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Posts tagged ‘Catholic Education’

Does serving your community matter?

Mayfield Senior School, Society of the Holy Child, Volunteering

Michelle Mohr (left) with her best friend on the day of their graduation from Mayfield Senior School.

By Michelle Mohr

Editor’s Note: In 2011, Ms. Mohr graduated from Mayfield Senior School of the Holy Child Jesus, which was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Child, in Pasadena, CA. Today, Ms. Mohr is a sophomore at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where she is pursuing a double major in American Studies and Economics. She took the initiative to contact the Washington Middle School for Girls, which the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus co-founded in 1998, to see how she might be able to help.

To be honest, I was not sure originally that Mayfield Senior School of the Holy Child Jesus was “the place for me.” I was worried about the all-girl atmosphere and doubted whether I would enjoy being in such a small environment. In fact, even after being admitted to Mayfield, I nearly accepted an admission offer from another school, thinking that it would be a better fit. However, at the very last second, I changed my mind and committed myself to four years of plaid skirts, and, now four years later, I know that I made one of the best decisions of my life.

At Mayfield, I loved my classes, participated in Student Government, and developed friendships that I know will last a lifetime. However, most importantly, I was surrounded both by an atmosphere that was supportive and nurturing and by people who helped me become who I am today.

In particular, my experience at Mayfield impressed on me the notion of ‘Actions Not Words,’ which is the motto of the entire Holy Child Community. Whether it was through school-wide service days in the community, fundraisers for various causes, or even just promoting the idea of caring for one’s neighbor, I came to value the notion that every individual has the power to make a difference in the world, as well as the responsibility to actually do so. While having compassion and empathy is no doubt admirable, it is far better to act upon those sentiments in order to improve the life of another, even if it is just in the smallest of ways.

Now, as a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., I have an opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to me. The Washington Middle School for Girls (WMSG), which the Sisters of the Holy Child founded in 1998, is only a metro ride away from campus. I contacted the School’s Director, Sister Mary Bourdon, RJM and I am going to be getting involved in their afterschool programs during this upcoming semester. While there certainly are other service opportunities available in the surrounding areas, I know that I specifically want to work with WMSG. Being the product of a Holy Child education myself, I fully appreciate the importance of “educating the entire child” and look forward to helping further the goals and mission of Cornelia Connelly, the Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

Ms. Mohr exemplifies how the members of the Holy Child community partner together to light the way for others. We will continue to check in with Ms. Mohr as she begins volunteering at WMSG. Are you interested in volunteering in your community and helping to light the way for those in need? Check out some opportunities available through the Society.

Businesses & Charities Working Hand-in-Hand

Bruer Kershner of Kershner Office Furniture with Sandy Lovascio, Director of Development for the Society of the Holy Child Jesus - American Province at the Executive Leaders Radio and Entrepreneurs Forum of Greater Philadelphia at the CEO Philanthropy Awards Breakfast in Philadelphia.

Bruer Kershner of Kershner Office Furniture with Sandy Lovascio, Director of Development for the Society of the Holy Child Jesus – American Province, at the CEO Philanthropy Awards Breakfast in Philadelphia.

“The more I learn about the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ), the better it gets,” says Bruer C. Kershner, President of Kershner Office Furniture in King of Prussia, PA. In June, Mr. Kershner was honored by the Executive Leaders Radio and Entrepreneurs Forum of Greater Philadelphia at the CEO Philanthropy Awards Breakfast in Philadelphia.

Mr. Kershner was recognized for his personal accomplishments, but perhaps more importantly, he was recognized for his commitment to supporting charitable causes, one of which is the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

Mr. Kershner was asked to select a charitable organization to which he is committed to present him with the award. “The Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) were the first to come to mind,” he says. Sandy Lovascio, Director of Development for the SHCJ, presented Mr. Kershner with his award, stating, “Bruer enthusiastically extends his time and expertise, generously supports the Society’s efforts, and graciously serves as a wonderful advocate. As an organization that has witnessed his leadership, devotion, and commitment, it is a privilege to present this award.”

