Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Heart is Now in Connecticut

This song is for all those affected by yesterday's tragedy:

Yesterday, December 14, 2012, was going to be a different kind of day. I had a lot of anticipation for it, since it was the last day of school before our Christmas break. I had minute-by-minute planned, as my students could see once they peered at the board for their schedule. I wanted it to be a fun day for them, and indeed it was.

By the time the school day started at 7:30 am Hawaii-time, 28 people would be killed in Connecticut, most of them being around the same age as my students. As for our class, the day began like any other. They swiftly entered in their math homework answers on their NEO 2 devices, we prayed the Morning Offering, said the Pledge of Allegiance, and then they took their spelling tests. Everyone was eager to get started on the day's events.

The first thing we did was make gingerbread houses. One of the families had donated kits for us so that we could enter a contest. The third graders did one while the fourth graders did another. The children had a great time, and the thing I feared did not happen: none of my children felt "left out" of the process. The only mishap was that the third grade's house collapsed beyond repair, but the children took it in stride.

Then we rehearsed our Nativity "Readers' Theatre," and the children gave a wonderful performance for Sister Janet's second graders, who now can't wait until they can do a play in third grade. It was cute, and my students showed their creativity, initiative, and ability to follow directions.

In the afternoon, after praying the 3rd Joyful Mystery: the Nativity, the children passed around papers with an outline picture of a gift on it. They were to write compliments for whomever's name was on the paper. I was grateful that we had spent time practicing how to pass the papers, because it went very smoothly. We then put the final "leaves" on our Jesse tree, ate our treats and passed around gifts.

My room parents were a big help for the day's activities. The children kept saying how much fun they were having, and it was great to watch them enjoy themselves. I went home, tired but happy.

Then I learned of the tragedy happening five thousand miles away, which ironically, didn't feel that far. I can't bear to think of that happening to my students, who feel like family. I love them all so much!

It is just so weird that the whole world seemed to stop in Newtown, CT, and things carried on like always over here, at least until someone turned on their computer or TV.

My heart and prayers are with those involved with the shooting. It is devastating.


Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

--- 1 ---
Fridays are my busiest day. As such, they go by really fast. We start the day with morning prayer and mass, and then we have a half hour before the first bell rings, at 7:30am. I have no prep period on Fridays, and I teach p.e. to my students. Today, it was kickball. Fridays are also when I send out my weekly newsletter and when lesson plans need to be emailed to our principal. I must confess I haven't had time to do mine yet, but it goes faster now that I have the hang of it. Also, I over plan, so some of it is already written from last week.
--- 2 ---
I teach 3rd/4th grade, so my students are still at the age where they make me things. For a while it was pictures of angels, then drawings of hibiscus flowers, and now it is origami roses. It's really cute. They are so funny, too. They are getting to the age where they want to be treated like adults but I enjoy that they still act like the kids that they are.

--- 3 ---
My stepmom, Ginny, dried some fall leaves and shipped them to me. I was amazed that she didn't have to use wax paper and iron them. They weren't crumbly or anything! On Halloween, my 3/4 graders went to the kindergarten room to do a science lesson and a leaf-rubbing art project with them. It was so much fun to watch the children ooh and ah over the leaves! A couple interesting observations several of them made were, "Ew, they smell bad," and "they smell like something that's decaying." I immediately grabbed a leaf and inhaled a wonderfully nostalgic scent. I told them, "This is what fall/autumn smells like if you go to the northern states in the mainland!" :)

--- 4 ---
I was very amused when I learned that this was the Halloween Fun Day activity I would be in charge of with one of the eighth graders. We somehow managed to keep it from turning into a water fight.

--- 5 ---
Sr. Janet, Mrs. Thompson, and I took the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders on a field trip to the Na ‘Āina Kai Botanical Gardens, all the way up in Kilauea. It was a long bus ride, but the kids enjoyed being able to talk story with each other. The field trip ended up being perfect for their age group! They were engaged the whole day. There was a big maze for small groups to walk through together, lots of nature to explore and learn about from our tour guides, a museum-like display of the earliest Hawaiians, a Navajo village (to compare the two indigenous groups), lots of bronze sculptures that they were allowed to touch, and a really awesome playground. We enjoyed watching the fifth graders because we got to see them acting like children (in a good way). They didn't have the older grades to impress.

--- 6 ---
Veterans Day was more meaningful this year. Our school is near the PMRF Naval Base, so some of our students are in military families. I have witnessed the bravery, pride, and courage of these families who have given so much of themselves for our country. We had a big Veteran's Day celebration at the school, and the kids got to learn about some of the science behind rockets....followed by watching rockets go off! They also got to go inside a navy boat and a mobile crime lab. We had a special flag raising ceremony, and Taps was played.
Anticipating the rocket launch!

