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.

If We Couldn’t Laugh…

It’s that time of year where we celebrate mothers- those women who REALLY deserve to be celebrated every single day of the year! While I am sure many of us, myself included, are able to collect a hug and kiss every night- all the hugs and kisses in the world do not fully repay all that we do in order to make certain our children’s worlds revolve and remain in perfect orbit 24/7- 365.

I wonder, when my mom had me (GULP) 41 years ago this July, did she have a sense right from the start that I was going to be a bit of a handful? Did she look past the mini tantrums, the occasional back talk, and the eye rolling that at times can persist until this day and see that I had the traits of a leader-someone who will speak my mind and who will work tirelessly to help others? I am hoping so, because as I now deal with the mini diva living in my house, I am trying hard to put things in perspective. The dramatic hand to the forehead look of shock when I say no more chocolate, the hysterical weeping if I even suggest that her Woody from Toy Story doll remain in the car while we run into a store, the hands on hips stare off when I announce it is bedtime, the tireless singing of “Let It Go” early on a Saturday morning…can I smile to myself at all of this and look to how it will shape her for the future? Well, I can try and most days I do try. Does anyone else foresee a career in the Dramatic Arts for Abigail??

The point being, my readers who are mothers and grandmothers…did you look to the future and see who your children would become? And more importantly, do your children recognize that you were shaping their lives for the better, even as you praised or scolded them?  All of us who are mothers do that, I think. We see the amazing amount of potential in the tiniest human and from the first moment of motherhood, we take on the arduous and sometimes trying role of shaping that little one so that he or she will grow far beyond initial potential and do wonderful things.

I know in my heart, just from being at Saint Dominic Academy, that every girl in this school has someone in her life loving her, seeking out the best for her, and at times, correcting her so that she can go forth and set the world on fire. And, moms of teenagers, I know what’s to come…but any insight would be helpful…. Just how many sleepless nights will I have in the future? Her first date? Her first time borrowing the car? Prom?  And if I ask my own mother, she will say the sleepless nights never really end and I know that to be true. She worries about me, she has spent a lifetime of caring for me, just as all of you do with your own children and just as I will always do with my daughter.

Motherhood is a never ending job, and a very hard one, and yet, I am willing to bet one that each of us relishes and savors and truly enjoys. As Mother’s Day fast approaches, please collect extra hugs from your children- they are so well deserved! Please know how grateful I am that you are such inspirational figures in the lives of each girl at Saint Dominic Academy. And please, maybe just for Mothers’ Day weekend- give yourselves a break. Laugh at the eye roll, smile at the tantrum, blow a kiss to the rolled eyes and content yourself with the knowledge that someday, some tiny human will be giving your daughter the exact same behavior!

 Laugh, laugh, laugh, moms, because,  as I learned very early on my journey as a mother- If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane!” ( Jimmy Buffet)