Mr. Kershner came to know the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in 2009, when the organization’s offices were being relocated from Drexel Hill, PA to Bryn Mawr, PA. The expense of moving the office was quite costly and there were not a ton of funds left over to buy furniture. The furniture the organization was using was school furniture such as teachers’ desks and chairs from several decades ago. It was falling apart and not functional for an office.

Mrs. Lovascio contacted several furniture companies to see if they could help. She knew there was something different the minute Mr. Kershner answered the phone. “He could not have been more helpful. He was excited to learn about our work and those we serve. He worked with us on cost and did all he could to provide us with economical solutions—such as by providing refurbished furniture—that would help to make our office presentable, functional, and affordable. And then he made a personal donation to help us cover some of the costs. He went above and beyond.”

Since then, Mr. Kershner has continued his commitment to the Society, such as by helping to find event sponsors for the Society’s Annual Awards Dinner event. “We are so grateful to Bruer,” said Mrs. Lovascio. “His support makes it possible for the Sisters to advance their mission and continue to bring faith and hope to some of God’s most vulnerable.”

2012 Jubilee Celebration

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Last Saturday, more than 100 Holy Child Sisters, friends, and family members gathered to celebrate the Jubilees of 12 Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus during a special Mass and luncheon reception at St. Thomas of Villanova Parish Church in Bryn Mawr, PA. Special thanks goes out to Sister Margaret Mullin and Sister Claire Smith who coordinated and managed the event, with Sister Margaret Doyle serving as the liaison with the Society’s American Province Leadership Team. Jubilees mark significant anniversaries in the lives of sisters—it means the person has been a Sister of the Holy Child for 75, 70, 60, or 50 years. During Mass, the Jubilarians renewed their vows. (To see more photos from the event, click here.)

Combined, this year’s Jubilarians have served for close to 700 years. Their ministries have ranged from teacher to school principal to artist to African missionary to administrator and to everything in between! They have served all over the world from the east and west coasts of the U.S. to Europe and to Africa. To read bios of each of the Jubilarians, click here.

2012 SHCJ Jubilarians

75 YEARS
Theodosia (Rita) Linus, SHCJ (M. M. Theodosia)

70 YEARS
Margaret Naab, SHCJ (Sr. Margaret Alacoque)

60 YEARS
Elinor Callanan, SHCJ (Sr. Dolores Mary)
Elizabeth Fitzmaurice, SHCJ (M. Thomas Mary)
Elizabeth Loomis, SHCJ (M. Christopher Mary)
Jay McCann, SHCJ (M. John Cantius)

50 YEARS
Marlene Brownett, SHCJ (Sr. M. Magdalen)
Margaret Crowley, SHCJ (Sr. M. Mark)
Margaret Doherty, SHCJ (Sr. M. St. Thomas)
Barbara Linen, SHCJ (Sr. M. St. Kevin)
Elizabeth Muir, SHCJ (Sr. David Mary)
Ann Murray, SHCJ (Sr. Ann Catherine)

Monthly Meditation: June 2012

As you watch our June meditation, ponder the following questions and share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box below. We want to hear from you! How can you open yourself to see the miracles in your everyday life? What are the miracles of life for you? How does God call you to be a light in the lives of others?

Hopes Comes Alive!

By Kim Cavallero

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the 10th Anniversary celebration of Hope Partnership for Education, an educational center founded by the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus and the Sisters of Mercy in North Philadelphia. Hope is a middle school serving fifth through eighth graders, as well as the families of the students.

I have worked for the Society of the Holy Child (SHCJ) for the past 10 years. When I began with the SHCJ in 2002, Hope was just a dream. Now, it’s a reality. It’s been amazing to watch the transformation—not only in the school becoming a reality (though funding is still greatly needed for the school to have a building of its own), but also in the students who have had the benefit of attending Hope Partnership.

One of those students is Tyrik Harris, a seventh-grader. Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing Tyrik and his grandmother, Elaine Selby, for a video we created for our Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner Event. At the time, Tyrik shared with me that he went to the local public school in his neighborhood until fifth grade. He told me it wasn’t a good school—there were bullies, food fights, and “writings on the wall—mean things.” His grandmother shared that Tyrik’s behavior was worsening in the public school and she feared he would hurt himself or someone else. She learned about Hope and was able to get Tyrik enrolled. Today, the staff at Hope reports that Tyrik is one of the most well-behaved children there.

