Archive for December, 2011

Yesterday I posted a video of Bonnie Block singing “O Holy Night” at the Camp GLOW Christmas party here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The party was held for people with special needs in Maryland and was attended by more than 150 people. The people with special needs shared their love of music through Christmas songs. Here is just a taste of their joy. It puts the season in perspective.

If you’ve never been to Camp GLOW in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, I highly recommend doing so. It’s an outreach at the Monsignor O’Dwyer Retreat House for people with special needs. I have a story coming up at CatholicReview.org
about the Camp GLOW Christmas party. Until then, enjoy this video of Camp GLOW attendee Bonnie Block singing “O Holy Night,” a song she practiced for a while to get right. It’s inspiring and humbling to see someone give new light to the song. I will have more videos of these wonderful people.

I got a chance to speak with several students of Mercy High School as the school celebrated the Religious Sisters of Mercy’s Foundation Day Dec. 12. Enjoy the insights of Genai Brisbon, Leah Hill, Rachel Bourne, Brooke Burghardt and Emily Schreiber. They talk about their call to social justice and what they can do to help in the 21st century.

Foundation Day is one in which Mercy Sisters reflection upon their origins with Mother Catherine McAuley, their present mission and their future work. Sister Deirdre Mullan spoke to Mercy High School students about the global outreach of the Sisters of Mercy Dec. 12. It was a captivating glimpse into the life of the Sisters of Mercy and a motivational talk for the young women who will carry on the mantle of leadership. Enjoy the audio from that address.

I sat down with Cristo Rey network president and CEO Robert Birdsell for a frank, wide-ranging discussion about the network, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School here in Baltimore, urban education, the future of Catholic schools and thriving during the economic crisis.
It’s an enlightening interview about where the network is going and how it’s going to get there. For those looking for hope in urban education, look to Cristo Rey.

Enjoy the audio below.

The Dominican Sisters, as I wrote in my Dec. 8 story for The Catholic Review, are one of the big reasons Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville has become one of the most successful schools in the Baltimore area.
The school, under the Dominicans, has invested in its Catholic identity and the school is now at capacity and responding to the demand by expanding on campus. With so many Catholic schools trying to succeed during this economic downturn, Mount de Sales is showing how it’s done.
One of the amazing things about the Dominicans is how they create an atmosphere that is relaxed, in a rigorous academic setting. With their habits, the sisters look “old school,” but they’re largely a young order, at least at Mount de Sales, that makes real connections with the girls who attend the school.
When I first saw some of the sisters a few years ago, I wondered how they could ever successfully connect with young people. Habits seem like something of a bygone era, but the Dominicans are so deceptively cool. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them at work through various archdiocesan events and at something like World Youth Day. The Mount de Sales contingent stayed in the same Madrid hotel as the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s this past August. Take a listen to some student reflections from that trip.
Last March I attended a vocations event in Anne Arundel County, attending by some 40 teens. Priest, seminarians and the Dominicans.
During a 40-minute question and answer session, the Dominicans blew away all preconceived notions I had of them. They were contemporary, cool and open about their life journeys. Take Sister Peter Marie Chrismer for example. She shared what she wanted to be with the young people in this brief clip from her presentation.

She’s not alone. Five other Dominican Sisters are there on campus, sharing similar journeys. They were once dreamers, like so many of the teens they teach. In fact, the sisters give off the impression they’re living a dream now.
The sisters are very approachable, authentically love their vocation and don’t apologize for it. This is their calling and the girls of Mount de Sales are better for it. So is the Archdiocese of Baltimore.