An SDA Artist in Residence!

This week, let’s give some well deserved congratulations to our own Eryn Lewis who is currently spending three weeks in Juneau, Alaska. Eryn was selected to participate in this program by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. She will spend time in study with artists in the area, learning studio practices. Her focus for the three weeks will be wood carving, papermaking and printing. After the conclusion of her residence, she will create a body of work which incorporates all of the mastered techniques and her outstanding artwork will be part of an exhibit.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to meet our beloved Ms. Lewis is well aware of her talents as an artist; and not just at Saint Dominic Academy. Her list of exhibitions is extensive and includes the following:

            The Art Factory, Paterson NJ • Paterson Art Walk

            Brooklyn Art House Library’s Print Exchange 2014• Brooklyn NY

             Fine Art Alliance of Nutley, Nutley NJ • Inaugural Art Show 

             Douro Museum, Alijo, Portugal, 2014 • 7th International Printmaking Biennial of Douro 2014,

             Lamego Museum and Douro Museum, Alijo, Portugal • Global Print 2013

             Art on the Avenue, Nutley NJ

             Digital Art Salon, Santa Fe, NM • Alchemy throughout the Ages: Enlightenment through Experience

             Pratt Manhattan Gallery, Manhattan, NY • MFA Exhibition

             Pratt Studios Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY • Graduate Thesis Exhibition, In Absentia

             Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY • Pressure Printmaking 1st Annual Print exchange and exhibition

             N.A.W.A. Gallery, New York City, NY • National Association of Women Artists: Small Works Show

             Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ •Pratt Exchange Exhibition, Across the River

             The Ice House, Morgan Art Council, Berkeley Springs, WV • Handmade Paper and Book Arts Exhibition

             Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ •I Love Jersey City, photo exhibition


We at Saint Dominic Academy congratulate and celebrate Eryn as she completes her summer artist in resident program and we eagerly await her return “home” to us in the fall.


That’s Incredible…Or Is It Stereotypical?

Summer is here and with it comes the array of summer movies that people flock to the theater to view. I am no exception; I was at The Incredibles 2 the weekend it opened (Abby chose the movie) and although my readers know I am a dedicated Disney/Pixar fan, I was not overly excited to see Mr. Incredible and the Gang back for a sequel. Let me start by being honest- I do not like superhero movies, even if they are done by Disney. No interest in watching Batman take down the Joker or seeing Superman save the world, or discovering all the hidden talents that the X-Men have—I know for many people it’s a genre of film they embrace, but it has never been my cup of tea.

So, when I met the Incredible Family 14 years ago, I was not overly impressed; the kid runs fast, the girl can be invisible, the mom is basically an amped up Gumby and the dad is big and strong. Oh, and he has that friend (voiced by Samuel L Jackson) who can freeze things. I think true fans of superhero films would recognize these “powers” as fairly stereotypical ones; they’ve been featured in other films many a time. Seeing the, albeit highly amusing, family once again a few weeks ago was not a huge draw for me, but I went and at least expected to be a bit entertained…after all it got great reviews…

From Time Magazine: Incredibles 2 goes even deeper, delving into the fragility of the male ego in a world where women are asserting themselves more every day. Honestly, I was a bit put off by that statement, as well as the incredibly (no pun intended) stereotypical way Mr. Incredible and his wife Elastagirl were depicted in the film. For me, it ran like an episode of every sitcom based around the concept that if the woman is smart, the man must be dumb. So, in this film, Elastagirl heads out to save the world because the world responds best to her as a superhero. They’ve got her all fitted out in a tight suit (as if the one from the first film was not tight enough), she’s at glamorous parties, she’s doing press interviews and all the while, there is Mr. Incredible and at this point the name takes on a mocking tone, at home with his teenage daughter, his hyper son and his baby Jack-Jack, who bursts into flames, turns into a temper tantrum throwing demon and multiples when he is really angry. Dear old dad, of course, has no idea how to handle his kids- he ruins his daughter’s relationship with her potential boy crush, son Dash literally just runs around the house, and sweet little baby fights with a squirrel after he is left unsupervised and gets out of the house. And what does Mr. Incredible do?? He is depicted with bags under his eyes, stubble on his face, and a constant look of sheer exhaustion.

