Reflections by Patti Murphy Dohn on the Church, family, grief, saints, and hope amidst the storms in our lives... May you always find that God is in the clouds! 

Patti Murphy Dohn retired in 2014 after 33 years of service as Campus Minister, retreat director, and Religion teacher at The John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland. Committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth and their families, she has served the school community since 1981. Presently, she continues her ministry through bereavement outreach, coordinating the school's alumni prayer chain, while archiving the school's history.  

Patti was awarded the Medal of Honor in Youth and Young Adult Ministry by the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2012. She served the Archdiocese on the Screening Board for the Office of Vocations under Cardinal Keeler, Cardinal O'Brien, and Archbishop Lori. She is also a past-board member for the Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks, MD. and Saint Margaret School in Bel Air.

Along with writing for "The Catholic Review," Patti is a member of the Catholic Press Association, as well as the Catholic Writers Guild and the Associated Church Press. She is available for speaking engagements, consulting, and retreat work.

Patti and her husband George split their time between their homes in Bel Air, Maryland and Singer Island, Palm Beach, Florida.

Email: pattimurphydohn@gmail.com

Twitter: @JCSMinistry

Facebook: Patti Murphy Dohn

Instagram: @PattiMurphyDohn

 God is good!! All the time!!

 

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Beautiful story! thank you for continuing to inspire us Patti.

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And your BFF didn't know this story? Great article to read. I,can envision it! What an amazing intuition you followed. Someday soon we will talk more!

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God is in the clouds

A new school year is here: Time to reflect and pray about the transitions




The photos are all over Facebook… 
Bright smiling faces (mostly), new book bags, shiny shoes, fresh haircuts, clean school buses, and some teary-eyed Moms (and Dads).

The new school year has started for most of the schools in our area. As a matter of fact, our grandson Tyler started third grade this morning at Piney Ridge Elementary School in Sykesville. Both Tracy and Stephen walked him to the bus stop with cameras in hand (from their smart phones). Even their sweet dog Stella was on hand to see all the children off to their first day of school.


Our grandson Tyler was back to school on Monday


I'm not going back to school...again:

For me, the start of the new school year, as always, brought the anticipation of new beginnings and challenges. 

And then I remembered… I’m not going back to school.  Again
This is the start of the second school year since my retirement from John Carroll in June of 2014. 

It was a new and strange experience last year to not be there for the first day of the new school year after 33 years on campus. My husband and I tried to fill up our newfound freedom. We even went to the beach.



Change, change, change:

But transitions can be tough. Not only for adults who may be experiencing change due to retirement or new jobs, but also for all the children who are experiencing new changes in their lives… Including those who are new to preschool or kindergarten, those starting elementary, middle or high school, and all those making transfers to new schools in new areas.

Hopefully, we pray, the parents and teachers of those most affected by change this school year will provide much comfort and will guide our children in their transitions with patience and compassion.

What’s the toughest part of back to school?

I have heard from quite a few parents and children who share that the challenges in starting a new school year include:
 
-reestablishing a weekday/school night routine after the freedom of summer vacation, 
-having earlier bedtimes,
-packing lunches again,
-waking up to the alarm clock’s early call, 
-getting back in the habit of doing homework,
-balancing school, sports, and other outside activities,  
-and much more.

Every household is different and thus faces different challenges.




A prayer from the patroness of Catholic education:

One of the principal patron saints of Catholic education is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She started the Catholic school system here in the United States under the direction of our first bishop, Archbishop John Carroll.

The following prayer from her writings is a wonderful way to start each day this year, especially for teachers and older students. 
    
Prayer of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:

O Father, the first rule of our dear Savior's
life was to do Your Will.
Let His Will of the present moment be the first rule
of our daily life and work, with no other desire but for
its most full and complete accomplishment.
 
Help us to follow it faithfully, so that in doing what
You wish we will be pleasing to You.
 
Amen.
 
 ---

Another great prayer for the new school year is from Sadlier Publishing Company:

It is excellent for teachers, parish catechists, and for families too:


---

May your first weeks of this new school year be filled with new adventures and a smooth transition to a new routine.
May God richly bless our families and our teachers!
Amen. 

September 01, 2015 02:47
By Patti Murphy Dohn


The sad impact of suicide: Honoring the memories of those we lost too soon


Part 3 of my series on grief and mourning:

"Suicide does not take away the pain; it passes it on to the person's friends and family."

-Rachel of the John Carroll Class of 2015


Remembering a JC patriot on December 11:

One year ago today is a day that I'll never forget. I learned that one of my junior girls had taken her life and, as John Carroll Campus Minister, I had the difficult task of putting together the response plan for notifying our students and school community, preparing prayers for this beautiful girl and her family, and assisting in any way that I was able to facilitate our students who would attend and participate in her funeral service.

The loss of this sweet girl was devastating in so many ways for so many people. The youngest of six children, she came from a multi-generational John Carroll family. I knew all her alum-siblings from their JC days, and I grew up with her Dad since we were nine years old, as we were both students at St. Margaret School.

Her school friends were just devastated. There were just no words to ease the pain.

This past November 22, on National Survivors of Suicide Day here in US--always held the Saturday before Thanksgiving--one of her friends wrote:

"Suicide does not take away the pain; it passes it on to the person's friends and family."

Though now retired from my ministry at John Carroll, I'm wearing green today in solidarity with her classmates, the Class of 2015. And I've united my prayers for her friends and family as we grieve together a life ended much too soon.

"Once a patriot, always a patriot."


Justin's story:

"I know that Justin is in heaven, and he is safe and happy. 

I know I will see him again one day when it is my time to leave this earth."

-- Kimberly Bennett


Kimberly Bennett of Forest Hill has also been a dear friend since our early years at St. Margaret School. Kim too knows the excruciating pain and anguish that a parent experiences when they lose a child to suicide.

Kim's 27-year old son Justin took his life twenty months ago and the heartache that followed has known no end. Kim shares his story with our "God is in the Clouds" readers both to honor his memory and to give hope to those who experience the same sorrow.