--- 7 ---
I am so grateful that the we, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, have this mission in Kekaha. The people here are so inspiring with their devotedness to our faith. I love to serve them and to learn from them!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Busy October

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written in this! It's almost like it's been a whole month.... ;) I need to write in this more. Here's all that has happened in the last month, in no particular order:

  1. I climbed Sleeping Giant twice. The first time was with Sr. Carol Ann and Sr. Hannah, and the second time was with the St. Theresa Parish Youth. Both were wonderful experiences! I love hiking in the wilderness!
  2. We attended mini retreat for religious educators. Actually, tonight, Sr. Carol Ann, Sr. Janet and I attended a spiritual talk for music ministers. It was very nice!
  3. Speaking of music ministry, I started cantoring at St. Theresa. I have now cantored 4 times. I am enjoying it.
  4. Also, the Christian churches in West Kauai recently gathered for a Festival of Praise. The different choirs, music groups, and a keiki (children) dance group all contributed to a wonderful night of worship. Our choir sang "In This Place." One of our band members played a tenor saxophone for one of the verses and it was amazing! It was a Spirit-filled night, and I was edified by all the talent on this small part of the island.
  5. This month, we had Fall Break, STAR Testing (reading and math tests that give us instant data of our students' progress), standardized testing, report cards, and parent-teacher conferences. As a first-year teacher, I am happy to have made it through my first round of all that. Everything went well.
  6. One of my students had to move back to the Mainland. It's been really hard on the children. We gave her a nice going away party though, and we are keeping in touch with her.
  7. St. Marianne was canonized! It is so wonderful how much attention this has been getting on the news. We've been educating the children about her (and learning about her ourselves!) Now Hawaii has two saints: Sts. Damien and Marianne of Molokai.
Now we are getting ready for Halloween. Each year, there is a door decorating contest, and yesterday my students worked on our door. I read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak to them, and then used the following watercolor lesson plan that I found on the internet:

Their watercolor paintings turned out so cute! I am very proud of them! The students who finished early traced some letter-stencils that Sr. Charles Ann had given me and cut them out. A couple of them made trees. This afternoon, one of the moms helped me put everything on the door. The cool thing is that the kids did most of the work. They even voted on the title. They chose "Calling All the Monsters," named after a favorite Disney Channel song of theirs.

I watched the music video. It's kind of like a kids' version of "Thriller":

Tomorrow is the "Trunk or Treat," and Wednesday is "Halloween Fun Day." I will write again about these activities!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kauai Outing and School Feastday Celebration

I have much to write about and pictures to share! We decided that for our Community Outing, we would go to the National Tropical Botanical Garden. On the way, we stopped at Spouting Horn and Poipu Beach. 

On the right is a picture I took of Spouting Horn. It is a hole that the lava made, and water from the surf shoots up through it, making a cool site to see.

While we were there, we had a picnic that Sr. Hannah prepared for us. It was so good that we even had chickens come and beg.
Our next stop was Poipu Beach.  We are looking forward to our return!

Lastly, we went to the Botanical Gardens, where we had a fun tour. Everything was stunning, and I loved learning about the history of the  plant life in Hawaii. 

Our tour guide, Martin, was both entertaining and knowledgeable. Here he is sharing with us one of the many fruits he picked for us during the tour.

Also, today was a very special day at St. Theresa School! We celebrated the Feastdays of both St. Theresa and St. Francis of Assisi. We had a special mass, and Fr. Arnel shared with us at his homily how similar St. Francis and St. Theresa were, along with their messages for us who are living today. 

All students who wished could dress up as St. Theresa or St. Francis. Our principal, Mrs. Buza-sims, praised these students for expressing their faith for this special day....I had to use what I have learned from being a Sister to help the veils stay on!

On her Pilgrimage to Assisi this past June, Sr. Carol Ann generously picked up  Tau Cross necklaces for all the students. The seventh graders put them on the children.
We had a procession to the Statue of St. Theresa after Mass.

One of the things I like about this school is the mentoring program. The older grades  partner up with the younger grades for activities.

This is most of my class. They're fun!
St. Theresa with her beautiful flowers and leis. Notice the handmade  lei the kindergarten made!
The children were happy to eat their Lady Jacoba-inspired cookies!

Sr. Carol Ann distributed coloring pages to the teachers. It gave me an opportunity to teach my students more about St. Francis. It gave my students a chance to recover from their sugar-high and all the excitement of the morning!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Weird Time Thing

My goodness, the time goes by so fast! Every Monday morning, I seem to enter into this weird time thing, because before I know it, it's already Friday. Each day is a breath and each week is 10 minutes.
"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day."
- 2 Peter 3:8, NAB
I'm starting to know what he means by the second part of that verse.
I am enjoying my time here very much. I love my students, and the people here are so warm and generous. They have shared with us fruit from their yards, such as papayas, avocados, bananas and mangos. I am usually more of a vegetable person, but I love the fruit in Hawaii. I have had opportunities to use them in recipes, as we each take turns cooking. One of our parishioners shared with us a mango salsa recipe that I enjoy putting together.
Mango Salsa
1 Mango
1 Can of Diced Tomatoes (14.5 oz), drained
Just over 1/4 cup Diced Onions
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix and enjoy! It tastes even better if you keep it in the refrigerator over night before serving.

I learned the hard way that I can't cut up the mangos myself. It turns out that I am allergic to mango tree sap. It's a relative to poison ivy, but not everyone is allergic to it. It just causes a similar reaction. I am glad that I'm not allergic to the fruit itself!

I plan on writing again soon! I hope things are going well for all of you!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My First Week as a Teacher

We have now completed the first week of of our ministries. I promised pictures of my classroom, so here they are:
I have a morning procedure for my 3rd and 4th graders as they arrive. The first thing they do is keyboarding on their NEOs. (If you look on their desks, it's those things that look like small black typewriters.) The Renaissance Program we use has a Keyboarding program that I am very impressed with. They were putting their fingers on the right keys from day one. The program teaches them typing at their own pace, and I just walk around to make sure that they are using the right fingers.
To the right is our prayer corner. Every classroom has one. We are supposed to include the color for the Liturgical season as well as the Principles of Catholic Social Teaching. A different principle is highlighted each month. I also have a rosary for each person in my class. We pray a decade each day so that by the end of the week we will have prayed the rosary. Last week, we did the Joyful Mysteries and this week we'll be praying the Luminous Mysteries. The children have done really well with this! They have even started to bring in their own rosaries. 

