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?

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