A Story of Devotion

Principally SpeakingDid you know that we have a confirmed Marian apparition site, right here, in Wisconsin? It is the only approved site in the United States! How cool is that!

I had the pleasure to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, shrine_fbprofileimage_180x180Wisconsin, in the spring of 2013. Considering other approved apparition sites are out of the United States, I all but gave up hope on the possibility of ever setting my feet on such sacred ground.

Now, those of us who grew up in Wisconsin understand how the Green Bay area is “the holy land,” but for an entirely different reason. Never would I have imagined making this type of pilgrimage to Green Bay, let alone for the opportunity to place myself where Mary was. (Needless to say, I went with the hope of having Our Lady appear to me. A girl can still hope!)

This little shrine sits among acres and acres of cornfields. If you blink, you will pass it. It is a gem of a place.

The story goes that 153 years ago, Our Lady appeared to a 28 year-old Belgium farm woman, Adele Brise. The Blessed Virgin appeared to her three different times beginning in October of 1859, encouraging her each time to teach the children their faith. Adele struggled with the message at first, for she didn’t feel confident in her catechism to begin so lofty a task. The Blessed Virgin told her not to be afraid, as she would be with her. Similar to other stories of this type, some believed Adele, while others questioned her honesty and sincerity, and were quite skeptical.

While the local priest was cautious, Adele’s father supported her and proceeded to build the first chapel shrine at the site where Our Lady appeared among the trees. Adele proceeded to travel the area teaching the children about Jesus Christ and His saving power by leading them and their families to the sacraments.

She established a school and a religious order dedicated to the task, thus becoming Sr. Adele. The school stands at the site of the shrine. Adele never wavered in her devotion to Mary, and in her devotion, Adele was greatly blessed.

To read more about Adele, visit: http://www.thecompassnews.org/2010/12/guided-by-mary-adele-brise-taught-children-about-catholic-faith/

God is good in so many ways! For me, this story only serves to reiterate how supremely magnificent our mother is when you place your trust in her. She will take care of you. So will her Son.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.


Jill Fischer is Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.

Our Lady of Fatima

Principally SpeakingMarian apparitions have been occurring over the centuries and around the world to help remind the faithful about the intercessory power of the Blessed Virgin in her role as our mother.

I remember very clearly when my mother first taught me about Our Lady of Fatima. I was in fourth grade. At the time, the impact was such that I prayed to have Mary visit me. I was jealous that the three children; Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco were able to experience this. How cool would that be to have not just an angel appear to you, but also Maimg_0822ry?!

I remember how much I wanted to be like Mary – I mean, I wanted to be Mary. It wasn’t
until I was a little older that I realized that I would never be Mary. That could only happen once, as my mother assured me. Jesus would return again but in a very different way. Regardless, from that moment on, I had a special devotion to Mary, especially through her title of Our Lady of Fatima.

In 2002 when Pope John Paul II instituted the Luminous Mysteries, I was teaching fourth grade. I was inspired to renew my devotion to the Blessed Virgin, by making it a weekly practice to recite the rosary with my students. I took it upon myself to re-learn the rosary and the prayers within.

I also took this opportunity to re-learn about Our Lady of Fatima, for it was through her visits that a prayer was introduced into the rosary. To come to that story again as an adult had a very different impact. It literally caused a panic. I found myself no longer desiring to be her, but desiring to share her message. I was, am, alarmed by it. It bolsters my moral responsibility to make sure that children, not just my own but those entrusted to my care, understand the need to be in relationship with Jesus.

Mary asked the children to pray the rosary daily for the conversion of sinners to Jesus’s most Sacred Heart. She came to the children to help her spread her message and worked miracles through them to bring about a change in the hearts of people, especially those who did not know Jesus or who had lost their way.

Let us take these days of consecration to truly change our ways. Let us dedicate ourselves to Mary, so that we may do better to respect Our Mother and her son, Jesus Christ. Nothing would make them happier than to have us be in love with them, as much as they are in love with us.



Jill Fischer is Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.


How Stubborn Are You?

canstockphoto14302405This month, theROCK is Focused on Change.

