Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Being a Catechist: Is it Your Vocation?

Being a Catechist is a Vocation.  Is it yours?- A discussion on teaching the faith

Faith Formation class are beginning for the school year all across the country.  Are you teaching religious education?  If not, have you ever considered becoming a Catechist?  Shelly and I (Lisa) discuss our experiences as Catechists in the video below. 

*At the 4 min mark the audio and video get out of sync.  So sorry.* 

Please prayerfully consider volunteering at your church to teach or assist in Faith Formation classes.  Even if classes have already begun, it is possible they are still in need of assistants or substitute catechists.  (I know our parish is still open to new volunteers).

Volunteering as a Catechist will change you! 

How Volunteering for Edge (Youth Ministry) Changed My Life

Joe Paprocki's Catechist Journey

6 Tips for Teaching Religious Education to Children

Do you teach faith formation to children? How did you get started?
If you don't volunteer as a catechist, why not?  What is holding you back?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Searching for Coppini's Victims of the 1900 Galveston Storm

UT lost statue of 1900 Storm
Shelly: Today, September 8, marks the 116th anniversary of the 1900 Galveston Storm, the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Last year I spoke about the 1900 Storm at Houston area libraries in support of the Gulf Coast Reads program, highlighting the excellent novel, The Promise

This summer I've spent time corresponding with John Bernardoni about the possible location of the 10-foot heroic statue Victims of the Galveston Flood created by Italian-American artist Pompeo Coppini. 

In 1997 when I started work on Through a Night of Horrors: Voices from the 1900 Galveston Storm, I tried to discover what happened to Coppini's magnificent statue, created in 1904, donated to the University of Texas in 1914, and not seen since 1920. When my research in Austin hit a brick wall, I resigned myself to the probability that the piece had been accidentally destroyed. 

This May, John contacted me with a burning desire to uncover the truth, so I shared all my earlier research and photos, caught up in his fresh enthusiasm and excitement. Perhaps he has the local connections and perseverance to do what Coppini couldn't in the last years of his life - find out what happened to the heroic piece. John's received some publicity about his search from various news online as he spread the word about the search with the idea that someone, somewhere, knows something. 

 Austin American-Statesman - The case of UT's lost Pompeo Coppini statues

UT Exes Alcalde - The Great Coppini Caper: One UT alum's search for 24 statues that mysteriously disappeared from campus.

KUTX 98.5 FM - Coppini's Vanished UT Statuary with John Bernardoni

Galveston Daily News - Search is on for vanished sculpture of victims of 1900 hurricane.

I honestly believe that if the statue still exists on campus, our best hope will come if the UT President will commit to allowing John and his team systematically search the cavernous expanse of storage facilities (over 100 buildings) on the UT campus, primarily at the Pickle Research Center. 

If you'd like to know more about Pompeo Coppini, please check out the Handbook of Texas,  the Coppini Academy of Fine Arts, or Texas Escapes.

1900 Galveston Storm
A thriving neighborhood swept clean to the beach.
Bishops Palace and Sacred Heart Church at 14th and Broadway are visible in background.
Photo courtesy of the Rosenberg Library, Galveston TX

Searching for Coppini's Statue "Victim's of the Galveston Flood" Last seen at The University of Texas

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Saint Teresa of Calcutta: A Lesson to Remedy the Greatest Poverty

Mother Teresa Smiling - Her LegacyToday our beloved Mother Teresa officially becomes Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

We were truly blessed to have been witness to this Saint’s life during our own lifetime and we ponder, what did we learn from her? How was her life an example and inspiration for our own?

Mother Teresa’s selfless work in the slums of Calcutta are now familiar to all. In a true calling, she looked at the poor and sick to recognize the suffering of Christ reflected in their faces. Her mission of helping went beyond caring for them solely in the physical sense, she also offered and taught others to offer all people Christ's unconditional love. “Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus.”

During her lifetime, she encouraged all of us to give ourselves fully to God. So that “he will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.” She recognized that, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa, reminded us that not all poverty is being hungry, naked, and homeless. “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”

"The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty."

To honor her life, consider your own personal mission to spread Christ’s love among one another. For Mother Teresa also said that “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.”

Not how much we do…. But how much love we put into the action.

