No, I was someone who needed help, and he cared, somehow managing to neglect none of his other duties.
How did he do that? Faith.
Mr. Vander Woude had a St. Joseph-like faith. In writing this, I thought it important to avoid hyperbole. We have heard of the heroism of his dying, so the tendency to exaggerate our experiences with him while he was still alive is indeed a temptation.
But I am reminded of Out of the Silent Planet, by CS Lewis. In his book, there is a scene in which a portrait of Ransom the main character, is being drawn. The portrait, however, is not quite true to life. When asked why, the artist responds that if it were, generations later, nobody would believe it.
Such is the case with Mr. Vander Woude. We read the articles in the newspapers and see the specials on TV, and years from now people are sure to question their veracity. “This man could not have been,” they will say, “for such people do not exist.”
So, why the chainsaw? Surely some religious subject would have been more fitting. Training altar boys was on of his many duties at Holy Trinity; in fact, he convinced my sons to become altar servers. He was a daily communicant. A story about preparing the Brentsville gym or Linton Hall’s chapel for Mass seems called for.
If not religious, perhaps one of the many stories recounting the substantial, life-changing help he gave people he barely knew, such as allowing my present in-laws to live in his house for a month – all 14 of them, the oldest seven of whom were girls….there’s true courage!
Certainly that surpasses a chainsaw story. Or what about Seton? After all, he helped immensely, from coaching basketball (where he played everyone on the team, including me, in every game…and we still managed to go 20 and 5 that year), to helping lay the gym floor, to myriad other selfless acts. And yet none of these was my focus.
The reason is this: we all have different stories; mine are of no more value than yours. But each unique story seems to revolve around the same thought: Tom Vander Woude lived his faith. He did do great things with great love, but if we only remember the great things, it can be easy to forget that he did small things with great love as well – fixing chainsaws, for example.
And therein lies his greatness, the greatness of faith. True faith manifests itself through charity, and that is the force that moves the biblical mountain.
Simply put, I am a better person for having known Mr. Vander Woude; Seton is a better place for having known Mr. Vander Woude; and anyone anywhere who ever knew Mr. Vander Woude, that is, who ever experienced the man, however briefly, to truly know him, is a better person for it.
And that is no hyperbole.
A couple things before the great posting by Mary Van Scott from Poland. Following upon Sarah’s volunteering posting, here is a link to read an article from the Arlington Catholic Herald about another Seton grad’s volunteering: (http://www.catholicherald.com) Also, there were two late comments on the entry from 7/14 — “What’s in a Name?” I think you would enjoy reading them. Also, there is a relatively new ripple that you would enjoy from Beth VandeVoorde You must scroll through the 3 previous ripples to get to it. OK, now to Poland.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
The Foreign Language Department at Seton has undergone a dramatic if not essential change. The drama was the nice kind: a romance and wedding. The change was one that was welcomed but I predict one that might prove to be implemented only sporadically. (How many times will Seton’s French and German teacher be referred to as “Mrs. Haggerty” in the coming 12 months, instead of by her new name, “Mrs. Schuller”?) But thanks be to God the essentials are the same. Mrs. Johanna Haggerty Schuller will be teaching this coming year at Seton and although she plans to travel more, will keep her house on Jackson Avenue in Manassas.
Did you know that her basement on Jackson Avenue was the first Seton French classroom? Up until her youngest child began school, Seton French students (they didn’t have German back then) drove the mile or so to one of Seton’s many off-site facilities (Mass at All Saints, Driver’s Ed. at Osborn, gym class all over town, etc.) to re-learn how to pronounce the letter “r” and to find out that nouns come in two genders. For those of you who did not study French in the 70’s and thus didn’t say the year and date every class in French: did you know that the French words for 77, 78, etc. translate as “sixty-seventeen, sixty-eighteen” and so on? Just giving some deep background here.
I met Mrs. Haggerty when she came to Seton to give us a pro-life presentation in 1976, and then the next year when I signed up for French I. I kept with the French for my whole Seton career, eventually exchanging tutoring for babysitting the five (at that time) little Haggertys. One of my clearest memories is the day they all came down with stomach flu just as Mrs. Haggerty got home from the weekly grocery shopping. I always liked those kids and that day I was especially grateful to them as they somehow managed to put off the unpleasantries until their Mom pulled into the driveway and it was time for me to go home. What I remember best is one of them greeting her at the front door saying, “Mommy I don’t feel well” and then producing irrefutable evidence there on the stairs. One of the others was right behind with a follow-up maneuver. Mrs. Haggerty took care of the mess just calmly saying, “I hope when I get to purgatory I won’t have to clean up any more throwup.”
