Friday, April 20, 2012

Prom time!

Well, if you live in New Bremen and have a high schooler, you know that tomorrow night is prom.  A pretty highly anticipated evening for the high school crowd.  A time to put away the t-shirts and the pony tails, and dress up for a really fun night.

I remember when we first moved to New Bremen almost 16 years ago -- we found out they had promenade, which is a time when the kids all come out in their formal attire for all to see -- and we started going.  I would watch the girls in their beautiful dresses, and the guys in their tuxes, and couldn't even imagine my kids going to prom. 

Well, now I find myself with one done with prom entirely, and the second one entering that phase.  Jim and I often discuss the differences in our kids -- how can six kids, with the same parents, eating the same foods, in the same environment -- turn out so completely different?

Emily has been so fun to travel this journey with.  She is absolutely not all caught up in the "moment".  She has picked out a beautiful dress, and has a handsome date, but told me something really interesting while we were searching for dresses.  She said, "Mom, I'm just a junior.  This isn't my year to stand out with my dress.  That's best left for the seniors!"

I have to tell you I was floored.  I, in all my years, have never thought that way!  What a neat thing! 

She's been spending this evening doing her nails, and doing whatever primping she can so she can sleep in in the morning.  After all, staying up for 24 hours is hard work!  :)

I spent part of the day today with my friend, Carla.  She, along with her husband, Scott, are hosting the dinner before prom for their daughter, and their friends.  Fourteen kids, that will be ready to have a blast.  It was fun to get out my creative side today.  We even discussed how fun it was to make this a special night for the kids. 

I promise to come back with pictures.  I hope all of the kids have a grand time tomorrow night and keep safe.  But most of all, I hope they make some beautiful memories that will last them a lifetime!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

RIP, Father Len!

I spent the better part of yesterday at the funeral of my uncle.  I have mentioned before that I have a very large family, with many aunts and uncles, and, unfortunately, they are all hitting that age where funerals are happening a little more frequently.

But yesterday's funeral was a little different than most.  That's because my uncle was a priest.  And not just any priest (are there any of the sort??).  He was many things to many people.  He did not spend his years just being a parish priest -- he was a rector at the seminary, a librarian, and also a parish priest.  Although originally from St. Henry, his ministry was out of the Kansas City Province, so most of his assignments were west of here.  That did not allow for many of us to spend a whole lot of time with him, as he would be home for a couple of weeks during the summer and that would be most of what we would see him for the year.

It was interesting to hear the stories told by Fr. Nassal, the Provincial of Kansas City, during his homily, of the Fr. Len that he and his fellow priests knew.  Not that they knew a different man, but they definitely knew a different side of him.  Anyone who ever received a letter from Fr. Len, or talked with him, knew he was very interested in the ancestry of our family, and he always had a new name of someone for  me to figure out how I was related to them.  I wish so much I had kept his letters over the years....I didn't always appreciate the knowledge he was trying to shower me with.

He mentioned during his homily that once Father Len was in a parish and noticed the tabernacle was locked.  He said, "Unlock that and let Jesus out!"  The priest mentioned, and the thought occurred to me as well, that maybe we do that within ourselves sometimes, too.  We receive Jesus in the Eucharist, but then forget to let him out and share him with the world!

Fr.  Nassal mentioned a poet that Fr. Len liked, but mentioned that he himself enjoyed the poetry of Mary Oliver more and quoted this poem.  I remembered her name and googled this poem when I got home because I appreciated the words so much.  It definitely describes Fr. Len.
When Death Comes by Mary Oliver
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

I have bolded the ending of this poem because it describes Fr. Len so well.  He left no stone unturned, in his ministry or in his life.  He blessed us all abundantly by allowing us to get to know him, to allow him into our lives.  And while it was very interesting to hear the stories of his life in the priesthood, and nice to know how much they appreciated and loved "Father Gutty" as they called him, I will be happy with the knowledge that he was my dad's brother.  The man who was able to bring our family together for Eucharist each family reunion we had, and dine with us afterwards.  The man who made my dad smile.

