Homework Tips

Mr. Lyall's Line
With the start of school, I am sure many of you have already seen some sort of homework come through your front door.  Homework should not be a hassle for the the child or the family.  Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.
Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!
Here are some tips to guide the way:  
--Know the teachers — and what they're looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child's teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.    Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework.
Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
--Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
--Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there's an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
--Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
--Make sure kids do their own work. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it's a kid's job to do the learning.
--Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
--Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
--Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
--If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder. I found this advice to be very sound over the years to end the homework hassle.  Again, children need your support and your active interest, and the rest will take care of itself.
Happy September!

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

September is Here

Well, time flies when your having fun.  This school year has really started very well.  Thank you to each and everyone for helping to make this year start so smoothly.  September is here, and St. Pats is moving forward with learning and fun at a record pace.  We appreciate all that you do to make our school such a special place to learn.
Thank you too to all of the folks who came to Back-to-School Night.  The students really do appreciate and enjoy sharing what they do at school with their parents.  Teachers also appreciate your attendance as they get an opportunity to explain some of the wonderful things that will be taking place in their classrooms this year.  I am so proud to see so many people working together to benefit our students.  This is one of the many reasons our school is so successful.
If you still have a few pieces of paperwork out, please get this information into the office as soon as possible.  We need to report all of our census information this month, and the paperwork plays a major role in the accuracy of this information.
I want to remind all parents that it is necessary to attend a VIRTUS training session before you can volunteer in the school.  This diocesan policy has been in place for many years now and helps to ensure the safety of all our children.  Shelly Harden will be conducting a VIRTUS training session here at St. Pats for anyone who needs the training on Tuesday, September 16th, from 5:45 to 8:45.  If this does not fit into your schedule, please contact the school office for other training dates and times.  Again, to volunteer, that includes driving on a field trip, you must have taken this training.
Happy September to everyone!  Hopefully we will see a good break in the heat soon.  Many blessing to each of you.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Welcome Back!


Welcome back to all of you!  I am so happy to see everyone.  Once again our enrollment has climbed!  Thank you for sharing the word about our school and encouraging people to become a part of our wonderful school.  Students seem eager and willing to learn and tackle the new school year!  It is so nice to have so many happy children walking the hallways.  Thank you parents for all that you do to help make the start of each school year such a smooth and easy transition.  May God continually bless each of you and your family.
Starting the new school year, I want to remind parents to make sure students leave the house with everything they need for a successful day.  Backpacks can be packed and ready to go before each child goes to bed. Don't forget the water bottle and the sunscreen for students who need this.  We are happy to let students have a water bottle that can be filled at anytime during the day.  We encourage drinking water so we can remain hydrated and feeling good.  With the heat of August, students should be drinking quite a bit during the day. If you should need something, please do not hesitate to contact the school office or your child's teacher for assistance.
I would also like to remind everyone to get the last minute paperwork into the office.  Immunization forms, Form B's registration forms, physicals, health assessments, and the like are all due to the office as soon as possible.  Please help us have all of this paperwork complete so we can move forward with the school year. Individual e-mails and phone calls have been placed if you need to turn something into the office. Thank you for making this a priority.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to remind everyone of our Back-to-School Night.  We have that evening scheduled for August 27th at 6:30 P.M.  We will start in the gym and we will send you off to visit with your child's teachers after that.  The students look forward to sharing with their parents their classroom and all the fun learning activities that have accomplished thus far.  See you there!
Welcome back to school!  We are so blessed to have each and everyone of you as part of our family. I am looking forward to yet another hugely successful and fun school year.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Have a Wonderful Summer!

Well we have arrived at the end of another school year.  This year has been filled with much success and hard work, and I am very proud of every student for all that they have offered this year.  As I reflect on this school year I see an extraordinary effort put forth by teachers and students in a time of many changes.  I am so happy to say that we accomplished the many great things this year because we ALL work together to make St. Patrick Catholic School one of the finest places to learn in the state.  Thank you too to the parents.  Your efforts to assist us are tremendous.  Thank you volunteers, we could not do half of what we do without you.