Mrs. Haggerty and I stayed in touch and see each other once in a while in Virginia. But last month she and her new husband Paul Schuller came to Central Europe on their wedding trip. Did you know that Mrs. Haggerty (whoops! Mrs. Schuller) was born in Germany and didn’t come to America until she was about 12? Her lack of accent has always seemed to me a proof of her language skills. She was born in Breslau—at that time part of Germany but now part of Poland and known as Wroclaw—and was visiting there as well as other places of interest in Germany and Poland, also with stopoffs in Prague and Vienna. Now that I am living in Poland we decided to meet in Czestochowa, which is about halfway between where I live and where she and her groom were staying, and is always a good place to visit since it is one of the principle Marian shrines of Central Europe.
The attraction for Czestochowa is the famous icon of Our Lady at the Shrine of Jasna Gora (“Bright Hill”). For more than 600 years the “Black Madonna” has reigned in Czestochowa; her shrine a place of refuge and pilgrimage for Poles as well as many others. Centuries of exposure and candle smoke have darkened the Jasna Gora icon and earned her the nickname “Black Madonna.” Legend has it that the icon was painted by none other than St. Luke himself, but the actual history of the icon gets lost in the mists of time after tracing back a few centuries. A very striking trait of the Black Madonna image is the two slash marks on her right cheek. These were made centuries ago by an invader’s sword, when Jasna Gora was a fortress in a very real sense of the word, and the enemies of the Church had infiltrated all the way to her altar. Subsequent efforts to repair the image were unsuccessful and the slash marks have come to take on a deeply symbolic meaning, representing Mary’s full participation in the life and tribulations of her children.
August is a good month to be writing about the Black Madonna because the feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa falls on August 26. It is a beautiful time of year here: warm, sunny weather but not overly hot or humid; the open-air markets everywhere are bursting with color and locally grown fruits and vegetables that in this cool climate you only see for a few weeks out of the whole year. July and much, much more so, August, are the time of the traditional walking pilgrimages from all parts of Poland to the shrine. In this agrarian, northern society August is a time of a temporary lull in much of the farm work, waiting for the late August harvests, and tradition has decreed it the month for pilgrimage. In fact every year on the first Sunday of August at Masses all over the country a letter from the bishops is read, reminding everyone that August is a special month to Poland (several miracles, in varying eras including both early and late 20th century, with a nature of defending Poland’s national identity, have taken place in August) and for that reason all people are strongly recommended to refrain from alcohol and tobacco as a thanksgiving offering.
I have had the experience of walking from Lublin to Czestochowa on pilgrimage five different times. It’s a 12-day walk covering a little more than 200 miles. Usually about 3000 people go on the Lublin pilgrimage. Multiply that by all the cities and towns in Poland and you get an idea of how many people make these pilgrimages! Some travel for three, even four weeks.
The first few pilgrimages were arriving in Czestochowa the days the Schullers were in Poland. There was no pilgrimage coming in the day we met at Czestochowa but there WAS a conference of exorcists meeting there all that week!
We weren’t able to spend much time together; the Schullers had driven about 200 miles from Wroclaw and had to get back that night and, as they found out, 200 miles on Polish roads is NOT the same as on the expressway! At least, though, the days are very long in July and the scenery was beautiful. I drove our 17-year-old station wagon from the opposite direction and met them at the shrine. Even though they were the tourists/visitors and I am the more or less “local,” they arrived a little early for our rendezvous (notice the French influence here) while I got there about an hour late. We were going to meet outside the monastery at a huge statue of Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, mentor of Karol Wojtyla and known as “the Primate of the Millennium” (and you NEED to know more about him than this much.) I spotted the Schullers right away from a distance as they paced back and forth looking around, probably looking for me, occasionally looking up at the sky although whether in appeal to higher Powers or possibly hoping I might fall down from that direction, I don’t know.
