Wherever I am, God Is.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing a wedding with two very special people. After spending part of the morning photographing the bride with the hair stylist and makeup artist, it was time to turn to the groom.

I met him downstairs, and he walked toward me with a big smile on his face. I asked him how he was doing.

“I woke up really nervous, but then my dad stopped by. We talked and prayed together, and I I felt so much better.”

This made me smile. Not only was this 24-year-old making God and prayer an important part of this special day, he was proud enough to talk about it with his photographer!

His faithful integrity helped define who he wanted to be on this special day.

It inspired me to ask some questions:

  • When I’m having an anxious moment, do I spend time worrying, or do I immediately turn to God?
  • When I do have special moments in my life, am I preoccupied with all the activities and forget to “bring” God along with me?
  • Am I proud enough to discuss my faith with others in my life, even a complete stranger?

Living a life of Integrity means putting God in clear view for every aspect of my day.

There is a simple prayer I learned years ago. It’s something I say in both moments of anxiety and happiness:

The light of God surrounds me.

The love of God enfolds me.

The power of God protects me.

The presence of God watches over me.

Wherever I am, God is.


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


Here I am, Lord

Here I am, Lord, your servant is listening.

These were important words spoken by Samuel in the first reading this past weekend. If you recall the story, Samuel is under the tutelage of Eli. During the night, Samuel hears a voice calling him. He understandably thinks it is his teacher, Eli, who is asleep in the temple. Samuel gets up and lets Eli know that his call has been heard.

Three times Samuel undergoes this process of call and response. It is after the third time that Eli understands what is happening; that the Lord is calling Samuel. Eli encourages Samuel to respond, “Here I am Lord, your servant is listening.”

These words really hit me this last weekend. They’ve been lingering with me since. I can’t quite tell if it is the interaction between pupil and teacher that strikes me. I can’t quite tell if it is the openness of Samuel to the will of God that strikes me. I can’t quite tell if it is the wisdom of Eli that strikes me. It might simply be the response all by itself that strikes me. It might very well be all the above.

It is an endearing tale that could, quite simply, encompass the experiences of all of us; hearing the voice of God and questioning whether or not you are hearing it.

How did Eli figure it out in order to counsel Samuel? Well, Eli knew God, and he led a prayerful, devoted life. Do you have someone who fits that role for you – a person who can help you hear God in your life? I do.

Here I am, Lord, your servant is listening.

Jill Fischer is Principal of St Dominic Catholic School.

The White Toyota

Several weeks ago I was driving on Interstate 94 toward downtown Milwaukee. It was a dark, gloomy day, and the roads were a bit slick from a slight mist in the air.

Traffic was stop-and-go for a while, then suddenly we picked up and were driving at freeway speed.

Then…just like that…things came to a grinding halt. The car in front of me stopped, and I gently pressed my brakes and stopped a few feet behind him.

That’s when I heard the tires squeal and felt the impact of the car behind me. I quickly looked in my rearview mirror to see a white Toyota kissing my bumper.

Because we were on the freeway, we both quickly drove our cars to an offramp and pulled off to the side of the road.

Immediately, the driver from the white Toyota got out of her car and approached me. I didn’t know what to expect, so I started with something simple: “Are you okay?” I asked.

“I’m fine,” she answered in a frustrated tone. “That was completely my fault. I’m late for a meeting, and I was looking at my phone, and I just didn’t stop in time.”

I was speechless. I didn’t expect her to be this honest. We quickly exchanged names and insurance information and waited for the police.

When the officer arrived, he questioned us separately. What would she tell him? Would she keep the same story? Would things have changed in the few minutes we sat on the side of the road?

When the officer approached me, he looked over my license and insurance, and said one simple thing:

“She told me it was all her fault.”

After we sorted through all of the details of the accident, I asked the woman why she said what she said. “Most people would have just kept their mouths shut to see what they could get away with.”

She just smiled. “But I did it. I was wrong. I made a mistake and I wanted to own up to it. No matter what it may cost me.”

Then I smiled. “That’s integrity,” I said. “I admire that.”

