Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Welcome, Sr. Mary Paul, OP!

Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, OP, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago recently toured the Maria Kaupas Center (MKC). Located in Marquette Park, this Catholic community center serves the students at Catalyst-Maria, a CPS charter school as well as community members.

Joining Sr. Mary Paul were several MKC board and staff members, including  Ed Siderewicz; Sister Immacula Wendt, SSC; Amy Eckhouse; Carmen Onitveros; and Sister Margaret Zalot, SSC.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Girls Retreat: Part 2, Awesome Reflections

It was clear that our girls got a lot out of their retreat this past weekend. Below are their answers in response to the survey they took at the end of the retreat.

Please take a moment to see what an awesome impact that's been had on these young women-- 

Retreat Evaluation Form - April 25, 2014
Answers to the questions combined

1. What did you like most about the retreat?

*The girls were all very respectful, I got to know the girls in my school better, I got to
learn how to navigate a relationship with a boy, I loved the college girl, Isabel’s talk and
the other talks - it helps me understand my story better, I liked how all the girls were
bonding and communicating with each other - there wasn’t an awkward moment at all,
I liked having fun, making friends and getting to know God, I liked getting to know more
about the people I surround myself with, I liked asking myself if I am happy with the
relationship that I am in, I was able to open up and no one judged me, I related to a lot of
the hard things we discussed - I feel like I am still trying to forgive myself for past
mistakes - this retreat helped me, I liked it that everyone came together - I saw some
tears privately, but also a lot of smiles, I liked it that there was no separation between
anyone - everyone was honest, I really needed to hear the stuff we talked about
regarding STD’s and sex, I liked how the topics that were discussed were about things
teenage girls actually struggle with, I really liked how we talked about relationship with
God, I liked being around people I don’t know and learning their story.

2. Name three lessons that you will take away from the retreat and apply to your life.

*I want a relationship with God, to know that when a guy wants to be friends with
benefits - I should tell him that I am certainly more than a benefit, I must love me before I
can truly love someone else, don’t do anything with a guy that your heart tells you not
to, take my time in a relationship, be wise about the decisions I make, getting a better
relationship with God, Keep Jesus with me, the information about STD’s was very
helpful, I should ask questions about my relationship, not to be afraid to remove myself
from negative things, trust my instincts in a relationship, I need to know what I want in a
relationship, to say “no” to uncomfortable situations, to ask for help, to pray, to respect
myself, I am enough as I am, God is only love and not hurt, don’t do wifely duties for
anyone who hasn’t put a title on it, not all people are mean and evil.

3. How can we improve the retreat setting or format?

* I think everything went well, I really enjoyed myself and being around everybody. It was
a great experience, especially being my first time at one of these retreats, I think
everything was good, I liked it, I really don’t think anything should be improved, nothing
is perfect but the retreat was well planned and it reflected throughout the night,
nothing, some things could have been talked about more deeply, nothing really, it was
a beautiful experience, more games, sleeping int he room with couches or a better floor

4. What appreciations or suggestions do you have for the facilitators?

*I appreciated the facilitator for having the retreat and talking about topics that most
wouldn’t dare go into, I just want to say thank you to those who helped me plan it and I
want to thank Ms. Eckhouse and Ms. Walls for helping it be a successful night, I think
the retreat team did a great job, I hope there is another one soon. Thanks Ms. Lyke for
sharing your story with us, I love all of you for putting this together for us, Ms.
Eckhouse, thanks for letting the teens be such a big part of the planning - Ms. Walls
you’re awesome, I appreciate them giving me a clearer understanding of relationships
and God, the team worked hard to make sure that we learned and had a good time, I
appreciate how the team set the retreat up and made it feel like such a good environment
to be in with the topics, the scavenger hunt was fun.

5. General Comments:

*I feel I have a better understanding of God and what type of relationship I want, God will
always be with me even when I don’t feel Him, I learned that God is a forgiving God,
learned a lot and got a good understanding of what to do in the current situation I am in,
I like how Jesus was the center of the retreat - not many people inform me about Jesus -
I learned somethings I never knew, I felt throughout the night and during the talks - I
realized that you may be in a bad place and feel as if you have no one but really you
have God and will always have Him because He is a forever loving God and will not
abandon us, God loves you for you and He is a forgiving God, I think God gave me the
strength to sign up for this retreat because I think He wanted me to hear what my
relationships are supposed to be - Amen, I learned that God is not out to get me, If we
have another retreat, I would like to learn more about being independent because not
everybody is going to hold your hand through everything, I know that to gain better
relationships with others, I need to work on my relationship with God, this was a grea
retreat and it allowed me to notice things about my relationships, I am happy to have
shared this experience and to have gotten something out of it, I learned to be careful
with my relationships, I liked how we had speakers and that the topics were detailed and
relevant, in general, I loved how God was the pin-point because I felt like god was judging
and didn’t love me but in reality He will always love me no matter what goes on, This
retreat was beautiful and I just loved being around the MKC facility - they bring
happiness and joy and taught me how to find and get closer to God, I learned that
having God in my life will help me feel that I am not alone in the world

Girls Retreat: Part 1

"... God definitely moved in that center. I pray that resources continue to come so that his presence has continue to abide in there and the hearts of those who come there." 
- Ms. Walls, Retreat Facilitator

"The experience was open and honest conversation. Teens were awakened in such beautiful ways-- some will re-evaluate the relationships they are in... and others have begun a sincere, personal relationship with God...
- Ms.Amy Eckhouse, Program Director

Friday, April 25, 2014


Reunited and it feels so gooood!