Are we, and is a generation of 6-8 years olds meant to come away from the film with the idea that “mom can do anything- save the world and run the house?” but “Dad, lol, he is so clueless.” Because I for one think that is a very bad message to send out to a young generation. I am wary of movies that empower women at the expense of a man looking like a moron. Even our villain in this film is a woman, while her brother is her sweet unsuspecting clueless minion. So, is that how it is? We can be heroes, but only if the men are incompetent? What kind of empowering message is that? Not one at all, as far as I can see…just another retelling of a ½ hour sitcom that is some 2018 version of “let’s all laugh at dad.”

As you know, I am all for empowered women being depicted in film, in novels and most importantly being praised in real life. However, I felt that the kind of empowerment depicted here was the wrong kind, and most surely the wrong message to send to young men and women. We can be empowered yes, but we can also work together to, if not save the world, at least make it a better place!


O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

A Fond Farwell…

As our school year drew to a close, the faculty, staff, administration and students of Saint Dominic Academy had to bid farewell to several beloved members of our staff. Leaving us at the end of this year are three dedicated members of the Saint Dominic Academy family who always went above and beyond for the young ladies of SDA. We wish them well in all of their future endeavors, pray that life continues to bless them, and remind them that they are always a part of our of school community.

Mrs. Gaylor Wade– Business teacher, Guidance assistant, mentor to many of our young ladies; for years she brought wisdom, insight and kind words to the students she taught and to the school in general. Mrs. Wade focused tirelessly on talking to our young ladies about the importance of acting like a lady in all situations, of self respect and self worth, and of how to “make it” in the world. More than just a teacher, she became a confident of many of our seniors each year and the halls of SDA will miss her beautiful smile and gentle laughter.


Mr. Joseph Babico– For years, Mr. Babico has been a gift to the entire SDA Community, sharing his talents (onstage in The Sound of Music) his insights as a veteran English teacher, and perhaps most importantly, the gift of his wife, Mrs. Denise Babico who was always on hand to help out in his Honors classroom, support a school event, or attend a trip with the ladies of SDA. A gentleman in every way, his gifted knowledge of English literature touched the lives of the many 9th and 10th grade students who were blessed to be in his classes over the years. As a fellow English teacher, I will say he has been one of the finest English teachers I have had the pleasure of knowing and he will be missed greatly by all at SDA.


Mr. Thomas Cantwell- Nobody who ever encountered Tom’s warm laughter and Irish brogue ever walked away without a smile on his or her face. He was, for the past years that he had been with SDA, the heart of the school. Here with the sunrise, Tom was the first person many of us, teachers and students included saw each and every morning- guaranteeing that our day started off well. An immaculate building, a spotless and perfect Siena Hall, beautiful landscaping- all done with a smile and a kind word. There were tears in many eyes when Tom said farewell; his included and he left knowing that he is part of the Saint Dominic Academy family and is always welcome at 2572! He will be greatly missed.


My sincere thanks to all three of these dedicated members of the community and my best wishes for all the best life has to offer!

Prayer for Summer Vacation

Take time to claim your strength;
they are gifts of God.
Take time to have fun;
it’s God’s way of teaching you your strengths.
Take time to grow yourself;
only you can grow you.
Take time to trust yourself;
God trusts you.
Take time to be self-reliant;
it is better than being dependent.
Take time to share with others;
they will bless you, and you will bless them.