It’s not about going out of our way to do extra for someone, it’s as simple as putting love into every simple daily act for others.
A sincere smile for someone you pass in the hallway.
Holding open an elevator door when you see someone approaching.
Listening to your child tell about her school day.
Filling up the gas tank for your spouse because you happen to
notice it’s closer to empty.
Allowing someone with two items to go ahead of you and your
full basket in a crowded grocery store line.
How many small acts do we perform every day without being conscious of the love found within the action. We can all battle the varied types of poverty found in our daily lives.

Mother Teresa’s answer to the greatest poverty? She made people feel wanted and loved.

Statue of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

“God doesn’t require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.”

“I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Five Reasons to Choose SafeSplash Swimming Lessons

As I (Shelly) mentioned when the adventure started, this summer SafeSplash Swim School invited Of Sound Mind and Spirit to blog about our experience with their swim school in exchange for four weekly lessons.

This week's lesson continues many of the basic skills previously introduced, the concept of back and front floating, kicks and scoops, and putting your face underwater. My teenage daughter is at my side watching her brother when she looks at me and grins, "This makes me want to swim again." 

My son excels at the "Monkey Crawl" and anticipates the next part of the lesson, climbing out of the pool, ready to jump back in on the instructor's command. While doing kicks and scoops or barbell down the lane, he's a talker and I want to shout at him, "Put your head down and swim."  

After just four short lessons, he clearly is more relaxed and comfortable being in the water. He thinks they're playing, but everything taking place is a foundation block introducing the skills and movements that - when mastered and coordinated - will be floating and swimming.

As I sit watching my son asking for the rings, so he can bob up and down underwater, I review my top five reasons why this working mom chooses SafeSplash for future lessons.

Top Five Reasons to Swim with SafeSplash
  • Instructors - Our swimming instructor was kind, patient, smiled and engaged the students in a positive encouraging manner. When my son wrapped his arm around her neck in the first lesson, she just calmly loosened his grip and helped him into a new position. She treated each of her students as though it was the first lesson of the day, not the umpteenth.
  • Schedule - Swimming lessons and swim team are not working mom friendly sports, because they are often scheduled daily in the morning hours of summer - at the same time as that weekly staff meeting or your first client call of the day. SafeSplash partners with pools to offer a flexible schedule that fits my busy working mom schedule with weekly classes on Saturday and weekdays after 6 p.m.
  • Group Lessons - Group lessons are good for encouraging kids to try something new. It offers them the opportunity to meet new friends and watch someone go first if they're feeling hesitant.
  • Curriculum - SafeSplash partnered with an Olympic gold medalist swimmer to develop a proven structured curriculum designed to progressively build one lesson on top of the other. It's simplicity says to me they believe Anyone Can Swim, which reminds me of the "Anyone Can Cook" motto from the movie Ratatouille. Either way, it works!
  • Fun  - Overall our experience with SafeSplash included an element of fun. The instructors engaged my child, the other kids made him laugh, the curriculum wasn't overly serious. He loved playing with the toys, the rings, and other tools introduced to help them grow more comfortable with the water.
Overall, we were very pleased by our experience with SafeSplash Swim School. If you're looking for swimming opportunities for your child, check out their availability in your area - and tell them you read about it here. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

SafeSplash Week Three: It's So Cool Underwater!

Swimming Lesson - back float

Swimming Goggles
Houston, We Have Goggles and it's a whole new world!  As a non-swimmer who can't remember the last time I wore goggles in the pool, I had no idea how much it would change my son's perspective on swimming lessons.  Excited about his new goggles, he couldn't wait to get his face underwater, "Now I can see underwater!" Every time the instructor takes another child down the swimming lane, my son is bobbing up and down, looking around under the water, 

On this third week the "newness" of lessons is worn off and he's relaxed and chatty. When the instructor takes him out to practice kicking and scooping, he's so busy talking to her he forgets to kick. He's participating without really thinking about it and while he's making all the right movements they're very loosely coordinated, kind of all over the place.

Another milestone, he's not fighting or tensing up when she lays him on his back, immediately spreading his arms out with very little hesitation. 

I'm curious why he will try and learn with other people, but not with his parents - is this true for all kids?  I've tried teaching my children various skills only to be met with eye rolling and half-hearted attempts. But ask another adult to introduce or teach the same exercise (and pay them) and suddenly my children look upon them with the respect due to an expert.  Whatever the reason, the lessons from SafeSplash are just long enough to keep his interest.

At the end of this lesson, he hops out of the pool and can't stop talking about how cool it is underwater! Goggles made all the difference.

See underwater with goggles

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