Friday, December 12, 2014


. . . that the Maria Kaupas Center is bursting at the seams with
Anticipation, celebration, and appreciaton?

According to Pope Francis,
“Advent begins a new journey”

At the MKC, this “new journey” involves learning about the
 history and traditions of Advent during Daily Reflection

. . . it also means looking outside of oneself to help others less fortunate by restocking the
empty shelves of local food pantries,

The Maria Kaupas Center was proud to partner with the Junior and Senior seminars of Catalyst-Maria High School and with the Women’s Basketball team from Geneva High School in our annual Advent food drive.

And, most importantly, it means “. . .draw[ing] from the crib
the joy and deep peace that Jesus comes to bring to the world.”
Tweet by Pope Francis (you just have to love a tweeting Pontiff!)

MKC volunteer and Maria High School alumna Suzy Etsch (’75)
 helped middle school students create rustic nativity scenes that

eloquently capture the simple beauty of the Christ’s birth in the stable.

Anticipation of another kind is an important part of each cooking class sponsored by the MKC.
Scholars can’t wait until they get to eat the delicacies they create in the Kaupas Kitchen under the direction of talented adult cooks. Recently, Dr. Mary Roy and her sister, MKC Board member Nadine Roy, Holy Cross Hospital VP Dennis Ryan, and the MKC’s own Matt Whalen took turns in the kitchen.


In addition to learning to make (and then eat) delicious recipes,
 young cooks are learning to appreciate different foods, spices, and fresh ingredients as well as learning
kitchen etiquette and proper cooking techniques.

Celebration has also been a theme at the MKC lately!
The fall dance class celebrated with an-end-of session recital where girls demonstrated their
fancy footwork and stage presence:

Here’s a Did You Know in a Did You Know!
Did you know that Pope Francis loves the tango and used to dance when he was young?

A celebration of another sort took place in
 Sister Elizabeth Ann’s Sacred Sewing classes. Our adult seamstresses finished and modeled their most recent project, fashionable bags (though some might say that the little guy with the pillow really steals the show) and our junior designers created Christmas runners.

Yet another kind of celebration is Praise Dance, a mini session offered to 7th grade girls by Catalyst-Maria teacher’s aide Erin Bell. The girls are learning to communicate their joy in life and love of God through music and dance.

And at the MKC, a sense of appreciation always accompanies anticipation and celebration.
We are so grateful

for the gift of our talented volunteers

for the adults who come and give purpose to the MKC during the day

for the joie de vivre the scholars bring to the Center every afternoon

for our many, many benefactors.

The MKC is indebted to the following Foundations for rewarding our work with recent grants:

The Edmund and Alice Opler Foundation
Porticus North America Foundation

We are also thankful to all those individuals who supported our #GivingTuesday efforts;
 thanks to your generosity (and the generous match of Nadine Roy and Peg Weiser),
 we more than doubled our goal and raised


We are grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with the people in Marquette Park
the children, the adults, and coming soon,
the senior citizens!

But mostly, we are grateful to God
for the opportunity to share the message of His
 unconditional love
in an environment that strives daily to bring Gospel values to life.

To quote another of Pope Francis’s tweets:

“May we always say thank you to God”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Giving Tuesday results!

On behalf of everyone at the Maria Kaupas Center, I am pleased to share with you results from the #Giving Tuesday/#ILGiveBig day!  Thanks to so many, we were able to raise $16,725 on Tuesday, December 2, exceeding our goal in a “Big” way!  A big thank you has to go to Nadine Roy and Peg Weiser for matching our first $5,000 on December 2.

Your generous support made our giving Tuesday a huge success!  Thank you to our matching donors, past donors, new donors, our Board of Directors, friends of the Maria Kaupas Center, volunteers, and Maria High School alumnae.  We are so grateful for your kind gifts.  Your donations will help expand programming at the Maria Kaupas Center, enabling more youth to benefit from  after school activities focused on spirituality, community and leadership.

Happy Holidays to all of you!

Warmest Regards,

Carmen Ontiveros
Executive Director

Friday, November 21, 2014


. . . that the legacy of
St. Casimir Academy, Maria High School, and the Sisters of St. Casimir
lives on through the efforts of the Maria Kaupas Center


. . . and that Maria High School alumnae are a

huge part
of our success!!

Thanks to gifts of

time, talentand treasure

from many MHS alums, the Maria Kaupas Center is able to
make a difference in the lives of hundreds of local children.

prayer circle around statue of Mary.jpg

Alumnae have taken an active role in helping the
MKC get off the ground.

They are serving on the Board of Directors. . .
Board Member Sr. Immacula Wendt, SSC (’54) takes a look at the MKC bike shop.

teaching classes. . .

Suzy Lempa Etsch (’75) has been an MKC volunteer since the Center opened. She has taught healthy cooking and art classes. Her cooking class was featured in a PNC Bank video that received national exposure.031.jpg
Sr. Elizabeth Ann Yocius, SSC (’71) has also been with the Center since Day 1. She teaches Sacred Sewing, a service-learning program. This year, she is also teaching a beginning sewing class to women in the community.

Faith Walls (’01), former MHS Dean (shown here in a “selfie” with MKC Program Director and former MHS theology instructor Amy Eckhouse) has taught a “Teens Talk” class about young adult issues and helped facilitate Kairos-like retreats

Maria Sandoval (’13) volunteers her time to teach children basic guitar techniques and chords. Donors have gifted us with close to a dozen guitars! Maria’s talented students played and sang an enthusiastic rendition of This Land is Your Land; This Land is My Land.

Anna Belle O’Shea (’74, has brought her passion for music to the MKC. She has donated several instruments and teaches recorder, music, and intro to piano to excited students.

The Bacani sisters, Eliza (’10); Ellen (’06), and Eleanore (’12) are stalwart supporters of the MKC – teaching classes in art, photography, and Vacation Bible School, and assisting at Center events.
. . . and lending their support to get the word about the MKC out.
Anita Alvarez (’78); Anne McGlone Burke (’62); and Connie Jesukaitis (’75); all showed support by attending the MKC Open House in September. Simone Shimaitis McNeil (’70), staffer to Governor Pat Quinn, presented the MKC with a gubernatorial proclamation recognizing September 25, 2014 as Maria Kaupas Center Day in the State of Illinois.
 Many more have donated materials and supplies and
contributed prayerfully and financially to the cause.

The Maria Kaupas Center is deeply grateful to all of you.
We pledge to honor your legacy and to strive to live up to the words of Mother Maria:

Always more, always better, always with love.

Please visit our website,, to learn more about the Center.