Take time to have hope,
you are a child of God.
Let’s put ourselves into the hands of the Lord,
and pray that God will bless us and our families
during the wonderful months of summer.
May we all help make our home a place of relaxation,
joy, love, peace and safety.
May we be generous and considerate,
not thinking only about ourselves,
but helping others enjoy the blessings of a summertime.
Lord God, Creator of all things,
guide our steps and strengthen our hearts,
during these months of summer and vacation days.
Grant us refreshment of mind and body.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Thank You To The PTA!

As some of you may know, in addition to my position as Head of School at Saint Dominic Academy, I also hold another title which is almost as special to me. I am First Grade Class Mom at All Saints Catholic Academy. I’ve been the class mom for Abigail’s class since she started at ASCA in Pre-K Three. If you’ve never been a Class Parent or a room volunteer in an elementary school, I am here to say it is a great experience.

As a working mother, I will admit it is a sacrifice at times to volunteer. Most of the work that goes into my role as Class Mom is done in the late hours of the evening or the wee hours of the morning. At times, it is one more errand to run before I get home from work, or one more binge worthy TV program I do not see because I am writing reminder letters. And knowing all that, I must say, I am in constant awe of the members of the Saint Dominic Academy Parent Association. For, when I look at how much work goes into being a volunteer in the kindergarten, I have to multiply it by tenfold to fully appreciate how much work our volunteers here do!

For years, Catholic education has relied in part on the volunteers within the school who are willing to give back; to join a committee, to organize a fundraiser, to coordinate an event for students and without these volunteers in place, how could any school truly run well? Parents are an essential part of the Catholic school community; it has always been that way and it will never change. And so, as the end of the school year is always a time for heartfelt thanks, today I want to express my thanks, my gratitude and my appreciation for those members of the Saint Dominic Academy Parent Association this year.

They are as follows:

President- Mary Dowden

VP/Secretary- Maria Sasso

Treasurer- Stacey Swope

Social Media Coordinator- Peggie Marano

Communion Brunch Chairs: Kelly Lekic/Cathy Sabia

Back to School Chairs: Eileen and Chris Gill

Designer Bag Coordinator: Gigi Diaz

I thank each of you for a wonderful year and from one parent volunteer to another, I hope you know how very much you are appreciated and valued by all of us here at Saint Dominic Academy!

Graduation Remarks 2018

When I was a little girl, much younger than all of the young ladies sitting before me today, my favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz. I could watch it over and over again; much to my parents dismay I am sure. The transition from black and white to color, the sparkle of those ruby slippers, that twisting yellow brick road, and the beautiful Emerald City, where they can even dye your eyes to match your gown…not to mention a beautiful young heroine and a wicked old witch- it was the joy of my childhood whenever it was on the television.

Although I am not quite as “obsessed” with the film today, I still do watch it when it is on and more and more, it brings tears to my eyes. For in essence, the film is all about the transformation from an unsure young girl to a strong and empowered young woman…and in many ways, it tells the story of each and every young lady sitting before me today. Ladies, you are mere moments away from leaving Saint Dominic Academy; a world as unique and as special as Oz itself. Granted, we do not have yellow brick roads or flying monkeys, but over the past four, and for three of you the past five years, a life changing journey has taken place; a journey that will set you on the path for the rest of your life.

You came to SDA in the 8th or 9th grade as suddenly as that tornado dropped Dorothy into Oz. Overwhelmed, a bit confused, more than a bit disoriented, you immediately had to get to know and work with all the people who inhabited the world of Saint Dominic Academy. From the first period on your first day of school, your feet were upon an invisible yellow brick road. Just like in the film, the road turned in various ways, sometimes leading you to a new friendship that you now treasure in your heart, sometimes leading you into a situation in which you needed to work hard to overcome.

At times, you may have sought the advice of a wise mentor and at times, you may have needed to discover your inner strengths on your own. However, each and every one of you persevered, grew stronger, and grew more confident as you journeyed through high school. Today is the culmination of that journey and although I have no ruby slippers to give you; let me call to your minds the scene in the film where Dorothy realizes she has had the power to return to Kansas all the time. The gift to make yourself happy, to make yourself successful, to become the best person you can be resides inside of each of you, and has from the moment you took your first breath. Our role as your guides and helpers is done; it is now your turn to head off on your next adventure and I wish you the best of luck on whatever roads you follow in the future.

