Tuesday, January 13, 2015


. . . that in the first – frigid -  week of January 2015, the idiom

cold hands, warm hearts,
played out at the MKC?

While snow threatened and temperatures struggled to break zero
and the wind made it feel like 25° below,
many folks felt chilled to the bone and yearned for the warmth of the summer sun.

But the good workgood will, and good times at the Maria Kaupas Center
were enough to keep us cheerful and smiling, in spite of the arctic blast.


During December, the MKC participated in a food drive to help restock the shelves of the food pantry at St. Rita Parish. It was heart-warming to see shelves so bare that the pantry could not open filled with enough food to enable the pantry to serve neighbors in need.
This effort crossed many communities. MKC members donated generously as did junior/senior homerooms at Catalyst-Maria High School. But they were also supported in this effort by the Geneva High School girls’ basketball team and a family of MKC supporters from Indiana. Word is spreading about the good work done at the Maria Kaupas Center, and more and more people want to join in.
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Our hearts are still warm with the memories of the great generosity shown to the MKC by people and organizations far and wide through-out the holiday season.

Sister Elizabeth Ann Yocius, SSC, the creator and facilitator of our Sacred Sewing program, is feeling an especially rosy glow after learning that her program has been abundantly blessed by gifts and donations.
The talented quilters from the Birds of a Feather Quilt Club in Kentwood, MI generously donated a trunk-load of fabric, fleece, fiberfill pillow stuffing, and sewing supplies as well as cash to support this service-learning program. These women are excited to learn that another generation of young people is joyfully learning the art of sewing.
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The MKC is deeply indebted to the Guy A. and N. Kay Arboit Charitable Trust as well for awarding Sacred Sewing a grant to replace ancient machines and outfit our sewing studio with necessary equipment, storage and supplies.


We are also grateful to our many supporters, both old and new, who have continued to donate even after our very successful #GivingTuesday campaign.

An additional $30,000 has been raised since mid-December!

A huge thank you goes out to the Sisters of St. Casimir for supporting and loving the work done at the MKC.  We were delighted MKC Board members Sister Regina Marie Dubickas, Sister Immacula Wendt, Sister Margaret Zalot, and Sister Theresa Dabulis could take part in our holiday party, where they introduced us to the tradition of sharing the oplatky wafer while wishing each other a blessed Christmas and happy new year.

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These women breathe life into Mother Maria’s words:
Always more, always better, always with love.

Speaking of Mother Maria Kaupas, on January 6th, the MKC celebrated the
135th anniversary of her birthday. During Daily Reflection, Sister Elizabeth Ann shared with MKC-ers some inspiring stories about her. They were amazed to learn that when she was about their age, she left her home in Lithuania and traveled alone across the ocean to serve as housekeeper to her brother, a young priest in Pennsylvania.


Sister Elizabeth Ann also explained to the teens that one of Mother Maria’s most urgent messages a hundred years ago is still relevant today and a lesson we try to teach at the MKC:
Don’t let the temptations of a materialistic world make you lose sight of God.

Afterwards, Catalyst-Maria math teacher Kaaren Hatlen offered a prayer in which she urged the teens to embrace the message of Mother Maria in their own lives.

Then, Sister Elizabeth Ann offered everyone at Daily Reflection a serving of mega-M&Ms,
suggesting that the “M” on each piece of candy be a reminder of Mother Maria.


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Also helping to keep us warm last week was the Fighting Irish spirit of a group of
Notre Dame University students.
Seven young adults stayed at the MKC as part of an experiential learning course called Church and Social Action: Urban Plunge 2015. In addition to learning about community organizing at SWOP (South West Organizing Project), they hung out with MKC teens and enjoyed our facilities.
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And finally, things around the MKC will really begin to heat up when we begin our next session of programming. Program director Amy Eckhouse has lined up a dynamic group of volunteers and activities, including classes in sewingguitardancepianorecorders,xylophonesdrum circlesartcookingyogabike repairgardening workshopsWord Playthrough Chicago Young Authors, as well as sewing and ELL classes for adults. Overnight spiritual retreats for teens are also scheduled.

A new program will be weekly circles, a restorative justice practice that gives all participants an equal voice as they explore a variety of topics and come to a deeper understanding of themselves and each other.

Also planned for this spring are outreach programs for area senior citizens and the creation of a community garden
Just writing about all this activity has me breaking into a sweat!
. . . who said it’s cold outside?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday's Reflection

MKC Friday Reflection – Scholars were open and honest about some serious questions.  Many of these ideas, insights and thoughts will be addressed in the upcoming peace circle experiences on Wednesdays.

