Fighting for Your Family

August 31, 2017

The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard High School (Indianapolis) community:

I have had several conversations with parents lately that have centered on the fear that they were “losing their family.” Nothing dramatic, nothing sudden…but a slow, gradual loss of what their family used to be. As one parent put it, “I feel like we are just five individuals living under the same roof.”

The breaking down of the family is certainly not deliberate. Rather, it is a product of the times. It has a variety of causes, but two that are clear to me are the over-scheduling of our lives and the way families are choosing to communicate. Continue reading

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It Takes a Village

August 10, 2017

The following is my opening day letter to the Bishop Chatard community:

We begin a new school year today! That’s a great time to reflect on the old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

A collaborative relationship between you (the parents) and the Bishop Chatard adult community (faculty, staff, and administration) is critical to your child’s success. It is important that we work as partners to offer the best possible academic and faith formation experience for our students, your children.

It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that parents are the primary educators of their children. They are educators precisely because they are parents. The adults at Bishop Chatard are formally trained educators who provide course content expertise. As Catholic school educators, they are also called to be witnesses to their faith. The work we do here at school is built upon the foundational and ongoing education and formation you provide your children at home. Total formation of a child requires the commitment of both the parents and the school. To deny either to our children shortchanges them and hinders their development. “It takes a village to raise a child” is not just a folksy saying; it is a fact.

We welcome the opportunity to partner with you in the education of your children. Let’s hold one another accountable to providing an atmosphere in which children feel loved, included, supported, encouraged, and challenged. Let the message our young people hear be consistent. Let them hear the same message about what is important both at home and at school: serving God and others, adhering to Christian values, having a strong work ethic, and sharing their God-given gifts with the world.

Thank you for trusting us with your children. We welcome the opportunity to be a part of your family’s “village.”

Let’s Do It Again in 2017-18!

May 25, 2017

There are not too many people walking the halls of Bishop Chatard right now thinking, “I wish this school year could have gone on forever!” Students, faculty, and staff are tired. We are ready to take a few steps back and breathe. That is certainly understandable.

Hopefully in our desire to “get outta here” we don’t lose sight of what has happened in this building between August and today. I hope we don’t forget about the lives that are changed in our building each year.

I am talking about the awkward freshmen that stepped cautiously into our building in August and will leave tomorrow at ease with who they are and what the future might hold for them. New friendships have been formed, some likely to continue for years to come. They accomplished so many things – some they knew they could accomplish, and more importantly, some they learned they could accomplish. Continue reading

Advice to Parents of Seniors

May 18, 2017

Last week I shared my annual letter to our graduating seniors. This week is my annual letter of advice offered to the parents of our seniors.

Graduation is tomorrow, and even though Carol and I have been through it with all four of our children, I still get a bit nostalgic this time of year. The advantage of having experience is that it allows me to spot the newbies. The first-born children talk big and act like they can’t wait to get out on their own; but you can hear the uncertainty in their voice and see it in their eyes. Parents of the college-bound students talk confidently about how well prepared their child is to take on the world, knowing that just last week that same child thought his car was in reverse and drove it into the back end of their new SUV. Continue reading

Dear Class of 2017

May 11, 2017

The following is my annual senior letter. I sent this letter earlier in the week to the members of the Class of 2017:

Dear Class of 2017,

You are entering a special time of your lives, preparing to transition from the high school scene to a time of much more independence.

I hope you won’t get so caught up in what’s next that you fail to appreciate what you have now and acknowledge the love others have for you.

I tried to share that sentiment with you on your senior retreat. Here are some thoughts I like to share with seniors around this time each year, beginning with the time leading up to your departure for college:

  • Allow for some parental smothering. Your parents will want to hug you more than usual. You will often catch them just staring at you. Mom will have tears in her eyes most of the time. They will say things like, “Do you have to go out tonight? Can’t you just stay home with us?” and “Come sit by me for a few minutes.” Don’t be surprised if they ask, “How are you feeling about going away to college?” The correct response is, “You have prepared me well, so I am excited to go…but I will miss you guys.” Follow this up with a smile and a hug. (Note: The hugging thing is big. If you’re not a hugger, get over it for the next several weeks.)

Continue reading

Peace Defined

April 27, 2017

On April 23, 2014, my granddaughter Ellie was born. I wrote about that experience four years ago, and that reflection follows. My thoughts at that time came back to me recently for two reasons.

 First, we celebrated Ellie’s birthday with a little party last week – what an awesome little girl! (I have six grandchildren now, but she is the only girl…so she has a special place in Grandpa’s heart.) And secondly, and more importantly, during the Easter season I am trying to be more aware of how God continues to bless me. I need to reflect on these blessings, and show my gratitude, more often.

My reflection from April 2013:

As I write this letter on Tuesday afternoon, I am sitting in a hospital room. Fifteen hours ago, my youngest daughter, Laura, gave birth to our second grandchild. It was a little girl, Mariela (Ellie) Grace Garcia. Everything went smoothly. Mom and baby are doing great. New dad, Joey, is on Cloud Nine.

It is raining outside. The hospital room is dark except for a nightlight. The new parents are both asleep. My wife, Carol, is holding Ellie and both of them are asleep, too. I go over to check on them. Ellie’s little chest is moving up and down with each breath she takes. Carol looks beautiful, as does Laura, as does Ellie – three generations of beautiful women with whom I have been blessed. Continue reading

Re-Commit Our Lives to Christ

April 13, 2017

Weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard parent community:

On Tuesday, I was privileged to attend, as I do each year, the annual Chrism Mass for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. I am always inspired by seeing all of the priests of the archdiocese process in, and am humbled when hearing them re-commit to the call to serve the Church. There was beautiful music from the cathedral choir, a full assembly reciting prayers with conviction and singing with real joy, and the opportunity to celebrate Mass and share in the Eucharist.

This annual Chrism Mass is transformative. I am fortunate to be able to attend Mass often, and always leave transformed. However, there is something special about Holy Week. Continue reading