Memorial Day 2019

Today, let us pause a moment…

As many of us look to this day as the true beginning of summer,

Let’s reflect on those who gave their lives so our nation might live.

From the colonists until now, America would not be American without

Our brave men and women who proudly serve our country.

And so, let us pray…

Heavenly Father,

On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down

their lives for the cause of freedom. May the example of their sacrifice

inspire in us the selfless love of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their

lives with your strength and peace.

In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to

answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end

to violence and conflict around the globe.

We pray through Christ our Lord.

Amen

Senior Assembly: Remarks


You must find happiness where you are!



Moana

We started our year together, your last here at Saint Dominic Academy, with a theme inspired by the movie Moana. And I can think of no better way to address you today than to reflect not only on all the happiness you have experienced during your senior year here, but also, the other important lessons that a movie like Moana can teach you. First and foremost, I sincerely hope that each of you can sit before me here today, close your eyes, and recall one moment of happiness you found this year. After all, that was all of our goals, yours and mine together from September onward. While I am sure you can also recall moments of sadness, of doubt and of anxiety- as I can as well, I am going to ask you to reflect for just a second on that moment of happiness you have called to mind. … Carry it with you, into next week, as you get ready for the Prom. Carry it with you, as you go to graduation practices. Carry it with you, at our mass on May 28, and of course, at graduation on June 2nd. Remember that moment of pure happiness you had as a senior at Saint Dominic Academy and keep it close to your heart; as close as Moana kept the heart of Te’ Fiti.

And now, for those lessons…

1. Listen to that voice inside you; it’s your heart talking to you. Follow it- wherever it takes you in life. The road ( or waves) may be bumpy and you may falter on the path, but as long as that voice inside you tells you to keep going- keep your head up and sail onward.

2. Never ever be afraid of feeling different.  Didn’t Moana’s grandmother embody that idea?  She did not care if the village thought she might “drift too far”…she knew that as long as she was happy with herself, that was what mattered. For all of us women, that is a hard lesson to learn- and if you can truly learn it as early as possible, then your life will be full of joy.

3. You are stronger than you think.  Moana sailing across an ocean—is it that much different than going away to college- leaving your family behind, embarking on a new voyage or journey?  There will be times next year when you think to yourself “ I cannot do this”, when you say to a friend “ I literally cannot do this anymore.” Yes, you can. You can do anything you put your mind to; remember that always!

4. When you make a mistake, fix it.  You owe it to yourself, you owe it to others.  There’s no shame in making a mistake, for any reason. It happens to all of us- it happens every single day. Not one of us is perfect.  What makes us good people? The fact that we can own up to our mistakes and do our best to fix them.

And finally and most importantly-  The ones we love never leave us, they are in our hearts always.

I can tell you this is 100% true. Those who touched your lives in one way or another will always remain with you; their influence will shape the woman you become.  Whether a love one has left for a better place with God, or whether you and the friend whose hand you are holding now are going to be separated by many miles next year…if love exists, then you will never be without those you love.  Listen quietly, at night, when your soul is at peace. Your loved ones will talk to you, will guide you, and will put you on the path to become who you are meant to be.

I will miss you very much next year; and if you need Saint Dominic Academy for anything…”set the course…you know the way”

Athletic Honors at SDA!

Two years ago, at my first Athletic Dinner as Head of School, I told the following story about our Athletic Director, John Nagel:

In 1997, I was 19 years old and in my 2nd year of college. I also began working at the Mayor’s Office in Jersey City. I remained there until I was 22, first as an intern and then progressing to the administrative assistant to the Director of Communications. It was during my tenure working for the City of Jersey City that I first had the pleasure of meeting Mr. John Nagel. A busy man, always in a hurry to head into this meeting or to that event, (much like today, 20 years later!) he always had a moment to stop and say hello. If something great was accomplished by a member of Communications, he was the first to give a quick but thoughtful word of praise or congratulations. If I needed information for a press release or a seal of approval from his Department on an upcoming promotion for an event, Mr. Nagel, (as I called him back then) was always able to assist me in order to get the job done well and to ensure that the Mayor’s Office looked good!

How nice it has been this year, twenty years later to be able to once again work together with John Nagel, our Director of Athletics.  Time has changed both of us, now I call him John and he jokingly refers to me as “Madame President”, but the same exceptional working relationship has not changed.  The dedication to the job and the effort to ensure that SDA’s athletic program both looks and is exceptional has not changed. As a member of the SDA family Mr. Nagel has worked to uphold the mission of Saint Dominic Academy and its commitment to producing well rounded young women. He reaches out to girls who otherwise may not get involved and encourages them to reach their full athletic potential….I think every young lady who has played on one of our sports teams can walk away saying “I had fun!” That’s Mr. Nagel’s goal as AD; to make athletics fun. And hey, if we have an impressive collection of trophies here at 2572, then so much the better!