Tyrik’s story inspired me last year. But I beamed with pride last night at Hope’s event when I saw him, along with several of his classmates, perform an incredible drumming presentation, that had the more than 300 attendees at the event on their feet! (Please excuse the video quality. Seeing the talent of the students, I quickly shot a video with my iPhone camera!)


In addition, Mayor Michael Nutter stopped by the event last evening, offering his congratulations to all who have made Hope Partnership a reality. He shared that education is the most important gift we can give to our young people today, noting that it is the way out of poverty. At the event, Rose Gray was honored with the Igniting Hope Award and Karen Rowley was honored with the Embracing Hope Award. Both women have been integral to Hope’s success and powerful advocates for education and its power.

Hope is changing lives, but they need our support to do it. You can make a donation online through our website and designate that your gift is for Hope.

Kim Cavallero is Director of Communications for the Society of the Holy Child Jesus – American Province.

Fourth Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner: Celebrating Where It All Began!

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Last Thursday, more than 200 people gathered for the Fourth Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner at Bridgewaters in New York, NY. The evening began with an inspiring video that highlighted some of those who embody Holy Child spirit in their lives.

Sister Mary Ann Buckley, Leader of the Society’s American Province, thanked the many members of the laity who have partnered with the Sisters of the Holy Child, while touching on the 150th Anniversary of the SHCJ in America, stating, “It is significant that we recognize our 2012 Award recipients in New York, as the City holds a special place in the history of the Society of the Holy Child. One hundred fifty years ago, six pioneering Sisters landed in the Port of New York. Their arrival began a new chapter in our history as an international congregation. These young women left their familiar lives in England behind to lead the Holy Child mission in the Americas. They demonstrated a fire, spirit, and commitment that was essential to the Society’s growth. These characteristics live on in the Society and are embraced and embodied by individuals like Kathleen and John, who confront the human condition with a strong faith and a passion for serving God.”

Next, Sarah Coraizaca ’14 and Chelsey Giraldo ’12, students at the Cornelia Connelly Center for Education in New York, NY, gave the evening’s invocation. Special tribute was paid to Connie Bush, who passed away earlier this year and had served as Head of the Cornelia Connelly Center for many years.

Faith in Action Honoree
Sister Mary Ann then invited Sister Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ and Sister Roey McSorley, SHCJ to the stage to introduce Faith in Action Honoree Kathleen DiChiara. Mrs. DiChiara began the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in 1982. Today, the organization feeds close to a million people annually. Mrs. DiChiara’s children both attended the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child, where she was a member of the Mothers’ Auxiliary.

Holy Child Spirit Honree
After dinner Sister Jean Marie O’Meara, introduced Holy Child Spirit Honoree John D. Feerick. Mr. Feerick was Dean of the Fordham University School of Law for 20 years, as well as being the Founder and Director of the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham University, which the University established in 2006.The Holy Child community was thrilled to honor Mrs. DiChiara and Mr. Feerick, who embody the Holy Child mission in their lives and work. To see photos from the event taken by the talented Michael Leslie, click here. You can also watch a recorded version of the live video stream from the evening. In 2013, the Fifth Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner will be held in Pennsylvania. Stay tuned for all the details.

Lessons Learned in the DR

By Kim Cavallero
With my flight back to the United States tomorrow, my week here in the Dominican Republic is winding to a close. It’s been quite an adventure and I am thankful to Holy Child Sisters Kathleen King, Mary Alice Minogue, and Ann-Joyce Peters, for warmly welcoming me into their community, along with the three Holy Child Volunteers, Brooke, Kristen, and Elle, who are living here for a year and teaching in the school at the Society’s mission site. I’m come a long way since arriving last week—and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. Here’s a quick rundown of a few—some more humorous than others.

