Saturday, May 31, 2014

A FOCUS visit

On Monday of the last week of school, three FOCUS missionaries visited our school. Since Ash Wednesday Mrs. English's 1st grade class has been praying for FOCUS missionary Mat Wuebben. Mat grew up in Holy Trinity Parish in Hartington and has been serving as a missionary at the University of Minnesota in Duluth.

The students were curious to see if 
Mat was as tall as Abraham Lincoln.

Mrs. Wilson's third grade class has been praying for Elizabeth Connealy who is from St. Mary's parish in Bellevue. This year Elizabeth has been serving at Wayne State College in Nebraska.

 The students had a gift waiting for Elizabeth.

Mrs. Meier's 4th grade class had been praying for Jamie Fox. Jamie is from St. Thomas More Parish in Omaha and served at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Everyone told Jamie she was in North Dakota for the coldest winter ever.

Jamie is Mrs. English's niece, but one student
 also claimed her as a long lost sister.

It was great to have the three of them visit.

Wednesday morning we had a visit from Rob Cargill who is from St. Columbkille Parish. Rob has been serving at the University of Illinois in Champaign for the last two years. Miss Hart's 6th grade class was praying for him.

Mrs. Yanovich's Kindergarten class had been praying for Rob as well. When he walked into the room the students immediately recognized him and began calling out, "Rob!"

It was great for the students to connect with the recipients of their prayers.

Thank you all for your visits!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Smell of Heaven

A couple of weeks ago I began smelling flowers at my workplace.

At first it was a faint whiff, and I wondered if perhaps I just imagined it. But soon the smell was unmistakable: a light, sweet smell that filled every room and hallway of the building.

Lilacs, I thought.

And sure enough, it was lilacs. Apparently the air conditioning system was drawing in air from the east side of our building, where a wall of lavender lilacs grew.

I was in heaven for a week or two as one of my favorite smells scented the building. (It probably wasn’t so heavenly for a co-worker who suffers from allergies.) The smell lifted my spirits and reminded me of the real Heaven. I thought of saints who emitted the “odor of sanctity,” the smell of flowers, either at their death or long after it, or from the wounds of a stigmata. In more general terms, the odor of sanctity refers to the state of a soul in grace.

So in my imagination, anyway, Heaven smells something like lilacs.

In the days leading up to today, when we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, the Church seems to have been preparing us for Jesus’ departure from Earth and what awaits us in Heaven – just as Jesus tried to prepare His apostles.

In a little while the world will no longer see Me,” Jesus told us in Sunday’s Gospel.

A week before, He told us: “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places . . . . And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be.”

For me, the scent of flowers at work were a little reminder of our eternal home with God. So were the birds I heard singing outside my home on Monday, Tuesday’s beautiful rainbow that followed a storm and Wednesday morning’s brilliant sunrise.

Creation sings of Heaven and our destiny there. We can glimpse it in a tender smile, taste it in a cold, refreshing drink, or feel it when a crushing pain is lifted.

And we can smell it in the sweet perfume of lilacs.

These are just a foretaste of something we can’t begin to grasp here on Earth, as Scripture tells us:

“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Inspired by the Year of Faith, Susan Szalewski began writing weekly columns for us. Although that year is over, we liked them so well that we asked her to keep writing. Thankfully, she said yes. So watch for these on Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ascension Thursday is Sneaky

Thursday is a Holy Day that, as Fr Damian says, sneeks up on us. That may be even more true this year since it is the same week as Memorial Day.

The stained glass windows in our chapel (pictured above) remind of us of when Jesus, before he ascended, spoke the words which are the basis of our parish mission statement, "Go and Make Disciples."

There is an anticipatory Mass tonight at 5:30 to celebrate the Ascension of Jesus to heaven. The Masses Thursday for this Holy Day are:

6:20 a.m.
8:15 a.m.
12:10 p.m.
5:30 p.m.
7:00 p.m.

The End of Soccer

Kids and parents celebrated the end of
 soccer season with a picnic and a game.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Will you Picnic with the Priests?

Fr. Damian and Fr. Vogel are looking forward 
to the annual Picnic with Priests on 
Sunday June 1st from 4 to 8 p.m.

It's a fun family event that also raises some money for
 the parish. It is $50 per family or $25 for an individual.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Memorial Day Masses will be held at each of the five archdiocesan Catholic cemeteries on May 26 at 10:00 a.m. The celebrants are listed below. 
Calvary Cemetery-Archbishop George Lucas
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery-Rev. John Pietramale
Resurrection Cemetery-Archbishop Elden Francis Curtis
Saint Mary Magdalene Cemetery-Father Joseph Taphorn
Saint Mary Cemetery-Rev. William Safranek

In addition Fr. Steve will celebrate Mass in our church at 9:00 a.m.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

First Communion with Family

There was a First Communion this morning at the 10:30 Mass. It was done today so all his brothers could be there ...

