Tag Archives: Catholic schools

At the start of the school year, coincidence by design

September 5, 2017


A grandmother’s one-time project will help guide grandson’s path as he starts preschool


It keeps repeating in my head – that digital voice at a city crosswalk, designed for blind people to cross. Wait. Wait. Jack turned three and started preschool Tuesday.

My art life has always spookily prepared me for my real life. Like when I lost William at 20 weeks pregnant, and the nurses at Abbott Northwestern sent me my own card, from years before when I did artwork for a card company that specialized in sympathy products for when babies die. Those nurses could not have known from the name on the back.

Karen Ritz

And Jack starting preschool? He’ll be hopping on the same floor that I helped to design. His mom and her brothers went to Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul starting in the late 1980s, and by 2000, I found myself as Chair of an Art and Environment Committee that oversaw design details on an extensive renovation of the church and school. The church came first, with repair and studied renovation, returning design elements to their original intent in 1937. The school followed in 2005 – a $15 million dollar renovation and an addition that somehow needed to look seamless, tying together new structures with those from 1923 and 1960. If any of you have built or renovated, you know the volume of decision-making – paint and carpet colors, lighting, bathroom tiles for boys and girls, flooring, grout choices, but on a larger scale and with church ladies saying, “If you paint it that color, I’m never coming back!”

Toward the end of the school reno, our pastor, Father Peter Christensen, was named bishop of Superior, Wisconsin, and I found myself at a Tuesday meeting choosing those dreaded grout colors with Kate and Margo. The architect announced that the delayed floor tiles were in, and they would start installation on Friday. They had a draft of the plan (we had worked hard on the floor transitions to try to tie in existing tiles from the original structures) and it lacked spark. I asked if I could draw out a pattern using the same tiles, since they would be following one anyway. They architect agreed, if I had it back to them on Thursday, all three stories (of course, they didn’t think I would do it).

I sat with my colored pencils and those plans, and thought about how big this new school would seem to such a small child, and that a pattern, and change of pattern, would help them find their way. I thought about the excitement of going somewhere, and the need to hop. I made a predictable pattern around doorways, so you would know when you’ve arrived (and to stop hopping). I thought of another generation of kids, and delivered the plans that Thursday.

The world spins and it is 2017, with Jack starting preschool on Tuesday. W-A-I-T. His parents don’t know that there is no going back – the getting up on time, breakfast, and rush, and adjusting all over again with daylight savings. (His mom went to afternoon preschool in my attempt to avoid this, but we would find hot dogs and parts of sandwiches under the rug when we cleaned. “Hurry up and EAT!”) The playdates, volunteer hours, reading lists, math problems, and spelling words, learning to follow directions, play sports and make friends. All the way to college.

Look down, Jack, and follow the path. You will find your way, and it’s ok to hop now and then. The light has turned green just for you, “WALK.”

Karen Ritz is an award winning Illustrator of over 46 children’s books, including Ellis Island, a 1995 Minnesota Book Award winner, and for 2017, “Sadie Braves the Wilderness,” a picture book about kids’ first trip to the Boundary Waters. http://www.GrandyCamp.info is her latest creation, knowing that busy, active grandparents needed quick, great ideas and answers when the grandkids come along!
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The Catholic Church in the News

April 12, 2014


The Catholic Church has been in the news a lot lately and for the most part the only reporting has been bad news. But there is a story a local paper decided to run that probably won’t be picked up by the big media stations.
It is a story I almost missed.
I had the oppourtunity to attend daily Mass at my local parish and Catholic High School. I am normally not around for daily Mass at home, but I had an appointment in town so I thought I would make the effort to go. I almost did’t. I was running late, my hair was still wet from my shower and I needed to prepare for my meeting, but since it was daily Mass I figured I had time to attend and still be able to run back home to get ready.

What happened at that Mass was a special grace that I was blessed to be witness to.

