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!



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