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Lesson #1 – Mosquito netting is important.
Make sure your mosquito netting is tucked in fully all around your bed and/or that you don’t trap any mosquitoes inside the net with you. Fail to do it right and you will wake up with at least 7-10 mosquito bites. Pack some hydrocortisone. (I could have used it.)

Lesson #2 – Hot water and water pressure are overrated. Compassion and humor are not.
When I first arrived last Saturday, Sister Ann-Joyce was showing me the “shower,” which essentially is a single stream of cold water running from a faucet. I’m sure she could see the horrified look on my face, but quite calmly and humorously, she just looked at me and said, “Well, it’s not going to win a prize or anything, but you know….”

A few days later, she showed me how to heat up some water so you could have some warm water with which to take a shower. She then showed me different pitchers you can use to pour the warm water over your head and said, “Everyone establishes her own system.” I took her word for it. After heating the water, I hopped in the shower. A few moments later, she yelled in, “How are you doing in there, Kim? You think you might stay a few more days?” I still wonder what she would have done if I had said, “No!” The point is I adapted and got used to it thanks to Sister Ann-Joyce’s humor and compassion! (I will say that hand sanitizer, cleansing face wipes, and dry shampoo are helpful to have here.)

Lesson #3 – Bring earplugs or a desire to dance the night (and day) away.
Roosters don’t just crow in the early morning hours. They like to crow at all times of the day and night. In addition, the people here love to play music—all the time. There is a constant, steady stream of noise: roosters, chickens, dogs, music, and people yelling. Silence is not important here. If it is to you, bring some earplugs!

Lesson #4 – Living without electricity isn’t so bad.
Where I am staying, the electricity is usually on from about 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the evening until 9:00 a.m. the next morning. In the U.S., when the electricity goes out—even for a few hours—it is a huge inconvenience for many of us. Here, it is a way of life and people just go about their day. They’re flexible and they adapt. Nonetheless, be sure to use a surge protector or risk blowing out electronic items such as your computer’s AC power source. (I’ll be buying a new one next week.)

Lesson #5 – Don’t jump to the worst conclusion. There are good people everywhere.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a very organized person (some might say in a neurotic way!), but this trip has thrown me for a loop and my organizational skills have disappeared into thin air! For example, yesterday, after doing some sight seeing in the city, we arrived home and I soon realized that my wallet was missing. I tore apart suitcases and bags—anywhere I thought it might be, but it didn’t turn up.

Within a few hours, I had canceled my credit and bank cards, assuming I had been pick-pocketed. The last place I remembered having it was in a shop where I had made a purchase. I had the receipt and asked Sister Ann-Joyce if she would be willing to call the store and ask them in Spanish if I had left my wallet there. It was a long shot, but it was my only shot.

Sister Ann-Joyce called the store this morning and sure enough they had it and were holding it for me. They explained that they didn’t have any way to contact me, which is why they hadn’t called. There are good people all over the world who do the right thing.

Homeward Bound
This week has been an adventure. It has challenged and stretched me to grow in ways I never imagined. I have seen people living in extreme poverty in Batey Lecheria and yet, they are full of gratitude for the simple gift of your presence. I arrived in fear last week, but am departing in peace tomorrow—and full of gratitude. Read Kim’s first and second blog posts.

Kim Cavallero is the Director of Communications for the Society of the Holy Child Jesus – American Province.

Between Heaven and Hell

By Kim Cavallero

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There is a stark contrast here in the Dominican Republic’s Batey Lecheria, where the Sisters of the Holy Child began a mission site in 1995. I heard one person describe it as “being between heaven and hell.” You look up and see a brilliant blue sky, lush green palm trees, and fluffy white clouds. You look down and see dirt roads, barely habitable shacks, and half-clothed children, many who have been abused and/or abandoned. They run through the streets and cling to anyone who they think will give them attention. Today, I was almost knocked over as four children, whom I had never met, grabbed onto me at the same time and wouldn’t let go.

But this week, the children of Batey Lecheria have been getting some extra attention, as have many of the residents here. Twelve parishioners from St. Luke’s in Charlotte, NC arrived on Monday morning to give a week of their time and energy to this community. This is the seventh year St. Luke’s has embarked on a mission trip here. The parishioners each paid $400 to come, with the remaining cost of the trip ($450 per person) raised through fund-raisers held throughout the year at St. Luke’s. Click here to hear from parishioner Jamar McKoy, who is making his first trip to Batey Lecheria this week.