What’s preventing you from forming new habits? What’s stopping you from truly embracing God’s call? What’s stopping you from reaching your full potential?

More than likely, it’s because you’re stubborn.

God speaks to us in so many ways: through others words and actions, through our own thoughts, and through our observation of daily life.

He is consistently calling us. And most of the time, we choose to ignore His call.

  • I see the man on the street holding the sign that says “homeless.” But I can’t stop, I’m late for work.
  • I know my sister really wanted to talk to me about her marriage. But I’m just so busy right now.
  • I’ve thought about volunteering at the food pantry, but there is so much I have to do on Saturday mornings.

We know best. We hear God’s call, yet WE decide what to focus on and what to react to.

This week, take some time to evaluate your stubbornness. What’s holding you back from changing old habits? Why are you resisting? What is it that’s making you uncomfortable?

  • Find a way to open your mind and your heart.
  • Ask yourself why you won’t let go of your old habits.
  • Remind yourself that you may not always be right.

Remember, God’s calling you. Are you ready to listen?

think about it

Why are you stubborn? Share your thoughts with us.

St. Teresa of Kolkata

Principally Speaking

Sunday, September 4, one of my most favorite people was canonized a saint.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta graced the television screen and magazine covers throughout much of my childhood, along with Pope John Paul II, allowing me the opportunity to see my Catholic faith in action. I didn’t realize at the time what a privilege this was.

I certainly do now.

It makes me sad to think that my children, and your children, might not have such great examples of God’s love and mercy to observe in their lifetime. I can only pray that I am wrong.

What I remember most about Mother Teresa, now St. Teresa, are the images of her touching people. She touched those that no one else wanted to touch. She was present to 3476636111_c551295ca4_bthose that others ignored. She was the champion of the forgotten.

If you have the opportunity to read anything about her life, she had such a simple message of being present; person to person, soul to soul.

What she strove for most in life was to connect with Jesus in any manner that she could. She hungered for Jesus and this fueled her mission. In a world where we shirk from touching, connecting, feeling, she stands alone as a modern day miracle maker.

In pondering her need to touch, I think of the many stories in the Gospels of Jesus touching or being touched, such as in Luke 8: 43-47. I imagine the many times where His mere touch would mend a soul. Do we have that ability, where our mere touch can mend a soul? I believe that we do, but we’ve grown afraid to touch one another for fear of catching a cold, or the flu, or cooties. Touch is essential to our reception of the sacraments – it is the manner through which grace transfers from the priest to the person. Why are we afraid to touch, when a touch can mean so much?

“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta now



Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.


Focus on Change

Gratitude Quote for October

Do you think you’ve grown closer to God over this past summer? Did you have time to reflect on spiritual readings? Did you find a way to take long walks in prayer, sharing your thoughts with God? Did you find ways to reach out to others in your community and make a difference in someone’s life?

Right now, are you the person that you truly want to be?

I think we can all agree that summer has the ability to overtake our lives: vacations, picnics, activities, and yard work. Soon the leaves will be turning colors and the temperatures outside will begin to drop. Fall is knocking on our doors.

Are you ready to make a change? Are you ready to dedicate some time to become the person you’re always wanted to be? Are you ready to create a true relationship with God?

This month theROCK is focused on Change. Are you ready?

think about it

What do you want to change about yourself? Share your thoughts with us.


Simply Just Be

Jill Fischer

Considering our nation is in a political upheaval and our world is riddled with violence and tragedy, seemingly more so than ever before, we are challenged to regain our courage and determination to make our schools havens of God’s love and mercy.

Now more than ever, we must be the force for change through our relationship with Jesus –  to be the hands of Jesus to the children. We must commit ourselves, constantly, to live the faith we profess, and model what we teach. I invite you, the parents and guardians of the children, to do this as well, as the primary educators of the children.

Together, we must work together for their benefit. Indeed we have a tremendous responsibility to keep things simple in such a complicated time.

Simple in that we must be focused on Jesus and His Most Sacred Heart – His presence in the Blessed Sacrament and in one another.

Simple in that we must focus on love. Focus on peace. Focus on mercy. Cut out the noise and be present with one another and for one another. Simply just be.

