Filling Up Our Souls

Principally SpeakingOur souls are like a cup. They get filled when we experience that which brings us peace and joy. They empty as we serve to meet the needs of those around us. You can’t pour out what you don’t have.

So, when you spend your day moving from task to task, you can start to run a little low –coffee-cup pouring out your cup. When we run a little low, the things that bring us joy can become a source of irritation. Irritation can lead to anger. Anger can lead to isolation. We all need to take time to “fill up” our cups – our souls.

One way to do this, as I mentioned last week, is to invite Christ into the busyness of your day. He will shoulder the burden for us, if we only ask. This is the saving power of the cross.

Another way to do this is to allow yourself to be quiet. Disconnect. Shut off. Re-boot. The digital age has made this more and more difficult, but it needs to happen for our own sanity. Allow yourself to take a “Technology Sabbath,” a term I learned on Monday at our Sustaining the Mission session. A Technology Sabbath forces us to be disengaged in order to “fill up,” much like a good hour at Mass can help us “fill up.” Silence allows us to get in tune with ourselves, so that we can better understand what God wants from us. You can’t do that in the noise of our day to day.

So, how about giving that a try? It will be difficult the tighter you are bound to your devices, but the agitation will disappear. You may even like it.

You might even prefer it.

Let us not forget, that our children need to do this too.



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

Our Greatest Gift. Our Greatest Responsibility.


This month theROCK is focused on Using Your Gifts.

“Faith is our greatest gift. Sharing with others is our greatest responsibility.”

What is the foundation of your faith? How does your faith influence how you use your gifts? Why do you believe?

Guest bloggers Maureen and Emmy Norton tell us their stories.


My faith journey began as an invitation. My friend invited me to a prayer meeting when I was 18. Jesus showed up to that meeting and touched my heart in a way that changed my life forever. It was like my eyes were opened and I couldn’t close them again.

Over the course of my life, I can point to several times where there were coincidences like this and they were just too big to ignore. I began to see that there aren’t coincidences. Only mini-miracles.

we-believeI began to learn and study Jesus through prayer. I learned that I get much more than I give when I listen to the Bible and give my time or my resources away. My husband and I teach our children about our faith so that they will know the key to happiness…even when the inevitable hard times come.

Jesus will help them see how loved and treasured they are.


I believe in God because when I look back on my life, I can see God’s hand intertwined throughout every moment of it. Every time I’ve fallen, he’s picked me up. Every time I’ve strayed, he’s brought me right back where I belong.

One of the clearest examples of this is when my family moved from Michigan. I loved living in Michigan. I loved my friends. I loved the area. That’s why I was really confused when my mom told me we were moving. I couldn’t figure out why God was doing this to me.

A few years later, we ended up moving back to Michigan—to the same area, the same house, the same school. I tracked down old friends. When I found them, it all made sense to me.

They had changed drastically. There’s no telling how I would have ended up if they had continued to have a negative influence on my life.

It was as if God were saying, “You, my child, are precious to me. So precious, that I’m going to move you to a place where you can begin to be to the best version of yourself.”

That’s true genuine love. And that love is why I believe in God. The same love is why I am driven to give so much of my time and talents to the church.

think about it

What is the foundation of your faith? Why do you believe? Share your story with us.

Inviting Jesus In

Principally SpeakingHow would you characterize your prayer life? So many adults find themselves stuck in a prayer life that centers on the rehearsed formal prayers of the Church which can leave one’s prayer life a little flat.

Might I offer this suggestion: Whenever you start a conversation with yourself, such as the ones you have when trying to figure out one of life’s little conflicts, throw in Jesus’s name.

It might sound something like this:

Before: “ So I have to get Bobby to soccer and Judy to piano, but how in the world can canstockphoto4750733that happen when they are at other sides of town and within 10 minutes of one another?”

In prayer: “So I have to get Bobby to soccer and Judy to piano, but how in the world, dear Jesus, can that happen when they are at other sides of town and within 10 minutes of one another?”

To make Jesus personal and present in our lives, we just need to invite Him in. Once you do that, you will find yourself engaging in conversation with Jesus on a regular basis, thus developing a personal prayer life with Him.

This is all that we are being asked to do. Give it a try. Give yourself some time in quiet, and listen. He will answer you. This is something that we can also show our children.

If they hear us talking freely to Jesus, they will see that it is normal, and will do the same. As the primary educators of the children in faith, demonstrating an ease and comfort in prayer will have far reaching effects- very important far reaching effects.



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


We Believe


Last Sunday, the parishioners of St. Dominic had a chance to profess what they believe.

Here are just a few of the results:


  • “I believe in the power of prayer.”
  • “I believe my talents were given to me to serve God and others.”
  • “I believe in hard work, helping others, and Jesus Christ.”
  • “I believe God is merciful.”
  • “I believe God gives us everything.”
  • “I believe that character is what you do when no one is looking.”
  • “I believe in the Kingdom of God…”
  • “I believe love is everlasting…”


This month, theROCK is focused on Using Your Gifts. It’s perfectly timed with our Stewardship Campaign.

