Suicide Prevention 1

March 22, 2018

The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard HS parent community:

To our Bishop Chatard parent community:

We face a sobering reality that the number of suicides among teenagers has steadily increased in the state of Indiana since 2007. The situation is such that the Department of Education is requiring that all teachers and administrators be trained in suicide prevention beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

Thanks to Social Worker Becky Wilde, and Principal Joe Hansen, Bishop Chatard is getting ahead of the requirement by engaging our staff in this training now. It will be completed in two sessions, the first having taken place this past Monday morning, the second on this upcoming Monday. The presenter is Carlabeth Mathias, MS, LCSW, LMHC from Mathias Counseling and Consulting.

I thought it might be helpful to share the information we received and discussed in those sessions. Informing you is yet another step we can take to help our youth.

The suicide prevention training is called QPR. This is an acronym for Question…Persuade…Refer. Continue reading


I Don’t Know Their Story

March 15, 2018

The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard HS parent community:

Some of the best advice I have ever received was given to me about seven or eight years ago. It was the first night I worked with HOOP, an organization serving the homeless in and around downtown Indianapolis. We bring food, clothing, blankets, hats, gloves, etc. to homeless people living along the river or under bridges. Steve, the crew leader for the night, was putting me through a brief orientation. He told me, “When someone comes forward and tells us what they need, we don’t second guess their needs. We just serve them.” Then the life-changing advice came: “We don’t judge people because we don’t know their story.” That advice hit me hard and has stuck with me. It has changed how I interact with people – all people, not just the homeless. It has helped me become a less judgmental person, as well as a more compassionate one. Continue reading

The Work Begins at Home

March 8, 2018

The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard community:

Looking back on our parenting efforts, Carol and I are pretty happy with the results. Our kids are grown and out in the real world, living lives of their own. Three of them are married, and the fourth is in a serious relationship. We have three grandchildren and a fourth on the way. We get together often and we enjoy one another’s company very much. We all love one another and it shows.

Each of our children has inherited a few odd quirks from either Carol or I, but for the most part, they are well-adjusted young adults.

As I reflect back, however, I’d like to have one “do-over.” I wish I had done a better job, done my fair share, of forming our children in the faith. Continue reading

Help Us Be Deliberate & Pay Attention

March 1, 2018

My weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard parent community:

The following prayer was written by my wife Carol (Bishop Chatard Director of Campus Ministry), as she watched the sun rise over a mountaintop in El Salvador. It not only reflects her inner beauty, but also serves as a loving nudge for all of us this Lenten season.

 Loving God,

We are ordinary people, but capable of extraordinary things. Help us to be extraordinary, for others and for You.

Help us push through the barriers of selfishness, greed, judgment, and apathy – or anything else that stands in our way, that prevents us from doing Your will.

With Your help, may we grow in our relationship with You – by focusing on You through prayer, by making time for You – not just attending Mass on Sundays, but making time for you every day. Help us be deliberate.

Keep our eyes open to ways we can serve others, in big ways or small ones. There are so many people in need – help us open our hearts to serving them, and in so doing, serving You. Help us pay attention.

May our actions glorify You.


Where Am I Going?

February 16, 2018

The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard parent community:

The Lenten season has begun.  Lent does not conjure up the same excitement and joy as celebratory seasons such as Easter and Christmas. Instead it is viewed as a bit sobering, perhaps even gloomy – ashes, penance, sacrifice, etc.

I have had opportunities in the past to hear different priests share refreshing perspectives on Lent. Rather than doom and gloom, Lent was presented as an opportunity for introspection, considering ways to become a better version of yourself. This is of course challenging, but it should be seen as a positive experience, rather than as a preoccupation with your own unworthiness.

Fr. Jim Farrell, my pastor, referred to the six weeks of Lent as a time of conversion. As our Lenten sacrifice, he suggested an alternative to giving up material items such as food, television, or soft drinks. Instead, why not consider working on some of the things that keep us separated from others and from God? Perhaps you get angry easily. Maybe you are slow to offer forgiveness or compassion. Have you convinced yourself that you do not have time for prayer? Do you consider the poor and disenfranchised to be someone else’s problem?

Friend and former co-worker, Fr. Joshua Janko, echoed these thoughts, referring to Lent as a time to “smooth off our rough edges.”

Bishop Gettelfinger, retired Bishop of the Evansville Diocese, once shared his view of Lent as a time of self-reflection. He suggested that we ask ourselves three questions: Who am I? What am I doing here? and Where am I going?

Maybe you feel pretty good about yourself and you do not see this activity as challenging at all. But what if Jesus were standing in front of you and the two of you locked eyes? Now how difficult would those three questions be?

Consider the Gospel story of the rich young man. He asked Jesus what he could do to gain eternal life. Jesus told him he needed to follow the commandments. The encouraged young man assured Jesus that he had indeed done that. Then Jesus told him “to sell all of your belongings and give the money to the poor, and then return and follow me.” The man went away sad. What God asks of us can be challenging.

I pray that your Lenten season allows you an opportunity for conversion. May you lock eyes with Jesus, consider what separates you from others and from Him, smooth off your rough edges, and then return and follow Him.


One Lunch, One Day

February 8, 2018

The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard HS parent community. This week I offered details of our annual Ash Wednesday ‘Soup and Bread’ lunch:

Next Wednesday, February 14, is Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season. Bishop Chatard will be getting the Lenten season off to a strong start by incorporating prayer, fasting, and almsgiving into our day.

At 9:55 a.m., the entire school will celebrate Mass (prayer), which will include the distribution of ashes. During Offertory, we will be passing collection baskets. Students will be asked to donate any amount of money they are able (almsgiving). Money collected will be donated to Catholic Charities of Indianapolis, an organization that serves nearly 50,000 children, families, and adult seniors in need each year. Continue reading

Rowing with Only One Oar Makes the Boat Go in Circles

February 2, 2018

Here is another Catholic Schools Week parent letter I was asked to re-post:

As we end Catholic Schools Week, I would like to share a few thoughts on the critical relationship between the school and you, the parents.

Thinking about the importance of working together to educate our children brought to mind some marriage advice I once heard: The notion of a marriage being a ‘50-50’ partnership is a misnomer. It must be ‘100-100’ – both parties must be ‘all in’ or the relationship is doomed to fail.

It is imperative that we recognize that none of us are able to do the important work of educating and forming our children on our own. We need each other. We are partners.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is quite clear when it comes to educating your children: “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery—the preconditions of all true freedom” (CCC 2223).

As your Catholic high school of choice, we are an extension of your home. When we refer to Bishop Chatard as a family, we mean it! We work to create a seamless transition from your home of tenderness, forgiveness, and respect to a school community bearing witness to the same. We support and continue the above-mentioned apprenticeship begun at home within the context of an honorable community.

Where do our children learn values? Where is their faith deepened? Where are their spiritual lives formed? Where does evangelization take place? Where do they learn how to treat one another? Is it at home or is it at school? The answer is “Yes” to both. Neither operates in a vacuum. The effort to educate our children will fall miserably short if either the home or the school shirks its responsibility.

Quality Catholic education and formation don’t just happen because we say so. Like any good partnership, it takes work and commitment. It requires us to be on the same page and it demands that we hold one another accountable.

We invite Bishop Chatard families to embrace this partnership. From the outset, let us support one another’s efforts, respect one another’s role, and value the gifts each brings to the table. Let’s also agree not to let each other off the hook – the boat goes in circles with only one oar in the water.

Are you ‘all in’?