When we lose this simplicity, we fall prey to the ills of society that result in hate, anger, and violence.




Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.

I Wish I Were the Type of Person Who…

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“Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.”

The other day I was walking my dog at 6:00 am and I saw several runners out getting in their morning workout. It made me say: “I wish I were the type of person who exercised at 6:00 am.”

Then I started thinking about other things in my life. “I wish I were the type of person who…read more, didn’t worry as much, was always ready with a kind word or smile, sent birthday cards to all my friends…”

This week, take sixty seconds and think about how you use your time….especially when it comes to living out your faith.

Finish the thought: “I wish I were the type of person who…”

Then think about how you can become that person. Come up with a plan. Keep it simple.

If not now, when?

Share your thoughts with us on your plan.

No Excuses

“Jesus said, ‘Follow me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’”

-Luke 9:59

Human beings are masters of excuses.

  • “When I get to the end of summer that’s when I’m going to start losing weight.”
  • “When I retire I’m going to finally sit down and start reading more.”
  • “When I have enough money I’m going to start donating to charities.”
  • “When I feel more comfortable at church I’m going to start volunteering.”

When Jesus said, “Follow me,” he didn’t say “Follow me when it’s convenient for you. Or “Let me know when you’re ready.” He simply said “Follow me.”

In Luke’s Gospel, the man answers with a simple request: “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

Some scholars point out that what we don’t read in Luke’s Gospel is that more than likely, the man’s father is not dead yet.

At these times, burial would have occurred very close to the death.


Therefore, the man is simply saying: “Sure, Lord, I’ll follow you, but let me take care of my dad for the next few years, then get all of his affairs in order, then when he dies and I bury him, then I’ll follow you.”

Pope Francis said: “Catholics can’t put their faith on a part-time schedule or rely on it just for the moments they choose; being Christian is a full-time occupation.”

Are you using time or is time using you?

No excuses.

If not now…when?

think about itShare your thoughts with us:

What excuses are holding you back from living your faith every day?

Vacation Time

Every year in early summer, I meet a group of my friends in North obxCarolina where we gather together in a huge beach house.

We don’t do much during this week. We walk along the ocean. We sit and soak up the sun. We talk and laugh and enjoy each other’s company.

We’re on “Vacation Time,” and the clock moves just a bit slower than the average day.

“Vacation Time” allows me to sit, read and really concentrate on the words of a good book. It also allows me time to pray, meditate and soak up the beauty that God has created all around me. It allows me to savor moments and feel connected to my faith.

This year, I’m attempting to find ways to bring “Vacation Time” to my everyday life.

I know the reality of the everyday world. I know the days are packed with meetings and phone calls and activities that must be accomplished.

But isn’t it just as important to find time to take a walk, to read a good book and to discover the beauty of God in our own backyard?

Isn’t it time that we slow down the clocks and find time to recharge our batteries?

Are you ready to enjoy some “Vacation Time?”

think about it

Think about your favorite vacation place. What makes it special? How can you bring a bit of that special place to your own backyard? Share your thoughts with us.



Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK and a member of the the
St. Dominic Marketing Committee.

The Secret of Life

i willWhat is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.” -James Taylor

I Will…Focus on Being Present

A recent study in Time Magazine stated that Americans collectively check their smartphones upwards of 8 billion times per day. On average, people in the US across all age groups check their phones 46 times per day. That’s up from 33 looks per day in 2014.canstockphoto31591868

How many times have you had a conversation with someone and the entire time the person is checking their phone? You might have even done it yourself.

Building strong relationships begins with being present–giving someone our complete attention. It starts with slowing down our racing brains and truly listening. The goal is not think about anything except what the other person is saying to you.

The same thing applies to our conversations with God.

When you sit in Mass on Sunday morning, how often does your mind wander? Are you listening to the readings? Are you engaged in communion? Are you praying the Our Father with all your heart and mind?

God certainly deserves our full attention. When we give it to Him, we will soon discover the true secret of life.

think about itWhat is your biggest obstacle that’s preventing you from being present? Share your thoughts with us.