Kim shares the heartbreaking story:

Justin, his girlfriend, and their six-month old daughter were living at his parents' home at the time in order to save money for a home of their own. He had recently started medication for depression, which coupled one evening with alcohol and an argument with the girlfriend, led to Kim hearing what she thought was his bedroom door slamming. Instead, it was the gunshot that led to his final hours.


Justin with two-month old baby Michelle  (Photos: the Bennett Family)


Kim's husband broke down the bedroom door where they found their son with the self-inflicted gunshot wound. Paramedics confirmed a pulse, transporting Justin to Shock Trauma by helicopter, but ensuing tests found no brain activity.

Kim shares, "This is the hardest thing my family and I have ever been through.  If it wasn't for our strong, close-knit family and my Catholic faith, I would not be able to even get out of bed in the morning."


Praying Justin into Heaven:

Kim's family was particularly comforted by the Catholic chaplain at University of Maryland's Shock Trauma unit who prayed the litany of saints as each family member placed their hands on Justin. The litany response to each saint's name was "raise him up." As Kim, Don, their older son Rob, and daughter Sarah prayed together, they were comforted by these prayers and the inclusion of St. Justin in the litany.

Kim shares that the chaplain, Fr. Bill Spacek, "was so caring and kind." He held Kim's hand and reassured her fears and worries about her son's death.


What has been helpful?

Kim responded from the heart: "What helps me is talking about what happened. My daughter and I went to counseling for eight weeks."

As we know, people grieve in different ways; Kim's husband and older son were not as comfortable talking about Justin's death.

Kim and Sarah have become involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

"My daughter ran last year's Baltimore Marathon, raising $5,000. in Justin's memory. This year Sarah and I did the Out of the Darkness Walk in Baltimore, raising more money for the cause."


"Suicide claimed 39,518 lives in 2011 in the United States alone, with someone dying by suicide every 13.3 minutes. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in nearly one million attempts made annually.

When you walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walks, you join efforts with thousands of people nationwide to raise money for AFSP’s vital research and education programs to prevent suicide and save lives. The walks raise awareness about depression and suicide, and provide comfort and assistance to those who have lost someone to suicide.

SUICIDE CAN BE PREVENTED. YOU CAN HELP. JOIN THE MOVEMENT."

--American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


Getting through holidays and birthdays:

Kim told me, "I was really worried about going through the holidays last year, as well as Justin's birthday in January.  For Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, we lit a candle in honor of Justin and read a special prayer before we ate.

"For his birthday, we all went out to eat steamed crabs (his favorite). And then we went to Justin's grave and wrote messages on eco-friendly helium balloons. 'We let our messages float up to heaven' is how we explained it to Rob's sons, our 6-year old and 2-year old grandsons."


What else has been helpful?

Kim recalls, "What was most helpful at the time was the hundreds of friends who came to the viewing and funeral. Afterwards, friends would just stop in to sit with us. We loved hearing stories from Justin's friends."


Was anything not helpful?

Kim shared, "What bothered me after the first few weeks was that people seemed to walk on eggshell around us.  I was so happy when we were able to go to our boat at River Watch in Middle River where everyone finally treated us as 'normal.' 

"Also, I got really tired of hearing how strong I was. I might have appeared "strong," but I was a mess when I was home.  I found that I could not be alone on a Wednesday (the day it happened) at 5:40pm (the time on the police report).  My daughter and I would go out to dinner. My husband found that working long hours was more helpful to his grieving."



Justin with six-month old baby Michelle on Easter Sunday 2013, just three days before his death (Photos: the Bennett Family)

-------

"I have so many wonderful people in my family and my life who depend on me and love me.  I carry on for them and I know that is what Justin would want me to do." --Kim Bennett


Some good that has come about through the sorrow:

Kim shares, "Since our son's passing, I have become so empathetic when a person dies.  I even stood up and spoke at a funeral service for a young man that passed away two months after Justin. I told that young man's mother that my close family and my faith are what allowed me to continue."

Kim and Don are now little Michelle's full-time guardians, raising their precious granddaughter in their son's memory. Kim reflects, "It is bittersweet. Sometimes I hug her so tight. Michelle has her Daddy's eyes and inquisitive nature. I know Justin would want us to take care of her. I ask him for guidance and help all the time."

-------


Read more from my series on grief and mourning:

Part 1: Grief and mourning: Words of comfort and advice: Part 1

Part 2: Remembering Hannah Kriss, John Carroll Class of 2012:

Grieving the loss of a young person: Words of comfort and advice from her Mom


December 11, 2014 05:11
By Patti Murphy Dohn


I'm not going back to school: Musings on my retirement



"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."

--Anatole France, French journalist, novelist, poet (1844-1924)


For the first time in my life, I am not getting ready to go back to school.

My friends in education have been entrenched for the past two weeks in faculty meetings, new student orientations, and classroom preparations. And I have not been caught up in this educators' season of "August, the month of Sundays."

My summer, on the other hand, has included travel (from South Florida to Northwestern New York), special family events, and projects around the house. Most mornings have found me drinking coffee on the deck, reading the morning newspapers, and planning my low stress to-do list. There were no meetings, retreat prep, liturgical planning, or the juggling of orientation schedules.


Trusting in God's Providence:

I made a huge move three months and announced my retirement after 33 years of ministry at The John Carroll School. My husband had just retired at the end of March after almost 48 years in the business world. We prayed and discerned when might be the right time for me to join him in this new stage of our life together.  

Our trip to Italy in April found me praying privately at each basilica, shrine, and chapel, as well as the tomb of St. Francis, and St. Peter's Basilica for an affirming sign from “Up High” and a sense of peace that this was the right thing to do.

My husband though was the one who sealed the deal when he told me, "I'm healthy and you're healthy. We deserve to have some fun while we are able after all our years of hard work." George’s words came from the heart, recalling the early death of his first wife fourteen years ago. As for me, I agreed, understanding exactly where he was coming from… I had spent many years working closely with families who were going through crisis... whether it was serious illness, death, or a multitude of tragedies which would strike at any time at any age. Yes, we needed to step back and enjoy the journey ahead.



So now, after over 80 combined years in our respective careers, George and I are retired.

