Family Lunch – St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist Jordan, MNIf you have spent any time here on FoF, you know how supportive I am of our local Catholic School – St. John the Baptist.  Four of our five have attended St. John’s (the fifth (#1 of 5) didn’t due to his age).  It’s bittersweet to think that we are down to our last St. John’s attendee.  St. John’s has been a second family to us.  So, I plan on making the most of what time we have left (as parents with a student(s) enrolled).

Each year the Catholic Church celebrates “Catholic Schools Week”.  According to the National Catholic Schools Association – “National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week” Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities, and our nation.

St. John the Baptist Jordan, MNThe week is given a theme.  This year, the theme is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” 

On Saturday we had a kick-off celebration Mass followed by cookies, coffee, and milk in the church’s Gathering Area.  St. John’s students were invited to participate in the evening mass as greeters, readers, singers, gift bearers, etc. 

At the end of mass, the school recognizes two people important to the school. The school gives out a “Honorary Graduate” award (one who did not graduate from St. John’s but who’s service to the school, church, and/or community represent the teachings of the school) and a “Distinguished Graduate” award (who graduated from St. John’s who has carried the teachings of the school beyond his or her time attending, having gone on to tremendous things for the school, church, and/or community.)  

This year, in BOTH cases, very well deserving men and friends of ours won the award(s).  In BOTH cases, they were WELL deserved!

  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN

The “Honorary Graduate” is the father of our former neighbors and good friends. 

The “Distinguished Graduate” award went to a very talented and inspirational husband and father.  Our sons went to St. John’s together.

I could not imagine two more deserving men!
It is my honor and privilege to say I know both of them!

They are photographed along with our school Principal and our Parish Priest. 

 

After the kick-off mass, the focus shifts back to the school and the students.  Each school day is given it’s own theme around the general weekly theme.  As you can see, it’s a busy week at St. John’s 


MondayFollow your dreams! (Pajama / Lounge wear – All school kickoff assembly)
TuesdayWe Are All One Team!  (Favorite team jersey day – Family Lunch Day)
WednesdayWe are all different and yet all fit together! (Uniforms with mismatched / misfit socks – weekly mass)
ThursdayGet the St. John’s Spirit!  (School Spirit clothing day – Students will serve the community by volunteering time at our local nursing home.  Singing songs, playing games, and visiting with the residents (many of whom attended St. John’s themselves!))
FridayWe are all a beautiful party of God’s world.  (Rainbow day – each grade wears a different color of the rainbow – Field Trip – and St. John’s Family Association Pizza and Movie night)

Family Day Lunch - St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN

 

Today was “Family Lunch Day”.  Parents are welcomed into the school to partake in lunch with their children.  I was delighted to discover that I had the day off, so (of course) I planned on attending. 

This year we were very fortunate to have the menu and dinner prepared by our very own school parent (and esteemed Chef) Troy Mahoney!  

The menu for the day included Baked Herb Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Green Beans, a dinner roll fruit, and desert. 

 

I tracked down #5 of 5, and we got into the lunch line.  As fate would have it, we were (of course) second to last in line, but – it was all good – as the family in front of us are good friends and our daughters are classmates and good friends too! 

We passed the time in line doing goofy “father / daughter stuff”.  We stepped on each other’s feet, I walked with her standing on my feet (like a marionette).  I tried to get her to “look the other way” by tapping on her shoulder (the one opposite to where I was standing) – you know.. Goofy “father / daughter stuff”. 

Before we knew it, we were at the serving line, and the wonderful St. John’s volunteer servers were loading up our trays.  #5 of 5 picked out a seat, and we enjoyed our lunch together visiting about school and making jokes.

(…and… of course, taking time for a quick “father / daughter selfie”)   

#5 of 5 - Family Day Lunch - St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  The Father of Five & #5 of 5 - Family Day Lunch - St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN


#5 of 5 - Family Day Lunch - St. John the Baptist Jordan, MNOnce we had our fill (and no, I could not finish my lunch – I took home our dinner rolls!) it was time to head back to the classroom.

I dropped #5 of 5 back off, but not without giving her a little grief about how messy her desk was (I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree in this case – as some of my “Nativity Family” may be able to confirm.)

All in all, it was a great afternoon.  I can’t thank the AMAZING staff at St. John the Baptist for all they do.  A finer group of people would be difficult to find – and I am grateful for their presence – not only in my life, but in the life of my children.

Family Lunch Day.  It really doesn’t seem like all that much.  Parents arrive.  Parents enjoy lunch with their kids.  Parents return their kids to the classroom, and go home. 

What it is to me is is just another shining example (as little as they all seem, they sure add up!) why I love
St. John’s School so very much!   

Twenty Years

For some, that’s considered a sentence.  Today, I am not talking about twenty years as a prison sentence.  Today, twenty years is referencing an anniversary.  You see, today I celebrate the twenty-year anniversary of my having donned a 9-1-1 / Police Dispatcher headset the very first time for my home town police department.

20150117_141548I’m not going to get into the “how I got here” story.  That has already been done. (The precursory story is broken into two parts.  Part-onePart-two.)

Instead, I am going to use this opportunity to reflect.  I am going to reflect on how grateful I am.  

I look back at the past twenty years and cannot help but be reminded how grateful I am to be employed.  Not just “employed”, but employed in a fulfilling career doing something I enjoy.  I am grateful that I am able to feel that what I do makes a difference (a positive difference) in people’s lives – and not just not just once and a while.  I am able to make a positive difference in people’s lives each and every day – no, each and every hour of each and every day I  am working.

It is easy to become complacent to this idea.  It really does not seem much like “help” anymore, especially after twenty years.  What most people consider an “emergency” has become routine, almost “mundane” to me.  It’s almost “robotic”.

Phone rings -- answer phone -- gather necessary / pertinent info in a calm and professional demeanor (despite the chaos that may be happening on the other end of the phone, or around me in the 911 center) -- triage and prioritize the call -- get the appropriate assistance responding to the various needs -- lather -- rinse -- repeat.   

But when I take the time to think about it… I mean REALLY stop and think about it…  it is overwhelming (and I am quite grateful for the opportunity) to be as helpful as I am.  It’s something I need to continuously remind myself.  I forget this fact far too often, so much so that I rarely give most calls a second thought anymore. 

I am often asked “What’s the _____ call you have ever taken?”  (Fill in the blank - worst, best, funniest, scariest, most memorable, most disturbing, etc, etc, etc) I can’t remember.  It’s not that I don’t want to,  I really cannot remember most calls.  Quite possibly because I (subliminally) “don’t want to” in order to protect myself mentally from sheer volume of trauma / chaos I deal with.  Yet, twenty years later there are very few calls that I think to myself… “Now, that’s a first”.

From my window-seat to the world… 

  • I have been a witness to the beginning of life.
  • I have been a witness to the end of life.  (Some by natural occurrence, some unfairly taken by another.)
  • I have been a witness to COUNTLESS ups and downs that occur to folks between the beginning and the ending (regardless of how the end was reached).

My gratitude may paint a rosy picture, but don’t get me wrong - there are costs associated to this opportunity. 

Stress from the sheer volume, the pace, the burden of responsibly, the potential liability, the long (and oddly varied) hours, the lack of sleep, the missed time from home.  Work this job long enough and it will alter (some would argue “enlighten”) your view of the world around us.  People, places, and things will never look quite the same to you.  Innocence and trust will be lost, replaced with cynicism and skepticism.   It’s a daily battle (with some wins and some losses – as I can attest to) to overcome.

Overall, the benefits outweigh the costs – and as long as that is the case, I will continue to do so… Gratefully!

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