Monthly Archives: August 2011

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Road Trip to IKEA!

Caveat Emptor! (Buyer Beware!)

I never thought I could be excited about going to a Super Store but that is exactly how I feel! IKEA! I’ve passes this store numerous times, have heard stories about it, saw the commercials, got the catalogue…..woo-hoo! This morning it will be breakfast first with Jenny Chandler who is driving me up to Streamwood to help me pick up a new scooter. I bought it on eBay for $250, however, I have to pick it up. Since Jenny was the one who found it for me online, she also offered to drive me up there to get it.

When I looked at the map I noticed that Streamwood is near Schaumburg and in Schaumburg there is an IKEA! This was a no brainer. We are still outfitting our new school offices with shelving and IKEA is the wonder store for storage. To not make a stop there could be a grave sin. I already know what I’m looking for so this trip has a destination and a goal.

There is a major caveat to this journey. Jenny and I agreed that we would leave all extra cash at home and only get what we are going for! I’m told that IKEA is the “Candyland” of shopping! The trick is to be strong. Perhaps a rosary or two or the intercession of some other powerful saint who can help us to resist the temptation of “shopping till we drop!”

So for today on this day off….my goal is to be home by noon or 1:00p.m. so that I can still go and see the movie “The Help”. Then afterwards, of course, coming home and continue working on throwing stuff out. Speaking of throwing stuff out, one of my kitty-cats brought in an unidentifiable creature that I had to put in the garbage.



Having survived the busy-ness of yesterday is now allowing me to pull back a bit today. I actually did more than I reported I was going to do. Like, I squeezed in a little sushi lunch at House of Kobe and went to PetSmart in Merrillville before heading out to the airport to pick up Rosie. After I came home, I prepared my TV room by moving the little sofa back in to the living room and LeeAnn Bonta got some big guys to move my sleep sofa down to my TV room. After living here two years I can honestly say my house is almost in order. I’m still unpacking and tossing from my move to Merrillville 10 years ago! What has cured me from holding on to the “junk” I’ve collected over the years has been watching the TV show “Hoarding: Buried Alive.”

This morning I frantically looked for the sports section from last Saturday to see if I could find the Times article with Ethan Bonta’s name in it. Apparently, I stuck my foot in my mouth when I saw him Sunday and told him I didn’t see his name in the paper from the last Andrean game. He looked at me as if I stabbed him in the heart because the Post-Tribune had a big picture of him running off the field and the Times said that he saved the game! How did I miss that? I later heard from his mother that he didn’t know if I was teasing him or not. Ouch! That made me feel bad! So, I clipped out the article and even got the Post-Tribune picture….had both articles laminated and put it on my office door. In essence, I am now going to build a little shrine to Ethan Bonta! Why?

Last year Ethan came into my office and noticed that I had two articles about Jake Dixon on my door. Jake was playing football at Portage High School and was an incredible player. When Ethan saw that he asked why there was nothing with him on my door. I wasn’t even aware that Ethan was playing well enough to get mentions. He was! Jake is a great guy. I went to high school with his dad and because of Jake’s accomplishments on the team I threw my support towards the public high school by taking an ad in their sports booklet. Jake has now graduated as is playing football for Fordham University in New York. So now the focus is on Ethan!

Ethan too, is a great kid. Actually, all the Bonta boys are great kids. So, to honor my former grad of Nativity….”It’s all about Ethan!”

What a pastor won’t do…..or will do… give justice to one of his own. I may have scored a touchdown on this one!

“Good Morning Scholars!”

Nativity Scholars From Days of Old!

I have made it a habit of calling all my Nativity students “Scholars“. I suppose that in my mind they are on their way to becoming scholars once they leave us. For the past several years those students who go on to Andrean High School have been the top scorers in the entrance exams. Along with that the top scored student gets a $1000 scholarship. Portage High School loves our Nativity students too. They always rank in the top ten percent of their class (with a few exceptions). So, calling them scholars now seems like the right thing to do by putting them on the right track.

This year our school is enjoying a terrific increase in enrollment. What is surprising is that we only budgeted for 160 students and we have 184 students enrolled. Some of these kids are coming to us on the new state voucher program but it is still an increase. What I like to impress is that something good is happening here at Nativity.

This morning I will have my first all school mass and I will welcome our students and give them the encouragement they need to begin their school year. I have also made it a tradition to call my Kindergartners “skinny-gartners!” It always gives them a tickle! My second graders are the ones I have marked as my “special” class because when they are in the 8th Grade it will mark one full cycle of my tenure here at Nativity. I hope I am here to see that day.

This past weekend was extremely busy. I didn’t get a chance to post a blog in case you were looking for me. In this weekend I had a funeral for a lovely 93 year old woman, my regular mass schedule with confessions and I canned 13 quarts of peaches and 24 quarts of tomatoes. Needless to say I was one tired Padre last night and it felt good to crash and burn last night.