Today, as we prepare to celebrate our student athletes at our annual Athletic Dinner tonight, I am so very pleased and proud to be able to share the news that Hudson County has bestowed up our beloved Coach Nagel another accolade to add to his list of accomplishments. Last Tuesday evening, the running path at Lincoln Park was dedicated to John Nagel, in honor of his over 40 years of service to track and field as well as to girls’ athletics in Hudson County.

Tonight, at the dinner, he will speak very little about all he does for the young women at Saint Dominic Academy. His “MO” is to take a backseat always and let our young ladies shine…as well they should, for we have dedicated, determined and fearless athletes here at Saint Dominic Academy. However, I would be remiss if I did not laud this achievement; through my blog this morning and in my remarks at the end of the dinner later tonight.

Congratulations John, on this outstanding recognition and honor. The alumnae who have had the pleasure of running for you over the past 42 years know it is richly well deserved. Thank you for your dedication to Catholic education, to education for young women, and for teaching the young ladies of Saint Dominic Academy to “run like a girl” for many generations. We are lucky to know you!

Mother’s Day 2019 …

Well…isn’t that the truth!? Am I right, moms? As my own daughter gets older ( 8 in August!) and tests her boundaries, with little eye rolls, sassy hands on her hips, the dreaded foot stamping…I realize, my mom was right about everything! I love my little girl more than anything in the world, but when she gets into “that mood”, I look at her much the way Victor Frankenstein looked at his creation, as in “ What have I created here!?” And then I look at my mother, who is smiling in a way that lets me know she is remembering the past and seeing she and I at that same time period. Suddenly I realize; I have a mini-me and what I am putting up with is just what I put my mother through a little over 35 years ago.

Moms of teenage girls…our 7th– 11th grade moms here at SDA…I know you will tell me it gets worse before it gets better! Moms of our 12th grade girls, awaiting the moment in August where your little girl, the one you sent to kindergarten with ribbons in her hair and a cutesy lunch box and back pack goes off to college, I know you will tell me it goes too fast, enjoy every minute of it. I think my own mom would tell me an honest mix of both of those statements: Yes, it goes too fast, but no, you are NOT going to enjoy every minute of it. Goodness knows, I am sure there were many moments in the past 42 years that my mother did not particularly enjoy where I was concerned, but looking back now all I can remember is that she has ALWAYS been there. We are each other’s constant contact, line of support, and best friend- there is nothing that happens in my life, good or bad, that I do not want to talk over with my mother.

It is hard, even now as I write this to fully capture in words all that my mother has brought to my life and all she continues to bring to my life every day. I know for a fact, I would not be sitting in this office at Saint Dominic Academy if it were not for her constant guidance, influence and support. I consider myself a strong woman. However, I also know that I would be lost without the daily grace and love that my mother brings to my life.

Mothers who are reading this, I would imagine that many of you feel the same way about your own mothers. Whether you are still lucky enough to have your mother with your, or whether this coming Sunday, you will spend some quiet time with loving memories of your mother, you know the love I am talking about that exists between a mother and daughter. I know you cherish it just as dearly as I do.

Daughters of SDA, you may yet be too young to understand that the bond you have with your mother is a bond that will not exist with anyone else…until you are blessed with a child of your own. So for now, just trust me when I tell you, as both a mom and a daughter… your mother is your first line of defense, your biggest cheerleader, and the woman who will shape the way you mother your own child one day in the future. Even when you fight with your mothers, (and, of course you will) and even when they fight back (and of course…they will!), there are no words strong enough to capture the love your mother carries within her heart for you. It is all encompassing, it is infinite and it is yours whenever you need it most. I know that, as a mother, because I learned it from my mother.

Motherhood is a thankless job at times, but it is also the best job in the world. Every one of us mothers know…that the true definition of mother is this: one who gives of her heart daily without expecting to or wanting to be thanked. As we head into Mother’s Day this coming weekend, I do think that all of us daughters take a moment to look our mothers in the eye and say thank you for all they do for us and for how much they love us.

Even then, it is not enough, but daughters, it is the best we can do. And so, to my own mother, a very public thank you: Mom, if I can be half as good a mother to Abigail as you are to me, then I will be a great mother. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my first and best friend. I love you!

And to all of our SDA mothers, who wipe away tears after a heartbreak and who listen to the stories of teenage drama, and who find that extra fund to make her little girl’s dress or shoe or whatever dreams come true, I thank you. Thank you for raising such beautiful young women, each day they walk the halls of SDA they are a testament to how wonderful each of you are. And I wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days because now, as a mother myself, I truly understand how much you deserve it!