It is now time for me to say goodbye to you and I think it is only fitting that I use the words Dorothy herself used to say her final goodbye to the Scarecrow…”I will miss you most of all.” Congratulations, Class of 2018 and you will be loved always.

A World Without Creativity? Perish the Thought!

This year, the theme of the Saint Dominic Academy literary magazine, ELAN, poses the question What would the world be like without creativity? I was asked to prepare a written response to be included in the magazine and was quite honored and flattered to be included. The question is an intriguing one- for if we look around at our homes, our desks, our children’s toy boxes, television, music, the internet…we are bombarded with what has been created! No invention, no song, no show, nothing would be the same if it was not for the creative ideas of a person or group of people. All aspects of our lives, from technology to medicine, from sitcoms to must see landmarks, have all been fostered by creativity. We need only to look to the words in the Bible…7 Days of Creation…to understand that without creativity, our very world would not exist. It does not state that God invented the world or brought forth the word…no…He created the world and all its beauty. God is creativity in its purest form.

What  indeed would our world look like? A few short examples…

The cell phone would not be in your hand.

The world would not be at your virtual fingertips via the internet.

There would be no:

Yellow Brick Road or Over the Rainbow

Galaxy Far, Far Away

Jurassic Park

There would be no answer to “Who ya gonna call?”

Baby would remain in her corner

No platform 9 & ¾

No Hogwarts

No Anna and Elsa

No One Ring To Rule Them All in the land of Mordor

No Stairway to Heaven

No Walking Dead, Avatar, Game of Thrones or 13 Reasons Why

No raft ride down the Mississippi, no awakening after the kiss of a Prince

The list is endless…the mind boggles…without creativity we would no longer be ourselves.

Keep writing ladies…we need more creativity in our world each and every day.

We Offer Prayers…

Sr. Vivien Jennings, O.P. Sr. Vivien Jennings, O.P., 83, passed into the arms of our loving Lord on Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Mountainside Hospital, Glen Ridge, N.J. A Funeral Mass will be offered in St. Aloysius Church, 219 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell, N.J., on Wednesday, May 9, at 10 a.m. Visiting will be in St. Catherine of Siena Convent, 7 Ryerson Ave., Caldwell on Tuesday, May 8, from 2 to 8 p.m. Office for the Dead will be on Tuesday at 4 p.m., in St. Catherine of Siena Convent Chapel. Sr. Vivien was a humble woman of joy, wisdom, reverence, compassion, and peace. She served her God and congregation faithfully for 66 years as a Dominican Sister of Caldwell. Born in Jersey City, N.J., Sr. Vivien knew of God’s love for her first from her parents, Mary Alice and Eugene. She entered the Sisters of Saint Dominic on Sept. 8, 1952, and received the Dominican habit on June 27, 1953, made first profession on June 28, 1954, and final profession on June 28, 1960. Sr. Vivien earned a BA in English from Caldwell College, an MA in English from Catholic University, an MS in communications from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in English from Fordham University. She pursued further studies in English at Oxford University, Urban Education at Harvard School of Education, and finance in higher education at Columbia Teachers’ College. Sr. Vivien served as an elementary school teacher at St. Aloysius School in Caldwell, St. Elizabeth School in Linden, N.J., Sts. Peter and Paul School in Hoboken, N.J., Our Lady of the Lake School in Verona, N.J., and St. John’s School in Clark, N.J. She then taught secondary school at Lacordaire Academy in Upper Montclair, N.J., and English at Caldwell College in Caldwell. Sister served as major superior of the Caldwell Dominican Order from 1969 to 1979; was founder of Link Educational Center, Newark, N.J.,; president of the Dominican Leadership Conference from 1978 to 1979; continuing education director at Caldwell College from 1980 to 1982; telecommunications director at Barry University from 1982 to 1983; public affairs director at Catholic Telecommunications Network in N.Y.C. from 1983 to 1984; president of Caldwell College from 1984 to 1994; Caldwell College professor from 1996 to 1999; Principal of St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City from 1999 to 2006, and director of website office for the Caldwell Dominican Order in Caldwell from 2011 to 2015. Sr. Vivien touched the hearts and brought the message of God’s patient, truthful, never-failing love to all who came to know her. She reminded us that God is always present in our lives. Sister Vivien was predeceased by her parents, Mary Alice and Eugene Jennings; her sisters, Alice White, Eugenia Smith, Marion Sheridan, Marjorie Menz, and Harriet Jennings, and nephews, Eugene Menz, Roger, John, Bill, and Tom White. She is survived by her loving Sisters of St. Dominic; her nieces, Jean-Anne Smith, Ellen (Neal) Brower, Sandy (Bob) Kahn, and Anne White, and nephews, Norman (Rita) Menz Jr., Wayne (Donna) Menz, John (Carol-Lee) Smith, James (Cathy) Smith, William (Clare) Sheridan, Mark (Joann) Sheridan, and Allen White, and many grand-nieces and grand-nephews. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Sisters of St. Dominic, One Ryerson Ave., Caldwell, N.J. 07006 would be appreciated.

