My Dad was once, many moons ago, a student teacher at Benton Central High School in Benton County, Indiana. It was there that he met the now legendary figure, Dick Atha. My own experience with Atha is somewhat limited, but his grandsons Nathan Bohn and Mason Atha are the same age as my oldest son, Nick, who played on various baseball and basketball teams with these two over the years. In fact, Nathan and my oldest remain good friends and are roommates at Xavier University in Cincy.
Mr. Atha is a doting grandfather who enthusiastically cheered on his grandsons in numerous games we both attended over the past several years, and my own Dad, being the same kind of very proud grandpa happened to be present at some of these functions as well. A storyteller extraordinaire, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure how much of what my Dad continued to share about this Atha character were true.
Well, today, a few days after it’s initial printing, I happened upon this phenomenal article about my Dad’s old pal, Dick Atha. It verifies everything Dad ever shared about this high quality, character filled man. I already deeply admired him for the integrity and compassion he instilled in his daughter, Mary (Atha) Bohn, my friend. It was also evident in our brief interactions that this is a genuine man filled with goodness and joy.
So today, I wanted a few more folks to see this great article written by my hometown newspaper, the Lafayette Journal & Courier. It celebrates the rich contributions made to his community and beyond by a truly terrific human. Click on the link above. It’s worth your time!
Thank you, Mr. Atha, for your heroic witness of what it means to spend your life in enthusiastic service to the young people of your community. We all can learn a lesson from your fire, constancy, and passion!
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor: 3:18)
Day 53 of 365: Mollie Smith
By now, most of you know that I am BIG on honoring the birthdays of folks I know and even those I don’t know as well. Birthdays should be a festival, I think! This week, it’s Mollie Smith’s festival. Her birthday was earlier in the week, and I’ve chosen today to tell you a little about her fabulousness.
I read this inspiring entry in a spiritual book recently and the chapter was titled, “God loves your family resemblance.” This immediately made me think of the Smith family, because their glorious clan is so recognizable, and they are a family who loves and serves the Lord with enthusiasm. I credit their mom (an amazing convert to the Catholic faith, by the way). She’s as fine a Christian woman as I have ever encountered. I mean, Adam’s okay too…ha?! It’s just this THIS WEEK, I am celebrating his bride.
Here are some of the highlights from that chapter I mentioned. I hope when you read it, it will give you a more clear picture of the type of mother and kind, compassionate woman I believe her to be, because these words make me think of Mollie….and Carly, Kolbe, Simon, Lily, Sadie, Wyatt, Luke and little Ella too. I’ve been watching them from a distance for some time, and this is a family that inspires in me a firm desire to love the Lord in the same joyful way they do– its seems to me to be born of the deep faithfulness they all share.
Do you giggle like your mom? Or chuckle and chortle like your dad? Do you remind everyone of your Great-Aunt Ruth? We tend to look and act like the people we’re related to– those whom we love. So…are you as kind as the King? Do you love like your Lord? Do you give like Jesus? Having your mom’s eyes or your dad’s smile is great, but when it comes to your heart, God is hoping it looks a lot like His. Because He just loves to see your family resemblance. (Tama Fortner)
Mollie, I know you are proud of your stunning family, and you should be. Jesus surely sees the family resemblance with your clan. The Lord is smiling down on you and sees your perseverance, your endurance, your kindness, the YES you have proclaimed just like Our Blessed Mother, and so do I. Thank you for the witness of faith you have shown me through every encounter I have ever had with you or any of your children. You are impressive, birthday girl!! HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY, MOLLIE!
Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them. -St. Therese of Lisieux
Day 52 of 365: Fr. Richard Doerr
Feb. 21, 2019– About 10 years ago, one of my holiest friends noticed I was in a dark place. I’ll spare you the details, except to say that she insisted I should meet her friend, Fr. Richard Doerr. Spiritually and otherwise, I was just a hot mess. Like he does all week long, year after year, with countless folks who seek him out or who are sent to him against their will, he used his considerable pastoral gifts to help me find the Lord.