Almost everyone I encountered this summer asked me how I was enjoying my new retirement. And I always replied that it felt like summer vacation. And it has.

Until now.

Our public schools are back in session today and most of the private and Catholic schools are holding orientations and gradual openings. So it is finally sinking in that I am indeed retired.

One of my other newly-retired friends emailed me this morning and asked, "Doesn’t it feel a bit strange - and strangely wonderful - to not be starting school today?"  

The answer is yes. It is exciting to officially start this new chapter in our lives. But it is a bittersweet time as well. My heart is heavy as I will dearly miss the kids at school. They were the ones who inspired me for more than three decades to be ready to meet each new day and new challenge. I hold all of them close in my heart this week…. as I do their cousins, parents, aunts and uncles, and friends who also passed through the doorways of my John Carroll office and classroom over these many years.

And I will certainly miss my dear school friends. There are a handful of women and men who have been like family to me over the years. Our shared experiences and friendships have gotten me through the tough days and, though we will always be close, I will miss our daily interactions, morning coffee klatches, and lunch breaks.


“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream…” —C.S. Lewis

As for now, George and I are getting busy with our bucket list. We have lots of good things to tackle, many of which were previously set aside for when we had more time. Family, grandchildren, travel, hobbies, and good times with friends top our collective list. My personal list includes lots of long-term tasks, especially a number of archival projects that I started working on this summer.

As for the work that I loved and leave behind:

Change is good for everyone involved.

I wish all the best to the two people who were hired to take my place at school. I know that Gary and Michelle will bring new energy and new ideas to the school community. Their work is in my heart and prayers always. And many best wishes to all my friends, colleagues, and students who are starting a new school year: Godspeed!!

As I conclude this retirement blog, I recall the poignant prayer that has long been attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero. It speaks so eloquently of how we who minister, by our work, do plant and water the seeds for a future that we will not see:

And such is life as I venture on to the start of retirement.  

May God be with each one of us on the road of life as we transition into a new normal. Amen. 

-------

Archbishop Oscar Romero Prayer:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the church's mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:

We plant seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

—Archbishop Oscar Romero*, martyred Archbishop of San Salvador (1917-1980)

*This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in Nov., 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him. —USCCB Website



August 25, 2014 09:15
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Ten years of Facebook, Catholic connections, and why we love those Look Back videos

 

 

Happy birthday, Facebook!! 

Facebook turned ten on February 4. And they celebrated by giving us the gifts: Facebook made us one-minute Look Back videos to share highlights from the years that we have had user accounts. And if you didn't have enough posts or photos, Facebook sent you a thank you card instead. According to Facebook's COO, Sheryl Sandberg, nearly 200 million people have watched their videos, with almost half sharing it on their timeline.  

 

An evolution in social media:

When my kids were in high school Myspace was the big deal. This was to change after Mark Zuckerberg and his buddies created TheFacebook in their dorm room at Harvard in 2004. For the first few years it was primarily for college students and you had to have an .edu email address to log in. But in 2006 Facebook changed its policy to allow anyone ages 13 and up to join. (Though you may have noticed dogs and cats and young kids on Facebook over the years too...)

According to CNN Tech, there are over 1.2 billion active Facebook accounts with almost 159 million here in the United States.

A lot has changed since Facebook was just for the college kids. The average American user today is 41 years old. I have a number of Facebook friends who are grandparents and great-grandparents. It's a great way to keep up with your friends and family and to see their photos. There are over 350 million new photos posted each day across the globe. Not only do you get to see special occasion photos of weddings, engagements, and new babies, but we also get to see what everyone had for dinner last night.

Our vocabulary has changed over the years with a new understanding of words and phrases such as: tag, share, wall, like, check in, tbt, it's complicated....  Did you know that the New Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2009 was unfriend. ( My iPad's autocorrect just changed that to 'unfriendly.' Yes, to unfriend someone may be unfriendly.)

 

Catholic connections:

Did you know that Pope Francis was the most talked-about topic on Facebook in 2013?

Over the years Facebook has evolved from the place for keeping up with friends to getting breaking news alerts, reading your favorite newspapers and magazines via story links,  collecting recipes, and finding the sales at your favorite stores and restaurants.

The faithful of all ages can connect with everything Catholic. 

Here in Baltimore you can follow the official Facebook pages for the Archdiocese, the official news media page of The Catholic Review, and many of our local parishes and schools. You will find that a good numbers of our priests, pastoral associates, youth ministers, and diocesan workers connect with their congregations through personal pages.

On a larger basis, you can keep up with the worldwide Church through the official pages of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic News Service, Vatican Radio, Catholic Relief Services, and EWTN, among many others.

 

Look back videos:

Links to Facebook’s recent anniversary videos were splashed up and down our news feeds, especially on February 4 and 5. I first saw a seminarian-friend's link right after school on February 4. Catching my attention, I watched and loved it. I then clicked the link to see mine. It was terrific!!

If you are on Facebook, you can still see yours here

 

My Look Back:

Like taking a walk down memory lane set to music, the video started and ended with a beautiful collage of my photos from over the years. Next came my original profile picture from 2008 when I joined Facebook, followed by "Your first moments." Taken before Facebook became one of my blog spots, I was happy to see 2009 photos of Daisy my pug without any gray in her whiskers and a manatee swimming off the sea wall by our Florida home.

 

 

Look Back Photos by Patti Murphy Dohn

 

Next was "Your most liked posts." Mine included a photo from when I received the Archdiocesan Medal of Honor in Youth and Young Adult Ministry (May 2012), and a posted prayer request for my principal when she was undergoing diagnosis on what turned out to be a tumor behind her right eye (it was benign and successfully removed, thanks be to God).

The first photo with my new granddaughter on her New Year's Eve birthday received over 400 likes, followed by a three-generation photo that same day with baby McKenna and my two beautiful daughters. Joy was the word for that day!!