Published in Star-Ledger on May 6, 2018


This week, the Saint Dominic Academy community prays for

The repose of the soul of Sister Vivien Jennings, O.P.

We ask that God hold her in the palm of His Hand until we are able to once again reunite with her in His Glory.

Expansions Abound…

As we head into the end of our school year, I am so pleased to share with all members of the SDA community some wonderful new official expansions in terms of staffing here at Saint Dominic Academy. All of these changes will be effective for the 2018-2019 school year.

I recently had an opportunity to meet with members of the Leadership Team from Caldwell and they truly once again have blessed our school community. Our Dominican Leadership in Caldwell has graced us with a gift for our 2018-2019 school year.  A second year novitiate, who will reside at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, will be coming to SDA daily to serve as our Campus Minister. Sister Gina will join us this coming August and will be supervising all aspects of Campus Ministry as well as showcasing and working to implement new service projects for our young ladies. I am certain our young ladies will welcome Sister Gina in September and in a matter of days she will become an integral part of the SDA Community.

Campus Ministry is not only office change for the 18-19 school year.  Ms. Kristen Mallon will be joining Andrea Apruzzese in Admissions for the next school year. Ms. Mallon, who is currently our beloved P.E./Health and Anatomy teacher and who works tirelessly with LINK Crew and the Be A Leader program, will retain her P.E. / Health classes but will sadly leave the Anatomy classroom. Her primary focus will be on recruiting; doing our school visits, High School Nights and other interactive events with prospective parents and students. We are all looking forward to see Ms. Mallon embrace this new role!

Finally, and for our dedicated Alumnae and Parent Associations, perhaps most importantly, our Advancement Office will expand as well. Anyone who has ever stopped in to see Mrs. Mary Murphy has gotten only a small glimpse of just how busy that upstairs office is.  Mrs. Murphy will continue to lead the office as Director of Advancement with Darlene Lisotta retaining her role as Administrative Assistant and Database Manager.  We will be adding a Coordinator of Special Events, a new position in Advancement with no teaching duties. I am most pleased to announce that Ms. Stephanie DeSarle, who has taught English at Saint Dominic Academy for 3 years, will move into that role as of July 1st. She will still supervise our Dramatics/Musical Theater program and anyone who has seen one of her shows well knows the precision and attention to detail she will bring to the Events office.

It’s been a springtime of change here at 2572 and I am most confident that these changes, all for the better, will help SDA continue to grow and flourish during the next school year.

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