Since that moment, I think about the driver of the white Toyota every time I have to make an important decision or share information, especially when it comes to living a life of faith. Is what I’m doing reflecting my integrity? No matter the cost?


Do things right.

And do the right thing.


Our Family Stories

Over the Christmas break, this popped up in my Twitter feed: God is in love with us. He draws us to Him with tenderness by being born poor and fragile among us, like one of us. – Pope Francis.

For some reason, I have been thinking a lot about the humanity of Jesus lately. Very profoundly thinking about it in relationship to his mother, our mother, Mary. These were/are real people. When you stop to ponder this, it is much easier to understand and appreciate their relationship to us as family. When you focus on them as people and appreciate the Scriptures in this way, hearing their story is like hearing the stories of relatives shared at a family gathering. They become more real and familiar. When you hear the stories enough, it is almost as if you were there.

I believe that is the beauty of the Liturgy of the Word. These are our family stories shared around the table. To miss the meal is to miss the story. God has us over weekly for a meal that He has prepared with great love. He draws us to Him to pass on the wisdom of the ages so that the stories can continue on to the next generation in order to make us stronger as a family.


Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School

Focus on Integrity

Do you consider yourself a person of Integrity? Do you truly understand what Integrity is?

Integrity stems from the Latin word ‘integer’ which means whole and complete. To be a person of Integrity means that there is only one YOU. You bring that same YOU wherever you are, regardless of the circumstance. YOU are a person that others can count on because you are YOU.

This month, theROCK looks at Integrity and how it relates to our faith. We’ll take a closer look at what Integrity is, and we’ll discuss what you can do to live a life of true Integrity.

Integrity is:

  • Choosing courage over comfort
  • Choosing what is right over what is fast and easy
  • Choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them

Our World Changed Forever

For those of you who are parents, think back to the time when you had your first child.

What was that first week like?

You had to learn everything: how to hold your child, how to feed your child, how to soothe your child to sleep. Everything was a first for you and your new baby.

Now imagine everything that you went through, and add a few challenges.

  • You have to leave your home while pregnant, and head to a town 65 miles away to register for a census.
  • You must travel through the Judean desert during the winter, when it’s in the 30’s and raining. At night, it’s freezing.
  • The total trip will take four to five days. (And no, you can’t take the SUV. Lots of walking and donkey riding ahead.)
  • Your child is born in a carved-out cave or a stable for animals.
  • Oh, and throw in that an Angel appears to you in a dream and tells you to flee to Egypt in order to protect the life of your newborn son. Who just so happens to be the Son of God.

Even in our wildest imagination, we can’t fathom what the Holy Family endured over 2000 years ago. We know it was hard. And we know that they sacrificed a lot to bring Jesus into the world.

Because of the actions of these two people, Mary and Joseph, our world changed forever.

Think about that next time you have to change a diaper or two.

Take some time this week and say a prayer for families everywhere. Pray for peace in living rooms, neighborhoods, and cities in which they live.

Take a Moment and Be Still

This Christmas, I pray that each of you will take a moment to be still and ponder the gift we have in one another, and especially, in our ability to freely know, love, and serve a God who became man as a small little baby.

Never again will it be so pure, so lowly.



Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School


A Message of Hope

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering at the Riverwest Food Pantry. I greet the individuals and families who enter the building and select their food for the week or month. It’s been a life-changing experience as I’ve gotten to know a lot of the people who utilize the pantry on a regular basis.

Last weekend the pantry held their annual Christmas Gift Giving celebration. Partnering with a local church, the entire pantry was converted into “a store” filled with donated toys, books and clothing for kids.

Parents sign up to “shop,” then they choose and wrap gifts for their children.

It is a very special event for these parents, as many of these families cannot afford a lot for Christmas.

Parents pre-registered and were invited to sit in the pews at the beautiful St. Casimir church. Here they waited for their designated shopping time to be called.

I was fortunate to be the person who greets the parents at the front door.