We went into the church and “greeted” Our Lady. Masses run pretty much all day there in the summer and one was just getting underway, in Polish of course. We decided to attend it and I had the surreal experience of being in the same room as Mrs. (Haggerty) Schuller SPEAKING A LANGUAGE THAT SHE DOESN’T KNOW. How many people can say that? (She would say she doesn’t speak Spanish but I don’t count that because she speaks French and Italian fluently and also knows Latin. So how much Spanish does she really NOT know?)
The picture is in a large side chapel. After Mass we walked through the main church with its profuse marble, immense organ, many statues and curlicues all over the place. Mrs. Schuller took one look and remarked, “Some Italian must have decorated this.” In the chapel the walls are just covered with votive offerings to Our Lady of Czestochowa: clustered strings of amber and coral necklaces are a favorite gift as well as crutches and other symbols of prayers answered. In the main church the motif is definitely Rococo (Italian for “over the top Baroque”).
Back outside we had to skip the beautiful outdoor stations and Rosary mysteries and the various small museums because of lack of time. Try not to be disappointed when I tell you we ate hamburgers for lunch. They really are noticeably different here. And I need to mention that we visited the restrooms where as Mrs. Schuller and I left the ladies room the attendant lit into us “be sure to put your money in the box not like that man who just left the men’s room!” (Polish bathrooms are almost never free.) Mr. Schuller was outside waiting for us, “What was that lady yelling at me about?” he asked.
We talked a little about the wedding. They said the idea of a small wedding had come up but the bride knew that after living in the area for so long and with the thriving Seton community, a quiet wedding at All Saints wasn’t likely. She spoke glowingly of the beautiful music the Seton choir provided, with many of her favorite classical pieces. When I asked how I could get pictures of the wedding they just smiled and said they didn’t know if anyone had taken any, since all their children were in the wedding party and thus unable to photograph things. Somehow I think somewhere there may just be a few photos. Maybe we could post a few on this site?
From Poland, Mr. and Mrs. Schuller, wszytkiego najlepszego na wielu szczesliwych lat, a niech Matka Boska Czestochowska was towarzy przy kazdy krok!
STUDENT TEACHER I
Blue&Gold, Seton’s school colors, were selected by vote, after the Conquistadors was selected as the mascot. It was Joe Scowcroft who submitted these colors and campaigned for their selection. They beat out Green&Gold and Burgundy&Gold. I think that the Royal specification was added on the next year but not by vote. I need to see if anyone has any recollection of that. I was thinking it might be a good idea to make our blue color Guadalupe Blue or Tilma Blue in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe which goes with Conquistador and our Pro-Life charism. Royal Blue would probably be the closest we could come to the color, so nothing would really change except the name of the color.
There are two things that I thank Joe for teaching me, one through athletics and the other through art. Here’s the athletic one first
One of the first sports we were able to compete in with the number of students we had was cross country. The first meet I remember was at Leesburg Christian. The gallery could not see most of the race, but we were lined up a ways from the finish line to watch for the runners when they came into view. The first runners appeared – a Leesburg Christian runner in first and Joe in second, a fair distance behind. There was a flat stretch, then a downhill, then a fairly steep uphill before leveling off for the dash to the finish. Inexplicably, as the first runner came into view, a fellow from among the spectators jumped into the race some distance ahead. No one seemed upset by this, so I thought that perhaps he was assigned to do this to show the way to the finish line which might not have been clearly marked.
We could see that Joe was running well, but the distance looked like too much to make up. Joe got to the downhill sprinting with his scapular flying in the breeze. Hills are killers at the end of a race, but Joe started up the hill in striking distance of the lead. Joe continued sprinting uphill and took the lead and won the race. The scapular, the effort, the thrill of victory: it is still one of my favorite moments of all Seton athletics.
I went down to the finish line and congratulated Joe on his race and victory. He said that he had finished second. He didn’t know that the person ahead of him had just jumped into the race at the end. That made his effort all the more amazing. There is so much about running cross country that is mental, and it is one thing to put out maximum effort when one thinks he is vying for first; it is another thing to do that when one thinks he at best will be only second.
Lesson taught: Our good efforts, even when they don’t seem to produce all that we hoped for, are never wasted.