 

 Look Back Photos: Patti Murphy Dohn

 

"Photos you've shared" came next: Mine included the Baptism of the second child of two of my former students, the 2011 cast of "White Christmas" at John Carroll, and my student Advisory group last year when we welcomed Isaac from Nigeria. I loved the 2013 photo of my adult children, followed by a #tbt of them when Katie was a baby. My video finished with photos from a wonderful Christmas luncheon with my favorite colleagues and then my husband with baby McKenna. I loved the memories that this video brought back. And the random selection was spot on in capturing a lot of our wonderful times over the past five years.

 

 

 Look Back Photos by Patti Murphy Dohn

 

Reactions:

Almost everyone who posted and shared their Facebook video described being delighted with the photos and statuses randomly selected. Photos from weddings and births were abundant, as well as status updates about job milestones and significant life events.

Our engaged daughter Katie loved her video. She agreed that it definitely had her highlights from the past eight years. Facebook must have ‘known’ that her engagement photos and those with her newborn baby niece were special to her.

Our son-in-law Stephen told me that he really liked the whole idea of the personal videos: "I actually took the time and watched all of my friends' and classmates' videos.  Even though I didn't know most of the people, it was still nice seeing the pictures of people getting married, having kids, and so on."

I am now reminded of the digital picture frame that we gave my dear mother-in-law for Christmas five or six years ago. The photos from the inserted SD card give a rotating slide show which changes photos every five seconds. Since her eye sight has failed over the past few years, this picture frame came back to us. I just plugged it in the other day and we have enjoyed watching the photos, most of which are five to ten years old. I smile every time I see our seven-year old grandson Tyler on it as an infant.

 

Like sands through the hour glass...

Time moves so quickly and often we don't see the little changes until later. My friend Susan is really good about capturing the special moments of life with photos which she compiles into family yearbooks every December. We were at her home two weeks ago and I got caught up flipping though the pages of her last two yearbooks. So many great memories…

The Facebook Look Back videos gave us a quick one-minute look of random moments along the past few years. These memories and the anniversary surprise have been very meaningful to a lot of us.

Thanks, Facebook. Here’s to your next ten years!!

 

February 16, 2014 02:23
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Winter Storm Pax, being a snow angel, and a prayer for those in need of shelter and heat

 

 

Over a foot of snow greeted us this morning at our home in Barrington in Bel Air (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)

 

The snow started last night as Winter Storm Pax made its way up the I-95 corridor into DC and Maryland. Everyone knew what to expect for days in advance in order to be prepared. Of course, the grocery stores and gas stations were packed.

I spent the afternoon with my daughter Meighan and my 6-week old granddaughter yesterday. Meighan ran out to the store before dinnertime to get food for their pug Lilly. When she returned, Meighan told me that Pet Smart was packed, the nearby Target and Walmart parking lots were jammed, and that there was a back up to get into the huge lot at the liquor store. Nothing like an impending snowstorm to help the economy!!

Almost every county school system in the state is closed today. Tomorrow is certain to be a repeat as the next wave of snow moves through later tonight. We measured over a foot here at my home in Bel Air. And my students are having cyber days while school is closed.

Schools with 1-to-1 computer programs and teacher websites can get a lot accomplished when school is not in session.... Just as many adults work from home when they can't get out of their neighborhoods due to bad weather. The nice thing about cyber days is that you can work at your own pace and set your own hours. Looks like there will be a long weekend to get everything done and submitted online.

Be a Snow Angel:

I too jumped on the cyber bandwagon and sent out my Morning Prayer to the students and teachers via email with a renewed call for our students to be snow angels

Please don't forget my snow day challenge from yesterday morning:

Let your light shine by offering your help at home with the shoveling and cleaning off your family cars:

Have a positive attitude and amaze your parents with your kindness!!

Also: Look out for your neighbors and be a #snowangel!!

 

Today's Prayer: 

Join us as we pray for all those affected by this winter storm. Today's prayer is for those who are in need of shelter and warmth during this stormy weather: 

 

God of compassion,

your love for humanity was revealed in Jesus,

whose earthly life began in the poverty of a stable

and ended in the pain and isolation of the cross:

we hold before you those who are homeless and cold

especially in this bitter weather.

Draw near and comfort them in spirit

and bless those who work to provide them

with shelter, food and friendship.

We ask this in Jesus' name.

Amen.

God is good : all the time!!

Archbishop John Carroll, pray for us.

Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Medard, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Be safe and warm. And don't forget to be a snow angel!!

 

 The view of our backyard before sunrise this morning (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)

February 13, 2014 02:19
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Saint Macrina the Elder: Another patron saint for grandmothers

 

“A house needs a grandma in it.” —Louisa May Alcott

Saint Macrina the Elder 

One of the lesser-known saints whose feast is observed today is Saint Macrina the Elder (ca. 270 to 340), the grandmother of siblings Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Peter of Sebaste, and Saint Macrina the Younger.

Born during the late third century persecutions of the Church, Macrina, as a child, knew Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus (also known as Gregory the Wonderworker), the first bishop of Neocaesarea who is credited with bringing the Faith there. She later fled the area with her husband during the persecutions by Diocletian.

Macrina the Younger and her three saintly brothers

--------

“Verbum sonat; exemplum tonat.” (Words make a noise, but example thunders.) ~ Latin Maxim

It is said that she was a strong influence in the lives of her grandchildren and raised them in the Christian faith. She passed along a love for Christ and the Church, being faithful in prayer and worship, and ultimately planted the seeds for a lifetime of devotion. Imagine being the grandmother of four saints!!

Macrina was strongly influenced by the writings of Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus (Gregory the Wonderworker), and passed along the passion and zeal she learned from him to her family. Later, Saint Basil, her youngest grandchild, praised her for all the good she had done for him and his siblings. He expressed his gratitude for teaching him to love Christ in his writings.

The Role of Grandparents:

Reading about a saintly grandmother allows us time to reflect on those who pass the faith and their love of God and His Church down to their children and grandchildren. Our Church has thrived through the ages due to the grandparents and parents who teach and challenge, acting as role models of holiness and living examples of the Gospel message…

When asked to share about those who model the Faith in their lives, so often my high school students will speak about the influence of their grandparents. It is particularly important to the youth today that their grandparents don’t preach at them, but rather offer witness by how they live their own lives. This modeling of the love of God and the accompanying peace and joy which their faith gives them makes grandparents tremendous assets in the passing on the Circle of Faith.

