Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Teacher of the Year Acceptance Speech -- September 16, 2010

I am finally catching up with updating some blogs. Below is the acceptance speech I gave September of 2010 when I was awarded Teacher of the Year at the Archbishop's dinner for Education. The video that is just before this blog was done before this event for me by the Archdiocese.

It will take me awhile to catch up with what I want to do as blogs, but I do intend on catching up. Since I am out of the classroom now as of May 2011, I should have a little more time to do so.



In 1995, December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception fell on a Friday. In 1995, December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, our area here in Nebraska was brewing one of those typical Nebraska snow blizzards. In 1995, December 8th, the Feast of Immaculate Conception, Mount Michael (believe it or not) decided to call a snow day. Oh I should qualify that – it was actually snow hours.

If any of you know anything about MM, you know that we hardly EVER have snow days—hardly EVER. But …… it was a Friday!!

We scheduled mass the period after lunch and the administration decided to allow the students to go home early so that we would not be stuck with them over the weekend. This was the day before we had 7 day boarders! Of course, we could not announce this news in a public way to the students. They go a little “crazy” with such freedom. Instead we just decided that the celebrant of the day would announce the “good” news at the end of the Eucharist. Fr. Louis Sojka was celebrant that day—I remember it distinctly!

Having already celebrated the Eucharist earlier in the day with the monks, I got right to it—I got my snow gear on and headed for the parking lot to get it cleared so the students could get out. Then I also started clearing the students’ cars of snow – especially their windshields. I just went from car to car as fast as I could. There was already a 4 inch layer of snow to deal with.

Since the chapel is so close to the parking lot, I could hear the joyous reaction to the news about getting out of classes the rest of the day and getting a longer weekend. Soon the students were like ants –  running everywhere – outside in the snow. They were happy – they were grabbing their laundry baskets of dirty clothes and heading for their cars. One of the seniors—it was Jon King – noticed that his car was cleared of snow and his windshield was clean. To this day, Jon always remembers this little act of kindness – (I guess you might say). Little did I know that such a little thing would remain with this boy for the rest of his life.

Students remember – they remember – trust me – they remember. Sometimes they remember too much – but they do remember.

Each of the honorees here tonight is here because he/she is being remembered for many things. I truly believe that all teachers are remembered for one reason or another, but it just so happens that the honorees tonight have floated to the top.

It is indeed an honor to celebrate and enjoy being remembered this evening with: Peggy Grennan, Carolyn Jaworski, Scott Olson, Sr. Anita Rolenc, Laurie Majerus, Tina Schofield, Sara Jorgensen, and Patty Rezek.

However, I am sure that all of the honorees would admit that they would like to have the spotlight taken off of them tonight and turned around and put on those who helped them, as teachers in their lives. So I ask all of you tonight to remember, to remember, the teachers in your lives. Many of us owe a lot to those who formed us, trained and influenced us. I want to take this opportunity to mention a few teachers in my life who did this for me. They would be: my Mom and Dad – Sally and Al – all my brothers and sisters, their wives and husbands and most certainly my nieces and nephews and now their children—most recently it would be twin girls – miracle babies in lots of ways – Grace Christiana and Hope Celestine. One is never too old to learn and never too young to teach. – the Benedictine sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, SD – Sr. Adelaide, Sr. Mattihas and Sr. Leonilla—a great uncle whom I never had in the classroom, but he taught well – Br. Adrian Borer a Franciscan Friar – all the monks of MM abbey, especially Fr. Nathanael Foshage,  and Killer Kane – oh!!! Killer Kane – also Miss Jean Troy – then the professors at Creighton University – I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Creighton U – then the professors of St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota – the monks of St. John’s and the professors in Israel—then the professors of UNO – especially Dr. Glenn Newkirk—in music I owe much to Abbot Gregory of Conception Abbey and Marilyn Thies, our organist at MM,  and Cina Crisara when I was with the Omaha Symphonic Chorus—and in actuality, I must say all the MM students in the history of the school. A teacher learns much from his/her students

My final words are to you Archbishop George Lucas—I really do not know how to explain this, but every time I mention your name in the Eucharistic prayer, it seems like I know you well. I have hardly had a conversation with you, since you have assumed your duties here in the Archdiocese of Omaha. You are GREAT – you Are the man – you Are the priest – the fullness of  the priesthood – You Are the Archbishop and a great leader. I don’t want you to get a big head now, but the feeling I have when I mention your name in the Eucharist prayer is how I felt when I came back from Mexico in 1996. I did not get much news there in those days where I lived and it was a bit shocking to me to find out that both Henri Nouwen and Joseph Cardinal Bernandin had died. I never met those two men, but I felt I really did know them very well. I have the same feeling about you Archbishop George!

The Latin word for educate is educare – to literally – lead out – you are leading us out of our ignorance and darkness – into knowledge and light -- you are giving us life – the Spanish speaking world has a wonderful expression --Educaion es la jave de la vida – Education is the key to life. You are our leader, educating us in the light of Christ!!

All of us, as Christians, have been marked with the sign of the cross --- let us be who we are. Let us teach by example and acts of kindness to one another.

Amen, Alleluia!!! Lets go home and teach!!!!!!!!!!!