So often we are confused about what our gifts are and how we can use them. Let us help. Here are three simple steps that will get you on track.


Let’s change the wording a bit. Don’t call them gifts, call them strengths. What are your strengths? We tend to think of people like NBA star LeBron James or singer Adele as “gifted.” So we become intimidated when people ask us about our “gifts.”

But we know that everyone has weaknesses in life, AND everyone has strengths. What are your strengths? If you don’t know off the top of your head, ask someone who knows you well. They’ll tell you.


Pray alone or as a family. Ask for God’s help. Pray the Apostle’s Creed. The Creed is a proclamation of what we believe. If we believe our Creed, it should change our lives.

Listen to what God is telling you.

“Here are my strengths, God, what can I do with them?” Don’t be afraid. Trying something new is always a challenge, but it also gives us the most reward. Be open minded.


Review the 2017 Ministry Handbook. What jumps out at you? What are you curious about? Remember, you don’t have to be “gifted,” you just have to believe. God has a  purpose in mind for each of us. We just need to discover what it is.

This year’s Stewardship Appeal is all about witnessing to our belief in the Gospel and living it out in our daily lives.

“So let our faith be more than anthems
Greater than the songs we sing
In our weakness and temptations
We believe, we believe”

Tell us what you think. Share your ideas for discovering your gifts.

Created for a Purpose

Jill Fischer

fallI love October! It is my favorite month for so many reasons.

I have always loved the changing of the colors. I have always appreciated the warmth with cool undertones. I enjoy being able to wear a light sweater and blue jeans when walking outside. I relish the fact that one month of school has been completed and all systems are go! The kinks are worked out and the routines are in place.

But I love it most for all of the fantastic faith components to the month.

October is the month dedicated to Mary, Queen of the Rosary and October is also Respect Life month, which pairs perfectly with our virtue of the month at St. Dominic Catholic School – empathy. To pay attention to the needs of others and respond accordingly out of love, is exactly what respecting life is all about.

This month we should focus in on how valuable we are to one another and that each individual has been created for a purpose – a divine purpose.



Jill Fischer is Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School

Focus on Our Gifts


What gifts has God given you?

It’s not always so easy to determine, is it? We don’t always think of ourselves as exceptional or talented or above average in abilities. Yet God has truly given each of us unique gifts. And He has asked us to use our gifts to serve one another.

So where do I start?

  • How do I determine my gifts?
  • What am I supposed to do with my gifts?
  • How do I know if I’m using my gifts in the right way?

This month theROCK will focus on using our gifts. We will look at ways we can discover our gifts, and determine ways we can use our gifts.

Our journey starts today…

think about it

What is stopping you from discovering your gifts?

What is preventing you from using your gifts?

Share your thoughts with us.

A Change of Attitude

A few weeks ago, I was asked to photograph a grand opening of a department store in Evergreen Park, Chicago. Theses types of events are always very hectic, as there are lots of moving parts (photos of executives, VIP’s, ribbon cutting, various guests, food, entertainment). Lots to keep track of. Lots of stress.

The morning started at 5:30 am, and right before I left my hotel room, I began to run through the day in my head. That’s when I decided to try something different.

I decided to change my attitude about the event.

Instead of worrying about things, I made a commitment to God, that during this event I would concentrate on being “an instrument of His peace.” I would focus on shining His light on everyone I met that day. I would not worry. I would not be anxious. I would simply enjoy the morning.

As I was eyeing up the best spot for ribbon cutting at the store, I met three people: Albert and his wife and sister. They were standing in line for the Grand 43Opening, and we talked and laughed had a great conversation. I saw them again after the store opened, and I asked if I could take their picture. They were thrilled. They were excited about the attention.  Albert said it made them feel special. He then reached out and shook my hands and said “I love you, man.”

11Then I met Beverly. She is the Chairperson for the Evergreen Park Mall Walkers. When she told me her story, Beverly proudly mentioned that since 1991, she lead a group of 200 people walking through the mall every single morning.

“It was great exercise,” she said, “but it was more than that.” She told me that a large portion of this group held a prayer service every morning after their walk.

She’s being doing this for 25 years! (Did I mention that she is 93 years old?)

Beverly grabbed my arm and said “I’ll pray for you, if you pray for me.” I smiled, put my hand on hers and said I would. Then she looked me in the eyes and said “I love you.”

Here I was, photographing a store grand opening, and I had two random people, complete strangers, tell me that they loved me.

And I know why. They saw God glowing in my eyes. They felt the presence of Jesus in our handshake and our touch. They knew that the Holy Sprit was setting us on fire at that exact moment.

Once I opened my heart to change and allowed God to take over my morning, my day was like no other day I ever had.

think about it  What routine could you change?

How can you be an “instrument of God’s peace” today?



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

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:

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.