The story told in “A True Father” has been updated with additions and corrections — Father Rytel-Andrianik sent me his sermon, so everything is accurate now.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Tim Flagg. What is it about this name that every Seton student, parent and teacher should know? I could tell you in one sentence, but that would hardly be interesting. So we will make this into a whole story — a true story about the indelible mark that Tim gave to Seton. Now, Tim did have some help, but just as we say that Cortez conquered the Aztecs when we know he had a handful of men helping him, so we attribute this mark to Tim.
In the fall of 1975, the year of Mother Seton’s canonization, the first American-born saint, Seton School opened its doors to 16 students. By my reckoning there were 12 girls and 4 boys. Tim was one of the four. His family lived at the base of Bull Run Mountain across Highway 15 from Dr. and Mrs. Carroll. Tim was part of the daily bus route that Mrs. Carroll drove over the back country roads from Bull Run Mountain Estates to Trinity Episcopal Church in Manassas. Her bus was a burnt orange Rambler, (a much better color that school bus yellow), and her patrons were four students: Tim, Michelle and Roberta Desrochers and Teresa Eichler. These three other bus patrons are also important to the story.
I road the Rambler Bus a couple times a week when I would help out at Seton. I am important to the story too. The bus driver is important as well. This merry band of six held Seton’s future in its hands.
There was some talk among the students in that first year that the school should be Seton Academy rather than Seton School. Mrs. Carroll, however, said that she liked simple things and Seton School sounded much simpler to her than Seton Academy. The name of the school was not negotiable. I think we are all glad that Seton is a school and not an academy.
Since the school was just beginning, we had no mascot. There was talk among the students about picking a mascot. Mrs. Carroll said that the students should decide on one. I thought this was a little risky. What sort of a name would we end up with? Mrs. Carroll, however, put her trust in the students to come up with the mascot.
The Desrochers raised white German Shepherds. So Michelle instantly had the idea that the mascot should be the White Wolves and their dogs could be our living mascots. [Aren’t wolves associated with the enemies of the Church as in the Apostles being sent out as sheep among wolves? or as Pope Benedict petitioned, “Pray for me that I may not flee for fear of wolves”? Maybe those enemies were regular colored wolves and not white ones.]
Here’s where the memory gets a little shaky. I think there was someone else, not a Rambler bus patron, who also had an idea for a mascot. I just can’t remember for sure, and I definitely don’t remember what it was if there was one.
The day before the names were to be placed on the ballot and the election of Seton’s mascot made, the six of us were riding toward our homes in the Rambler bus [There must have been some other name bandied about, otherwise there would have been no need for an election.] Teresa and the Desrochers were dropped off, so now in the burnt orange mobile there was only Mrs. Carroll, Tim and I. The topic of a mascot was brought up. I had been thinking about a name, and so I said, “I think “Conquistadors” would be good.” Tim instantly said that he liked that name and was going to nominate it. Could it stand up to the White Wolves? Did Tim have a suit of armor somewhere that he could wear as a living Conquistador to compete with the Desrochers’ German Shepherds? At best it seemed like a long-shot, but I was glad there was going to be some name on the ballot that had an important Catholic element to it.
True to his word, the next day when nominations were due, Tim put in “Conquistadors”, Michelle put in “White Wolves” and maybe someone else put in something else. The ballots were made and passed out to the 16. Teresa Eichler declared that she didn’t like the names on the ballot, and that she was going to write in “Dragons”. [Aren’t Dragons associated with enemies of the Church as in the Book of Revelation? Maybe Teresa meant White Dragons.] Write-in ballots were not prohibited, so Teresa did vote for Dragons in something less than a secret ballot. We can be sure that both Desrochers voted for White Wolves. Tim we can assume voted for his nomination. That meant that the balance of the election was in the hands of the remaining 12 students.
After the votes were tallied, the ballots were burnt and the white smoke let the citizens of Manassas know that Seton had a mascot. (Not really, but that would have been a good idea.)