The second, the piece of art, is more difficult to describe. Joe took the idea that man’s body may have evolved. In pencil he drew this evolutionary progression starting in the upper left hand corner and continuing to circle around the paper and leading to the middle of the page. In the center was Christ crucified.
It was very striking and to me turned the whole idea of evolution upside down. If there has been an evolutionary process it hardly matters. Joe’s picture led the viewer to a bloody and beaten body that was dead upon a cross – hardly what one would think of as the perfection of the human body.
Some years in Religion 9 when we were covering Humani Generis I would try to describe this drawing, but as with this description, I never did it justice.
Lesson taught: The real evolution of a man is the perfection of the heart: self-denial, the emptying of oneself in love of God and neighbor, is man at his greatest.
Year of the Priest Story
Our parish priest, Father Hector Chiapa, told this story to us last Sunday.
When Father was in seminary, he would teach a third grade class religion once a week. A day in Advent he headed to the classroom without having prepared a lesson. He quickly thought of something in transit – he could teach the three aspects of Advent: historical, mystical and eschatological. This was an obvious age appropriate lesson for 8 year olds! At the end of class, Father was erasing the board the beating himself up for having taught so far over the heads of the youngsters. Just then, a little girl from the class came up to him, gave him a hug, and said, “We love you Brother Hector.”
A blessed Solemnity of the Assumption to all. With joy I remember our visit to the Church of the Dormition during Seton’s Jubilee Year Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the singing of the Salve Regina in that beautiful church.
The posting on the 25th will be a report from Poland on Mrs. Haggerty-Schuller’s honeymoon visit there.
Jesu, ufam Tobie.
BOOMTOWN, A NEW FEATURE & THE YEAR OF THE PRIEST
Most of the nation does not realize as I write here on August 1st, that today is Colorado Day – the 133rd anniversary of Colorado becoming a State. Colorado is known as the Centennial State since it was admitted into the Union 100 years after the United States became a nation. All this is by way of introduction to Seton’s musical this past spring, Boomtown. The play is loosely based on the history of the building of the Denver Pacific Railroad Line from Denver to Cheyenne. I wanted to let you know that DVD’s of this year’s spring musical Boomtown are available from Seton. I think the songs and the singing in this production are particularly good, and not just because the play is about Colorado. The colorful opening number was written by Seton Dad, Mr. Arnold, so the whole cast sings right at the beginning. Here, in brief, is how Seton came to put on Boomtown. When Mrs. Carroll matriculated at Loretto Heights College in Denver in 1959, she heard the songs of the previous year’s musical sung by Broadway actress and Loretto Heights alum Mary Jo Catlett. The songs stuck in her head, and she always had it in mind since the musicals at Seton began in 1993 with Fran and Chrissie Buser and company on stage and Jennifer Gregory Miller providing the accompaniment in Fiddler on the Roof that Seton someday could do Boomtown. The play was written by the music professor Max DeJulio for the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Denver. So, this seemed the perfect year, the 150th Anniversary of Denver’s founding, for Seton to stage the show. It took some doing to locate script and score since the musical never had a copyright. There was also no template for the director, musicians and actors to follow since the play was never videoed, but Seton pulled it off with a great production. The opening night was exactly 50 years after Loretto Heights’ opening night. The son and daughters of Max DeJulio were able to come to the final performance – a treat for them and for Seton. The songs are not familiar to us, of course, but when one listens to them enough times as I have (you see, I really do have little to do) they become familiar and really enjoyable. To order a DVD send $3 to Seton and they will get a copy right out to you. The taping of the closing night extravaganza was made by alumnus Gabe Duda, and I count about 60 siblings of alumni in the production. Last names of some of the lead actors that you might recognize: Akers, Bartnick, Hill, Minarik, Myers, Nagurny and Wykowski.
When I first got e-mail, there was something wrong with the server or with me or both and messages were taking a long time to be transmitted. For example, I got an e-mail from Mrs. Cooper on Monday that she had sent on Friday. E-mail has two big advantages: speed and no stamps. Mine had only one of those advantages. I began to think that the “E” in e-mail stood for “eventual” rather than “electronic”. In that slow delivered e-mail Mrs. Cooper said that she really likes working at Seton because she continues to learn so much about the Faith from Mrs. Carroll.