With another new grandbaby in my family, this theme promises to be repeated in future blog posts!!

Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer for Grandparents

Lord Jesus, you were born of the Virgin Mary, the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne. Look with love on grandparents the world over. Protect them! They are a source of enrichment for families, for the Church and for all of society. Support them! As they grow older, may they continue to be for their families strong pillars of Gospel faith, guardian of noble domestic ideals, living treasuries of sound religious traditions. Make them teachers of wisdom and courage, that they may pass on to future generations the fruits of their mature human and spiritual experience.

Lord Jesus, help families and society to value the presence and roles of grandparents. May they never be ignored or excluded, but always encounter respect and love. Help them to live serenely and to feel welcomed in all the years of life which you give them. Mary, Mother of all the living, keep grandparents constantly in your care, accompany them on their earthly pilgrimage, and by your prayers, grant that all families may one day be reunited in our heavenly homeland, where you await all humanity for the great embrace of life without end.

Amen!!

  

Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have always been the primary patron saints of grandparents.


January 14, 2014 04:49
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Wrapping up the Christmas Season: Looking back at holiday magic, a surprise "Ave Maria," a joyful engagement, and a new grandbaby

 

 

"Mankind is a great, an immense family... This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas."  —Pope John XXIII

 

The Close of the Christmas Season: 

The weeks leading up to Christmas are usually busy, sometimes stressful and overwhelming, and often sentimental for families. Those with growing children can find their days and nights filled with holiday activities and special school events.

But in the true sense of the liturgical calendar, the actual Christmas Season is less than three weeks: Starting with the first Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, continuing through the 12 days of Christmas, including the Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord, and ending today on the Feast of the Baptism of The Lord.

Usually the fast-pace of the weeks leading up to Christmas Day then slows down and families spend some quiet time together after the 25th. My students at John Carroll came back to school this past Monday, January 6, and shared a lot about how they spent their time off. We had semester exams on December 17, 18, and 19, so we were blessed with a 18-day respite from classes and academia.

Many students shared with me about holiday parties and get-togethers with relatives and friends. Some of them travelled for vacation fun, while others travelled to visit grandparents and extended family. There are always a few young people who speak about being bored... I wish I could help them realize how important it is to make every minute, every day count. Never waste your time being bored!!

Christmas Eve: 

"God walked down the stairs of heaven with a Baby in His arms."
—Paul Scherer (1892-1969)

Probably my most favorite day of the year, this past Christmas Eve was especially filled with many magical moments.

For the past fourteen years, my Campus Ministry Office has hosted Christmas Eve Mass in the John Carroll gym. I wrote about the evolution of this celebration back in December in my Countdown to Christmas

 

 

Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn

I spent the evening of December 23 at school setting up the altar area and getting everything ready for our 4:30 Vigil Mass the next day.

Once again, as in each of the past years, we had a packed house. As I shared last month, going to Christmas Eve Mass in a gym is definitely not the same as being in a church with all the liturgical adornments of the season. It is truly the gathering of people  that matters most. And we again this year had a beautiful celebration of the Nativity. Father Steve Sutton, associate pastor of St. Ignatius Church, Hickory, and my colleague in the JC Religion Department, was the celebrant.

One of the my personal magical moments came after Holy Communion when my son Joseph, 27, a member of the JC Class of 2005, surprised me by singing the "Ave Maria." He had made arrangements with our dear friend and JC alumni parent Cathy Seufert who conducts the Children's Choir for St. Ignatius. Cathy's choir children sang before Mass as the crowds were gathering. Joseph had met up with her to practice the day before. A longtime actor, singer, and dancer in community theatre, Joseph has a degree in performing arts and has classical training in voice. His "Ave Maria" was a highlight for me and brought tears to the eyes of many of us gathered in the gym.



 

Enjoy Joseph's "Ave Maria"

 

Christmas Eve Dinner at Scotto's Cafe:

After Mass we always go to dinner each year as a family to Scotto's Cafe,  a delightful, favorite Italian restaurant near our home in Bel Air. We have enjoyed our special Christmas Eve dinners out each year since George and I were married in 2003. Whomever is available joins us. This year we had our very expectant daughter Meighan--whose baby girl is due on January 15--and her husband Jeff, Joseph, Katie and her boyfriend Karl, and Karl's Mom, Cecelia. It was crowded, as usual, and we stopped at their bar for wine and festive conversations with some of our friends who were gathered there.

After we were seated and placed our orders, guess who walked in?

None other than Santa Claus!! Making his way through the dining room, Santa happily jingled his bells and smiled for photos, including one with our daughter Katie, before he got on his way for his busiest night of the year!!

 

Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn

 Soon our dinners arrived and everyone got their meals except our daughter Katie. After our server told us to enjoy our dinners and that she would be back shortly to see if we needed anything else, Karl expressed concern that Katie's dinner had not yet arrived. She assured him that she was fine, certain that her food was on its way, just as I was telling her to grab her fork and dive into mine with me.

Karl was insistent that he would find out what was the delay, and quickly got up and left to check in. Did he go to the kitchen? We were all wondering... Katie was a little flustered by his departure. Within three minutes, George said, "Here comes Karl." Looking over toward the middle dining area, here comes Karl carrying Katie's dinner. Placing her plate on the table in front of Katie, Karl smiled broadly as we all saw the open box on the side of the plate prominently displaying the most beautiful diamond ring!!

 

Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn

 

Katie was crying, we were all cheering and clapping. Joseph jumped up and started videoing on his iPhone, and the silence that overcame the rest of the restaurant as everyone else looked over to see what the fuss was about erupted into more clapping, cheering, and much pinging on water glasses with utensils for the newly engaged couple to kiss.

It was the most magical moment. Looking back, I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that Karl allowed this most special moment to take place right there before our family and his Mom. Katie was weeping with joy and could hardly speak as he slipped the ring on her finger and she admired its beauty through her tears. Our dinner was filled with lots of wedding talk and afterwards, when we were leaving, many people came over to wish Katie and Karl their very best for much future happiness. It was truly magical.