Today will be busy too. After mass, it will crunch time to get the bulletin sent, set up the homily for next weekend, set up for next weeks bulletin, go to Midway to pick up Rosie (it’s her birthday, Happy Birthday Mommy!), can two more half bushels of tomatoes and anything else that falls in my path! Have a Blessed Day!

Fruit of Thy Labor!

Natural Goodness!

Over 10 years ago I earned how to can tomatoes. My mother showed me how easy it was to do. It’s just time consuming and a little messy. There is nothing that compares to having the satisfaction of packing away a piece of God’s creation. It’s a goodness you can savor until you run out. The last time I canned was two years ago. I canned 8 cases of tomato. Not just for me but for my mom. This year I planted at least three different kinds of tomatoes: Big Boy, Roma and cherry. Big Boys are great for sandwiches, Roma for sauces and cherry for salads. Yum!

But this year I’m trying something new……peaches! Last year was going to be the year but they went out of season real quick. But I have a half bushel and am going to give it a whirl. The procedure is just as easy as tomatoes but again, time consuming and messy. I love to eat peach pie or peach cobbler. Or just to spoon some on some ice cream.

A few years back I tried pickles and peppers. They were just …okay. I am so grateful to Michelle Plinovich and Donna Johnson for picking up the peaches all the way from Michigan.


Keep On Rollin On!

I posted a shameless request for someone to donate a scooter for me last year. Through the generosity of a former parishioner I received one. Unfortunately it died on me and now have been told it is not repairable. So I reposted another request. To purchase a new one will cost me $2000.00 or a little less. I suppose I could purchase one with the help of my foot doctor and my insurance but I only asked the public because sometimes people have these items and are looking for a home to someone who might need one. Like me.

Although I don’t dwell on it, the fact that I have “charcot foot” is serious. I tire very easy because I am constantly focused on not falling down. I don’t think people know how often I fall. Last week I fell in the school and my head almost went through a plate glass window. I came out with a deep cut on my knee. It’s pretty deep and it really hurt! Ouch! It was advised to me over a year ago to use a cane when I walk and I had no problem developing a cane aversion. But even with a cane I loose my balance. It’s a strange feeling living with this disability. It’s even stranger to say that I have one. Sure, I enjoy the perk of having the special car sticker and I have even had people open doors for me and just last week someone gave me a seat on the “L” in Chicago. But I mourn the loss of not moving around as quickly as I would like. I am beginning to see the road ahead of me. What I mean by that is that I am not getting any younger and my foot will not get better. If I break it I run the risk of amputation in the future.

The whole thing about getting older is kind of creepy for me although in just 15 years I can retire. I just hope that I don’t completely fall apart before that. I would really like to travel.  A few nights ago I dreamt that I was walking along and my foot was dragging. It was a disturbing dream and yet it almost felt like a foreshadowing of things to come. I guess this is why I want to get a new scooter. I want to be able to preserve what I have and just be smart about it.

I suppose that I should talk to God about this whole thing. Whatever is thrown in my path I know I will survive. I will not give up. God will not disappoint me either. He’s the best boss I’ll ever have!

Up, Up and Away!

Rosie in Florence, Italy!

I am up early today. Rosie is going to North Carolina to see my sister Susan. I’m glad she’s going to get away and even happier that my sister is offering this to her. Too bad Hurricane Irene is going to dampen the trip! (Pardon the pun) My mom is very dedicated to my dad who now resides in a nursing home. My mother (Rosie) takes it upon herself to worry. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. But I’ve noticed that her worries are subsiding into a peaceful resignation. This is good news for me. Why? Because I am the one who has been her sounding board. In a sense, I’ve taken this up as my ministry to her. After all, who can she talk to on a daily basis? I’m the one who calls her three times a day to make sure she is OK. I worry about her. That’s a turnaround! If she’s not home at nightfall, I panic. I panic even more if she does not answer her cell phone. In the past she has been out with her friend Ophelia or the cat has knocked the phone of the hook. I even have the phone number to her next door neighbor if mom does not answer her phone or if I get a busy signal. Rosie is turning 83 years old this week. I’m hoping she’s around for a while. I just don’t want her to suffer in her last days. She has become my best friend in my later years. We’re not supposed to be friends with our parents when we are young but that changes as we get older. Two years ago I took mom on a cruise to Europe. She loved it and never in her wildest dreams did she ever see herself on such a huge trip. The photo I inserted is with her in the center of the market in Florence Italy. Legend has it that if you rub the nose of the boar you will return. I don’t believe this that will be the case for her. In October I will return to Florence and I will rub the boar’s nose just for her. In a sense, she will have returned again vicariously through me!

Praying for A Peaceful End.

End of an Era!