Priests have long been targets of the enemy of enemies. After all, these good guys, (and I promise you most of them are just that), live their lives in heroic service to others. My friend, Fr. Richard, is such a man. He won’t care for this birthday tribute one bit, but I’m stubborn and unreasonable so I’m offering it here all the same. Sorry for your luck, Padre.As a diocesan priest, he’s the pastor of a parish of over 4,000 families. That’s north of 14,000 souls who are in his care, folks. He’s a Purdue grad and so am I, therefore I will offer you this comparison with which to judge the enormity of the task he’s been assigned. Have you ever attended a basketball game at Purdue’s Mackey Arena? The number of souls he’s tasked with guiding towards the Lord is roughly equal to a sell out crowd at Mackey. Think about that the next time he doesn’t respond to your message in the time frame you’d prefer.
He carries burdens too heavy for his people to bear alone. He consoles every day, and despite the incredible work load, he carries the secret grief, the tragic loss, the family crises, and the painful failures. The needy and the poor know the parish he leads is a place of refuge. He’s pastorally gifted, and he seems to exist in a calm, rational state despite frequent episodes without a reasonable amount of sleep. You see, if someone in his flock truly needs him, the hour doesn’t matter. He goes where he is called. His cross is very heavy, and he bears it with love. Sometimes, he’s maddeningly spent. Always, he’s prayerful, and mindful of the grace and beauty of the life he lives.
Because authenticity is my favorite quality in humans, I’ll offer that he’s a genuine and very real guy who has been known to curse when a good cuss word is just the best option available, and he’s got a wicked, sarcastic and hilarious sense of humor which often carries him through the day. That sense of humor definitely makes his homilies accessible and memorable. He can be both joyfully irreverent and shockingly compassionate.
Don’t forget, though, he’s a human being. He’s got his own family, including a mother, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews on whom he dotes. Just like the rest of us, he’s needed to take mom to her doctor’s appointment or babysit for the little ones now and then. He needs and tries to take the time to be present for his own family. People forget that humanity and expect too much sometimes. It pleases me that he does an excellent job of looking after his physical health and he somehow manages to squeeze in workouts most days of the week.
All my people know I love this guy, and so does he. Keeping quiet isn’t a strength area for me. If I love you, I say so. Here’s the deal. This guy stuck with me when any other mere mortal would have told me to hit the road. I am nothing if not needy and persistent. He attempted to buy himself some oxygen by shoving spiritual books in my direction. I read them ALL. I was a sponge and I cried out for more. I fell in love with the saints, whom I had largely not yet met. I learned the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which I can only pray while singing aloud or in my mind, because it played on an endless loop on a CD he gave me. I was captivated by it’s beauty. He introduced me to Caravaggio’s art, which left me breathless. I’m not even going to tell you about the whole Taize prayer service he insisted I attend. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Well, I was moved to tears. You should find one and go. Talk about ridiculous!
When I take myself and my sins too seriously in confession, he says things like “Get off the cross, we need the wood, Shelly.” He makes me laugh at myself and he texts me stupid memes now and then when he’s had a long week or he sensed the same from me. He presides at reverent, beautiful masses and he sings like an angel. In short, he has been the most selfless shepherd I can ever imagine encountering. I realize his vocation calls for him to often be “in persona Christi”… but this guy? It’s like my husband says. He’s not messing around. Fr. Richard wants us to know and love the Lord. He spends himself entirely in the effort. I am but one of his 14,000. The number of people who have told me similar tales of their own powerful conversion which God orchestrated through this particular instrument would make your head spin.
Frequently, with his extra large heart on full display, he asks me for my prayers for parishioners who are suffering. It’s my deep honor to offer them. Today, I’d like to ask you to pray for him. It’s his birthday, and he does a stunning job keeping Christ in the lives of the people in his care. Please join me in asking God to grant him the same in his own. His life is one worth celebrating in a BIG way. Pray for your priest too– again and again. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FR. RICHARD!
Today’s Prayer for Priests, Offered for Fr. Richard Doerr:
O Jesus, our great High Priest, hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Fr. Richard. Give him a deep faith, a bright and firm hope and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of his priestly life.
In his loneliness, comfort him in his sorrows, strengthen him in his frustrations, point out to him that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show him that he is needed by the Church, he is needed by souls, he is needed for the work of redemption.
O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your son who is close to you because of his priestly ordination, and because of the power which he has received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs him so much. Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength, and especially help him to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.
Oh God, you are my God- it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water. I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory. For your love is better than life; my lips shall ever praise you! (Psalm 63: 1-4)
Day 49 of 365.
