Saturday, May 14, 2011

Little Flower High School...

Serving Little Flower for more than 70 years, collectively, are, from left:
Sister Kathleen Klarich, R.S.M., principal; Marguerite Nicholson-Schenk,
assistant principal for student services; Patricia McCaffrey, assistant
principal for student affairs; Sister Donna Shallo, I.H.M., president; and
Rita McGovern, assistant principal for academic affairs.

Little Flower High School is Thriving! -- Catholic Standard & Times

By Jim Gauger
Special to The CS&T

PHILADELPHIA — When you speak with Sister Donna Shallo, I.H.M., and Sister Kathleen Klarich, R.S.M., of Little Flower High School for Girls, the enthusiasm in their voices is almost overwhelming.

They head a leadership team at the school, located in the Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia, that is both experienced and committed. Little Flower, which opened Sept. 1, 1939, “as the most modern of the secondary schools and the pride of the Philadelphia Catholic system,” is still going strong despite facing closure in the early 1990s.

“Our current students are our best advertisers,” Sister Donna, the school’s president, said. “The word of mouth is that our students are happy here, and parents want happy teenagers.” That spirit is the engine that drives the faculty and the students each day, said Sister Donna, who has been at Little Flower for 19 years.

And another key element to Little Flower’s continued success? Commitment to service. The principal, Sister Kathleen, has been at the school for 15 years. Then there are Rita McGovern, assistant principal for academic affairs — 15 years; Marguerite Nicholson-Schenk, assistant principal for student services — 14 years; and Patricia McCaffrey, assistant principal for student affairs — 10 years.

“It is very significant (having the administration in place for such a long period),” Sister Kathleen explained. “Each one is an individual with her own gifts and experiences. We are unified, committed to the mission of the school. We respect one another and communicate effectively.”
That sense of continuity and stability is welcomed by Sister Donna. “We are all interested in the students and embrace the mission of Little Flower,” she said. According to the school’s web site, Cardinal Dennis Dougherty, in order “to express his personal devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, named the school Little Flower confident that as patroness of the school she, in her Little Way, would be a model for the girls who would be educated here.”

In 1953, Little Flower was the largest Catholic girls’ high school in the country, with a student body of 3,312. Just about 40 years later the school was battling to survive as archdiocesan high schools adopted open enrollment. “Due to the deficit situation” in the Archdiocese, Little Flower and nine other schools were to be closed.

Sister Donna, who came to the school in 1991 as director of activities, remembers. “It was horrible,” she said of the 1992 crisis when enrollment was in the 900s. “All but St. James (Chester) and Bishop Kenrick (Norristown, her alma mater) survived.” (click title for the entire article)

This for my buddy Clare Pfeil, LFHS '84 (student #844350), who still sings it -- not well but it doesn't stop her ;-)

Alma Mater, good and true
The pride of Church and City,
We pledge our all to God and you
Under Mary's mantle blue.
Our faith is anchored here
With love that will light your years;
Staunch hearts will ever sing in praise of you.

Hail to you, Little Flower, hail!
Pride of all, our love will not fail
Guide us and keep us safe through the years
Bring us your children, brave through all fears.
Onward we will march foursquare
Vanguard of truth to do and to dare,
We, to you, our pledge renew,
Fore'er we will be true.

Little Flower, we glory to see
Your colors gleam in the sunlight,
Maroon for love and loyalty,
Snowy White for purity
Proud, we your banner fling,
Exultant, your praises sing.
We march on strong with trust in God above.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

This is for all of those people out there who no longer have mothers. For us old guys, of course, but especially for those younger people who lost their moms when they were way too young. I know how difficult it must be being inundated with all the advertisements at this time of year. The constant wishes... only to be turned into "I'm sorry." Don DiJulia, the AD at St. Joe's, gave the best advice when he told me "we're all rookies when it comes to losing our mothers, no matter the age."

I was lucky enough to have a great Mom... aka Ma. I hope you were too. I keep a County Mayo sticker on the bumper of my Dodge Charger to remind me of her, as she always had one on her car. Don't let the last name fool you -- she was "thoroughbred Irish", as she and her mother liked to boast. I never had perogis or golumpkis growing up.... just a roast cooked for 12 hours (until it just fell off the bone) and seemingly every meal had potatoes. Like all good mothers you were first on her mind when she woke up, and the last thing on her mind when she went to sleep. All those meals, all those rides to CYO games, all the washing and ironing, all the handkerchiefs she would spit on to remove whatever it was you got on your face. All the love, altruism, selflessness. Always putting you before her.

If you were lucky you got one like I did that dispensed excellent Yoda-like advice at the drop of a hat (oh how I wish that once I had the things I threw away), or had a comeback no matter what you said or did (are your ears painted on?). Hopefully she let you fight some of your own battles, like the time I fought the Jewish kid down the street while the parish priest was in our house visiting, and then told you to invite the boy to the house for dinner the next week - which I did and we became best friends (a Philadelphia rowhouse brand of Catholicism?). She was there, whether you wanted her to be or not, at almost every significant moment in your life. Should it have felt like your world was falling apart -- you knew there was one person who would always be on your corner. One caveat however - being in your corner didn't mean she told you wanted you wanted to hear.

At certain times in my life I would love to have just one more home cooked meal served up in the small kitchen, followed up by one of our endless conversations over Miller Lite and a Benson & Hedges Deluxe Ultra Lights. All gone now... oh how I wish that once I had.... ringing in my ear.

So for all of you out there -- don't think of how she died but celebrate how she lived. Say a prayer and remember at least one great memory, of either the lady who brought you into this world, or the lady who raised you. She is still worthy of that honor. But don't be too sad. You miss her, and I'm sure she misses you... but she is having supper with Lord now. By His cross, death and resurrection Christ conquered death. That is the consolation of Christianity. But don't think for a moment she's still not watching over you, and perhaps wondering what in God's name possessed him to do that. She may have retired the handkerchief by now though ;-)

TFB / 5-8-11 / AMDG