Again, I cannot say this for sure, but my recollection is that “Conquistador” won by one vote.
So we see that very important events, like the conquest of the Aztecs and the choice of Seton’s mascot can be the result of a few people. Cortez led a handful of dyed-in-the-wool Conquistadors; Tim Flagg led a handful of soon-to-be Conquistadors.
Thank you, Tim, for leading the Conquistadors to their first victory: a conquering of Wolves and Dragons and maybe something else.
The New World Conquistadors led by Cortez faced a culture of death. We modern day Conquistadors need to burn our ships and take up the battle daily. The dragon of the new culture of death carries out its carnage as a law-abiding citizen, while the tyranical wolves propogate in the environment established under the dictatorship of relativism. The very image of Blessed Mother was given to the Church so that Her “other sheep” would be converted. She brought about the miracle of conversion after the Conquistadors had faced the culture of death squarely. What is it that Blessed Mother wants us to do now so that she can once again bring about the conversion of the hearts of so many lost sheep?
On the 25th we will reveal how Seton’s colors came to be Royal Blue and Gold. That will be about a one sentence story but still of great interest. There will also be a guest writer on that day that you are sure to enjoy.
Jezu ufam Tobie
TALENTED @ GIFTING
One Christmas when my nephew Brent was a little boy, he took off the gift wrap of a present. The gift was inside a box, but he didn’t get as far as opening the box. He laid the wrapping aside and began proclaiming with total delight, “I got a box! Look, I got a box!” Brent didn’t need a talented gift giver to make him happy. The pure joy of Christmas, the simple pleasure of opening a present, that was enough for him.
Brent’s happiness at receiving a box was real. We, however, often times have to pretend that a present is just what we wanted. We are appreciative of being thought of, but our first thought sometimes is, “Whom can I give this to that might really want it.” There is an art to gift giving.
Over the years at Seton, I was the beneficiary of a wide-variety of gifts from students There are many that come immediately to mind, but at the risk of offending some very good gift-givers, I am going to mention just a few.
There were homemade presents: the giant pencil from Tim Shaughnessy; the doll (or as Mr. Smith calls it, the puppet) that Stacey Jackson created in my likeness; the drawing of Blessed Mother from Rebecca Elam. There were presents that came from something we had covered in class: the jipijapa (Panama hats which are actually a product of Ecuador) from the Mary Spicer led Spanish class; the Wyo-Tech sweatshirt from Kathryn McKelvey of newspaper days; the Ain Karim wall hanging of the Visitation that Nicole Smith and Meghan Bartnick brought back from their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And I have to mention here one parent present: the hard-bound Father Ciszek autographed copy of With God in Russia.
Then there was the gift of honesty. One Christmas I got a gift with “Chris Marshall” on the tag. After we returned from Christmas vacation, I said to Chris, “I really like that CD of “A Classical Christmas”. Chris nonchalantly said, “I had a lot to do with that.” The laugh I got was as good as the gift.
I was thinking of going through some food items, but once I start talking about food all I want to do is eat. Suffice it to say that my palate fondly remembers many. And we cannot forget the Christmas baskets that became a Yuletide tradition.
Now, perhaps a notch below the above, is the gift that I was given after I was voted out of office of the Delaney Athletic Conference which I had started and been the president of for a number of years. To show gratitude for all the heartburn I had suffered, I was given a wooden stand that held two long, pointed pens, one at either end, and my name was engraved on a metal placard that was on the front of the stand. I think I was supposed to place this proudly on my desk at school or something. It was a kind idea, but the gift could have been improved by spelling my name correctly and having at least one pen that actually worked. As the old adage goes, “It’s the thought, not the spelling or the functioning of the gift, that counts.” Thank you DAC.
At the Gala there was a table that included four students from the first two years of Seton when the school was in the rented classrooms of the Trinity Episcopal Church complex. Laura Hibl Clark and Holly Flagg McShurley came to Seton in its second year, while Tim Flagg and Mary Van Scott were pioneers of the first year — two of the sixteen. Tim should be better known by all of Seton than he is because he has affected every student that has come through Seton. We’ll tell his story on the 15th. Don’t miss it! Today, we will talk about Mary Van Scott.