Below is a picture of my Accelerated Reading and Math motivation board. For Accelerated Reading, the students and their teachers work together to create individualized goals. For my board, as they get closer to their goal for the quarter (percentage-wise), they move from an egg to a caterpillar to a chrysalis to a butterfly. When everyone becomes butterflies we are going to make a butterfly craft.

In addition to teaching the general classroom subjects, each teacher teaches art and p.e. (Sr. Carol Ann is the music teacher.) I decided that we would start out with a basketball unit, so I pumped air into enough basketballs for everyone, and on Friday I taught them how to dribble. They are learning the fundamentals of the sport before they get to play the game. Those who already know how to play are my assistant coaches. Otherwise, they would be bored with going over the basics.

For a "Friday Evening Vacation," Sr. Hannah and I went to Salt Pond Beach. At first I was nervous, but there was a reef separating us from the sharks. We had a great time swimming in the water! I was surprised how deep the water was. In Lake Michigan you have to walk out a great distance just to get up to your waist. In the ocean, we were treading water before we knew it! The waves were pretty calm but we did try out the Boogie boards on them. It was probably good practice for me for staying on the Boogie board.

All in all, I like it here. :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Greetings from Kekaha!

Aloha! I have been in Kauai for a few days now, along with Sr. Janet and Sr. Carol Ann. We are excited for Sr. Hannah's arrival this Saturday! Although we have been working hard, I have been enjoying the beauty that surrounds us. Even the shrubs are pretty!

The ocean is just is a beautiful shade of blue, and I love watching the waves. The song "Ocean" by Ten Skekel Shirt comes to mind every time I look out at it. Here is a video that someone posted on YouTube with the song and pictures that they took of Hawaii:

What is even more beautiful than the natural surroundings is the "aloha spirit" that I have experienced in the people here. They are so warm and welcoming! I am glad I love hugs because they are plentiful here.

I have already met a couple of my students and their parents at church and at school, which was great. I have been setting up my classroom, so I was able to tell them that they already have a desk with their name on it.

I will take pictures of my classroom as soon as I am finished. In-service starts tomorrow (Monday) and the first day of school is a week from Monday.

Until next time, here are a couple pictures I have taken:

St. Theresa's Convent

View from our driveway

Monday, July 9, 2012

Serving Others to Imitate Christ

Summers at the Motherhouse allow for different kinds of activity than during the year. Sr. Pamela Catherine and I, as part of the Temporary Professed Summer Program, have been helping out with the Service Crew. We have been washing windows, cleaning the guesthouses and making the beds, helping in the laundry room, wiping down the cafeteria line, doing dishes and our personal favorite: washing cars. Sr. Elena, who is in the Perpetual Vow Summer Program, helps us with the cars, although the majority of her time is spent in prayer- she is really enjoying this extra time with the Lord! She is going to profess final vows in August, and we are all so excited for her! I am glad she's here!

For our instructions we have been reading Pope John Paul II's encyclical On Human Work (Latin: Laborem exercens). While he does address worker's rights in the encyclical, most of it is about the dignity of human work. My favorite insight from what we have read so far is the comment on the humility of God, who though He was in the form of God, He became Man. He did manual labor as a carpenter, working by the sweat of His brow (see Genesis 3:19).  Then on the night before He died, He washed his disciples' feet, which at the time was an extraordinary lowly job. His disciples thought that it was beneath their rabbi to do such a thing. But He did, and then said that they are to do the same for each other (see John 13:1-17). Jesus made work holy and when we work we are in conformity with Him.

Reading this encyclical has also brought to light a significant value of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity: no job is too lowly for anyone; no person is too important for any job. Our Community Director (what other Communities call their Mother General or Mother Superior) joins the others in shoveling the snow/ice during the winter, picking strawberries in the summer, as well as anything thing else she can find time to do. Our former Community Director is often found cutting vegetables, washing dishes, and doing similar tasks around the house. Administrators, health care workers, teachers, and others all chip in where  and when they can. 

We'll be finishing the encyclical (and the Temporary Professed Summer Program) this week. It seems that it has gone by so fast.... Sr. Pamela Catherine will renew her vows this Sunday at Mass, which we are looking forward to. Then she is going on her homevisit, and I will be here to attend an Environmental Education workshop.

I pray that you are enjoying your summer, and staying cool in all the heat!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sip Slowly at Stone Creek Coffee

What's better than great tasting coffee? Great tasting fair trade coffee! On Saturday, six of us piled into a van and drove down to Milwaukee to learn more about fair trade and how we can support such an amazing movement. In Stone Creek Coffee Roaster's annual report, they wrote: "We look for two things when deciding to purchase a coffee: the quality of the coffee and the quality of life of the people producing it."

At the factory/soon-to-be-hangout, we met Steve and Kendra Hawthorne, who graciously came in on the weekend to give us a tour and some coffee. While we were there, Steve told us of his trips to South America and Africa, where he meets farmers and conducts his evaluations before agreeing to purchase coffee from them. We were touched by the stories he shared. One of my favorites was when he told us about a farmer in a third world country who works so hard to provide a good livelihood for his workers that he provides schooling for the children during the day and adult education programs for the workers at night, among other wonderful gifts.

We returned home feeling inspired by these incredible people who are truly passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. We can't wait to go back!