We went back to our house for gift exchanges and dessert. I found out later at home that Karl had called George the day before and gotten his blessing for this Christmas Eve dinner proposal. I was again thrilled that Karl had included us in this special moment, and also that George had not told me. I was truly overjoyed by the surprise as it unfolded there at Scotto's.

 

 

The Happy Engaged Couple   (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)

 

"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other."
~ Burton Hillis

  

The end of a joyfilled night   (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)

 

A Floridian Christmas:

George and I left on Christmas morning to fly down to our home in South Florida on Singer Island to enjoy some down time and see our Florida family. We had dinner at my brother's home in Palm Beach Gardens with his wife, sons, in-laws, and my Dad who was also in town for the holiday. Everyone was excited to hear firsthand the details of Katie and Karl's engagement and to see the photos and Joseph's video on my iPad. After dinner we enjoyed dessert and conversation South Florida-style out back by their pool.

Mother manatee and her calf come up together for a synchronized breath off our seawall on Singer Island   (Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn)

 

George and I enjoyed time with family and our Florida neighbors during the rest of that week. The weather was lovely and we were able to get to the pool, the beach, and some of our favorite local restaurants.

 

Holy Family Sunday Mass at St. Paul of the Cross Church, Singer Island

 

Each year we give a pre-New Year's cocktail party for our neighbors and local friends on December 30. It is always a festive event filled with lots of laughter and chatter as everyone catches up with each other's news and holiday updates.

After the last guests left that night, we cleaned up and I had just pressed Start on the dishwasher when my phone rang. As soon as I saw Meighan's name on the screen, I just knew in my heart... Quickly answering her call, I heard Meighan say, "Mom, I think my water broke."

Well, you never saw a suitcase get packed and airline reservations get changed as fast as I did that night.

Meighan was not due to deliver baby McKenna until January 15, and with her being their first child, it felt pretty safe to go to Florida for Christmas. I had assured Meighan that if things developed early, that at the first sign of labor I would get home. Getting her confirmation text 30 minutes later with the update that she was being admitted at GBMC, we realized that this was indeed the real deal!!

George got me to the airport at West Palm Beach, and Katie was at BWI to pick me up when I landed. Off we went straight to the hospital.

Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn

A New Granddaughter: 

“A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.”
― Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967)  

 

 

Photo by Patti Murphy Dohn


Baby McKenna Rose was born on New Year's Eve at 3:32 a.m. Weighing in at the dainty little lady size of 5 pounds, 9 ounces and measuring 19 inches long, she was perfect in every way. I don't think Meighan and Jeff have stopped smiling yet!! And I assure you, neither has this happy, proud Grandma!!

Proud Grandma!!   (Photo by Katie Murphy)

 

Little McKenna was already a cherished part of our hearts before her birth, but meeting her in person was an exhilarating experience for all of us. Her birth was the source of profound joy and the humbling realization of how very blessed we are.

For our family, there was much joy on the Eves in 2013 with a Christmas Eve engagement and a New Year's Eve baby:

Gloria in excelsis Deo!!


Prayer for New Beginnings:

God of new beginnings, we are walking into mystery.
We face the future, not knowing what the days and months will bring us or how we will respond.
Be love in us as we journey.
May we welcome all who come our way.
Deepen our faith
to see all life through your eyes.
Fill us with hope and an abiding trust
that You dwell in us amidst all our joys and sorrows.
Thank You for the treasure of our faith life.
Thank You for the gift of being able to rise each day with the assurance of Your walking through the day with us.
God of our past and future, we praise you.
AMEN.

God is good: All the time!!

 

Another proud Grandma photo!!   (Photo by Katie Murphy)

 

January 12, 2014 01:13
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Countdown to Christmas: It’s Christmas Eve: Waiting for baby, Christmas with two popes, Santa’s prayer poem, prayers for Christmas Eve, and more great Christmas music

 

“Today you will know the Lord is coming, and in the morning you will see his glory.”

— Invitatory to Morning Prayer, Christmas Eve

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Introduction:

In the last Advent days leading up to Christmas, I will share some reflections, prayers, and music for you to enjoy during this very hectic holiday season.

Our baby countdown: 

Pope Francis compared the Church to an expectant mother in his homily on Monday morning at the Casa Santa Marta. "Like the Virgin Mary, the Church this week is expecting a birth… Is there space for the Lord or is there space only for parties, shopping and making noise?"

My family is literally expecting a birth as my daughter Meighan is a little more than three weeks away from delivering her baby girl McKenna. I was delighted to again take her to for her routine check-up this afternoon at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. It was a thrill to hear my granddaughter’s heart beating strong in utero as the nurse-practitioner ran the doppler over Meighan’s “baby belly” and counted her heart rate. 

The last days are filled with joy and excitement for our family, but we know that Meighan is experiencing back aches, fatigue, and the normal first-time parent anticipation. This beloved baby is already part of our hearts. And as we wait, we know that next Christmas she will be delighted with the sounds and wonders of the season s only a nine-month old can experience. Bring it on, says this proud Grandma!!

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"Santa’s Prayer on Christmas Eve:" By Warren D. Jennings

The sleigh was all packed, the reindeer were fed,
But Santa still knelt by the side of the bed.

"Dear Father," he prayed "Be with me tonight.
There's much work to do and my schedule is tight.

I must jump in my sleigh and streak through the sky,
Knowing full well that a reindeer can't fly.

I will visit each household before the first light,
I'll cover the world and all in one night.

With sleigh bells a-ringing, I'll land on each roof,
Amid the soft clatter of each little hoof.

To get in the house is the difficult part,
So I'll slide down the chimney of each child's heart.

My sack will hold toys to grant all their wishes.
The supply will be endless like the loaves and the fishes.

I will fill all the stockings and not leave a track.
I'll eat every cookie that is left for my snack.

I can do all these things Lord, only through You,
I just need your blessing, then it's easy to do.

All this is to honor the birth of the One,
That was sent to redeem us, Your most Holy Son.

So to all of my friends, least Your glory I rob,
Please Lord, remind them who gave me this job."

