Welcome back

Monday, January 3, 2011

We began the day with our 3rd Quarter Prayer service – a nice way to ask God’s blessing on staff and students as we start a new year and a new semester. 27 kids were still not here when we began the day, but several have arrived since.

For me it was a day of “wandering”.  The family service counselors work in my building on campus, and every one of them was at work early sitting in front of their computer screens and reviewing a couple of weeks worth of campus emails. They’re also making contact with the families of any students who haven’t made it back yet. I poked my head into each office to welcome them back. 

Next, I had a meeting in the Development Office. While over there, I made the rounds and did some catching up with staff about how their holidays went. Our maintenance crew is remodeling the break room and redoing some of the office space, so I checked in on their work too. We’re still answering some of the Christmas mail, but making good progress. Donors were generous to us over the holidays, and we are prayerfully grateful.

I wandered around the school, welcoming students back, and meeting the new ones who have just joined us. Some of the students looked tired – not used to waking up so early while on vacation – but they’ll soon be back in the routine. I was always hard to wake up when it came to school, but did OK once I got there.

I stopped in the Rec Center to check out the gym floor that was redone over the break – looks sharp and ready for boys’ basketball season, which starts with practice today. Then I joined the Raphael Home (1st – 3rd grade boys) for supper. After reading time, I got challenged to a game of Connect 4 and had to match my wits against the kids. I set out to let them win a few, but quickly realized I had to concentrate to win any!

A lovely Christmas

Sunday, January 02, 2011


I made my first, long overdue visit home to Indiana for Christmas in 14 years. My family knew that when I became a priest, I wouldn’t be home for most holidays. After last year’s cancer scare, this was a special Christmas that I really wanted to be home for. I made the rounds with different members of my family and got to meet my newest grand-niece for the very first time. We had lots of laughs, ate too much, revisited the old stories and caught up with new events in our lives. My Christmas was lovely.


When I drove onto campus yesterday, our facility crew was hard at work removing snow. On New Year’s Eve, Chamberlain got about 8 inches, and winds whipped the drifts high. Interstate 90 was closed down for the day to prevent travelers from getting stranded out in the country. On my travels, the road surface itself was fine, but the biggest problem I encountered was snow blowing across the highway which caused white-outs at times. But the campus is shaping up, and everyone is able to get where they need to go today.


Our St. Joseph’s homes opened back up today at noon for the children. While most of the students take some time to trickle in, one 7th grade girl was at the Pinger home with her grandmother as soon as the houseparents opened the door. While there are always some tears of homesickness as students are dropped off and families part, generally our students are glad to come back. Today was a day to catch up with students and staff and share holiday stories and memories.


I ran into several houseparents at the dining hall, which also opened today so the Homes can do their grocery shopping and replenish refrigerators that sat empty for two weeks. Each of the homes stocked up on milk and eggs, fruits and vegetables and all the makings for the next several days of meals.

Fr. Steve’s updates

Tonight, I got back from a “quick” trip to the hospital for pre-surgery tests and appointments. The drive is long, 375 miles each way, but I’m feeling well enough to do that by myself.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tonight, I got back from a “quick” trip to the hospital for pre-surgery tests and appointments. The drive is long, 375 miles each way, but I’m feeling well enough to do that by myself.

I drove out Wednesday and back today. Driving on the prairie isn’t all that stressful when the weather is good. There’s little traffic, and I just put the cruise control on and use the time to pray, think or listen to music or a ball game.

The doctors packed in a lot of tests, and results I have back so far are encouraging. My blood work shows that my counts have climbed back to normal, which is especially good news for my immune system.

The CT scan of my chest shows the cancer has not affected my lungs. The EKG told the doctors my heart is strong (maybe part of my charisma as a Priest of the Sacred Heart?) and able to handle surgery.

I had two tests that the results are still pending from. The vascular surgeon ordered an ultrasound of the veins in my abdomen and legs, to look at the blood flow, and help them determine how much the blood vessels have been affected by the tumor. If some of the veins need to be resected or replaced that will be one of the more complicated parts of the surgery.

I had another MRI to see what effect the chemo and radiation has had on the tumor, but those results were not back by the time I met with the oncologist. When he looked over the other results, he was quite pleased. He doesn’t’ expect me to need any more chemotherapy, which is definitely good news.

With a little over a week to go before surgery, I’m feeling pretty good going in. I tell folks I’m about 85% of normal. The doctors expect 6 – 12 weeks of recovery, and I’ll just have to let the medicines and my body take the time to heal.

I came back home to another pile of cards and letters with lots of prayers and encouragement. I have certainly felt blessed and loved through this whole process!