Stone Creek Coffee is located right across the street from Downtown Milwaukee's Amkrak/Greyhound Station! The coffee house and bakery will be open for business in September 2012.

Coffee-sack race, anyone?
Steve showed us what coffee beans (cherry pits!) look like prior to roasting.

The Four Steps of Stone Creek Coffee:
  1. Grow responsibly
  2. Roast to perfection
  3. Brew expertly
  4. Sip Slowly (we did this one)
Left to Right: Sr. Carolee, Sr. Monica (me), Sr. Leslie, Sr. Regina Rose, Sr. Natalie, and Sr. Kathleen

Kendra made delicious and beautiful lattes for us.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Busy but Joyful

Camp Franciscan is back at the Motherhouse! I always look forward to it. It is a busy time, but it is also a fun time, as junior high girls run from activity to activity with their fearless high school leaders. Most, if not all of the campers have arrived, and the novices and I led them in some ice breakers in the gym. We definitely got our exercise in! The campers were laughing and seemed to be having a great time. Pictures will be posted throughout the week, so make sure to check it out by clicking here:

I have a break right now, so I decided to take the opportunity to fill you all in on what has been happening the past few weeks. As I wrote in my last entry, I participated in a 5 day silent retreat. It was a wonderful week, and I am so grateful for the wisdom of the Church to have novices do a retreat right before they make First Vows. I grew closer to the Lord, and it was so peaceful. 

Then that Saturday, June 2nd, we had a special Midday Prayer in the Novitiate Chapel during which Sr. Louise (our community director) gave me my first mission assignment. I have been assigned to teach 3rd/4th grade at St. Theresa School in Kekaha, Kauai, Hawaii! I am excited for this new adventure. It will be my first year of teaching in my own classroom. Before this, I did student teaching and substitute teaching. I also have done volunteer work (teaching religious education classes and teaching at a summer program). I will leave for Hawaii on July 25th.

The next day, June 3rd, I had my first profession. Bishop David Ricken was the celebrant. Fr. Charlie Smiech, Fr.  Tom Speier, and Fr. Sam Jadin were his co-celebrants. My godmother, my parents, and my brothers were there for the occasion. Sr. Leslie and Sr. Regina Rose were my unofficial "bridesmaids," as I called them. They made excellent "bridesmaids!" Many of our Sisters were also present for the Mass, which was nice. It was such a special ceremony....I don't even know how to describe it...Afterwards, we had a reception in the cafeteria, and my whole family was amazed to watch Bishop Ricken out-pun my dad! My dad is always saying "punny" things, and he met his match! 

I was happy to share the day and the Mass with Sr. Thi and Sr. Tuyen. They were renewing their vows, and it was their first time saying their vow formula in English (rather than Vietnamese). I thought they did an excellent job! 

I then spent the following week with my family. I was with my dad and stepmom for the first half, and my mom for the second half. I thought that worked well. It was nice to visit with my family.
This is me with my Grandma Beechnau!

One of my stops was to see my maternal grandma. It is always nice to see her! We watched a little bit of Disney's The Parent Trap together. I remember watching it with her when I was younger. She loves watching Hayley Mills. 

Now I am back at the Motherhouse. Sr. Pamela Catherine and I are in the temporary professed summer program together, and it has been nice to have her around here again. We plan on going rollerblading together again soon!

It's time to for me to join the others at camp! Please keep us in your prayers!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Living Out Our Spiritual Motherhood

Project Linus was a success! We returned home with four quilts that will be given to children at UW Health: American Family Children's Hospital in Madison. We quilted blankets for boys. Jean and Dottie, who  patiently and warmly taught us everything we needed to know about sewing and quilting, said that many blankets are donated for girls, but there is a shortage of boys' blankets, so that is what they focus on. They are so cute! Sr. Natalie did a dinosaur one, Sr. Regina Rose did a shark one, Sr. Leslie did a Winnie the Pooh one, and I did one with various animals, such as giraffes, tigers, monkeys, and hippos. We just know the boys who get them will be so happy!

Not only was I able to sew without jamming the machine once, but I enjoyed the whole process. It was fun to sew and quilt everything together, and it felt great to do something nurturing and motherly for these children. Helping children who need to go to the hospital is something that I have been passionate about for a long time, so it was an honor to do this for them. Jean also shared with us some touching stories about her experiences handing out the quilts.

In addition, we each took a turn preparing a meal under the guidance of Sr. Jerianne. She gave us plenty of tips and help. Every meal was excellent. Nothing flopped. It was fun to work with Sr. Jerianne, because she was patient and had a great sense of humor.

On the way home, we put our heads together and wrote an article for Franciscanized World that Sr. Leslie typed up and sent to Sr. Julie Ann. To read it as well as see pictures from the week, click here: Quilting Quandaries and Culinary Capers.

I am excited to begin retreat tonight! It is a silent retreat and the theme is The Francis You Don't Know - His Greatness Was In His Weaknesses. Our retreat master is Fr. Thomas Speier, OFM. I am also planning on reading Hinds' Feet on High Places. Those of us in formation started to read it to each other, but we only got through the first part. I enjoyed the story, and I think it will go well with the theme of the retreat.