Inspiring Experiences

Here in Batey Lecheria, the parishioners have undertaken a hodgepodge of activities this week: painting the shacks; playing baseball with the children; teaching the children how to paint and tie-dye t-shirts; and organizing and leading classes for the women in how to make sock dolls, jewelry, and other items that are then sold in the U.S. for a fair profit, which is returned to the women.

“You get a whole new sense of poverty here,” says parishioner Amber Ockerbloom. “There is a constant need. You can’t come once and not come again. You have to be open to what you are going to do because there’s always a place to do something here.” Along with Ockerbloom, parishioners Debby and Jim Lawrence share that you get as much as you give in Batey Lecheria, noting that the love they receive from the residents is so much more than they give to them.

A “Self-Sustaining” Trip

In addition to giving their time, the St. Luke’s parishioners bring suitcases full of donated medical supplies for the medical clinic the Sisters of the Holy Child began and run at the mission site, as well as all the supplies for the different projects they undertake such as painting the houses and making sock dolls. At the end of the trip, they leave the clothes they wore during the week for the residents of Batey Lecheria, who later sell them and make a small profit. “We clean out our closets or we go to Good Will before we leave the U.S. and buy the clothes we will need for the trip,” explains parishioner Cindy Platko. The parishioners also buy the suitcases that they bring the medical supplies in at Good Will and then leave the suitcases behind.

Platko, who is a school nurse, and her husband, Greg, lived with the Sisters of the Holy Child for a year, while serving the residents of Batey Lecheria. The couple had done mission trips to Batey Lecheria and felt they could do so much more by serving for a longer period of time alongside the Sisters of the Holy Child. They now return to Batey Lecheria twice a year. “Coming here is like coming home and seeing family for me,” shares Platko. During return trips, Platko spends her afternoons making house calls to residents. For example, she brings aspirin to a woman whose hip was broken and never repaired four years ago.

Platko and her husband are akin to celebrities in Batey Lecheria, though they certainly are too humble and focused on the work at hand to consider their “celebrity status.” Since the moment they arrived, shouts for “Cindy” and “Gregorio” (as the residents call Greg) never end. The residents are thrilled to see them and they bring joy wherever they go in Batey Lecheria, just as all the St. Luke’s parishioners who are here this week have. “We’re a parish of action,” says Ockerbloom. How exciting it is for the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus to see so many people committed to the motto of their congregation: “Actions Not Words.” Read Kim’s first and last blog post from her journey.

Kim Cavallero is the Director of Communications for the Society of the Holy Child Jesus – American Province.

Holy Child Academy’s Motto “Actions Not Words” Impacts the Community

Holy Child Academy students spend time with a resident of St. Francis Country House in Darby, PA.

In 1927, the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus began Holy Child Academy (HCA) in Drexel Hill, PA. Today, 85 years later, the School continues to embody the Sisters’ motto of “Actions Not Words.” Take a look at all HCA students did during their first semester!

The school organized a host of activities that served the poor and needy, senior adults, and our furry friends! In honor of St. Francis Assisi feast day, the students asked for donated pet products for the Delaware County SPCA located in Media.  In November, Holy Child Academy Parents’ Association organized a Thanksgiving food drive for 24 families.  In December, gently worn coats were collected for the poor. Twelve bags of clothing were donated between Divine Mercy Parish in Philadelphia and the Community Action Agency of Delaware County. 

Under the direction of Holy Child Academy’s service coordinator, Ms. Anne Wood, students have been collaborating with St. Francis Country House, a skilled nursing and short term rehabilitation facility in Darby, PA. In November, five folks from St. Francis along with seven employees/volunteers spent a few hours at Holy Child Academy.  Our guests were treated to an arts and craft project, a singing performance by the Pre-Kindergarten class, and lunch with the students.  

