The Christmas Eve play this year went off perfectly. Everything we practiced came together despite the flu hitting some of my actors. I had to move a girl shepherd to be a king and one of my angels also had the flu. However, I had a whole choir of angels so I didn’t need to add another.
The shepherds all made it in time, even the tiniest 4 year old with his robe dragging and coming up last came to adore the Baby Jesus.
St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Casa Grande, Arizona was super busy this week and that isn’t counting Halloween!
All the students in K-8th came dressed as a Saint on November 1st to celebrate the holy day – All Saints Day. Here are some of the saints. Can you guess their name? The students knew their saint and something about that person. I was impressed.
After All Saints Day comes All Souls Day or Dia Del Muretos. Several classrooms brought favorite food of their loved ones who died and decorated memory boxes for those who died.
Onto November 3rd -making of 1,000 red poppies for our Veterans’ Day float for the city’s Veterans’ Day Parade come Saturday. We will be reciting the poem, Flanders Field for the judges and passing it out to the crowd. We are creating the Weeping Cross after the Weeping Window that can be found in Europe since World War I.The red poppy represents the lives lost during the First World War.
The float is still in process but we will be ready to march come Saturday at 10:00am. We salute our Veterans and pray for those who died and pray for peace in the whole world.
This is the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s appearance to the children in Fatima, Portugal. Pope Francis, to celebrate the anniversary, blessed six replica statues of Our Lady of Fatima. We were very fortunate to have one of the replicas in our parish on Friday, October 20th. Fr. Ariel Lustan, pastor spearheaded the blest occasion. Students at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School made white flags to wave as the Knights of Columbus carried Our Lady down the aisle to sit prominently in the sanctuary all day.
All of the students were enrolled into the brown scapular. The sign below the statue says ” Please do not touch Our Lady, she will touch you. ” One of the little 4th grade boys asked Sr. Carol. ” Does this mean that if I touch the statue she is going to touch me!!?!?!” I explained to him that there is no need to touch the statue, just pray to her and she will touch you through your prayers.
This was a busy day at St. Anthony of Padua School because our school won the contest of naming the new police dog for the Casa Grande Police Department. Police officers and the Drug Alliance Reps came to our morning assembly in the courtyard and presented us with our award. Our school chose the name “Lobo” which in Spanish means wolf. Lobo and his new owner came for our morning announcements. In a month, after Lobo is fully trained, the police officers will return with Lobo and he will demonstrate all that he learned such as how to sniff out drugs.
As a grade school principal one can never plan one’s day completely and some days one never gets to check anything off the list made for the day.
For example, at our school Mass on September 8th we celebrated the Feast of the Blessed Mother’s birthday. Our pastor,Fr. Ariel, (Father A to the students) led the school in singing Happy Birthday to Mama Mary. After that , he said, “Sister Carol, I want you to go out and buy ice cream for all the students to have today to celebrate Mary’s birthday and I will pay for it. ” At the final blessing, Fr. Ariel said, “Sister Carol, don’t forget to get the ice cream for the students.” With 170 plus students hearing this I knew I couldn’t forget.
Ice cream was served at the lunchtime recess and it was a hit.
( remember this is Arizona still 100 degrees plus), with our pledge and the singing of the national anthem. On this day the flag was at half mast. The teachers took time during the day to educate them about what was 9/11, where they were and how they felt as the students were not alive at that time. This is a history lesson for them.
We are fortunate to have an Associate Pastor at our parish. I try on the weekends to attend each of their masses to hear their homilies. They often are very different from each other depending on the angle of the readings they take and the two priests were educated at different seminaries: Fr. Ariel at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in the Philippines and Fr. Alan Valencia at Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago.
Today’s Gospel from Matthew has Peter asking Our Lord how many times must I forgive my brother? Fr. Ariel told us that if we do not forgive another the pain will be like a monkey that will sit on one’s back forever. We cannot let the past define who I am today.
Fr. Alan told us the number of times that Jesus mentions forgiveness in the Bible. This tells us we need to forgive We cannot follow the 1970’s movie- Love Story – where love is defined as “never having to say we are sorry”.