I have never watched the movie "Great Expectations", but think I just might locate it at the library and watch it one of these weekends with Fr. Len in mind.  For he had great expectations of all of us, himself included, and was never afraid to let others see what expectations he had.  I hope people can say that about me at the end of my life.

Rest in peace, Fr. Len.  Job well done!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


A few weeks ago, I read an essay that my niece wrote about our family.  In it, she mentioned that basically she wasn't quite sure what it was about our family, but we were different, and she liked it.  It was very well written and (I know this will surprise you if you're a regular reader) it brought me to tears.

This past weekend was Easter.  A time to mourn Jesus' death and then celebrate his rising from the dead, and new life!  Traditionally, we have gathered with my side of the family on Easter and this year was no different.

As the grandchildren get older, we miss a few more each year as they have more celebrations to attend to.  We understand, yet we still miss them.  It isn't complete without everyone there!

At Christmas, we made a video to post on the internet to make everyone missing feel included.  We attempted the same at Easter, but somehow it wasn't quite the same......instead we burst into fits of laughter.  Judge for yourself:

I have to say that it's moments like these that I miss my parents the most.  Would they have been embarassed that we were doing such things?  Would they have told us to stop?  Absolutely not.  In fact, they probably would have been first in line!

I love that our parents taught us to be who we are and celebrate that fact.  Not put on airs, or be who others wanted us to be or act like.  I'm really comfortable in my own skin, and relish the fact that I (and the rest of my family -- except those hiding out in the car in the background :) ) can just  :)

I hope we are raising our children to cherish family as much as we do.  No matter what, no matter where, they are there.

I hope your Easter was just as fun!

He is risen!

PS I used the acronym F.A.M.I.L.Y. above because I love it so much -- if you haven't heard it before, it stands for Forget About Me, I Love You!!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Alleluia! He is risen!

Alleluia!  He is risen!

We just returned from Easter Vigil.  Truly, one of my favorite masses of the year.  The words to hear spoken, the beautiful music.  To hear the words, every year: "He is risen! Rejoice!"

I was so touched tonight by the two young women who came into our church tonight.  In a sense, I'm a little jealous of them! 

It's kind of like when you get something new -- a new car, or a new love it.  You take such good care of it!  You think about it -- a lot.  Then, the older it gets, you think about it a little less, and maybe don't take quite such good care of it.  You perhaps even take advantage -- you know your car will be sitting in the garage in the morning, no worries. 

I'm thinking these women are at the same stage in their faith.  A mass that we of course got ready for by thinking an hour or so before we left about getting ready was most likely on their minds not only all day, but all week before-hand.  And tomorrow, when they wake up, they will think -- "I am Catholic!"

As they were confirmed this evening, I couldn't help but shed tears of joy for them.  I loved that their husbands (I think they were both married) were their sponsors -- to help them carry out the faith.  I even smiled when the one gently rubbed her back when they were done to welcome her.  What a beautiful gift!

I love the Catholic faith so much.  I love what we stand for.  I love the consistency across all Catholic churches.  I love that so many of us believe and hope for the same things.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of serving as a sponsor for my friend, Alicia, as she completed the conversion process and became Catholic.  Aside from the wonderful fact that she was turning Catholic, it was such an honor for me to be able to sit with her in her RCIA classes.  As an adult, I learned so very much about our faith.  I learned many of the traditions and backgrounds of different parts of our faith.  My own faith grew so much that year.

I remember one of the women that was in class with her really struck me -- I even had her come in and talk to my religion class one time because she was so vibrant with her new found "Catholicity"......she told the funnest story.  She said the week after she became Catholic, she drove down 119 (if you are not from around here, 119 has many many Catholic churches on it) -- and, at every Catholic church, she would look over and point and say, "That's my church!"  Because she truly belonged to each and every one!

So, as we enter into the season for rejoicing and celebrating the rising of our Lord, let us also embrace the "newness" of our faith.  Let's not take advantage of it, but rather celebrate each time we drive down the road and see another Catholic Church.  Remember to think, "That is MY church!"

I hope that you have a blessed Easter and are able to have Christ at the head of your celebration!

Happy Easter from The Kaisers!