Sunday, August 24, 2008

What I Did On My Summer Vacation By: Sister Katy LaFond

To the tune of "Yankee Doodle"

It is Sunday, end of August, what am I to do?
School is starting, summer's parting...I think I'll blog for you-ouuuuu.
End of summer va-ca-tion! Start of a new school year.
Do the happy dance and sing--'cuz that school bell's about to ring!

No, I haven't lost my mind completely...yet. I was clearing out photos on my camera and realized that I had some good pics to blog about from my summer break. Hmmm...I believe I only updated twice this summer...retreat and new baby. Well...I thought, the night before my summer break is over, why not do a little photo/video journal using the ever famous cliche title:

What I Did On My Summer Vacation
By Sister Katy

June 22-28
Summer really began with my know where to find that report! If not click here:
July 1
Summer break is (technically) over! Oh read that correctly. I excitedly began my new ministry at St. Roman Parish School. Check out our website!

July 5-12
VACATION!!!! In formation you have to have goals. My goal for this first year of temporary vows was to go on vacation. I have had a couple days here and a weekend there (where were wonderful and with some of my favorite people), but I have not had a week long vacation since I don't know when!

My White House group of Sisters, rented a house in Lake Delton, WI and spent a week together. (There is some irony here...with the traumatic and disastrous rains in the beginning of June, Lake Delton was completely emptied due to flooding. It was awful. Fortunately, the house we were renting was ok and we became "disaster tourists" and supported the local economy.
Many many people cancelled their reservations because there was literally no lake. Lake Delton will be refilled next year and people are working at getting their homes and losses restored. Many prayers went toward that situation and we were glad to support our renters and the community!)

Seriously this was one of the best week vacations I have ever been on. It was soooo relaxing. My White House group is a great group for me...I find being with them very easy and I think I fit in pretty well. Mornings (whenever people made appearances) were quiet--people read, walked, ate, slept...etc. We would usually pick an excursion or two to suggest each day (i.e. mini-golfing, boat tours, regular golfing, etc...).

When it was excursion time, there was no expectations...people either chose to go or not to go. Then we'd take turns making dinner and enjoying our dinner late evening (like 7-8ish) on our great deck. We'd end our days with either Trivial Pursuit, cards, movies, baseball game, and even a campfire! It was just wonderfully restful and relaxing...and I was thrilled to be with 6 of my favorite people.

(Here's some bonus never seen before video footage of the great Trivial Pursuit 4 installments...Enjoy!)

(By the way...this was a 2 day experience. We were getting creamed that first night. We had a team meeting before round 2 and we came back to win it! WOOO HOOO!)

July 18-22 Vow Group Retreat
One of my community's favorite formation events are "Reflection Groups"...well last year, as a part of my vowie wowie prep I requested to have a group of my Sisters together for a preparation/bonding retreat. It was so awesome and wonderful we wanted to do it again. So I asked the provies if this could be my yearly thing in lieu of a reflection group. Voila!

We met a few days before our assembly and had just a marvelous time. Good sharing, good process and prayer.

It's great to come together to pray, play, veg out, and continue to support one another on the journey. We are excited for next year!

July 23-27 Provincial Assembly

Every other year the US Province (all of the Sisters in my community who are in the US grouping of our International Congregation) have a "Provincial Assembly". It's basically our governance meetings for the province. We pray, we meet (and meet and meet), we learn stuff, we have processes, and this year we even played! It's pretty energizing during and know it's been good when you're just wiped out. :-) Don't have any pictures, but you could try our website...there are pictures and daily summaries...oooh lah lah!

August 16th--Reception of Sr. Deb

We have a new Sister! Woo! We have a new Sister! Wooooo hooo!

Deb Murphy, our affiliate this past year and one of my "live-ers"...was received into the novitiate in an absolutely beautiful liturgy on 8/16. It brought back so many gushy butterfly tinglys from my reception 5/2005.

Sr. Deb has begun her apostolic year and will be traveling our Province, meeting the girls, and doing some other cool stuff (LIKE GOING TO SCHOOL AT ALVERNO, volunteering, praying...yes...I am a little bit envious :-) ) I am so happy to welcome our Sister Deb into a deeper commitment with our Congregation!

Here are some pictures from the rehearsal hooo-hah at our house the night before. Just image that giant Tau made of yummy frosting, in silver around her neck...yeah!

We decided it was the role of the Affiliate minister to cut the cake...Yeah for Sr. Mary Ann!


August 23--Sea Dog Adventures
Don't have pictures (Sr. Barbara needs to send them to me!)...

For my last hurrah...5 of us SSSFs went to downtown Chicago to ride on the 40mph speedboat SeaDog...for a quick tour of Chicago's skyline. It was delightful, fun and nice being with my Sisters! I'm looking forward to our Intermodel Adventure next. (Ha ha..SMAM!)

Well...that consists of your audio/visual tour of my summer vacation. I hope you enjoyed this update.

School begins tomorrow! Please send prayers to the faculty, staff, students, families (oh and principal) of St. Roman's Parish School. Peace and all good!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Year...New Ministry!

As I have alluded to in previous entries, I changed jobs after the 2007-08 school year!
July 1st I began a new ministry as principal of St. Roman Parish School. St. Roman is located on the "south side" of Milwaukee--a thrilling 3.6 miles from my house! I am very familiar with the Parish, as that is where I have attended Mass with the White House Sisters for the past 5 years; I am a cantor and a Eucharistic Minister as well. With the White House, we have come to know Fr. Bill very well these years. I was thrilled when I saw that St. Roman's School had an opening for principal, I applied, interviewed, and bah da bing...I am now the Principal of St. Roman's! Woo hoo!