This started me thinking about the people to whom I owe knowledge of the Faith. Among these have been many students who have made the beauty of the Faith come alive as they have taught primarily by example in consistent daily acts or in some one particular inspiring act. So I decided that I would periodically feature a noteworthy student here. I have even come up with a clever name for this feature: “Student Teachers”. What do you think? I have not made up a list, but there is a goodly number that come to mind quickly. (If you think you should be featured as a “Student Teacher”, please remind me what it is I should have learned from you and I will do my best to lionize you!) I am sure that each teacher at Seton would be able to come up with a sizeable list and that the lists would vary greatly in names.
It seems there would be no better place to start than with an original student. That eliminates nearly all of you and gets us down to the Sweet 16 finalists as the first “Student Teacher”. He/She (giving nothing else away) will probably be very surprised to find that he/she (still not giving anything else away) is the first choice here, because this student had the mark of humility while possessing many talents. And it just so happens that our school colors are the result of this person’s efforts. It might be fun for you to guess who of the 16 it will be. To make the guessing easier I will list the first names of the first 16 students in alphabetical order beginning with the boys: Frankie, Joe, Paul, Tim. Athena, Debby, Dorothy, Jan, Lang, Liz, Mary, Michelle, Missy, Roberta, Shirley, Teresa. That’s all on this today. We will save the first “Student Teacher” for the Assumption. Don’t forget whom you picked as the 1st Student Teacher.
Wait! There is more.
Here is another Year of the Priest story in honor of St. John Vianney whose feast is August 4th. This one comes from the Denver Catholic Register.
It is written by Msgr. Peter Quang Nguyen whose topic was the importance of Catholic education. He was born in Vietnam January 1, 1959, and escaped from his homeland to the United States. Archbishop Chaput just recently named him a monsignor. Here is what he had to say. “In 2000, I had the privilege to offer the Eucharist at the 50-year anniversary of my parent’s wedding and my 10-year anniversary as a priest After they renewed their vows, I blessed a new set of wedding rings for my mother and father, to replace their original wedding rings which they had sold when I was a child in order to pay my tuition. They made a tremendous sacrifice for my Catholic education. At that Mass, I presented them, with tears of joy and thanksgiving, a new set of wedding rings as a token of my appreciation. Their sacrifice gave me an opportunity to become a witness of Christ Jesus in my daily life.”
Thought you might like to know that August 9th is Mrs. Carroll’s birthday. Nine days after the 200th anniversary of Mother Seton founding the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.
Please welcome our guest writer. I think you will find what she has to tell us fascinating and inspiring.
Hello Seton friends! I’d like to thank Mr. Westhoff for inviting me to write a guest post about my recent year of service in St. Louis. This past year I was blessed to be a member of the Vincentian Service Corps, a program for young lay people run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. I lived in community with seven other volunteers, each of whom worked full time at a social service organization.
I chose a volunteer assignment at the Nurses for Newborns Foundation (NFNF), helping to write grant applications and generally assisting around the office. NFNF works to prevent infant mortality, child abuse and neglect through free nurse home visits to poor families. While NFNF is not a Catholic organization, its founder is a devout Lutheran woman, and her faith touches their mission and work. It was so inspiring to see our nurses working hard across Missouri, from the inner city to rural isolated trailers. NFNF programs bring health checkups and parent education to teen parents, mentally or physically handicapped moms, and families with premature babies, or any poor family that needs some extra help.
During my time at NFNF, I learned a lot about health disparities and the realities of poverty. Accompanying nurses on their visits to clients, I was amazed to see how complex and different each family situation was. Unemployment, lack of education, lack of transportation, the confusing Medicaid system, and memories of broken or abusive families all can conspire to keep parents in the cycle of poverty. I also saw how much of contemporary culture must change if we are to have a true Culture of Life. Young women my age who were single mothers of five children had grown up in a world where chastity and marriage were the exception, not the norm. Even though these women had made the right choice to give their unborn babies life, there was no guarantee that the children would have healthy, successful lives.
Still, there were also many reasons for hope in our clients’ lives. I was amazed by how many extended families supported teenage mothers’ decision to keep their babies. A strong network of family and friends was crucial to our clients. I’ll never forget the NFNF client who performed an emergency delivery of her friend’s baby, relying on what her nurse had taught her. Or the afternoon when all the members of a parenting class all spoke up to encourage a young mother to pursue self-respect instead of staying with an emotionally abusive boyfriend. So many clients have benefitted from their nurse’s mentoring. I saw parents go back to school, find jobs, and even formalize their relationship in marriage. Donations of baby clothes, diapers, and car seats were always helpful, but what our clients needed most were positive relationships.