The retreat will end Saturday family will arrive Saturday afternoon....and my first profession is the next day on June 3rd! I am so excited, and it seems our Sisters are as excited as I am, because so many of them have come up to me and said, "Just think, only one more week!" It is so cool to go through this together. Also Sr. Thi and Sr. Tuyen will be renewing their vows, and I couldn't be happier to share the day with them!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Preparing for Project Linus

Life has been pretty busy around here. We just finished a young women's discernment retreat....6 lovely young women came to the Motherhouse. We novices were able to join them for a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help and then to a picnic. They seemed to have a good time, and we certainly enjoyed them. For pictures and to see what Sr. Julie Ann had to say about it, click on this link:

Now we are finishing up packing for a week at a lakeside home that is owned by the family of one of our Sisters, where we will sew blankets for Project Linus. "As Charles Schulz’s Linus character from the PEANUTS® comic strip was comforted by his blanket, Project Linus strives to do the same and more for children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need" (  Project Linus accepts handmade blankets.

I don't consider myself all that skilled at sewing things, so it will certainly be a labor of love. We will have expert seamstresses to guide us along. I am hoping they can teach me how to sew a straight line without jamming the machine. That's my first goal. Thinking of the children who will be comforted by these blankets will help me along as well.

I'm looking forward to the cooking part of the week. We each took a day to prepare dinner. Sr. Jerianne, the head of the Motherhouse kitchen, has been helping us with menu planning, and she will be working with us one-on-one to prepare the meals. She encouraged us to be adventurous and to cook/bake things we haven't made before.

I think it will be a nice week!

We'll be back at the Motherhouse late Friday afternoon. Be sure to check out Franciscanized World soon after that for our reflections from the week!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Game and Movie Night

 Since school is out, we decided to celebrate! The Novitiate Community invited our International Sisters over. We knew we wanted to have dinner together, do some kind of physical activity, and then watch the movie Akeelah and the Bee. We were planning on going outside for frisbee or soccer, but it rained that day, so we switched to the gym and pulled out anything we could for activities. We ended up having a great time. We tied together two long ropes and played jump rope, we did hula hoops, and a few large-group activity games. To finish, we played lightning.

Here's how to play lightning:

There was definitely some natural talent in the group! Even though for some of them it was their first time shooting hoops, they did very well and had excellent "follow through." We were amazed! I remember how long it took me to shoot my first basket when I was a kid....
Way to go, Sr. Emiliana!
Wow, Sr. Theresa...really? Four hula-hoops?!

Back Row: Sr. Regina Rose, Sr. Rose Maura, Sr. Monica, Sr. Theresa,  Sr. Tuyen
3rd Row: Sr. Thi, Sr. Bernadette
2nd Row: Sr. Constansia, Sr. Juliet, Sr. Leslie
Front Row: Sr. Emiliana
Sr. Maria Echezonachukwu (Sr. Maria Eche) is also one of our
International Sisters, but she's away right now.
We were having so much fun that the time that we had planned to start the movie came fast. Sr. Elaine, our postulant directress, also joined us for snacks and Akeelah and the Bee. Everyone loved it. It is about an 11-year-old girl from South Los Angeles who aspires to compete in the National Spelling Bee.

Overall, it was a wonderful night, and one that we would like to do again! I love our International Sisters (our "cousins"). Each one of them is a blessing to our Community, and I am going to miss them when I am out on mission this fall!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Weekend of Praise and Worship

 For our Friday Night Recreation, Regina, Sr. Regina Rose, Sr. Leslie, and I headed down to one of our favorite hang-outs at the Motherhouse: The Green Hut. We did praise and worship together, and we also made s'mores.

What is a s'more? Allow me to show you a clip from a movie that I watched throughout my childhood. Ham Porter gives very clear directions on how to make a s'more:

Note: I personally think that s'mores taste better when the marshmallows are roasted to the point of being golden brown. When they get set on fire, there is an added "carbon" flavor.

Roasted Peeps! Don't try this at home. :)
Sr. Leslie had a scathingly brilliant idea for a science experiment. We tried roasting peeps! While it was fun to try, we soon found out that it can cause burns. The sugar on the outside caramelizes.

We found that if they are slightly cooked, they can be ok to eat, but we had to be very careful. We had a good time with it anyway.
Left to Right: Regina, Sr. Regina Rose, Sr. Leslie

Then we did praise and worship, which was awesome. Sr. Regina Rose and Regina took turns playing the guitar and leading it. I have been learning some new songs from them, too. It is so great to praise God together, and it was a nice send-off for Regina, who is spending the next two weeks on a mission experience with our Sisters in Tuscon, Arizona.

Then last night, our Vocation Directresses took Sr. Regina Rose, Sr. Leslie, and I to ARISE Milwaukee: An Evening of Eucharistic Praise. It was a wonderful evening! There was an excellent turnout for the Spirit-filled event.

It was Eucharistic Adoration with music (a lot like how Saturday nights are set up at Steubenville Conferences). There were priests available for confession, as well as volunteers who were available to pray over people. The talks were great, too. One thing that stood out to me was when we were told that Adoration involves not just us gazing on the Lord; it's the Lord gazing on us! The Lord invites us to pray, and our prayer is a response to this invitation of love. It was a beautiful night.

If you live in the Milwaukee area, or are going to be around, here are the 2012-2013 dates for ARISE Milwaukee:

  • September 22nd
  • December 1st
  • February 9th
  • April 13th
People of all ages go to this, as we experienced last night. There were families there, too.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Great Expectations

I cannot believe that this is the last week of the Spring semester. It seems like it really flew by this time. All the Sister-students are busy writing papers, and preparing for finals and presentations. The other novices are studying everything they can about the New Testament, and I am practicing lots of logic formulas, while reviewing for digital photography and church history.