Mary is with Miles Jesu — see their website at milesjesu.com. I don’t know much of what she has done, but she was once editing a youth magazine in Poland. Two semesters ago she was studying Canon Law at the Lateran in Rome where she took classes in Ancient Roman Law; Philosophy of Law; Theology of Canon Law; Latin; The Hierarchical Structure of the Church in Canon Law; The Teaching Office of the Church in Canon Law; Comparative Law; and The Origins of Canon Law. I guess one has to study law to be a lawyer. The classes were all in Italian. Mary did ok on her exams: six perfect scores out of the eight, and she was pretty close to perfect on the other two. The strange, early days of Seton obviously didn’t stultify her mind.
[Just for Mary’s humility, I want to add on a couple things. As a member of Seton’s first girls basketball team, she did shoot at the wrong basket in a game. I can’t remember if she made the shot. Topping this, at the first practice ever, I told her to take the ball out-of-bounds. She asked, “What is out-of-bounds?” I should have foreseen that she’d be a Canon Lawyer with this great interest in the complicated laws that govern basketball.]
Besides being brilliant — she’s one of those geniuses with a high IQ — Mary is also a talented gift-giver. She brought to the Gala and presented to Mrs. Carroll a beautiful woodcarving of the Divine Mercy with the words “Jesus, I trust in You” engraved in Polish on the bottom. Mrs. Carroll did not have to pretend appreciation. What a great gift to give for the Seton Chapel that the SSSO is out to build. In the spirit of this new gift for the chapel, perhaps we could each offer some part — a bead or a decade, perhaps — of our Divine Mercy Chaplet each day for the SSSO and the new chapel. Maybe we could learn to say, “Jesus, I trust in You” in Polish and conclude the Chaplet with that for the SSSO. At the very least, let us never lose sight of our goal: The House of God and Gate of Heaven.
Thank you Mary. You have the art of gifting and the new Seton Chapel will have your gift of art.
And please say hello for all of us to Mr. and Mrs. Schuller (the former Mrs. Haggerty) when you see them on their honeymoon in Czestochowa!
Here’s what I know and am making up about the Gala.
The doors opened at 5:30 to a surge of early arrivers who were cordially greeted by the welcoming committee who distributed name tags and assisted or coerced the uninitiated in filling out a form to get registered on ourseton. There continued to be a steady flow of arrivals over the next 90 minutes. At first ladies were noticing what dresses and shoes the other ladies were wearing while men were wondering what hors d’oeuvres there were and when the main meal would be served. Soon these superficial considerations were replaced by happy conversations, joyous laughter and discreet readings of name tags. During this registration/mingling time in the cocktail room, Chuckie entertained the growing crowd on the Baby Grand.
Then the mass of Seton humanity began to file into the banquet room. Sean O’Hare, MC, welcomed everyone, then introduced Father VW for the invocation. He did so by mentioning that Father had been voted Mr. Seton, Friendliest and Most Popular his senior year which was impressive given the six or seven boys at Seton at that time.
Prizes were waiting to be given out. At each table of 10 there was one chair that had a holy card of Mother Seton taped under the seat. The person who was at that chair was a lucky winner of some prize. This meant that 90% of the attendees became despondent, feeling like losers. Sean quickly pointed out that each of them had a chair and so each was really a winner. The crowd visibly perked up. [Suggestion: Put holy cards under nine chairs and the one without a holy card gets the consolation prize. Everyone is then a winner.] There were other prizes to be given away, and for these Father Fasano was called forward to draw names. A good rule of thumb is never draw your own name when given this honor. Father Fasano, for the first time, did the unorthodox thing by drawing his own name. He also drew the names of Mr. Larsen, Mrs. McDonald and Mrs. O’Reilly and maybe Mrs. Ferri. (Is this how she won bagels?) I never heard that he drew an alumnus’ name. If this is so, this breaks the thumb of some other rule. [Suggestion: Find some reputable layman to do the drawing and have Father read the names of the winners.]