While I was helping babies and families, the other VSC volunteers worked in a wide variety of agencies, from daycare to middle schools to a teen shelter to caring for the elderly. It was great to see how often our ministries overlapped with each other and with other St. Louis organizations. For instance, one of the NFNF nurses paid a weekly visit to the pregnant women’s shelter where another VSC volunteer worked.
Community living with other volunteers was a major component of the VSC experience. Knowing others who were going through the same high and lows of volunteering was an in valuable support system. The eight of us ate and prayed together three times a week, and went on three retreats throughout the year. On a daily basis, we shared chore duties and carpooled to work. I think for all of us, sharing a house with 7 other Catholic women was a taste of what the religious life might involve. Our home was even a former convent! Since we were all from different states and family backgrounds, the year was a learning experience in appreciating differences and settling conflicts with compromise. During the year, VSC paid for our rent and utilities. We each earned a monthly living stipend of $330, some of which went into the community food and transportation funds. “Living simply” on a limited budget gave us a sense of solidarity with the people we served. It also was a wonderful exercise in detachment and how little “stuff” you really need to be happy.
Getting to know the Daughters of Charity was another profound part of my VSC education. I like to joke that my nun acquaintance has increased 2000%! The Daughters are kind, welcoming, and courageous women who serve in apostolates such as nursing and teaching. Each woman has amazing stories to tell about her different assignments around the country. Sr. Teresa Daly, the Daughter who directs the VSC, met with us every week. She often brought guest speakers about social justice or Vincentian spirituality.
Learning about the Vincentian family of organizations was one of my favorite parts of my VSC year. The Daughters of Charity, Congregation of the Mission priests, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society of lay people are all inspired by St. Vincent de Paul’s work and writings about serving the poor. Seton School even has Vincentian connections – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton modeled her order after the Daughters of Charity in France. Today’s American Daughters are descended from her group at Emmitsburg. Other Vincentian saints include St. Catherine Laboure, Bl. Giogio Frassati, and several Daughters martyred in the French Revolution. Personally, I want to take Bl. Frederick Ozanam as a patron over my graduate studies. He founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul along with some college friends, and later combined his work for the poor with his career as a professor of languages.
Although it has inspired many different groups and ministries, the heart of Vincentian spirituality is to see Christ in the poor. Put into action, this means patience, flexibility, and trust in Divine Providence even when our work does not seem successful. Service is not just an altruistic civic duty; it is a profound encounter with God. Only through His love can we find the motivation and strength to keep helping the poor.
Pope Benedict XVI highlighted these same ideas in his new social justice encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. “Only through an encounter with God are we able to see in the other something more than just another creature, to recognize the divine image in the other, thus truly coming to discover him or her and to mature in a love that ‘becomes concern and care for the other.’” The Holy Father also cited a scripture verse that is the Daughters of Charity motto: The charity of Christ urges us. (2 Cor 5:14)
If you or someone you know feels Christ urging them to a year of service, research the many options available. Catholic Network of Volunteer Services (CNVS.org) maintains a directory of programs that you can search by different criteria. You can serve anywhere in the US, as well as abroad for longer commitment periods. Of course, feel free to contact me if you want to know more about VSC specifically.
In practical terms, right after college is the best time for a volunteer year, since you have very few career or family obligations. If you have student loans like I did, you can arrange with lenders to defer payments until your year is done. You can also earn an Americorps federal education grant of $4725 for your year of service. Most service programs follow a school-year schedule, beginning and ending in the summer. I had thought about a year of service, but it wasn’t until my last semester of college that I seriously considered making it a reality. I knew I wanted a break from school, but I also remembered my friends’ discouraging experiences in meaningless entry-level jobs. VSC proved to be the perfect alternative, giving me “real world” experience but also deeper meaning. I hope that its effects will continue throughout my life.
Checked by AVG – www.avg.com
Version: 8.5.387 / Virus Database: 270.13.27/2258 – Release Date: 07/24/09 05:58:00