The big surprise of the semester was that I enjoyed Logic (philosophy). It was a class that I would never have taken unless it was required. So I am glad that I had to take it. Even though I might not have to know the "rules of implication" and the "rules of replacement" after this Thursday, I can tell that the class has helped me evaluate mass media more carefully.

In addition to finishing up the semester, Sr. Natalie (my novice directress) and I have been preparing for my First Profession of Vows, which will be Sunday, June 3rd! It is Trinity Sunday, which I think is perfect for a Franciscan profession. I got to choose a few of the songs for the mass, which was fun to do. We also have traditional songs that our Community sings for First Professions.

Other than preparations and school, we have simply been having a good ole' time. Sister Regina Rose, Sister Leslie, and Regina taught me how to play poker. We used chips and pretended that they were money. Before this, I thought poker was simply poker, but apparently there are a variety of poker games. For those of you who are nodding your heads right now, we played "Texas Hold'em." It was really fun, especially since I had beginner's luck. I ended up with a lot of blue chips (the highest level), which we decided were worth $20 (imaginary) each. I could have bet more than I did. One time I had 2 Aces in my hand and there was an Ace on the board and I put just a couple chips in the middle. We all had a good laugh about that when I revealed my cards.

During the game, Sr. Elaine (the postulant directress) walked through the room on the way to her office, leading to an enjoyable dialogue:

Sr. Regina Rose (to me): How much are you betting?
Sr. Elaine: (teasing) Are you gambling?!
Sr. Regina Rose: No, I said, "I need to change my bedding."
Regina (our postulant): Can I go to your wedding?
Sr. Regina Rose: They won't be letting.
Me: No more rhymes now, I mean it!
Sr. Regina Rose: Anybody want a peanut?
Regina: Anybody want a chocolate?

In case you missed the Princess Bride reference in the dialogue, here's a 40 second clip that deals with rhyming: If you haven't seen the Princess Bride, I recommend it. It is a very silly movie. You'll either love it or you'll hate it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Enjoying Easter Traditions

On Holy Thursday morning, Regina, Sister Leslie, Sister Regina Rose, and I were on a mission: we got to decorate Easter Eggs for the Motherhouse! That is a lot of eggs!

We had a great time and even learned some new techniques along the way.

For instance, if you look closely at the picture on the right, you will find a rubber-band in the lower left corner. Also, look at the the carton of eggs, and there is a blue-violet one with white stripes in various directions, as well as a green one with one stripe. The rubber-band is what makes that effect. Just wrap a rubber-band with a wide-width around an egg and put it in the dye. After you get the desire color(s), let it dry a little before removing the rubber-band; it doesn't need to be totally dry.

Another thing that Sr. Regina Rose (above) started doing was drizzling dye(s) over the eggs. It made for some really cool effects. It helped when there was some extra food coloring added to the dye-kit, too, to make the colors more vibrant.

It was a fun start to an enjoyable Easter Triduum. One of my favorite traditions at the convent is the quiet of these high holy days. The liturgies were wonderful, and we had extra time available for more personal prayer and contemplation.

Yesterday, Sr. Thelma (our sacristan), Sr. Regina Rose, and I prepared St. Mary's Chapel for the Easter Vigil. We arranged mums, hydrangeas, and Easter Lilies, and I learned something new when I did that, too. (Besides learning which ones were the mums and which ones were the hydrangeas.) Did you know that it is more pleasing to the eye when flowers are placed together odd numbers? For instance 3 pots together look better than 2 or 4 pots together. At the end, we removed the yellow pollen from the Easter Lilies. Doing this makes it more tolerable for those with allergies.

It's time for me to go set up for the Easter Sunday mass. (I'm the sacristan for it.) I pray that you have a holy and blessed Easter Season!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Can You Believe It's Been 800 Years Already?

In the preceding entry, I provided my favorite (at this point in my life) examination of conscience. Then this past Friday we had our Lenten Reconciliation Service at the Motherhouse. Fr. Jadin read the introduction and I loved it, so I thought I'd share it with all of you:

As we pray with Scripture, we become more and more convinced of God's overwhelming love. Even if our motives are self-centered, God says, "I love you." In spite of our sinfulness, God still says, "I love you no matter what you've done.
Regardless of our failures, God continues to love us with an everlasting love. We must grow in knowing Him as a kind, loving and forgiving Father who welcomes us with open arms. 
When we are convinced that we are loved, only then can we be honest and unafraid in looking within ourselves. When we know we are accepted, we need not be anything less than our own selves. We can live in freedom and sincerity.
Today, we had a special evening prayer commemorating a response to this love of God. The Franciscans of the Green Bay diocese gathered for the 800th anniversary (octocentenary) of St. Clare of Assisi's initiation into the religious life.

The story began at Palm Sunday mass. Everyone else grabbed a palm branch. Not Clare. The bishop noticed and walked over to hand her a palm. The Mass continued like nothing had happened. One of our Sisters told us that this may have been the Bishop's secret signal to her: that everyone was ready for her and tonight would be the night of her escape and her consecration to the Lord.

Regina (our postulant) played the role of Clare, and did an impressive pantomine of the daring escape from her home. Some OFM Friars played the role of the lesser brothers. Sisters from different Congregations took part in the procession and prayer. There were also Secular Franciscans and Associates present.

Since no Poor Clares could be present for the evening prayer, I found a nice video so they could represent, too. (I am sure they are having an enjoyable evening in the cloister!)

