Monday, February 28, 2011

17 Years in the Making

The actual cutting and sewing of the quilt took about 2 or 3 months, but the actual preparation took 17 1/2 years.
Let me explain. Back in 1993, I went to London with a group of high school girls. Three of the things that happened on this trip were 1.) the whole town pitched in for the fundraising, 2.) I was introduced to and fell in love with musicals, and 3.) I bought my first shirt to go toward a t-shirt quilt, which was completed 17 1/2 years later in December 2010. After I wore the shirt for awhile, I decided to keep it and started saving other shirts as well, so that I could eventually make a quilt. I have shirts from high school and college activities, retreats, and souvenirs from places I've traveled. It is full of memories.

I'm already working on my second one, so check back in approximately 17 years to see the final product.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


My college friends and I were very spontaneous - back in my younger days. I remember one time on a Tuesday, a friend of mine said, "Hey, you want to go to South Dakota this weekend?" And just like that, 2 car loads of us left that Thursday around midnight to drive 12 hours and see Mt. Rushmore and the Bad Lands.

Another time a friend was looking into transferring to a different college. She was considering Steubenville, OH, but didn't want to make a decision without seeing it, so she set up a tour, and once again we hopped in the car and drove 12 hours east this time. Once we were there, someone said, "You know, Niagara Falls is only 5 hours away." Our next step was obvious to all of us. Since we were so close, we had to keep going. By this point in the trip, however, we were a little delirious from lack of sleep, so we stopped at a hotel. Once we were there, we had to be mindful that it was a 17 hour drive back and one friend had to be back Sunday morning for her sister's First Communion. Just like the South Dakota trip, we had left Thursday around midnight. We toured Steubenville, ate supper in Pittsburgh, saw Niagara Falls (both U.S. and Canadian view), and made it back to MO by Sunday 9 a.m.

Crazy. Spontaneous. Adventurous.

In college, some friends and I also managed a trip to Utah for a week of hiking in the national parks.

Let me say that not a single one of us had much money. We pulled our pennies together for gas, fixed our own food most of the time, and slept in tents when we could.

These trips were also spiritual. In South Dakota and Utah, we'd hike to a waterfall or climb a mountain and then pray together when we reached our destination. We also prayed in the car or in the tents. We'd read the daily readings or commentaries and then discuss them. It was impossible for us to be surrounded by such beauty and not pray. I remember waking up early one morning, climbing this treacherous mountain with a friend, and then seeing the most pristine water on the other side. It's still breathtaking as I recall it.

Nowadays, I don't jump in a car and go off on 12 or 17 hour weekend road trips, but I do still love adventure. On Saturday, I was watching the Travel Channel, and they were featuring Edward's Drive-in in Indianapolis. That's only 2 hours away, so I asked a friend if she wanted to go. She's adventurous too, so after our 7 mile mini-marathon training (remember, I'm trying to be faithful), we hopped in the car to check out Edward's Drive-in. Their food really is good. On TV, they featured their pork tenderloin and onion rings. Either go extremely hungry, plan to take some back with you, or split with someone.

It was a great adventure that reminded me of my younger years. :-) If anyone is up for a road trip, just give me a call.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Some Young Visitors

This past weekend we had a Come & See Weekend for high school girls. Eight girls attended. The girls came to see and experience a little of what it is like to be a Sister of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana. We had lots of fun, prayed as a small group and with the larger community of sisters, did some service work, went on a long behind-the-scenes tour, joined in Common Recreation with the sisters, and more.

The girls, who were from Indiana and Kentucky, seemed to really enjoy the weekend. They said it was nice to see up close what it is like to be a nun. They also enjoyed being able to talk with each other and share their hopes, dreams, and fears.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mini-Marathon Training

I'm currently training for the mini-marathon, which is in Louisville the last weekend of April. I've been following the on-line training schedule, and it's driving me crazy. It's been tough, but I do find it a lot like prayer - the perseverance part. I find it difficult to follow the schedule at times, but I do my best to stick to it whether I feel like it or not. Just like with prayer, it's so easy to come up with excuses. I'm tired. It's late. I have so many other things to do.

Believe me, there are lots of times I don't want to exercise. I come home. I'm tired. It's the last thing I want to do, especially since it's cold and gets dark so early (at least that's my excuse until it doesn't work anymore). Some nights, I'm stuck in the basement doing an exercise video.

Once I get started, however, . . . . . well, even after I've gotten started, it's difficult. I try to stay focused on the current moment. I'm even reading Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, which is all about staying in the present moment. Despite this, I haven't been able to apply this mindfulness to my training. 98% of the time I'm exercising is spent wondering, "When's this going to be over?" or "Am I there yet?" I think one day I'll get there and will enjoy the "now" rather than the future when it's over.