The MKC welcomed former teachers to meet with former MHS students who shared the sadness of their high school closing during their attendance there.

Smiles and laughter were shared over great stories and renewed friendships.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reflection: Pay it Forward

Our teens are very active in our daily Reflection. We regularly have teens who ask to lead prayer, share stories, and seek to support their peers in a special way.

Yesterday Ms.Eckhouse received a note from one of our team leaders, Tamara. She wanted to share a special story with her peers.

Tamara quieted her peers and invited them to join her at the altar.

"Over break I got to 'pay it forward'-- and I can't even tell you how good that felt. There aren't words. I was on the bus, and I had just got on and paid my fare. As I was coming on, there was a lady behind me who couldn't find her card. She was frustrated and upset-- and she couldn't pay for her ride. So, I gave her the card in my hand. I had an extra ride on it-- and I didn't need it. She was so thankful, and it made her whole day better."

The teens listened and nodded in agreement.

"What does it mean? What does it mean to 'pay it forward' for you?"

The students began to talk about nice things that someone had done for them... with no reason. They shared stories of buying each other cookies in the lunch line,  and helping a friends pay for things they could not afford.

Every person in that Reflection had an example of what Tamara was describing--they just didn't have a word for it. Now they can pass on that awesome spirit of philanthropy and care that is so present here at the MKC.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thirty Things I Believe

Thirty Things I Believe
By Tarak McClain
I believe life is good.
I believe God is in everything.
I believe we’re all equal.
I believe we can help people.
I believe everyone is weird in their own way.
I believe hate is a cause for love.
I believe that when I meditate I feel peaceful.
I believe we should be generous.
I believe brothers and sisters should be kind to each other.
I believe kids should respect their parents.
I believe I should not whine.
I believe people should wake up early.
I believe people should go outside more.
I believe in nature.
I believe people should use less trees.
I believe we should help the Arctic and rainforest animals.
I believe people shouldn’t throw litter on the ground.
I believe people should not smoke.
I believe God is in good and bad.
I believe in magic.
I believe people should not give up.
I believe love is everywhere.
I believe that God helps us to have a good time.
I believe we live best in a community.
I believe we can protect people in danger.
I believe we should help the poor.
I believe it’s OK to die but not to kill.
I believe war should not have started.
I believe war should stop.
I believe we can make peace.
Seven-year old Tarak McLain was born in Thailand and lives with his family in Austin , Texas . He collects and hands out food to the homeless, raises money for orphans and impoverished schools, reads about the world`s religions and listens to public radio.
A seven year old holds some strong beliefs and with the Grace of God, works to make those beliefs a reality for those around him.

What is it that we believe?  How can we, with the Grace of God, spread THE message of healing and hope to those around us? 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Did You Know...

. . . that as most of the Catalyst-Maria family began a well-deserved spring break,
the MKC teen leaders met on April 12 to complete
Operation Easter Bunny,
a community service project
executed in partnership with the Bridge Teen Center in Orland Park and the Global Youth Initiative?

Teens selflessly gave up the first Saturday of spring break to assemble
200 Easter cups
filled with candy and toys that brightened Easter morning for the residents of
Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.

Afterwards, the teens celebrated a beautiful day and freedom (for a week)
by playing a casual game of touch football on the Catalyst-Maria athletic fields.

. . .putting others ahead of themselves was a wonderful way for our teens to begin a week that culminated in Easter Sunday.

Happy Earth Day!

Let's remember-- the Earth is one of our greatest gifts...and we only get one. 

Treat it with respect and love; because that's what we were given when we were blessed with the Earth.

photo: www.tbam.org, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

MKC Quote of the Week

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
― Howard Thurman

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Service Learning & Volunteer Opportunities at the MKC!

Operation Easter Bunny was an amazing success! We made over 200 Easter packages for the residents of Mercy Home! It wouldn't have been possible without our generous donors and hardworking MKC teens!

Did you know the MKC has service projects and volunteer opportunities all the time?

Come be a part of the MKC's service and continuation of the legacy of the Sisters of St.Casimir!

Contact Amy Eckhouse or Britt Quinn at the MKC to have a conversation!


We look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Happy Spring Break!

t's been a full week of MKC programming!

Even with spring break starting today the MKC is full of energy!

Happy Spring Break!!!
Chillin' at the MKC

Scholars reflecting in the chapel

Sewing Studio was in full swing! 

These sewing participants made their own tops! 

These blouses look amazing!

Stitch it!

MKC Teen Leaders leading Reflection for their peers

We will see all of our MKC teens on Monday, April 21st when they return to school!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Vicariate V Youth Service Awards Banquet

We are so proud of our MKC teens! This past Sunday we have several students honored for their service at the Vicariate V Youth Service Awards Banquet!

Great job, teens!

Continue to make a difference in the world. We know you'll do great things!