Dinner was then served and devoured very properly.
Following dinner, Sean demonstrated on the big 10 foot screen how to navigate around the ourseton website. Attendees were urged to “try this at home”.
Next was the awarding of diplomas to the seven long-time serving teachers/coaches. The less than a minute introductions of each of these seven recounted how they came to be a part of Seton. Mr. Violett’s time began with a jog in a park; Mrs. Haggerty with a pro-life slide show; Mrs. Mirus with a move from NC to VA; I began right after graduating from high school; Mr. Scheetz after a short teaching career in Detroit; Mrs. Larsen through the suggestion of a friend and Mrs. Carroll began by beginning. Of interest, at least to me, is that I was asked to write my own introduction. I think this also violates some rule of thumb.
Then came the focal point of the evening: the video/slide show which had the theme of the Three Theological Virtues. Faith included pictures of religious events of Seton and featured a letter written to Mrs.Carroll by Bryan Muench when he was in the Navy. Hope had a variety of pictures and featured a letter written to Mrs. Carroll by Cathy Spicer Munsell. Love showed pictures of some people dear to Seton who have gone before us and featured a letter written to Mrs. Carroll by Col. Jones. (The latter two of these letters can be read in Ripples.) This presentation has been hailed by one and all as a tremendously moving creation that truly represents what Seton stands for and promotes. It may soon be available on DVD — information about this will appear on this website. Mrs Carroll then spoke in a light-hearted manner about Seton’s beginnings followed by a serious reflection on Pope John Paul II’s Gift of Self. These remaks meshed perfectly with the theme of Faith, Hope and Love. Chuckie then played and sang the Ave Maria which was a stirring conclusion to the tremendous program.
Joker’s Wild began and so did the swing dancing. Alumni and current students of Seton put on an Irish Dance exhibition during one of the band’s breaks. At another, Mr. Koehr was honored for his tireless efforts to make the Gala a reality. (I have shortened his title from “Galactic Emperor” to “Gala Emperor”.) One should read Mrs. Ferri’s Ripple to get more of a flavor of this part of the night.
That’s what I know or have made up about the Gala. Please feel free to amend or correct any part of this.
The following morning was Mass on the feast of St. Anthony of Padua said by Father VW at Burke Lake Park. After Mass was the Choose Santa. I mean, the Pick Nick. That is, the Picnic. And now you know the reason for that title. To get more of a flavor of the Picnic read Joanne’s and Mrs. VW’s comments.
Anyone who was at the Gala or Picnic, please tell those of us who were not able to be there about the events. Thank you.
A TRUE FATHER
On Trinity Sunday our parish was visted by a priest from Poland. A story from his homily is retold here as we approach the day when we honor our fathers.
The priest in a small town in Poland was informed that the Nazis had come to the municipality and taken his personal file. He was urged to flee, since this action by the Nazis signaled that he would soon be taken away and killed. The priest responded to the idea of fleeing by saying that he was the father of the parish; his parishoners were his family. Then he asked, “What kind of a father would flee from his family when danger was near?” He pointed out that if he left someone else would be taken in his place. His place was with his family. “How can I leave my people without the sacraments, without the Eucharist, without Confession, without Baptism and Marriage celebrations? If I ran away from my parish I would betray God’s will.”
A few days later, the Nazis did come for the priest. He was put in a car and as he drove away he passed by the members of his newphew’s family who were standing outside their home. The last act of the priest before the car drove into the forest was a blessing for the family. Once in the forest, the priest was handed a shovel with which he began to dig his grave. Two other priests had also been brought to the forest along with several laymen. The priests heard the laymen’s confessions and then each other’s confession. When the mass grave was sufficiently dug, they were shot and buried.