Sometimes I pray the rosary while I'm walking. Do you know how many rosaries you can pray in 6 miles?

The actual mini-marathon is 13.1 miles. With the training schedule, the number of miles increases each week. (Why am I doing this again????)

I went to my mom's this weekend and did my best to stay faithful to the schedule. It was nice weather so I borrowed my mom's lighter jacket. When I told her I was going to walk 6 miles, she said, "Be careful. My jacket's never gone 6 miles before. It may attack you." Luckily I came home unscathed.

Just like with personal prayer, I'm doing my best to stay faithful to the daily schedule. It ain't easy, but I pray for perseverance. I have a goal in mind which keeps me going.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

All Accounted For

Today we have several teachers out and weren't able to find enough subs, so I'm the 5th grade teacher for today. It's been pretty good. We went on a field trip to see Tuck Everlasting. We came back with the same number of students that we left with, so that's always good. The students are at Art right now, and I'm able to sit down for a bit and finish my lunch. It's been interesting, but I'll be glad to get back to music tomorrow.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This Whole Nun Thing Is Confusing

They call me "Sr. Catherine" at school, but this whole "sister" thing is hard for some kids to grasp.

Just a few weeks ago, I overheard one of the 4th graders, who is new to our school this year, ask "Is she a nun?" Another kid answered, "Yeah, that's why we call her sister." He was still confused, "Is she like a real one?"

One of the kindergartners recently asked me, "What's your first name?" Well, let's see, he's been calling me "Sr. Catherine" all year, but I kindly answered, "Catherine." He smiled as if it were a joke and asked again, "No, what's your real first name?" He's not the first kindergartner to ask me this. I told him, "Catherine. You call me 'Sr. Catherine.' My first name's Catherine." Hmmmm . . . . I don't know if a light bulb went off or if he'll need more time to process that information. He's a smart kid, but this whole nun/sister concept is confusing.

I hope I'm shattering the image of nuns that some students have conjured up. The husband of one of our teachers at school refers to me as the "teenage nun." I'm actually 33, but unfortunately, I don't know how to make myself look older or bigger. For now, until I get gray hair, I'll just blend in with the kids and hopefully create a more accurate image of who nuns really are - real people with first names who seek God.

So far today . . .

This morning, a student came up to me and told me that his stomach was hurting. Having learned how to deal with this from our school secretary, I asked, "What did you eat for breakfast?" He responded, "Two hot dogs." OH MY! He ate 2 hot dogs with bread. My stomach may be a little uneasy too if I ate that at 7:00 in the morning.

I never have to worry about getting things done. Somehow everything works out and everything gets taken care of. Today a teacher came to me and said, "I don't know if you remember, but 1st grade won't be coming to music today. They're making Valentine's with their 8th grade buddies for the veterans." Inwardly, I jumped for joy. There's so much going on this week with it being Catholic Schools Week. Lots of activities and out of routine stuff. I had forgotten about the Valentine making. John Yarmuth, our U.S. representative, is coming for that.

I love having this extra time. It's nice to just be able to relax after the CSW Mass this morning. Since we're the Notre Dame Saints, I had some students play "When the Saints Go Marchin' In" on recorder as prelude. Four students processed in with ribbon poles. We had some students carry up a basket of canned good for the offertory. The servers who were scheduled didn't show up. I had to practice with the cantors. We had parents show up to see their children in the Mass. It's a lot to pull together, especially working with children. I just remember the quote about being like a duck - calm on the surface, but paddling like crazy underneath.

Well, break time is over. I better not waste this extra time I have.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

55 & Under Benedictine Sisters Gather

Back Row: Sisters Briana, Karen, Joella, Sarah, Vivian, Jeana, Anita, Paula
Front Row: Sisters Catherine Marie, Teresa, Michelle Catherine, Kathleen Marie, Jill Marie

This past weekend 92 Benedictine sisters 55 and under gathered at Mount Saint Scholastica Benedictine monastery in Atchison, Kansas. We missed those of our sisters who were not able to join us! In attendance were 40 sisters from the Federation of Saint Scholastica, 40 from the Federation of Saint Gertrude (that's ours), nine from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and 5 from the Federation of Saint Benedict. Twenty-three communities from 15 states and Porte Rico were present.

During our time together we heard from various speakers. Sister Ephraim Hollarman shared with us the history of the foundresses of the first monastery in each of our Federations. The Federation Presidents and the Prioress General (BSPA) responded to her talk. A peer speaker from each Federation also talked, as well as Sister Karen Joseph who shared with us her reflections on Saint Benedict's Tools of good works, specifically on the final tool, "Never despair of God's mercy."

It was a wonderful opportunity to gather with Benedictine women, reconnect with friends from the past, and to make new friends. To see more pictures from the event, click here.