Being principal, I often have students in my office who got in trouble for a variety of reasons such as fighting,name calling etc. Bringing the two or three students together in my office they realize they have to say, I am sorry. Then I often hear from the other, “That’s ok. I forgive you. ” If only we could have this today with our world leaders.
The world is in need of saying: I am sorry. I forgive you. Let us pray together.
We invited all of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity working in Arizona to our house for a Labor Day cookout and pool party since our house came with a pool. I do not like to cook but I enjoy grilling. I had the grill filled with brats as you can see.
As I was grilling the temperature kept dropping and not getting really hot. I heard a sizzling noise so I turned everything off and tried to tighten the connection to the butane tank but it was all tight. I turned it back on again and same sound and temperature not where it should be. I thought ,I must be running out of fuel so I went to get the burgers to put on before the tank went empty. Well, there I saw flames-tall flames on top of the tank. Oh my! What am I going to do. I don’t have a fire extinguisher and they are just too high for me to put out and I can’t get at the control to turn off the tank as that is where the flames are. I told Sr.Mary Karen to call 911 there is a fire but I don’t think she heard me so I called (3rd time in 7 days. Called twice when I was at school last week. )
The 911 operator asked me how close to the hose the grill was with the flames -about 3 feet. She told me to get everyone out of the house. I will stay on the line with you until the firemen arrive. I asked, “Is the tank going to explode?” “That is a strong possibility.” I thought, I can’t have this house on fire. I prayed.
Two police cars arrived first and they waited for the fire dept. We could surely hear the sirens: 3 fire trucks came from one end of the street and around the curve came the 4th one. I stood there with my apron on and the head fireman all suited up asked me, ” What’s wrong Sister? ” I replied, ” My brats are on fire. ” About 10 minutes later the fireman came back out onto the sidewalk and said, “Sister, I saved your brats.” They closed the cover to the grill and sprayed down below. He told me we have a faulty hose to the tank. Whew!!! Thank you God for firemen!
We then dug out the George Foreman grill and we finished grilling the hamburgers. The Sisters arrived from Yuma, Sierra Vista, Tucson, and Bapchule. A good time was had by all with plenty of food. A Labor Day I won’t forget.
As I view pictures on Facebook of those in Wisconsin and Michigan I smile as I see them already wearing sweatshirts. Here in Casa Grande we still have summer. Today it is 105 degrees. We are in our 4th week of school. One drinks 1-2 bottles of water when out on recess duty these weeks.
Another characteristic of Arizona this time of year – are Monsoons! Monsoons bring dust storms, strong winds, and lots of rain in a short period of time to the point streets are flooded and our retention basins are filled to the brim! A beautiful sight to see.
Storms cloud brewing that will soon bring
WIND, DUST AND LOTS OF RAIN!!
One Sunday, the Gospel fit the monsoon season perfectly. It was the Gospel where Jesus was walking on water towards the Apostles who had been fishing all night. The waters got stormy and the Apostles were scared. Jesus began walking towards them when Peter, the impetuous, brave one got into the water too and began to walk on the water towards Jesus. Suddenly, he began to sink. He lost his focus on Jesus – FOJ (Focus On Jesus). This really hit me in the homily and it is my little mantra for the year – FOJ – Focus on Jesus. When difficult moments come I say to myself FOJ, FOJ – Focus on Jesus before I speak and act. I think this is something we can all use in our life and it is so easy to remember – FOJ!
“It is Christmas! Yes, it is Christmas!” The Christmas carol keeps going through my head. To realize it is Christmas once again…. What a Joy!
Here we are – at the Manger Scene again. Pondering the whole mystery of the Birth of the Christ Child. Have you ever just sat and looked at the figures in the manger scene? Take time to do it
I gave my 5th grade Religion class a chance to do just that. I was amazed at how quiet and still they were as they sat there.
Perhaps it was that quiet and still that first Christmas in Bethlehem. Let us journey together into the eyes and expressions of each figure.
He was most likely the first to see the Newborn King! He knew the smell of Mary after carrying her for days on his back.And perhaps, he felt the baby kicking within Mary’s womb some of the ride. How calmly he fits into the manger scene looking upon He whom he carried also to Bethlehem.