When I showed up at the church their was a hearse sitting out front. My first thought was: Oh no, what is going on? Mass will probably take longer. I may be late for my appointment.
The Catholic High School Mass was was hosting a funeral. A funeral for a woman I did not know and a woman none of the students at the school knew. She was a woman who had recently died and had very little family left to attend her funeral.
It was a beautiful witness of a community of people reaching out to a member of their own to fulfill the corporal and spiritual works of mercy of praying for and burying the dead.
Someone alerted the local small town paper and they decided to cover the story.
I urge you to read it. You can find it here:


Photo Jace Smith/Faribault Daily News

Photo Jace Smith/Faribault Daily News

Grab a box of Kleenex. There was not a dry eye in the house.

As beautiful as this story is, there are others like it happening every day. Most don’t make the news. They are the stories of good and faithful priest and parishioners doing the good works of being good Christians. Since the media usually doesn’t report these – it is up to us to see them – everyday.
See them and be a part of them.

As we enter into Holy Week, be observant of the good works around you and when you gather with family on Easter remember to share the GOOD News of our beautiful church.

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Aim Higher using Social Media to promote Catholic Education in the Archdiocese

May 1, 2012


Aim Higher, a new campaign to market and promote Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, is now employing Social Media to get the message out.

From Cathy Cornell, Office of Catholic Schools:

We will be using our social media sites, primarily Facebook and Twitter, as a hub for our students, teachers, and parents to spread the good news of Catholic education. It will be a place where people can connect, share news, learn something new and interact with one another.

On our Facebook page, we are running an “app of the week” to help teachers and parents engage their kids in fun and unique ways.

We will also be running promotional contests to our schools through these pages. Currently we are having an essay contest for our graduates about what their Catholic education meant to them. It will bring energy around the amazing stories in our Catholic schools.

Be sure to like and follow!

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Awards to Twin Cities area Catholics put a smile on your face and a tear in your eyes

November 1, 2010


Several Catholic groups are following the lead of The Catholic Spirit and honoring local people and groups for their outstanding efforts on behalf of good causes.
The Catholic Spirit’s ninth annual Leading With Faith Awards luncheon — see story and honorees at http://thecatholicspirit.com/featured/2010-leading-with-faith-winners/ — kicked off the fall season.

In late October the Office for Marriage, Family and Life of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis named its “2010 Champions for Life”: Ginny Sullivan, a teacher at Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul, who for 20 years has helped generations of students take her lessons about aiding pregnant women into adulthood; teenager Patti Durham, a parishioner at St. John the Baptist in Savage who helps handicapped peers at Burnsville High; Merlyn and Bernadine Scroggins, who have opened their home seven times to pregnangt girls in need; and to the Respect Life Groups of South Central Minnesota, who pooled their resources to bring pro-life speakers to their communities.

A week later, many in a crowd of Catholic Community Foundation boosters were wiping the mist from their eyes when the nation’s largest community foundation serving Catholic philanthropy gave is 5th annual Legacy of Faith Award to Jerry and Delores Slawik.

It was at a lunch that the Slawiks had with Archbishop John Roach and local builder Larry McGough that the Catholic Community Foundation was established, and that might have been cause enough for the Slawiks to be honored. But there’s more to the story.

The death in a boating accident of Jerry’s younger brother, Skipper, was the inspiration for the the Skipper Slawik Foundation, designed to help pay the tuition of students who other wise couldn’t afford to attend Catholic and private high schools. The Slawik’s themselves used to review all the applications, but in 1996 asked the aid of the Catholic Community Foundation to assist. The Skipper Slawik Foundation has distributed more than $14 million and aided more than 1,000 students. Eyes started to mist up when testimonials were read from some of those 1,000 students, thank you notes to the Slawiks for helping them attend schools that they never thought possible.

Delores Slawik shared the credit with members of the extended Slawik family, the staff of the Catholic Community Foundation, and especially Judy Sheehan, who has worked for the Skipper Slawik Foundation for 56 years.

“I think God is with us (in remembering Skipper through this scholarship fund). He was a little boy frozen in time, and Jerry has kept his memory alive.”

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