December 21, 2015, Detroit – Sister Nancyann Turner, OP, regularly shares inspirational reflections on her blog, based on her experiences as Director of the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit. Below are two of her blogs, especially fitting for the Christmas Season.
Bless the Work of our Hands
Daily, our community of Dominican Sisters shares Morning Prayer. A favorite psalm that occurs periodically includes the refrain, “Bless the work of our hands” (Psalm 90).
I was thinking of this psalm recently as our mothers group used their hands to create beautiful Christmas wreaths for their front doors. Clearly, having limited resources did not diminish their enthusiastic creativity. Is there not an urge in each of us to create something beautiful – the work of our hands?
Several days later, our children had a Christmas cookie workshop. Again, it was moving to watch their delight in cutting out cookies and adding mountains of icing and sugar sprinkles – the work of their hands.
Truly, I believe we give birth when we give – when we create with our hands. This Christmas, this New Year, bless the work of our hands over and over!
What Is Religious? What Is Sacred?
Recently, I had a lovely phone conversation with a woman interested in buying some of our children’s Christmas cards. After she had looked at the assortment on the Soup Kitchen web site, she asked if we didn't have some that were religious. I pointed out to her the many that I thought were religious: a beautiful angel announcing the good news that Jesus was born; a great star of hope celebrating the Magi and the prayer that we might shine with God’s love; and other card designs that urged peace and blessings of love.
As we talked, I realized her priority was a realistic religious image, whereas, I was promoting children’s imagery with a strong religious message. The dear woman did buy a large number of the cards and I was grateful for the opportunity to think about what makes cards (or anything) religious. In my experience, there is a lot that is religious or sacred without a religious image. It is the sacred that truly reminds me of God’s overwhelming presence and love.
By Cara Hansen
December 21, 2015, West Palm Beach, Florida – Service to others is an integral part of the Rosarian Academy community. By offering service opportunities throughout the year, the West Palm Beach Catholic school aims to graduate students who live this lifelong message and make a positive difference in the world.
An even greater focus on giving and service is emphasized during the holiday season. Over the past month, Rosarian students participated in Food for Families and a toy drive and organized Christmas parties at The Lord’s Place and Opportunity, Inc.
Coordinated by the eighth grade, Rosarian Academy continued its annual community food drive October 28 to November 20 in conjunction with News Channel 5 Bill Brooks Food for Families. They collected 2,600 pounds of non-perishable food to provide needy families with a plentiful Thanksgiving. Once again, the school worked with St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church and donated the canned food collection to their van ministry and St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“The generosity of many wonderful people went a long way toward helping us provide food to many needy people who walk into our parish office,” wrote Father Arthur Venezia, pastor of St. Paul of the Cross, in a thank you letter to the Rosarian families.
For more than 12 years, the seventh-grade class has led the school-wide effort to collect unwrapped toys for local needy children who may not otherwise receive anything for Christmas. After spending two and a half weeks collecting toys, Rosarian students on December 16 loaded a Palm Beach County Health Department truck with over 500 unwrapped toys. In addition, Student Council also sold candy canes, bringing in $470 to purchasing toys for the drive. The Health Department distributes the toys to children in Palm Beach County who are currently benefiting from their services.
“I am overwhelmed with joy at the generous hearts of our Rosarian students and families,” said Steve Rubenacker, Head of School. “As a community, we far surpassed our original goal of collecting 300 toys. One week prior to the pick-up of the toys, we raised the goal to 400. Over 500 toys were collected and will make hundreds of children in Palm Beach County happy this Christmas. “What a beautiful testament to the true Christmas spirit!”
Many middle school students also spent time organizing Christmas events for two local non-profit organizations: The Lord’s Place on December 15, and Opportunity, Inc., on December 17. With the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) at the helm, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students decorated Christmas ornaments and cookies and made crafts with the children who reside at The Lord’s Place Family Campus and those who attend Opportunity Early Childhood Education and Family Center.
“It makes me happy and excited to work with the kids and make them feel better about themselves,” said eighth grader Emma Guerrieri, President of the school’s NJHS Chapter. “I love giving back to those who are less fortunate.”
Rosarian Academy, founded in 1925, educates students from early childhood through eighth grade and offers an exceptionally strong academic program enriched by athletics, visual and performing arts, and community service opportunities. The independent, Catholic school is located in downtown West Palm Beach and is sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Rosarian is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. For more information, visit www.rosarian.org or call 561-832-5131.