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Christmas visit of Pope Francis to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

I just love the photos taken yesterday when the Holy Father joined Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for a pre-Christmas visit to his residence, the Mater Ecclesiae monastery. As the four candles of the Advent wreath burned brightly on the coffee table, the two Holy Fathers enjoyed conversation after stopping for prayer in the small chapel. The Vatican statement said that Pope Francis came to "give his best wishes for the Christmas celebrations."

Osservatore Romano / Reuters

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Music for your Enjoyment:

“Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah

Breathtaking: Sir Colin Davis conducts the Tenebrae Choir with the London Symphony Orchestra, December, 2006:

Traditional for the audience to stand for the “Hallelujah” chorus, it has long been held that this custom started when King George II was so moved that he stood at the London premier performance.


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“O Holy Night” sung by Josh Groban

 Enjoy my all-time favorite Christmas hymn “O Holy Night,” sung by Josh Groban and set to scenes from film “The Nativity Story.”



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 Prayers for Christmas Eve and Christmas:

Christmas Eve Prayer:

Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

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Nativity Prayer of St. Augustine:

Let the just rejoice, for their justifier is born.

 Let the sick and infirm rejoice, For their saviour is born.

 Let the captives rejoice, For their Redeemer is born.

 Let slaves rejoice, for their Master is born.

 Let free men rejoice, For their Liberator is born.

 Let All Christians rejoice, For Jesus Christ is born.

Amen.

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Prayer for Christmas Morning:

The day of joy returns, Father in Heaven,
and crowns another year with peace and good will.
Help us rightly to remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds,
and the worship of the wise men.
Close the doors of hate and open the doors of love all over the world…
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil, by the blessing that Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clean hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
And the Christmas evening bring us to our bed
with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

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Christmas Prayer of Blessed (Soon-to-be-Saint) Pope John XXIII:

O sweet Child of Bethlehem,
grant that we may share with all our hearts
in this profound mystery of Christmas.
Put into the hearts of men and women this peace
for which they sometimes seek so desperately
and which you alone can give to them.
Help them to know one another better,
and to live as brothers and sisters,
children of the same Father.
Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity.
Awaken in their hearts
love and gratitude for your infinite goodness.
Join them all together in your love.
And give us your heavenly peace.

Amen.

 

December 24, 2013 12:12
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Countdown to Christmas: Six days left: Last day of exams, Christmas Eve Mass at John Carroll, family fun, dogs react to holiday hurries, today’s O Antiphon, and more classic Christmas hymns

 

 

Seniors Travis and Lindsey strike a fun pose with Pope Francis by the John Carroll Campus Ministry Office after their exams.

 

Introduction:

In the last Advent days leading up to Christmas, I will share some reflections, prayers, and music for you to enjoy during this very hectic holiday season.

 

Excitement in the air:

The level of excitement is building here at John Carroll as our students are finishing their last two exams this morning: Christmas Break begins at 11:30 a.m. Our students have been through a lot in recent weeks with the sad loss of one of our beloved juniors. Time off for rest and renewal with family and friends is definitely in order!!

I spent some quiet time this morning during the first exam period getting everything ready for our annual Christmas Eve Mass here in the gym. Candles, ciboria, hosts to be consecrated, vestments… I even remembered all the necessaries for incensing!! (Can you tell that I have sometimes forgotten to unpack those items in the past?)

Christmas Eve Mass at John Carroll:

My John Carroll Campus Ministry Office started hosting the 4:30 Christmas Eve Mass about fourteen years ago as the overflow for the 4 p.m. Masses at nearby St. Margaret and St. Ignatius Churches. (My colleague Father Steve Sutton, who also serves as Associate Pastor at St. Ignatius, Hickory, celebrates this Mass each year.)

The first year we set up our Auditorium which seats almost 700 people. It was completely full with standing room only by 3:45. We had to turn people away at the door!! We made a decision to start at 4 p.m. since everyone was there and in their seats. Why wait until 4:30?

It was clear as more and more people showed up at the front doors to be turned away that day— since we were at full capacity—that we needed to move our liturgy to the gym for the next year. This has worked out so well and we now have plenty of parking and seating for over 1200.

Each year we have a full house. Going to Mass in a gym is definitely not the same as being in a church with all the liturgical adornments of the season. But it is the people there that matter: What has transpired is that most families now come to my school as their Christmas Eve Mass location-of-choice, not as an overflow from a neighboring parish.

We are always delighted to see so many multi-generational John Carroll families here, including lots of our graduates. It has become a bit of a reunion Mass, if you will, for our school community. It is a particular special blessing for me each year to celebrate this first Mass of the Nativity with so many people who have touched my life and my heart over the years.

What are your Christmas Eve plans?

 

 

Pope Francis got into the holiday spirit when I wasn't looking.... How festive is this?

 

Family fun in the days to come:

Everyone in my family is looking forward to all the festivities during this week leading up to Christmas. We are having our annual family dinner this Sunday with all our children, their spouses and significant others, and my parents. We will relax and enjoy each other’s company with what promises to be a great dinner.

Our almost-seven year old grandson Tyler is so excited for Christmas and Santa. Watching the holidays through the eyes of children is what warms our hearts the most.

We are particularly blessed this year as we anticipate the birth of Meighan and Jeff’s baby girl, due on January 15. Baby McKenna is a loved and cherished member of our family already. I know there are a few gifts under the tree with her name on them too!!

Daisy gets crazy:

How is your dog holding up with all the holiday preparations? I have heard some crazy stories over the years about dogs tearing into the wrapped presents and diving into the holiday cookies and candies when no one is looking.

When Daisy, our seven-year old pug, was a puppy she loved to crawl under the Christmas tree and nap on the tree skirt. It was so adorable. She outgrew the space under the tree and she doesn’t bother the gifts. But what Daisy definitely does not like is the commotion outside caused by the frequent stops on our cul-de-sac by the mailman, and the UPS and Fed-Ex trucks. It makes her crazy!!

Daisy likes the quiet, usually snoring nearby while my husband works from his home office. But when those trucks make their way down our court, watch out: Daisy is up and staring out the window, barking and letting us know that someone is disturbing her tranquility. What happened to the peace and quiet?