St. Joseph – Our Protector Seriously pondering the birth ….reliving the dream he had to take Mary as his wife and knowing that she was with Child through the Holy Spirit. The dream was true! This baby must be destined for great things!
I am the one chosen to protect this child and to provide for his needs. Am I worthy to do so? Can I possibly do all that is asked of me?
Mary looks so peaceful, calm, confident and so motherly! I too must take care of her. This is quite the task! Am I worthy to do so? Am I strong enough?
Behold! I am the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done on to me according to your Word!
My child, my baby! How I love Him so. May I be the right Mother to raise Him as God wants me too. In the poorness of our life I will give Him my all.
I just arrived from the Eastern Desert. It was quite the trek. I am so happy I can rest now. We kept following this star and it was So Bright! And here we are in this tiny town of Bethlehem.
They say this is a newborn King. I have seen many members of royalty in my years of service but I have never seen a king so young. But he does have a certain aura about him like he is meant to make a difference. I have a felling we will all be hearing more from him once he grows up. I would love to carry him to see where he goes and the difference he will make in the lives of others. Hmmm…. I hope I have the chance.
August 8th began the 2016-2017 school year. Many schools in the Midwest and East Coast are still enjoying summer vacation while most of us in Arizona are back in school. Thank goodness for air conditioning. Here is the temperature in the shade on our first day back.
We begin every morning at 7:55am with prayer, announcements, birthdays of the day and Pledge of Allegiance.
As we began the new school year, I hear comments like this from the students : “Sister, did you call us 3rd Graders? We are in 4th grade now.” And I also heard – ” Sister, we are in First Grade now-not Kindergarten. ” They are all so proud that they have moved up a grade.
We are blessed to have two active priests at our parish who are involved in our school. Fr. Alan came the first day to bless all of the classrooms. For some of our new students we had to explain what it means to have holy water sprinkled on them.
Classrooms were blessed on the first day and on the 2nd day at about 8:30am as I was in the 5th grade room teaching Religion, I get a call from my secretary – ” The police just called and told us to be on lock-down. A prisoner from the work crew cleaning the park by school escaped and ran right towards our school!” We hadn’t even practiced this yet but everyone from last year knew what to do once I went on our new P.A. to announce it. Impressive!
Fr. Ariel, our pastor, came to visit before morning prayer when students were playing in the courtyard waiting for the 7:55am whistle. Whenever he enters the grounds, a crowd gathers around him.
Hopscotch is still in style! Great way to stay agile!
The new game – Pokemon is popular here. In the evenings, when I am walking in our neighborhood at the convent, I see a mom and her son spending “quality family time” as they tell me, searching for Pokemon. One night, they were with their phone behind all the mailboxes-but Pokemon was not there.
In the courtyard, before school began, a 3rd grader came up to me and said, “Sister, they aren’t following the rules!” “What are you playing? ” I asked. “Pokemon in Real Life!” (this is without a phone) How creative students are on their own.
As we begin our 3rd week of school, I stopped off at school on Sunday morning to prepare for two subs already. A street lady that I often meet in the alley by St. Vincent de Paul or she is sometimes going through our dumpster looking for items for the children who live in the trailer court, was sitting on the step outside our cafeteria smoking a very long cigarette. She said, ” Hi Sister! ” I replied, ” Hi, how are you today. ” ” I am good. I sure love seeing you in your um, um -” I finished her sentence, “Habit.” “Yes, that’s it. ” Then she told me, ” You won’t be seeing me for awhile. ” “Why is that?” I asked. ” I am going to jail for awhile. ” she told me. ” I replied, “Why?” She told me, ” To get rid of some of my bad habits. ” I told her, ” I will pray for you. ” “Thank you, Sister. I really appreciate that. I will come back and see you when I get out. ”
The conversation was a quick reminder to me that we never know how we impress people, affect them in the short conversations we have with them as we pass them in an alley, in front of church etc. We are messengers of God -and at times without us knowing it.
