Sunday, February 28, 2010

Exceeding Expectations

I like asking my mom questions because usually her answers are funny and she says what I want to hear. I recently told her that we had 8 girls visiting for the high school weekend and that they had done different activities, including making cookies for the community recreation on Saturday night. When I asked her how many chocolate chip cookies she thought I should eat, she said, "At least 6." I didn't keep track of how many I actually ate, but I didn't want to let her down. In fact, I tried to exceed her expectations. After all, life is short. My mom has always encouraged us to have fun and enjoy ourselves. I enjoyed every cookie I ate and ate some for her as well.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Understanding Accents

When I went off to college I was teased constantly about my accent. I remember the first day in French class, hearing the giggles as I answered, "Je m'appelle Catherine." Thinking back, I'm sure it was hilarious because I had the biggest southeast MO accent ever. Some classmates later asked me where I was from. They guessed Mississippi or possibly Alabama. They were surprised to hear that I was from the same state where I was going to college. I grew up in the bootheel, the southeast part. I went to college in Columbia, MO - same state, but worlds apart in accents.

I wanted to hold onto my accent as a memory of home, but I soon lost it. When I went home one weekend, my mom commented, "You're starting to talk like them northerners."

I do like the southeast MO accent. I find it very efficient. Letters are left out that aren't necessary and the meaning is still understood. For example, the g on -ing ending words. "You all" becomes "y'all." Words are slurred together or middle letters are left out. "Cold" and "told" become "code" and tode." On the other hand, sometimes 1 syllable words become 2 syllable words. A conversation may sound like
"Are y'all code?"
"Well ye-es, I tode you I was code. I'm fixin' to get a blanket."

One time in college, I told a person, "Sorry I was late." I had to repeat it a few times. He kept hearing, "Sorry I was light."

Recently, I realized the mistakes that can happen when we don't fully pronounce our words. The other day, a student asked me why we sing, "Whom should I sin?" Ahhh, endings are important.

I also remember the confusion between calling the evening meal either supper or dinner. During the first week of college, someone asked me if I wanted to go eat dinner. It was 5:00 in the evening. I responded, "Dinner? I had dinner 5 hours ago." I wasn't trying to be smart, I really was clueless. She also had no idea what I was talking about, so she changed the question to "Do you want to get something to eat?" That was an easier question to answer.

I had lots to learn in college - including the language barrier.

Friday, February 26, 2010


We had parent-teacher-student conferences this week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we taught a full day, and then had conferences in the evening both nights. I really enjoy getting the chance to talk to parents and students about progress and success and to offer encouragement and support as needed. It is so neat to see the smile on a student's face when they begin to see that, yes, maybe they can be successful. Seeing the parents so proud when they hear the efforts their child is making also makes my day. So, even though they were long nights (and Monday was also long, because I had a meeting and banner-making stuff for First COmmunon after school), it was totally worth it. I think our students are now ready to conquer the rest of the year! And, I am going to gratefully enjoy this day off because of conference break!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I had the best day yesterday teaching. We are getting ready to take the ISTEP + test. This is a test in the state of Indiana that all students have to take. Well, part of the test is writing. The students are given a prompt on what to write about. We were doing a practice one in class and I said it is time for lunch and my students groaned because they wanted to keep writing. It was the greatest feeling that a teacher could have. It just made my day and made teaching great!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

All the Jobs Are Covered

I'm getting ready for the spring program. It's called Go Fish and will star all the kids in pre-k to 2nd grade. It's about a shark who wants to be friends with all the other sea creatures. Of course, everyone is afraid of the shark and no one wants to be his friend. There are some unusual creatures, for example a 7-legged octopus, a star fish without a leading role, and a tuna fish that can't keep a tune. In the end, they discover that all their differences make them special. They learn to appreciate themselves and each other. A lesson that is good to learn early and hopefully will remain with them through the years.

I don't assign the speaking parts. I let the homeroom teachers do that since they know what their students are capable of. One little boy told me that he didn't want a speaking part. He wanted to be the prop manager. He must have heard that somewhere. I think that's great. We have lots of props and costumes to get ready for over 100 students. I hope he's ready for the challenge.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Another Beautiful Day!

This morning, as I left the house to go for my 30 minute workout, the snow was falling beautifully and quietly! The trees are barren, the sky is gray, and the wind chills the air! The season of Lent is truly upon us! The image of Lent for many is the picture of Southern Indiana this morning-gray, cold, and barren. Ironically, the cold darkness of Lent prepares us for new life as does the cold darkness of these winter months. Just as the trees await the warmth of the sun to return so that they may bud and flower once again, we wait for the warmth of our Son to embrace us on the day of his Resurrection so that we may bud and flower once again!

Lent is one of my favorites times of the Liturgical Year. In the Gospels, we hear that this is the time to repent and turn back to our God who lovingly awaits us! This is a time to go into our quiet depths and sit with God. For me, Lent is a time of rewewal and refreshement. Lent is a time for me to stop in the midst of the frenzy of midterms, papers, lesson plans, and Geometry and rest in God for a while. To rest in God for a while-my heart's deepest desire!

Thank you, God for the cold and darkeness of the Lenten Season. May this time of fasting, waiting, and prayer bring us back to you in forgiveness and Reconciliation! Amen!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"She's our coach!"

