United Stand

“If you know God is with you, there is no need to be fearful”

This Christmas Season, United Stand in Chicago, IL, received a thank you card from a very special group of first graders.

They are children from a Catholic school, located in Chicago, but according to United Stand Director S Kim Marie Mis, CSSF what makes them most unique is that they are the first group of children in the regular Chicago Catholic schools who have welcomed an autistic child to their classroom.

Sister Kim explained that when the child arrived to his kindergarten class, he did not communicate through language. His family had noticed that he was different from their other children, so they approached their pediatrician to inquire what they should do. He told them that the boy didn’t need any type of intervention and would eventually develop as expected.

When it was time for the little non-speaking boy to be enrolled in school, the principal and the staff at the school, including the United Stand team of diagnosticians and counselors who serve the student population there, immediately recognized that the family had been misled in their pursuit of what would help their child.

As usual, God armed the United Stand team with precisely what was needed. Sister Kim said, “We had a bilingual intern at the site who was an expert in the autism spectrum disorders, so we were prepared to help on two counts. We could communicate with the Spanish-speaking family of the child and we understood the boy’s communication needs.”

Additionally, Sister Kim explained, when the autistic child was brought to their attention, United Stand was in the process of enabling schools and families to seek special education services for children who qualify under IDEA (Individual Disabilities Education Act).

“What this means in Chicago is that children with this range of needs can now stay within our Catholic School System and receive the services that they require such as learning disabilities support, speech and language, ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy, and social work. These services are provided in a Catholic school, and it is no longer necessary to refer them to the public schools to obtain the actual needed services.

“United Stand has been working toward this opportunity for Catholic school children since 2002 when we conducted a study in the Chicago Catholic schools to obtain a profile of the children’s needs. The saddest part of the study occurred when we met with Catholic parents of children with special needs. Many of them sobbed openly as they told the story of how their child had been excluded from a Catholic school because it did not have the resources to serve him or her. This felt cruel and unjust to the parents. From that time on, together with the Office of Catholic Schools in Chicago, United Stand has put much of its energy into trying to make the Chicago Catholic School System a much more inclusive system, which welcomes children with this range of needs.

“We are sharing this with the sisters now because the tragedy at Sandy Hook could put our work at risk. It could make parents and schools more fearful of children with special needs and less willing to stay with us on our mission to stand with children with special needs and to support them in accessing their right to a Catholic education. Like Sister Celestine, we believe that if you know God is with you, there is no need to be fearful, but it can never hurt to enlist the prayerful support of our sisters.”

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Voices of Children

bell  About 60 children from the Montessori Center of Our Lady in Livonia, MI, went Christmas caroling this week.

On Monday, the children visited Angela Hospice twice, giving performances in both the morning and the afternoon. They sang their hearts out to “Mary Had a Baby” and “Christmas Canon,” amongst other Christmas favorites.

Tuesday morning, the Felician sisters at Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent were treated to the caroling candy canesof the Montessori students. . The event lasted for about 30 minutes, and afterwards the sisters gave each caroler a candy cane as a token of appreciation.  

Care Center gets into the Spirit

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(L to R): SM Delphine Ornowski with S Lynn Marie Zawacka, local minister, and SM Jeremiah Domozych

Nine students from Bishop George Ahr High School in Edison, NJ, along with alumnus Matt Roche, S Donna Marie Trukowski, principal; Sister Cynthia Marie Babyak, campus minister; Mrs. Ann Marie Pacciano, technology coordinator; and Mr. Harry Ziegler, associate principal, traveled to Lodi, NJ, on Tuesday, December 18, to visit the retired and infirm Felician Sisters at Our Lady of Lourdes Care Center.

Each year the entire school population and many BGA families write Christmas cards to the sisters. According to Sister Cynthia, for the past several years, a group has personally delivered the cards, presented each sister with a poinsettia plant, enjoyed a pizza party with them and sung Christmas carols.

“Each year, we travel to Lodi thinking that we are going so that we can give the cards to the sisters, and we always walk away having received so much more.”

MU gets high marks!

T4745he Franciscan Action Network (FAN) co-sponsored a December 12 briefing on “Climate Disruption: Faith, Science and Solutions.”

S Rose Marie Kujawa, president of Madonna University, testified about the institution’s sustainability efforts and concern for those affected by climate change. The Ambassador from Micronesia also spoke.

According to FAN’s executive director, Patrick Carolan, the briefing was very good and, “Sister Rose Marie was awesome. I have received many comments from folks about what a great job Sister Rose Marie did. The Ambassador was also very impressed with Sister Rose Marie and wants to connect again with her. The Felicians rock.

filling and wrapping … now that’s the spirit!

Picture6S Jane Marie Lebiedzinski and SM Theresann Zywicki have been busy filling and wrapping Christmas mugs with peanut butter crackers, candy, tea packets, cookies and hot chocolate packets to be taken to the people in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia. In all, they filled one hundred mugs.

On November 23, 24 and 25, Sister Jane and Sister Theresann spent four to five hours each day at the home of Carl & Shirley Roos. They were helping to prepare “Shoe Boxes” with personal items including toiletries, gloves, scarves, hats and whatever else would fit in the box. They filled and wrapped a total of 642 boxes. According to Sister Jane, they have all been delivered to the warehouse in Virginia.

A Sign of the Times

Picture4The Christmas Nativity Scene outside of the Mooncrest Felician Sisters’Convent depicts the real meaning of Christmas to a vulnerable neighborhood. However, inside the Mooncrest Community Center, the real meaning of Christmas goes on everyday.  According to SM Rene Procopio, director, this year, as always, the generosity of many people is so overwhelming! “God’s graces abound.”  Sister Rene went on to talk about some of the donations the Center has received: a ninth grader from West Allegheny High School who provided gifts for each of the 35 girls and boys in the program; two sixth graders from Greentree who completed a “Soles” Project that provided each boy and girl with a new pair of shoes; a special church group that multiplied $100 and presented the children with donations amounting to more than $1,000;and a Robert Morris University zumba teacher who provided the children with a zumba session.

Outstanding Service Award

thThe Felician Sisters in San Antonio, TX,  received a big surprise on Sunday, December 2.

They had been invited to the Ninth Annual Gala sponsored by the Father Leopold Moczygemba Foundation and held at St. Jerome Parish’s O’Brien Hall in Martinez, TX.

Several awards were presented after the meal. Then the surprise — a beautifully executed power point of the service of the Felician Sisters in Texas from 1932— when the sisters first arrived in Bremond, TX, — to the present. The presentation featured pictures of many of the pioneer sisters as well as the schools and churches where they ministered.

Following this very nostalgic presentation, all the Felician Sisters present moved to the front of the stage. SM Angelee Kowalik, SM Martha Janysek, S Jane Mary Gawlik, S Dorothy Ann Moczygemba and S Elizabeth Ann Schilling were then presented with a beautiful plaque in the shape of Texas with the Foundation emblem emblazoned in the wood.