We all love summer vacation! As a child I had June, July and August off-just so wonderful in green Wisconsin out in the country. Now as principal of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School I get two weeks and off to Wisconsin I flew. I spent time with my family doing a variety of things but mainly – just enjoying the color green to look at and blue skies with clouds. Hmmmm… Wonderful!
Of course – no vacation is complete without visiting Lambeau Field -home of the Green Bay Packers!
My most favorite Packer Game- The Ice Bowl! Outstanding exhibit. One can see the cold breath of the player and fan in this very sub-zero weather game. I am proud to say “My Dad was at the game.”
I had fun running with a family dog – Raleigh. He was always and I mean always ready for a run! We only had one wipe out. He spotted a squirrel and was taking off when I reined him in. Of course- then I tripped over him and my bloody knee told the story. I quickly got up so no one would know I fell and did my run-then I saw the blood running down my leg.
July 4th came and I went to the annual July 4th celebration in Sugar Bush, Wisconsin- the tractor and semi pull with fireworks at the end.
I had lots of fun with my grandnephews in Green Bay and my hometown of Luxemburg.
Mason and I went out to check the corn field – “Knee high by the 4th of July and you got a good crop!”
Mason even gave me a ride on his four wheeler. I held on and I did tell him, ” Don’t go too fast now- slow it down!”
I always tell my students, “When you go on vacation – don’t forget to take Jesus with you” and I did.
I made a trip to one of my favorite places to pray – “The Chapel” located in Robinsonville on a farm road about 15 minutes from my home. Mary appeared to a farm girl here in the midst of the Peshtigo fire. The area was spared as she prayed to the Blessed Mother for help.
In the peaceful quietness, I prayed for my very special intentions.
I went to my hometown parish for Mass – St. Mary’s in Luxemburg. Since last summer they renovated the sanctuary.
I spent my last morning just soaking in the green and the wind rustling the leaves in the trees.
My Summer Buddies!
And here I am now ……. back in Casa Grande, Arizona.
No green though- it is monsoon season-we welcome it as we get rain that we really need.
However, before the rain comes we usually get a sandstorm first.
Sand storm when it comes at night. This is why we are told when driving a car in a sandstorm: 1. Pull off onto the shoulder of the road. 2. Turn off your lights. 3. Take your foot off the breaks 4. Wait out the storm.
I have been busy since I came back preparing for this week’s faculty inservice and getting ready for the 197 students and counting.
They will be happy to see the courtyard with a new coat of blacktop. No more stones to fall into. :):)
We have a Music and an Art Teacher this year. The rooms were made ready for the artists and musicians that will be arriving on August 8th.
We will be learning all about St. Anthony of Padua – our patron saint. We are getting ready for our accreditation visit.
PreSchool Building is beginning to get ready for our 3 and 4 year olds.
And of course -new soccer balls for recess! We are truly ready for school now!
See you August 4th for Open House 9;00am – 5:00pm and the first day of school 7:55am on Monday, August 8th. St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us.
This came from one of the campers with lots of enthusiasm. This emotion was echoed by girls I have taken before and by the new ones who joined my Arizona group. It is interesting listening to the “experienced campers” telling the newbies what to expect in Camp. It is always positive comments.
This year’s theme for Camp was “Women of Strength, Women of God”. The theme was carried out throughout the days of Camp.
The campers were thrilled to make a rosary bracelet out of National Geographic pages of all things! I listened to the details and all the time put into this keepsake project. The girls told me they prayed the rosary as they added each bead.
Time was spent in our prayerful St. Francis Chapel. The campers met for morning and evening prayer and also daily Mass. The singing was beautiful from our Sister Musicians and from all the campers.
It is great to go to camp with friends from your hometown but just know you will end up making friends from all over the United States. The campers were thrilled to talk and share with high school girls and college girls. They never had such an opportunity before and they loved it.
The campers had lots of fun riding the bikes at the Motherhouse with all their newly created friends. They got more exercise with the 2016 Summer Olympics. Take a look at some of the sports offered in this summer’s Olympics :):)
Thank you to the Sisters at Holy Family Convent for opening their doors to these Campers. Who knows, some day they may be climbing these steps to be a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.