I have heard it said that if it wasn't for St. Clare, the Franciscan order would not have been able to survive. I am so grateful for this strong, brave, and deeply spiritual woman!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Unique Examination of Conscience

Last fall I was given a different kind of Examination of Conscience: it is an Examination of Attitudes. It was written by one of our Sisters. I love it, and I have been given permission to reprint it on this blog! I hope that this becomes a useful tool for you as you prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Examples of Brief Confessions of Sinfulness

Note: the following examples are made up to show one aspect of confession- that is, the confessing of sinfulness as an attitude. The examples also show characteristic attitudes, different in each person. Any one of the following could be a complete confession supposing there is no (other) mortal sinfulness.

  1. I have been angry at all my troubles and I let myself be very sarcastic to people I work with and live with...
  2. I am so concerned with getting material things and keeping up my status in the eyes of those I associate with that I have too little time for noticing the needs of others.
  3. I take delight in and I take pleasure in learning of and broadcasting the faults of those whose ideas...I do not like.
  4. I cause great inconvenience to others by a sloppy and unplanned way of doing things, making them wait, spoiling their plans, ignoring their needs.
  5. I realize I am taking a roundabout revenge on others by my remarks about them, even in joking...
  6. I let my depression and my temper, and my moods affect others by giving into my feelings and...
  7. I am causing trouble in my group by trying to dominate, by making all the decisions, by not listening to anyone, thinking I am always right...
  8. I refuse to take responsibility for my mistakes; I always find someone to blame other than myself.
  9. I allow a spirit of bitterness, complaining, self-pity to possess me and thus I don't do others any good...
  10. I am very stubborn and domineering. If I am blocked by anyone for any reason, I immediately lose my temper and retaliate.
  11. I continually make myself the hero and center of every conversation.
  12. I am present at Mass physically, but my participation is half-hearted and spiritless...
  13. I almost never pray...
  14. I cause unnecessary pain to those in authority by being closed, secretive, and underhanded...
  15. I show little forgiveness or compassion toward others when they have need for sympathy.
  16. I show little consideration for others by being late for meals, prayers, meetings, etc.
  17. I demand perfection from everyone and tolerate weakness from nobody.

This is the statue of St. Francis
that I look at as I am waiting
in line to receive the Sacrament
of Reconciliation at the

"Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves by healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful" (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1458).


As Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least every two weeks. I noticed a change in myself for the better when I began this practice as a postulant.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On Marian Apparitions

While I was growing up, I would watch The Day the Sun Danced with my cousins at my maternal grandma's house. I loved it! In fact, I still love this movie. I even showed it to the sixth grade religious education class that I taught at my home parish when I was teaching about sacramentals. I told them, this might look like a children's movie because it is animated, but it's actually one of my favorites. My students loved it too and even were inspired by it enough to ask if we could pray the Rosary together as a class. 
As a fan of the miracle at Fatima, I was pleased to find out that there was a a new movie about the story. Last year, we watched it as a novitiate community and tonight I got to see it again in the cafeteria with more of our Sisters. It is called The 13th Day and I thought it was excellent both times I saw it! According to, it is not appropriate for young children because of the images of hell and the way the children are treated in the movie (

The visions at Fatima occurred in 1917 and were approved by the Church in 1930. 

Here in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Marian Apparitions were approved by Bishop David Ricken on December 8, 2010. He said, "I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worth of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful" ( This made the apparition the first one approved in the United States. 

Yesterday, Sr. Anne Marie (a Sister who is staying with our Community for her sabbatical), Sr. Natalie, Sr. Regina Rose, and I went on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help (where the apparitions were). We were greeted with something new at the site: a Vatican flag! The statues of the angels blowing their horns in front of the flag completed the scene. They seemed to be proclaiming the good news! 

We had a wonderful time there. It has such a peaceful atmosphere! If you are traveling to Wisconsin, I recommend stopping by.

Some words on apparitions and other private revelations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Throughout the ages, there have been so-called 'private' revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept "revelations" that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment, as is the case in certain nonChristian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such 'revelations' (CCC #67).
I took the liberty of looking up a couple of the phrases for you:
 deposit of faith = The teachings of the Church through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (
sensus fidelium =sense of the faith 
-sensus fidei: the Christian's possession of the fundamental truth of his faith". 
-sensus fidelium: [the Christian's] role in actively defending and elaborating that faith" 
"Writers since [Vatican Council II] have generally preferred the more active-subjective term, that is, sensus fidelium (

Collin B. Donovan, STL, quotes St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica: God continues to reveal Himself to individuals "not indeed for the declaration of any new doctrine of faith, but for the direction of human acts" (

The "direction of human acts" given to Adele was to catechize. In many ways, it is a message we still need today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Chance to Ice Skate

We have had an unusually warm winter in Wisconsin so we haven't had a chance to do wintry activities like sledding. However, this past Sunday Regina asked me and the other novices if we wanted to try out ice skating. We were happy to oblige! It was 50 degrees fahrenheit, but there were a lot of ice fishermen on the lake and none of them were falling through. We found a good area without any fishing holes, and then we had a great time skating around! 

I also used the opportunity to take pictures for my digital photography class. I edited my favorite one today in the "digital darkroom" via GIMP. I didn't have to do much editing, just sharpening in some areas, blurring in others, a tiny bit of burning, and some work with the histogram. GIMP is can do anything that Photoshop can do, only it is free. I actually prefer it.  Here's the picture- I think it's cute: 
Left to right: Sr. Leslie, Sr. Regina Rose, and Regina.
Tonight is a quiet night, so I am going to eat dinner and after that I'll lay low and pray. I hope that you are having a wonderful start to your Lenten practices!