I’ve been glued to CNN this morning watching the compound of the leader Khadafi (sp?) being overtaken. It’s strange watching all these mid-eastern nations fighting for freedom from oppressive governments and dictators. What’s confusing to me is what will replace the old regime? What type of government will make them a better nation? Libya is a tribal nation consisting of all sorts of ideologies and beliefs; what will offer them a peaceful life?

My thoughts and prayer is focused on peace and understanding especially for the people of Libya? I pray that their steps will be guided with wisdom and understanding. And of course, I pray that the hand of God will touch them. What more can I say about that?


Why! I Don’t Know!

I went to a Cub game at Wrigley last night. Took an old friend with me. To my surprise Matt has never been on the Chicago “L”. I sense that I may have opened a whole new world for him because of the newness of the expereince. Traveling in Chicago can be a daunting task. Through my years of traveling there, I have learned a few shortcuts and a way to save on the budget. Whenever I can save money for “beer money” it’s always a good thing. Except for the fact that a beer in the ball park is $7 a pop. Yikes! My limit is three. If they served Corona beer like they do at cellular it might be upped a bit.
Anyway, the weather was perfect. Quite a contrast to when my big brother Steve dumps his April and May tickets on me. I recall years ago going to an opening game and it snowed. I really hate to be cold and I was more than cold….I was freezing!
Two weeks ago I was at Wrigley but not for a game. Big brother Steve earned a partial indulgence by gifting me with a Paul McCartney ticket. That was an awesome Wrigley experience.
Whenever I do go to Wrigley there is a great sense of nostalgia that overcomes me. I remember when Big brother Steve took me to my first Cub game back in the 60’s. A trip that he has often repeated with his kids and in a few years, it’ll be his grandkids.
The nostalgia I feel is not just because of all the memories but also because of the history that is with the park.
Some of my memories are not the kind I would want to share. They are both personal and embarrassing.
And by the way, the Cubs lost. Even then, I am just happy to be able to go somewhere that is like going home. That’s why they call it the “friendly confines”! So why do I bother with the team that’s always “next year?” I don’t know!

Sunday is Funday!

World Youth Day 2011 Spain

I’ve been following the tweets from people who are attending World Youth Day in Spain. Everything seemed to be going well until I saw one tweet that reported that there was no water to be found anywhere. Not good. A definite mood changer especially when I read that the weather has been hot. I hope that since then that this problem has been resolved. But the good news is that our Holy Father has been inspiring the crowds with simple messages; namely, for the attendees to bring back to their communities the spirit and zeal they are feeling as the gather in a world community setting. With that he has told the crowds to become active in their churches and to focus clearly on the Eucharist. This is not a new message but when the messenger is the Pope it has a weighted edge. Let’s face it…..hearing these words from the Number One guy has great value.
This is the spirit that I have been praying for since my arrival at Nativity of Our Savior Parish two years ago. People are good about attending mass but their time and talent is just as valuable.
My challenge is to bring them back to home and getting them involved in other venues that will build up their God given gifts. In short, bringing them home to something that has value. I am currently hoping to get Scripture Study classes formed. I’m looking at the Little Rock Scripture studies programs. I know there are others and I am open for suggestions. It is a proven fact that when people have a better understanding of their faith they are more apt to be involved in parish life. I have also found I will draw more people if the study classes are 4 to 6 week programs. This way people will be willing to make the time to learn. The hook is that they will gain new value and insight to reading, reflecting and praying with scripture. Breaking open the “word of God” is one thing but making it come alive in our heart, minds and souls is forever!

Called to Serve!

Nate Urchick's First Altar Server Class!

Today a group of my young people completed their altar server training. I always remember the day I became an altar server back in the 60’s. The excitement of serving at God’s altar was overwhelming. I tell people that I knew I wanted to become a priest when I was 5 years old. I was truly in love with the church at a very young age. After making my First Holy Communion, I faithfully took my prayer book to mass and would follow the mass. Of course, this was after Vatican II when the mass was in the vernacular. I still recall the mass being offered in Latin. So many times I’ve heard people say we need to go back to the old Latin mass. In all honesty I have to admit that there was a certain awe and mystery that the church held during those days.
With the release of the new mass parts this coming First Sunday of Advent, the old timers will recognize that the English translation follows very closely to the old missals that had one side in Latin and one side in English. So once again what was old is new and what’s new is old! I really don’t expect much of a fuss with the moving of the mass into the “better translation.” It’s good to shake things up a little. I will miss singing some of the masses that I’ve come to love singing. I’ll just have to wait and see what the composers will bring forth and go from there.
But back to my new servers….I hope they enter this ministry with the same zeal I had as a small fry. I thank God for sending me these new ministers to serve at his altar. Especially for Nicholas who is my Special kid. He is pure love and truly desires to be a part of this ministry.AND, this is Nate Urchick’s first group of servers as lead server. Congrats to you Nate!