MKC Scholars – thoughts on four questions:
1.      What do you like most about yourself?
2.      What do you like least about yourself?
3.     What in your life causes you pain?
4.     If Jesus was here at the MKC in the flesh, what would you say to Him?

MKC scholars answered…
What do you like most about yourself?
I am nice to people, I like how I don’t let people run all over me, I love my personality, nothing, I am good at sports, the way I act, that I can make people laugh, I am brave and strong, I am smart, the way I carry myself, I like that I am a good person, the way I dress, my hair, sometimes I can be a really cool person, I am creative, my eyes, I help my siblings do better, I can see when someone needs help, I am respectful, I don’t lie to my parents like I used to, I am beautiful and always ready to help others, I am sad that the answer is nothing, my family, my smile, I am always honest to people, I don’t use facebook to hurt others, I treat adults with respect, I’m good in relationships, my grandma loves me, making my dad proud, I work hard, my eyes are pretty, I give to others who are in need, not much at all, I can sing, I make people feel good, I take care of my grandma, I don’t steal, that God loves me no matter what, my ears, I don’t get angry very often.

What do you like the least about yourself?
I let people get the best of me, I have a negative attitude, my feelings, I don’t know what I want to do in life, I get angry and I let it ruin my whole day, I am a hater sometimes, my body, I don’t understand things like most people, my hair, I tell lies a lot, I am too sensitive, I cry, I am never happy with what I have, the ability to be mean, I am not nice to my teachers, not respecting my dad, my emotions, I am lazy and don’t do what people ask me to do, I have anger problems, I let people take advantage of me, I can’t be honest, my height, when I don’t listen, my leaning problems, I can’t control my anger, I am heavy, I cheat on tests, I get so sad sometimes, my legs, I am hard on myself, I think negatively, I’m not good with girls, I take my family for granted, I don’t like how I don’t fit in with everyone, I care too much about people who don’t care about me, where I live, being around negative people all the time, I steal, I am addicted to something, I listen to depressing music, I can’t forgive my dad and he deserves it.

What in your life causes you the most pain?
Not being able to see my mom who is alive and not having my dad who passes, when I put a lot of stress on myself, the violence in the streets, loving every person that comes into my life, my past, my family, the bad decision I made,  my dad used to hit me, not being able to lose weight, always having to tell my mom not to drink, my friend who abuses her body, being late for school because my dad won’t get up, when my mom and dad fight, I get so hurt when people talk about me, when I get caught stealing – I just want to stop, losing my friend t o the stupid violence on my block, seeing my family down, broken relationships, thinking about my future – not wanting to be a loser like my dad, hiding my true feelings that I have for a special friend, knowing that my family struggles financially, when my mom died, over thinking, when the people I think are my friends and then I realize they are not, when my sister hits me, the fact that my brother died and we were getting a better relationship, seeing people who are poor, I feel lonely, I get depressed, not being able to live with my mom and dad together, I have been betrayed, my community, feeling suicidal, sometimes I feel like no one cares, when my dad mistreats my mom, physical abuse.

If today Jesus was here in the MKC, in the flesh, what would you say?
Can you make my family rich, why am I not close to my mother, why do I go through a lot of heartache and pain, can you take away my auntie’s sickness, to forgive people who have bad intentions and to tell me why I feel so lonely, to make me stronger and a better athlete so that I can get rich and change my city, how do I make the pain go away and how can I love Him more,  if you made this world, can’t you bring peace, to make me taller, why does my dad do the things he does, to save me, help me and my family,  will you save me, what is your plan for me, can you help me to stop hiding my emotions, how did you feel when everything happened to you, what can I do to make it through the gates,  why do I always get hurt, -  why did you make me so weak, can you bring my cousin back, to forgive me for all the bad things I’ve done, how long will I live, why is my life so difficult – why is all this pain not going away, do you love me even if I’ve done really bad things, can you help me accept my body, can you remove my painful thoughts, tech me the way of life and allow me to live without so much regret, will you help me change my angry ways, please heal my mom, uncle and auntie, why did my mom give me and my brother to my grand mom and auntie, why do I keep doing bad things, it is so hard taking care of my grandma, tell my mom not to be so hard on me, I want to know more about you but not too many people do, why is there so much suffering in the world – aren’t you all about love-can’t you make it be more loving.