Back in the town, a young grandnephew of the blessed family saw that the Nazis were going into the rectory. Curious, he went to the fence that surrounded the rectory and looked through a hole to watch. A Nazi officer noticed him, came over to the fence and said, “I am going to teach you a lesson.” He went into the rectory and came out with the stole of the priest. He cut the stole into pieces, threw them on the ground and began to stomp on them. Then he screamed, “There will never be another priest in this town.”
Twenty years later, the first Mass of a young priest was celebrated in that town. The priest was the same little boy who had looked through the hole in the rectory fence. At the end of the Mass, a woman from the back of the church began walking toward the altar. She was carrying a package. She walked up to the priest and handed it to him. He opened it up and took out a long piece of cloth. The woman gift-giver had also seen what the Nazi officer had done the day of the priest’s martyrdom. Bravely, she later retrieved the pieces of the stole. The pieces were carefully washed and given to the nuns of a monastery who stitched the pieces back together. She had just presented the stole, the symbol of a priest’s sacramental power, to the newly ordained who would proudly wear the relic of the town’s martyred priest.
These events took place in the 1943. Less than 70 years later, there have been 50 young men and women from that little Polish village who have become priests or nuns. The priest who told this story, Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, is a priest from the same diocese as this little town.
[The town is Bielsk Podlaski. The martyred priest is Father Antoni Beszta-Borowski. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999.
Note: Each person registered has a place for messages on this site. One can send a message by going to “community”, then to the data base and then clicking on the name of the person. Or if the person has commented on the blog, one can click on his name and it will go to his messages. To check messages click on “my account” and then “messages”. Another note: Next blog on the 15th will be after the Gala/Picnic. Here’s hoping those of you who are able to go to one or both of the events will tell those of us who can’t go about them. Now to our regularly scheduled blog.
As an aspiring genius, the other day I was reading an article on what makes a genius a genius. It gave the example of physicist Richard Feynman (I had never heard of this man) who had an unimpressive IQ, but was very creative in his thinking. I was thinking, in a very creative manner, that sometimes we need to approach religion with a new way of thinking, especially with regard to our celebration of some of the most important days of the liturgical year.
Last Sunday, Father Garcia mentioned that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. After Mom and I got home, we decided that we should celebrate the Church’s 1980th birthday. We made a chocolate cake, put a candle in it and sang Happy Birthday to Mater Ecclesia. Mom really sang out. There was a lot of symbolism in our little ceremony. The Holy Spirit descended in tongues of fire and there was our little tongue of fire on top of the candle. The Gospel reading at Mass was Christ breathing on the Apostles, giving them the Holy Spirit and the sacramental ability to forgive sins. And Mom and I had used our breath to blow out the candle — and fire certainly has a connection to sin. We didn’t have 1980 candles, but the one represented the One True Church and Her Unity. Our birthday party made Pentecost a little more vivid.
Once I read a story about a monastery electing an Epiphany Queen. The description made the event seem like the greatest in the world. Every household, it seems, should have an Epiphany king or queen or both elected each year in a similar manner. I was thinking, maybe the way a genius without a very high IQ would think, that it would be interesting to write to various religious orders to find out how particular days or seasons are celebrated and make it into a booklet that families could then use to adopt/adapt the customs for their own homes. Does this seem like something people would be interested in? Is there already a book of this sort?
We have Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart immediately ahead of us. What will we do to celebrate these days? As it works out, the Gala and the Picnic are on the days following the Universal Holy Day of Corpus Christi (the Thursday after Trinity Sunday). We could see these as extensions of that celebration. Or the Picnic could be a celebration of St. Anthony of Padua’s feast. A picnic is a wonderful way for families to celebrate. Which leads me to tell you a picnic story.