When I give vocation talks or when I tell people that I'm a sister, I am frequently asked if there are certain jobs that I have to do because I'm a sister. I always tell them that we have sisters in lots of different areas. Yes, we fill some traditional roles (teaching and nursing) but we also do a lot of other interesting things. And I always like to tell people about my second job!

In addition to teaching high school math, I coach my school's freshman soccer team. When I was offered the job of coaching soccer, I jumped at the chance. I had always worried that I would never have an opportunity to coach, since I work at an all-boys school where all the entire coaching staff (in all sports) is male. But I had played soccer through both high school and college and I have a passion for the sport that is evident anytime I watch a game. So, the head coach offered me a job working with the young players and I love it.

Coaching is an awesome experience for me. I get to play soccer every week, teach skills and tricks to my players, and best of all help cheer for their wins and console them in their losses. I have never had a better job in my life.

My favorite soccer moment from last season was at our first away game. It was just a freshman game, so there were no other coaches going along. I was a little worried that my players would be resentful that they had been stuck with a woman as a coach, but they proved me wrong immediately. As we approached the gate, the ticketman began allowing the players through, but he stopped me saying, "Parents have to pay $5.00 for the game." Before I had a chance to say a word, one of my players turned around and announced to all who could hear, "She's not our mom, she's our coach. Come on, Sister." And that was it. I am their coach and they'll stick up for me.

We had a great season, winning more games than we lost but mostly having fun and learning skills for next year. As we are beginning spring weight lifting, I look forward to another great year to come!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Grateful for Snow Days

Thanks to two snow days this week, I am almost finished with my icon! At this point I'm doing finishing touches. I'll make the inscribed crown a bit more obvious soon. Here's where things are right now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Party

Well, our Indianapolis Colts may have lost but we sure had fun cheering them on! We had a Super Bowl party in the group where I live. Some sisters from other groups also joined us for the fun. We had great snacks and LOTS of LOUD cheering going on... and some pretty loud moans, too. Our guys were just out-played this time. Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints. Back row: Sisters Mary Carmen, Michelle W., Mary Carmel, Jolinda, Mary Austin
Middle row: Sisters Mary Carol, Mary Agnes, Michelle Catherine (me)
Front row: Sisters Rosa Lee, Karen J.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Advancing Technology

I had to laugh the other day when a co-worker said, "The only thing I can do with my cell phone is make and receive calls." The comment took me off guard because I thought that's what a phone is for - to make and receive calls. However, nowadays if that's all the phone does, it's behind the times. Many of us at the monastery don't use cell phones unless needed for our ministries.

Growing up, my family wasn't up on the latest technology. In high school, I thought we were the only family without a VCR or Nintendo. When I asked my mom about it a few years ago, she said we didn't have a Nintendo because she didn't want 4 kids fighting over the one TV. Also, we didn't have a VCR because she was waiting for the DVD player to come out. Ha Ha! Now that it's been out for a while, my family doesn't have a DVD player either, so they must be waiting for the next big thing. Either that or it's just not that important.

I write about this because my co-workers and I recently had to look at ways we use technology to communicate with students. Cell phones, facebook, myspace, e-mail, all that stuff can be good for communication if used well. I try to keep up with technology so that I can speak the kids' lingo, but I know I'm archaic. Can't help it - I grew up that way.

No matter how convenient technology is becoming, I hope we don't lose our personal contact as well.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sr. Geraldine

Sr. Geraldine was an amazing member of our community and a terrific inspiration to me. For the last 10 years, I have gotten to meet and share my hopes, dreams, fears, and most especially where God is working in my life. I know that she is heaven right now and is in peace and without pain. May God be with her! The joy and the lessons she shared will live on! SHe was a blessing and gift to all of us.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Catholic Schools Week

We have been celebrating Catholic Schools Week. It all started on Monday when we wore as much blue as we could and wrote Thank you letters to different staff at St. Bernard for making it a great place. Tuesday we came to school, Wacky for our Catholic School. My 4th graders really got into it. Wednesday was Indiana Sports day. We ended the day with a pep assembly. Today was Saint and Angel Day. I went as St. Gertrude. Some of the students said wow a real nun, like I wasn't one without my habit I wore today. Tomorrow we are going to end the week wearing pajamas and an all school movie. It has been a great and busy week. Catholic School is stupendous!

Sister Geraldine Hedinger died peacefully at 4:25 a.m. February 2, 2010

Sister Geraldine will be, and already is, missed by all. She died peacefully Tuesday in the early morning on the feast of the Presentation. The readings for that day at Mass were so appropriate for Sister Geraldine. "Now Lord, you may dismiss your servant in peace..." It was as if the readings had been planned for her death. Even the music we used that day spoke so much to us of her life and death and passing to new life! It was touching and so beautiful how everything fit together with what we were experiencing that day.

To learn more about Sister Geraldine go to the bottom right hand corner of our home page: and click on her Memoriam. Sister Geraldine touched the lives of so many people. We, her religious community of sisters, miss her deeply. I know she is missed by all those who knew her. She was loved by all.

Sister Geraldine, pray to God for all of us. May you have eternal rest.