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

Parents: Have that Spring Break conversation

March 23, 2017

Weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard High School parent community:

Spring break arrives next Friday!

Many of you will be leaving on family vacations or sending your child off with friends to enjoy time away from the rigors of academia. We pray that everyone has a safe and restful break. We also pray that parents have had serious conversations with their teens about spring break and all that is presumed to go along with it.

Over the years spring break has become less about getting away for a restful vacation, and more about being a rite of passage for teens to push limits or explore new things. Temptations abound and your children need advice and counsel on how to best exhibit resolve and fortitude in the face of these temptations.

Every year newspapers are full of stories of spring break tragedies. Every year people wonder if these tragedies could have been prevented. The answer in many cases is a definitive “Yes!”

Have that conversation. Give that advice. While on vacation, know where your children are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Check in with them often. Then the next day, do it again. In front of their friends, they will roll their eyes and complain that their parents are treating them like children (which of course you are, because they are children); but privately they will appreciate knowing that you care about them.

Our prayers are with all of our families for a safe and restful spring break!

God bless you!


The Courage to Step Forward

March 16, 2017

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

On Tuesday, we had ten priests with us for our Lenten penance service. Nearly 250 students took advantage of the opportunity to go to confession. I would like to share a few thoughts on the morning:

I have been a part of many faith-based youth events over the years. There is still nothing I find as moving, or as powerful, as a high school penance service. Just peeking in the gym from the outside, it may not look like much – eight to ten priests sitting on folding chairs on the gym floor, students sitting in the bleachers, and music playing softly over the speakers. From inside of the gym, however, I have the honor of witnessing the beauty of what is really happening. Continue reading

Pushing or Encouraging?

February 9, 2017

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

For your consideration…

Are we pushing our kids too hard? Let me start by saying that this is not an indictment of you, me, or our school community. Also, I should warn you that I will not be offering a definitive response to this question. I am simply inviting you to reflect on the question as I often do.

I find myself wondering if we are pushing young people to achieve “success” as defined by society while making minimal effort to help them discern who God wants them to be. Continue reading