If you take the time to notice the life being led by Colleen Ward, you’ll see a pattern of thanksgiving. She clearly believes, by her conspicuous witness, that our good and gracious God meant for us to not only thank Him for the graces He’s shared which enrich our lives, but also to thank others responsible for the small blessings that make our journey more pleasant.
I met Colleen many years ago when I was a working girl in a corporate communications job. In my role, I counted heavily on the expertise and legwork of a local PR firm, Coles PR, where Colleen was employed at the time. I’ll be candid. As clients go, I was a first class, high maintenance PIA. I look back on that time and roll my eyes at my ridiculousness. Colleen, then as now, was the definition of class, impressive work ethic, and kindness. She was and is now– bright, talented, professional and flat out impressive. Guerin Catholic High School made an incredibly far-sighted and positive move when they snagged her for her communications role several years ago. I know very few people whose integrity matches that of Colleen. She’s a positive, sunny, character-filled gift from the Lord.
Sometimes, folks need a meaningful expression of how they are valued. An expression of authentic gratitude to a world filled with folks who need to know that they matter is no small thing. I’ve seen Colleen express just these kinds of meaningful sentiments to and about lots of folks. The most impactful for me in terms of learning from her witness, though, are the public expressions of appreciation she continues to share about her family members.
EVERY SINGLE TIME, it reminds me of the St. (Mother) Teresa quote, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
Colleen is sunny, funny and self-deprecating. She lives her life in service to others, but spends herself quietly. Her lack of volume, however, should not be construed as a lack of strength. She is a fierce, capable woman of God. I notice and admire her most for loving her family lavishly, unconditionally, and maybe sometimes even foolishly– which is just the way God loves us. The way she praises the Lord with her life is inspiring. Today, on your special day, I want to turn the tables and thank you, Colleen, for being a powerful witness to me and many. If we all loved our families and those around us as you do, WOW would the world be transformed!
TODAY, YOUR LIFE DEFINITELY DESERVES TO BE CELEBRATED!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COLLEEN WARD!!!
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. –Martin Luther King, Jr.
My oldest son, Nick, when he was in kindergarten, came home day after day telling me about his friend, Christian. When I happened upon this mysterious little guy’s mom at a school “movie night” I immediately introduced myself and told her that I sure as heck hoped she’d heard the name “Nick” at her house, because my kid was crazy about her son. When she assured me this was not new information to her, I just recall saying “Well, THANK GOD!” The two boys (and their mothers) became fast and lasting friends.
Meet Christian Daniels. When I first met this smart, earnest, and polite little sports lover, I knew immediately he was a high quality human being. It was obvious even at age 5. Seriously, CD just entered the world a kind, articulate little guy and these facts remain unchanged, as does his lifelong love for U of L sports teams.
Quick-witted, big-hearted and unflappable, Christian has always been both a hard worker and a high achieving student. He’s a natural leader, a quality which has been evident throughout his life. In grade school he was the point guard on the basketball team and the QB on the football field. In high school, he was captain of the basketball team (AND he was an IHSAA State Champion), and now he’s the top dog at his fraternity at Miami of Ohio. His peers have always respected him, because, quite frankly, he’s a respectable guy. It’s that simple.
Christian is faithful, a man of integrity, mature and self-confident. He has a positive attitude, and he’s a gentleman. He’s true to his word. If he tells you that he is going to do something, you can count on it. He has a high moral compass and he’s an honest and compassionate friend with a terrific sense of humor. I could not ask for a better young man to have in my house eating those pancakes he learned to cut LIKE A BEAST in my very own kitchen! (Ha? See what I did there CD?)
As a big brother, there just isn’t a finer example. Who else do you know at age 19 who makes extra trips to and from school so he can coach his little brother’s CYO team? I wish I could adequately describe to you the pure joy and pride on Malcolm’s face because his big brother was on that bench with him, coaching his team. That selflessness on CD’s part and for the benefit of all those little SLDM Cardinals will never be forgotten by his little brother, who truly worships him.
Last week, I got a beautiful note from CD. In it, he spent considerable time thanking me for the kindnesses shown to him over the years. It was classic Christian in tone, just positive and upbeat, brightening my day and spreading happiness, because he can. He looks for the good in others, and in a world filled with so many people who don’t take the time to do the same, Christian SHINES.