In December, Holy Child Academy’s eighth-grade students took a short drive to St. Francis Country House for a visit with their friends. The time was spent socializing and doing a fun project. According to Ms. Wood, the students and St. Francis residents are forming a strong bond. “The visits, activities, and socialization have been a wonderful experience for both St. Francis and Holy Child. The men and women at St. Francis are lovely and gracious. They light up when we visit. For our students, I see them becoming more compassionate, respectful, and aware of the importance that elders have in our society.”  

For the Christmas season, the third- and fifth-graders decorated 60 snack bags for the Community Food Program of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Nutritional Development Services.  In late December, the older students paired with their younger “buddy” students to make Christmas cards for the patients at Delaware County Memorial Hospital.

In planning the spring service projects, the students’ openness to grow and to help others will remain a priority, and the activities will center on Holy Child Academy’s philosophy of “Actions Not Words.” Find out how you can make a difference through Holy Child programs.

Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child Jesus Celebrates Founder’s Day on October 13

Students in the Lower School at the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, NJ marked Founder's Day with their "prayer families."

On October 13, students at the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, NJ, recognized Founder’s Day, the day 165 years ago that Cornelia Connelly began the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in Derby, England. Founder’s Day is also referred to as St. Edward’s Day by members of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus because the day is also the Feast of Saint Edward.

“It’s so amazing,” said Oak Knoll student Noelle Villa ’12. “If there were no founders, no Cornelia Connelly, I wouldn’t have the education I’m getting today. Founder’s Day represents the legacy Cornelia Connelly started for us.”

Carmen M. Chavez, Esq., Executive Director of the Casa Cornelia Law Center in San Diego, CA, visited the Upper School at Oak Knoll to talk about how the spirit of Cornelia Connelly lives on not just through the Holy Child schools but also through organizations such as the Casa Cornelia Law Center.

The Casa Cornelia Law Center (CCLC) was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Child in 1993 and provides pro bono legal services for immigrants in three areas: asylum, domestic violence, and children. While Mrs. Chavez detailed some of her work with CCLC, she also spoke about spiritual growth and enrichment, encouraging each student to remember that the decisions they make today will impact them and others tomorrow.

“Having a speaker—as we have tried to do these past few years—allows our students and teachers to see that Holy Child is bigger than Oak Knoll and even bigger than the Holy Child schools,” said Kathleen Lynch, Theology Department Chair. And that’s just what students said they learned through Mrs. Chavez’s presentation.

“We are all united under one spirit,” said Oak Knoll student Rachael Edelson ’12.

While many students said they knew that the Holy Child Network extended beyond the walls of Oak Knoll and the other Holy Child schools, they didn’t know about the Casa Cornelia Law Center.

“I feel so blessed to be a part of this community,” Noelle said. “It’s set in tradition yet always evolving. It’s great that we have those roots to fall back on.”

Students remarked how incredible it is that the principles and values that were instilled by Cornelia Connelly are still relevant and applicable in today’s changing world, as shown by the work of CCLC.

“It’s amazing how strong the network is,” said Allison Donini ’12, saying that it’s inspiring to know that as the students graduate and move through the world, they will likely encounter others who share their beliefs and values and fellow members of the Holy Child family.

Students in the Lower School celebrated Founder’s Day with their own Oak Knoll tradition: prayer families. Prayer families are small groups of students in kindergarten through grade six that gather to share prayers and reflection. Administration, faculty, and staff are part of each group, which is led by a sixth-grade student.

Dr. Michele Dahl, the Lower School Religion Coordinator at Oak Knoll, said she decided to recognize Founder’s Day with a “prayer families lunch” because it fit in with the values on which Cornelia Connelly founded the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

“I think Cornelia Connelly was about fun,” Dr. Dahl said. “She would want the kids to be giggling and getting to know each other and seeing God in each other.”

Dr. Dahl also said Founder’s Day is just a few days before National Mix-It-Up Day on October 18 which encourages students to sit with new people in the lunchroom to help foster tolerance and acceptance of differences. “It gives kids an opportunity to have that sense of fun and camaraderie,” Dr. Dahl said. “[Cornelia Connelly] would have enjoyed that.”

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