 

 

Today’s “O Antiphon”

“O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!”

—Today’s Antiphon for December 19

 

 

Music for your Enjoyment:

“Angels We Have Heard on High” (w/ 32 fingers and 8 thumbs) Performed by the Piano Guys: Paul Anderson, Jon Schmidt, Al van der Beek & Steven Sharp Nelson, with numerous appearances by their Elf-on-the-Shelf Simone.

With almost 6 million hits on Youtube, this classic hymn is delightfully arranged and set in a beautifully decorated set complete with gift-wrapped grand piano and train garden with mini-cams.   

 

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“What Child is This?” by violinist, composer, and dancer Lindsey Stirling.

Highlighting another classic performance with almost 5 million hits on Youtube, this talented young woman plays and dances to this favorite hymn outdoors in the snow.



 

Prayer for December 19:

Oh, Jesus who descended from Jesse,
you are a sign of God's love.
I feel hopeful and expectant,
filled with a rebirth of joy and love.

I depend you so much.
You are a rock for my belief
and a sign of God's love.

Fill me with your praise!
I want to sing your glory,
filled with joy
for the message of hope you send.

I don't always understand
when you are acting on my behalf.
Thank you for the message of hope you send me.
Give me true faith and love
as I celebrate the mystery
of how you came to be with us.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Amen.

 

 

 

December 19, 2013 11:15
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Remembering and praying through our life story with our Christmas tree


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere we go....
Three weeks from today. Once again, it's so hard to believe how time flies.

We decorated our house during Thanksgiving week to be ready for the baby shower we had for our daughter Meighan last Saturday. George and Joseph set up the tree early, and I spent Friday afternoon placing the decorations. It was quiet in our house, and a flood of memories accompanied each ornament that I unwrapped.

 

 

In many ways, our collection of Christmas ornaments represents the history of the family with its many chapters and volumes. There are plenty of reminders from when the kids were babies and from their early school days. Some are thematic collections from the years when the kids danced in “The Nutcracker." A number of others represent special memories from trips we have taken. Symbols from our hobbies and favorite teams, and gifts we have received over the years are treasured parts of this collection.

Like heirloom photo albums, our assortment of Christmas ornaments could replay our family's story. Over thirty years of memories are represented. Some represent the loss of cherished family members or the addition of new loved ones to our clan.

 

Angel: When my kids were little, there were so many child-themed ornaments on the tree that I decided to start collecting angel ornaments to add some classic beauty.  The one above, part of a set, is one of my favorites.

 

Ireland:
My dear friend Sister Roseann of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia, godmother of my daughter Meighan, has done amazing needlework over the years. This special Irish masterpiece has a cherished place on our tree each year.

 

 

 Ravens Santa:
This Ravens Santa was the perfect ornament for these Ravens PSL season ticket holders.

 

Daisy: Our beloved pug has several special places on our Christmas tree each year.

 

Alaska Keepsake:
We collect Christmas ornaments from our travels and this moose is a fun reminder of the great land and sea tour we took for two weeks in 2004.

 

 

Las Vegas Santa and Mrs. Claus:
This fun ornament is a keepsake from the 2006 conference I attended with the NFCYM.
Can you imagine a ministry conference in Vegas? But what happened in Vegas couldn't stay in Vegas, as there were so many exciting ideas and new music to bring home to share with my students. George flew out to spend the last few days with me, coordinating some great dinners, tours of the fancy hotels on the Strip, and arranging a fabulous helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.

 

 

Bicentennial Keepsake:
This 2006 ball is a wonderful keepsake from the 200th anniversary of my very favorite church of all, our Basilica of the Assumption here in Baltimore.

 

 

The Nutcracker:
My kids all danced for years during their childhoods and early teen years in the Nutcracker with Harford Dance Theatre at Harford Community College. This show consumed so much of our time from September to December each year. We made lots of dear friends and collected lots of Nutcracker-themed ornaments and accessories that we still cherish today.

 

 

Florida themes:
Our tropical ornaments remind us of our home on Singer Island near West Palm Beach.

 

 

"Jesus is the heart of Christmas" and a John Carroll jingle ornament are perched near another Nutcracker-themed keepsake.

 

Teddy Bear:
One of the many personalized ornaments from my kids' childhood years is this 1987 teddy bear for Joseph.

 

 

This little kangaroo is a reminder of the two week trip in 1985 to Sydney, Australia when Meighan had just turned a year old.

 

Merry Christmas from Heaven:
George and I lost three cherished members of our families in 2007:
George's Dad, along with my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother.
Their names are on the reverse side of this memorial ornament.
 (which we also gave as gifts to several family members that year.)

 

 

And so goes the circle of life:
"What will you wish for?"
This wonderful 2011 gift has a delightful recording of our then-4 year old grandson Tyler's voice saying:
"I wish for Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop to have a Merry Christmas!! I love you!!"
What a treasure to be able to still hear Tyler's voice from when he was a preschooler.

 

Our First Christmas:
This sentimental favorite for George and me from 2002 brings back plenty of wonderful memories from our engaged Christmas, ready to be married in January of 2003.

This year marks our 12th Christmas together. So many blessings.So much grace.

As we enjoy the lovely lights and decorations on our Christmas tree this year, we will be remembering all those people and chapters of our life that are represented.... And give thanks to our loving God for all his grace and blessings.

 

Blessing for the Family Christmas Tree

Leader/Parent: Loving God, we stand before you once again. We stand here ready to celebrate the birth of your son, Jesus.

(Have everyone extend a hand in a gesture of blessing. Sprinkle water or holy water on the tree while praying the following prayer.)

Leader/Parent: Bless this tree, this sign of life and freshness and perseverance in our midst. It stands as a reminder that you are born anew in us each day. Bless our family and friends as we celebrate this joyous season. Keep us safe in our travels, kind in our conversations, and gracious in our giving and receiving. We ask you this in confidence, because we know you love us.

All: Amen.

Note:
Another beautiful blessing for your Christmas tree can be found here from the U.S. Catholic Bishops' website.


 

December 04, 2013 04:48
By Patti Murphy Dohn