The first person in line was Annette, a woman I have talked to many times at the pantry. She told me how in year’s past, she’s had to wait hours to shop at this event, and was always concerned that there wouldn’t be enough gifts left for her to choose from.

“I guarantee you,” I said. “You will be one of the first people to shop downstairs. You will have your choice of items to pick from.”

The church quickly began to fill with people—we had enough gifts for over 400 children! Then the announcement came for the first group to head down the stairs to shop.

Annette was the first in line. As she approached me, her face beamed with happiness. Her smile was infectious. She didn’t say a single word, she simply walked up to me, extended her arms, and gave me the biggest hug I’ve ever received. I whispered two words in her ear: “Merry Christmas.”

But then something magical happened. The next person in line also extended their arms and gave me a hug. And the next person. And the next. Everyone in line extended their arms and gave me a hearty embrace.

The group that filed down the stairs to shop believed that they were the ones receiving a gift. But what they didn’t know was that I was the one who felt truly blessed that day.

The love we shared with these simple hugs reinforced that there is hope in the world. It reinforced that yes, we can influence people with a simple smile and a lot of compassion. It showed me that we have the ability to make a difference with both our words and our actions.

Are you ready for the birth of Christ? Are you ready to transform someone’s life in 2018?

Are you ready to share a message of Hope to everyone that you meet in the new year?

Merry Christmas.


Dan Herda is member of St. Dominic’s Marketing Committee and an editor of theROCK.

The Joy is Growing!

Joy marks the third week of Advent. We light the pink  or rose candle, as this week is meant to bring rejoicing. The time of preparation is halfway over. The joy is growing!

Jesus, our Savior, is near. Not just in the day of Christmas but in the reality that He will come again. Joy in knowing that working on our relationship with Him will bring us closer to heaven. Joy that working on this relationship with others will bring heaven closer to earth. Joy that all will be made well for those who place their trust in Him.

As you ponder faith and joy, I share this passage from You: God’s Brand New Idea, a book of reflections that draws from other texts, to inspire and motivate you as we draw closer to Christmas. Have faith! Rejoice!

God has never taken his eyes off of you. Not for a millisecond. He’s always near. He lives to hear your heartbeat. He loves to hear your prayers. He’d die for your sin before he’d let you die in your sin, so he did.

What do you do with such a Savior?

Don’t you sing to him? Don’t you declare, confess, and proclaim his name? Don’t you bow a knee, lower a head, hammer a nail, feed the poor, and lift up your gift in worship? Of course you do.

Worship God. Applaud him loud and often. For your sake, you need it.

And for heaven’s sake, he deserves it. (Cure for the Common Life)


Jill Fischer is Principal of St. Dominic Catholic Parish


Prayer in a Busy Life

December is a very busy month for everyone and it’s very easy to get caught up in your list of things to do.

But it’s also an important month for prayer and reflection. Writer Christina Antus posted this short article on Catholic Digest.

How do I fit prayer into my already insane schedule of things? Well, there are a lot of ways to fit prayer time in.

  • Running or walking. Whatever your exercise regime may be, it’s a good time to check out of this life and tune into your spiritual life. It could be silence, meditation, or prayer.
  • Podcasts on your errands. Listen to favorite podcasts and audio books when dropping kids off at school and running errands like a crazy person. It puts a sense of calm and positive perspective into what otherwise can quickly become a frantic day.
  • Using sock-folding as makeshift decades. I know it sounds ridiculous, but we have enough socks to make a full rosary. We have enough laundry to say the rosary for 40 years. The nice thing about the rosary is you don’t have to say it all once. It makes for a pretty awesome “on-the-go” prayer.
  • Daily devotionals. I have a book that has very short devotionals for women. It takes me five minutes to read it, and each ends with a prayer and reflection. It’s an excellent way to start or end your day. You can use the prayers to set your day on the right path or use it to reflect on the past day and focus on the next.

These are just a few examples of how to bring prayer and reflection into your everyday life. Maybe you have one that works better for you…we’d love to hear about it. Share your thoughts below.

During these last busy days before Christmas, it’s important that we find time to prepare our hearts and mind for the birth of Christ.