There are many gifts of this transition for me: It's WAY closer to my home, it's a familiar environment, and my heart is committed to Catholic Education in an urban setting. I also have made friends with people who minister in the parish: my fellow cantors (some have kiddos in the school, RuthAnn was also just hired as the co-director of faith out world, here we come!), the Liturgist/Musician (Oh Holy Father of the Organ, Patrick), RaeAnn the other co-director of faith formation, and of course Frs. John and Bill. It's nice to walk into a new ministry knowing that you have support and partners on the journey.

So since July 1st, I have been opening cupboards, setting up my office, trying to find things, make too many to-do lists to count, etc. I was so happy when my awesome Administrative Assistant, Cindy, started on August was getting a little too lonely and quiet in that building. We've been buzzing like crazy to get things prepared for the teacher's arrival this week. read that correctly...THIS WEEK. AHHHH!

We began our 2008-09 school year together on Wednesday, August 20th with a retreat day!
Sr. Stella DeVenuta (she did let us do the Streetcar adage in the beginning STELLLLLLAAAAA) a Lake OSF from Milwaukee was our facilitator. Stella is an incredible artist, spiritual guide, and retreat guru. (Go visit her website sometime....let it speak for itself!)

Her theme for us was Seeing Things Whole. We prayed and played keeping mindful of our gifts and how they fit into the whole. It was a great day of community building and beginning our year in the context of prayer.

Thursday we had a morning full of in-service led by moir. The Home and School provided us with the yummiest breakfast and treat bags to welcome us nice! I wanted to talk about expectations and all of the nitty grittys involved in being a new principal in a school. I created a powerpoint called: Help! We have a New Principal...Now What do We do? I led a conversation in developing common language and expectations that we have/created as an "educator team".

We ended our session Thursday with handbook Jeopardy! Complete with the section on Bloodborne Pathogens (oh silly video this year folks!) and prizes...good prizes. I strategically had the prizes set out all morning for my faculty to drool over wondering in anxious anticipation on how they will get to partake in the great variety of goodies I had. :-)

Today was an exceptional day! I led a "visioning process" for the faculty on creating character sketches and commitment statements for our students and our practice. It was all done in the context of recognizing the wisdom of the past and present so that we can put into action what is needed for a sustainable future. The sharing and discussions were quite profound and I was very much energized by the process.

Those kiddos come on Monday for "Welcome Back Day" (Drop your books, meet your teacher, get your picture taken...woo hoo!) and Tuesday is the first full day of school. I can't believe summer is over!

To all of my blog readers who are in the educational fields...blessings on your new years! More updates to come!

Friday, August 1, 2008

God Moments and Miracles

There are these moments in my life which I call my "God Moments"; sometimes it's an insight or an awareness. Sometimes, they're disguised as a friend saying the right thing or just knowing without saying much. Sometimes, it's just really being aware of the presence of God. It's awesome and profound when these "God Moments" happen.

19 months ago (that would be December 31st, 2006), I was sitting at a group of my Sisters house watching the Packers play the Bears in the last game before the playoffs. Luckily...we weren't the ones needing the miracle for this game--(we won; however, that was the unfortunate year that the Bears clinched the division and my poor poor Packers weren't going on to the playoffs...yes there are miracles for teams like the Bears--occasionally. Sometimes the "God moments" are not what you'd like...I digress...) Then I got a phone call from my best friend's husband saying, "It's baby time...are you coming?" That evening, I got to be present for my best friend, Carli as she brought her first baby (and MY Godchild), Sydni into this world. It was the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. In fact, I still don't have the words to describe the experience!

I watched my friend transition through the different phases of labor and delivery. And then in minutes this baby, this complete little person was here. She was just perfect! I looked at her and thought...God is so good. I was so grateful to have been able to have that experience in my life. I was happy to be there to support my friend (actually I was comic relief to keep her occupied, if you can imagine that?!)

So...last night I was privileged enough to have had a 2nd invitation to witness the birth of Carli's second child! I arrived around 8:30p.m. to the hospital where Carli and Tom were settled. My job was to keep Carli laughing (perfect). See look at the good job I'm doing...she's been in labor for about 4 hours now and she's still smiling. (Unless that's the "get the camera out of my face look"; nah, she's smiling.)

We had a great staff of Health Care Professionals--they were fun too! They called our room the "Party Room" and came in often (I think they liked us!) I'm pretty sure the anesthesiologist who came and did the epidural didn't want to leave...oh well. Carli's OB doctor...was great. Young and spunky...we were teasing each other with analogies from our past. She had a great sense of humor and I knew my friend was in good hands. Thank you to Nurses Jean and Becky and of course Dr. Lorree Moehring! You all rocked!

When it appeared as though Carli was in for a long haul...we watched one of our favorite movies: Austin Powers and reminisced from years ago when we were both lifeguards and could recite that movie in its entirety across the pool into our lifeguard cones (I know, I know...we were talented you)

Shortly after 1:30...we realized that baby was coming...and she was COMING NOW. So the doctors and nurses came in and Baby Emelia Marie was welcomed into this world. She has a great set of lungs and a beautiful little face. Again, I was just in awe of the process and the miracle of this little human being coming into the world. So fascinating and wonderful; another one of those"God Moments" in my life, truly witnessing a miracle.

Here is a little video of Carli introducing us to Baby Emmi (I thought she was going to kill me for taking a video, but she was a good sport.)

To the left is a picture of Baby Emmi getting all cleaned up. She's about 2 mintues old! To the right is Mom Carli and her OB/GYN Dr. Moehring (Very cool lady...we loved her!)

Aw...Mom, Dad, and Emmi there first family photo (sans big sister Sydni). A picture of Dad and Baby Emmi in the middle. And even I got a chance to hold this little peanut; so tiny and cute.

Welcome to this world, Emmi! Happy Birthday! Thank you God....