 ... and it was great that his four brothers served for the Mass.

It gave them a close up view of the whole Mass.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Saying Farewell

At a luncheon today, Mrs. Loeffler and Mrs. Rainbolt spoke for the staff of St. Columbkille Catholic School as they said farewell to five coworkers.

The first was Mrs. White who has been in third grade for 24 years. She has watched the school develop and transform in her time with us. We're delighted that she will remain part of our parish family.

Mrs. Hamill said she isn't sure how long she has been with our school, but in addition to once having Miss Borcyk as a student, she also had Mr. Barth and Mr. Nardini as students when she taught at St Robert's.

Mrs. Leimbach spent one year as a Kindergarten aide before spending two as our secretary. She and her husband Rich are are retiring to spend more time together and relax and reconnect.

Before Miss Hart joined our staff two years ago, we got to know her as a frequent substitute. She will be teaching at a Catholic School in Portland, OR next year. Mrs. Loeffler expects a postcard from Oregon and from Washington next year.

Mr. Cunningham said that leaving our school was the most difficult decision of his life. He will be teaching at Marian High School next year as well as helping coach their basketball team. The staff made it clear that they expect some state championships from him.

Miss Hart also got a special gift from the three other teachers who joined the staff the same year as here.

We pray for the best for each of you!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

St. Peter's Repeated Miracles

God surrounds us with His miracles every day, but often we don’t have the eyes to see them.

Some, like the incredible gift of the Eucharist, are given to us repeatedly, yet we take them for granted. But sometimes smaller miracles jump out us – God’s way of grabbing our attention – especially when they are repeated.

My family recently experienced a miracle repeated twice for us, at the same location and same circumstances, but three years apart, at St. Columbkille School’s fourth-grade fishing trip.

Three years ago, my daughter Faustina went on the trip to Wehrspann Lake with her brother Daniel, an avid fisherman and a seminarian at the time. Faustina hadn’t been catching any fish, so Daniel suggested that they try a prayer to one of the most famous fishermen of all, St. Peter.

They prayed a prayer, and Faustina caught a fish – instantly.

Daniel already had developed a fast friendship with St. Peter, not only as a fishing buddy, but also as his inspiration to investigate a possible vocation to the priesthood.

Daniel’s love of fishing (which may have had its beginnings with his fourth-grade trip) had him planning to make a career of fishing, including studying wildlife fishery in college. But then Jesus’ words in the Gospel jumped out at him, as they had centuries ago to Peter (then-named Simon) and his brother, Andrew:

“Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Daniel entered the seminary, but after four years he discerned that God’s call wasn’t necessarily to priesthood. Daniel continues to follow Jesus and is still pondering what that call might entail.

For Faustina, the little fishing miracle was life-changing. It came at a formative age and remains one of the first things she mentions as proof to her that God exists, that He answers prayers and that He answers her prayers.

So those family experiences must have entered Paul’s mind last week when he went on the same field trip with his class. It was a cold, windy day, and the fish weren’t biting for him either. Toward the end of the day, after both his parents had left, a frustrated Paul also asked St. Peter for help – out loud in front of a handful of classmates.

He followed that prayer with a silent Hail Mary as he walked a couple steps away to try a new spot. And he cast his line, immediately hooked a bass and reeled it in. He didn’t want to handle the fish, though, so his friend, Quinn, is shown holding the bass in the picture.

At least one parent witnessed the prayer, and God’s response. She said other kids also began calling out to St. Peter for help. God doesn’t necessarily work that way, she tried to explain.

A lot of people would be skeptical of our family’s fishing miracles, dismissing them as coincidences or too trivial a request for God. But I think God has been doing some of His own fishing.

First He landed Daniel. Then He hooked Faustina. And now He’s angling for Paul, or perhaps one or more of the people who witnessed our family’s second fishing miracle through St. Peter’s intercession.

St. Peter, our Lady and our Lord still have some work to do. We have two more children who haven’t reached fourth-grade yet. And next in line for the fishing trip is our own Peter, named after the saint and another great pope, St. John Paul.

St. Peter, pray for us! Watch over all fishermen (and women). And through your intercession, may God make us fishers of men!

Inspired by the Year of Faith, Susan Szalewski began writing weekly columns for us. Although that year is over, we liked them so well that we asked her to keep writing. Thankfully, she said yes. So watch for these on Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

They Seem Ready for Summer

On the first day of school the students were anxious to get in ...

 ... today they seemed pleased to go.

Happy Summer!