P.S. We also had a great discernment retreat last weekend! To the young women who came, know you are in my thoughts and prayers!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Slavery Has Not Ended. It Just Has a Different Name.

This post is in honor of a very brave woman. Thanks for your nice message and you are in my prayers.

Our Community (the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity) is a member of the Franciscan Federation. At their annual conference last July, the representatives made a resolution that we would work to eliminate human trafficking, for the rescue and safety of the victims, and prosecution of perpetrators (2011 Resolution).

Fact: There are more slaves now than at any other time in history. It just has a different name: human trafficking. It is illegal under both US and International Laws.

There is something that we can do about it.

According to the Polaris Project,
  • "Human trafficking is a crime that often goes underreported due to its covert nature, various misconceptions about its definition, and a lack of awareness about its indicators on the local level
  • "Human trafficking is a market-based economy that exists on principles of supply and demand. It thrives due to conditions which allow for high profits to be generated at low risk.
  • "Human trafficking is prevalent in many countries around the world
  • "Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all fifty states of the United States
  • "Victims are trafficked for a wide variety of purposes, such as commercial sex, agricultural work, or housekeeping, yet they all share the loss of one of our world’s most cherished rights—freedom.
  • "There is no one consistent face of a trafficking victim. Trafficked persons can be rich or poor, men or women, adults or children, and foreign nationals or US citizens.
  • "There is no one consistent face of a trafficker. Traffickers include a wide range of criminal operators, including individual pimps, small families or businesses, loose-knit decentralized criminal networks, and international organized criminal syndicates." ((
There are misconceptions about trafficking. Here's the truth:
  • It does not only happen to immigrants.
  • It does not always involve physical force.
  • Consent of the victim is not important to perpetrators. Neither is payment.( 
Click here to view online or download a PDF of how to identify human trafficking victims.
To understand the mindsets of trafficking victims, click here to view online/download a PDF.
Click here to view online/download a PDF of key numbers to call in the United States if you suspect that someone is being trafficked.

One final thing. I believe in the power of prayer, and I want to provide some prayer resources for you:

We can also pray for the intercession of St. Josephine Bakhita. A group in Oregon, USA, is seeking Vatican approval for her to be patron saint of slavery and human trafficking victims. Click here to read about the cause.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

First, Do No Harm

Disclaimer: Habitually Speaking, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, and the Roman Catholic Church do not support any particular political party. The following entry is about a human rights violation that happens to be undertaken by the current administration of the United States. The political party is irrelevant,  because this issue is beyond party lines. Both Republicans and Democrats are upset about what has happened.

One of my favorite things about our Community is our commitment to social justice.
  • We stay informed on the status of human trafficking, and on January 11th, we had a special evening prayer for all human trafficking victims.
  • Some of the Sisters at our Motherhouse and surrounding convents volunteer regularly at Hope House, which provides housing and services to help homeless people get back on their feet.
  • Our Community also provides our lay employees, no matter what their jobs are, with a living wage and health benefits.
These are some of the issues that we are committed to. Very recently, we found another thing to be concerned about: one that affects us in a significant way, because we sponsor some Catholic hospitals.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan explains:
"all but a few employers will be forced to purchase coverage for contraception, abortion drugs and sterilization services even when they seriously object to them. All who share the cost of health plans that include such services will be forced to pay for them as well. Surely it violates freedom of religion to force religious ministries and citizens to buy health coverage to which they object as a matter of conscience and religious principle.
The rule forces insurance companies to provide these services without a co-pay, suggesting they are "free"—but it is naïve to believe that. There is no free lunch, and you can be sure there's no free abortion, sterilization or contraception. There will be a source of funding: you.

Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries—so that they will fall under the narrow exemption—or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees.

The Catholic Church defends religious liberty, including freedom of conscience, for everyone. The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease." (
In order to be exempted from this new law, Catholic hospitals can only treat Catholic patients, and can only hire Catholic employees. Really, is that possible? Even if it was, would we want to be so exclusive? Never.

Doctors should be able to live out the Hippocratic Oath according to their consciences.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said,
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are not backing down. We are joining the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association of the United States to stop this law from taking effect. Our administration has asked us to participate through our prayers.

Please also pray for the protection of the freedom of conscience.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Photography and Basketball

Sr. Caritas Marie, Sr. Regina Rose, Sr. Leslie, Regina, and I just finished a game of basketball in the gym. We had a lot of fun together. It was 2 on 3, so we kept switching up the teams and we played zone ball so that a person would only be guarded by one person.

I also got a chance to practice shooting some action photos for my digital photography class. I experimented with the settings, and realized that if I have to choose, I prefer the "grainy" look to the "blurry" look.

Grainy look

Blurry look

I am hoping to learn how to get somewhere in the middle of these two. I think it would help to be in a brighter place.

We are in the experimental stage of the class right now...just getting used to using the different manual settings on our cameras, instead of relying on the ever popular Auto Setting.

I am also enjoying taking Logic (a philosophy class), which was a surprise for me, because I know people who love it and people who hate it. I wasn't expecting to be one of those who love it, because I always thought of my thinking process as more intuitive. I like the class, though, because I enjoy word problems, and that is essentially what it is. I must have had good teachers.

Church History and World Religions are also great classes, and they fit together really well. I'll write more about them in a future entry.

***Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Remember Roe? She's pro-life now. Please join her in prayer for a greater respect for all human life.