Happy 21st Birthday to you, CD! My life and the lives of all the Thieme family are so much richer because of your presence. What inspires me about you is the way your character shines, no matter the circumstances. The quote (above) that you shared with me in your note made me smile. You said it was one of your favorites, and I can see why. It fits you perfectly. LOVE YOU, KID.
He who watches over you will not slumber. (Psalm 121:3)
So today, I’ve decided to talk less and post more photos than normal. To say that it’s been a long few years for my friend, Michele Maginot, would be a colossal understatement. Today marks the 4th birthday in a row that she has endured without her youngest daughter, Jen. The beautiful and utterly kind Jen would be 19 years old today.
My fellow Boilermaker fan with the most hilarious dry sense of humor, Michele is also the most patient person around. How do I know this? It’s her beagles. Dear God in heaven, someone please explain to me how seemingly reasonable people like Michele seem to love their beagles despite all the destruction they leave in their wake!? Ha?
Jen’s been much talked about for her kindness, and I know she’s in heaven today watching over her thoughtful, funny mama, as well as her Dad, Paul and her brother Greg and sis, Alli. Jen’s defining quality, I always thought, was a rather impressive reflection on the quiet grace and kindness she learned by the witness of her terrific mom.
Michele, by the grace of God and many, many prayers offered, you’re still standing. I know you’re tired, I know the tank sometimes feels empty, and you might be running on fumes….but you’re still running. You’re allowed to slip away and find a quiet place, for a moment, an hour, a day. Just remember when you do it to rest your weary head on the shoulder of the One who never sleeps and who never ceases to watch over you because HE LOVES YOU. You are the beloved daughter of the most high God. So you just put your head in His lap today.
You, my dear friend, are a family of 5. For now and forever. Therefore, I’ve posted pictures which reflect that. So today, my prayer for you is that God rains down grace for you so that you find the strength to take a deep breath, say a prayer and take the next step. God loves the way you keep calm and trust on, how you reach out to help others. He loves the way you keep going. YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION TO ME for your positivity, strength and selflessness. I hope you feel the hug I’m trying to send you. I love you. Happy Heavenly Birthday to your girl. She sees you, and she’s SO PROUD.
“To help children, boys and girls, young men, women and adults to know and love the Lord ever more is one of the most beautiful educational adventures…” (Pope Francis)
Day 41 of 365.
One of her several recent notes read, “I wanted you to know that yesterday you were my special intention at mass and communion. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you.” Meet Ann Kalmey. She’s the mother of one of my most dear friends on the planet, Lisa, as well as two more grown children, Lee Ann and Doug. She’s a grandmother to a whole slew of accomplished and amazing young people. I really know her just a little, from a sprinkling of moments together over the years, and yet this fact is utterly unsurprising.
You and I, all of us actually, we sometimes wish for a better world, a better way, an improved life in one way or another. Standing between the ideal and reality are mountainous obstacles, colossal challenges….and we think I’m only one person!! What can I possibly do? Let me tell you what you can do! You can BE LIKE ANN!
Ann and her incredibly fun-loving and intelligent husband raised their beautiful family with a strong base of faithfulness as it’s core. Ann spent much of her professional career as a principal at St. Margaret Mary Catholic School near Louisville, KY. Because Ann is an unbelievably articulate and very strong woman, I know without a doubt that the staff of teachers she led and the students under her care were both well educated in the faith and unconditionally and compassionately supported. “Without confidence and love, there can be no true education” said St. John Bosco. I quite agree. What an amazing way Ann has served the Lord with her life and vocation!
In more recent years, Ann also FOUGHT THE BEAST….and she WON! I am confident she has met many other obstacles in her life besides breast cancer with similar fire and persistence. Her formidable strength and faithfulness as well as an overflowing helping of compassion are to me, her defining qualities.
Here’s the thing Ann reminded me of in recent days with her persistent and thoughtful reaching out. God can do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine. On our own our little efforts might be little in our minds eye, but when we live our lives with Christ at the center, we aren’t on our own– we are souls magnifying the Lord! We needn’t ever think “I can only do so much!”
Thank you, Ann, for being an encouraging face of the Lord to all in your path. Your daughter, Lisa, is a fierce and unbelievably loving and faithful woman because of the love of her mother. I couldn’t do life without her, and this week I realize how fortunate I am that through her, I’ve been able to get to know her spectacular sparkplug of a mother….and snag a scoop of your fabulousness in my life too!