Uncle Ray and Aunt Mary’s family had a great place for picnicking. It was the Old Nile Reservoir (not in Egypt) which was a dry lake bed fed by the almost always dry Bijou Creek (not in France). It was a vast area with nobody around — near Hoyt, Colorado, where my godfather was the postmaster. After a big snowstorm one freezing winter, Uncle Ray decided the family should go on a picnic. So all eight of them piled into the cab of their tractor (this is similar to putting eight people into a phone booth) and they blazed a trail through the snow to the Old Nile. Cousin Betty, who was retelling this story to me via e-mail when she was supposed to be working at her job as parish secretary, said she can’t remember anything about the picnic, only the ride crammed into the tractor cab and how cold her feet were. Our family went on a picnic with Uncle Ray’s family at the Old Nile once, of all times, on a warm summer’s day. On this picnic I learned about animal survival techniques. We surrounded a lizard, and someone was able to grab it, hold it by its tail, and then we watched it wriggle free from its tail. That was great. Then we found a mud puddle with water snakes in it. We decided to grab snakes too, but soon found out that the snakes made our hands smell terrible — 10 times worse than a skunk smell. This was not great and we left the snakes alone. We then played volleyball with a net strung between two cottonwoods. Cows had pastured there a while ago, so cousin Dan designated himself as the sanitation department. The game would periodically have to be halted so the sanitation chairman could come running with his shovel to improve the court when debris was found under leaves and such. That was a fun volleyball game.
Burke Lake Park probably is a little different than the Old Nile, but just in case, could someone bring a shovel to the Picnic?
First one to comment why this entry has the title that it does wins a prize to be determined at a later date. Entry deadline is the 14th.
The title has a subliminal message — to win the prize one must correctly give the subliminal message.
2 quick things. You should scroll down to the next-to-last comment on the first blog — the one from Mrs. Moschetto. She talks about her van pool and the ditto machine. It is very funny. And I have decided to post entries on the 5’s — the 5th, 15th and 25th of each month. (Might skip Christmas.) Try not to get too excited on the 4’s of each month in eager anticipation.
OK, now here is the Gala Guide.
Some of you may not be very accustomed to mingling at lavish affairs, so I want to help out with advice based on my social experience.
First, here are my credentials. I have been in the company of: the heir to the Holy Roman Empire; John Schmitz, the 1972 Presidential Candidate for the American Party who got a million votes; Supreme Court Justice Byron (Whizzer) White who voted against Roe v Wade; President Richard Nixon’s daughter (I think her name was Julie); Sean O’hare and Jim Koehr, sometimes organizers of lavish affairs.
The first thing to rememeber is that people might not remember or recognize you. So be ready to introduce yourself often. (I am told that George W. Bush always introduced himself by name at social events.)
If the person you just introduced yourself to does not reciprocate the info, it is fine to ask. It might be a bit blunt to say, “Who are you?” Try something humble sounding like, “My memory never was too good, and it has gotten worse. Could you help me out with your name, Social Security # and date of birth?” (Try to avoid asking this of the same person twice in the evening.)
Always think of yourself as the host/hostessof the Gala. That is, go to the Gala wanting everyone else to have a good time without thinking so much of yourself. Seek out those who seem to have trouble mingling. If your concern is for others, you will find you will have the best time possible. This also means you should be more eager to find out more about others than to talk about yourself. If you have done something really amazing, such as maybe you have met President Nixon’s daughter, mention it only as passing item. Amazement will naturally follow.
Show your esteem to those being honored. Specific examples are better than generalities. “Mr. Scheetz, I still celebrate Mole Day every October 23rd (make sure that is the right date) with mock apple pie. Thanks for teaching me about those things.”
Congratulate those who put in a lot of time making the evening possible. “Mrs. VW, I hear you were one of those behind the scenes people that every event depends on for success. It’s been a great evening. When do you think the next gala will be?” If she faints at this question, do not call 9-1-1. She will recover quickly.
Now, those of you who were a little dubious about going to the Gala because you felt socially inadequate, go ahead and sign up. There isn’t much time left — the deadline is June 3rd. You are certain to enjoy the company, the program, the music, the food and the surprises.
And remember the Mass Saturday morning at 10:30. Then there is the picnic that follows.