Speaking of volunteers, St. Pats is always seeking volunteers.  Uniquely, we will be asking more of you to enter the classrooms in this coming school year for assistance.  I invite you to take a each week to assist our teachers in their classrooms.  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to help as well as support your children and school.  More information about this program will be coming soon.

Congratulations goes out to our 8th grade students.  On Thursday evening they were promoted to high school.  This class was an exceptional example of academic and personal success.  Every single student earned some sort of academic award.  These students also demonstrated the meaning of stewardship and character as they were always ready to lend a helping hand.  Good luck to each of you.  I am certainly proud of all that you did while you were with us here at St. Pats.  Good luck in high school, and always keep your faith close to you.  Don't forget to come back and see us!

I want to wish everyone a wonderful summer.  We will be seeing some of you soon for our summer Kick-Start program which begins on June 9th.  If you should have questions or need anything during this break, please do not hesitate to contact the office.  Beginning in June our office hours will be Monday through Wednesday 8:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m and Thursday 8:00 a.m. - 12 noon.  

God Bless each of you.  Happy summer.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

On the Home Stretch

Mr. Lyall's Line
There has definitely been a whirl wind of activity here at school.  Numerous celebrations, like the ice cream party for ticket sales from the St. Pats dinner and auction, lunch with Mr. Lyall, field trips, track meets, the Accelerated Reader event, and finishing our Religion and Science testing have all been a huge part of our week.  Wow, I don't think we could put one more thing into the schedule!  To be sure, we had a blast and are gearing-up for more fun and excitement next week.

Our teachers who "lost" and had to be bubble-wrapped and rollerskate were certainly very brave, good sports during the Accelerated Reader event.  It was quite fun. We are looking forward to more field trips, movie day on Tuesday, and promotion on Thursday for our 8th grade students.  I guess the moral of the story is that numerous things are happening here at school and it is important that we stay on top of all of them. We certainly don't want anyone to miss out on anything. Staying focused and paying attention is truly important this time of year.

Thanks to everyone who make all of these things possible for our students.  Thanks also to the students for working hard and accomplishing great things.  We truly are blessed.
Here's to a great end to a great year.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

May Has Arrived

May has arrived.  The crisp air does not remind us of May, but Nevertheless it is here.  Hopefully we will start to see some of those May showers.  I will continue to pray for moisture.

We are very proud and honored to announce that Bishop Carl Kemme will be ordained today at 2:00 P.M.  Please pray for our new Bishop as he assumes his duties in our diocese.

Congratulations also go out to our second graders.  On Sunday they make their first Holy Communion.  We truly are proud of each of you.  God bless you second grade.  We are proud of you!

With the arrival of May many events accompany these days.  Confirmation, field trips, promotion, testing, and end of the year meetings are all scheduled for this month.  First, Confirmation is today.  Please let all of these fine young people know how proud of them we are for this strong choice in their faith. Please remember that if your children are going on a field trip for a day, and a lunch is required, to please send a sack lunch with them.  This is a change from past years.  If you are a driver you will need a lunch as well.  Additionally, don't forget the sun screen.  Even though we have had cloudy days and cooler temperatures, we still can get burned by the sun.  Next, 8th grade Promotion is scheduled for May 15th at 7:00 P.M. in the Church.  Please join me in congratulating our 8th graders.  We truly are proud of each of them and all of their accomplishments.  This class truly has demonstrated the meaning of being fine young men and women.  I am very proud of them and wish each of them well.  Next on the list is testing.  We have completed all of the state testing and will begin religion testing next week.  Please keep reminding the students to do their best, and keep working hard, as well as patting them on the back for their outstanding effort,we are almost finished with this necessary testing.  Lastly, I want to remind all of you to talk with your teachers if you need to find out what students can do for the summer.  Each of us is glad to help promote learning over the summer.

I also want to remind everyone that the ice cream party for the students for selling tickets to the St. Pat's raffle and auction is May 7th in the afternoon.  Additionally their earned Movie day will be May 13th, also in the afternoon.  Permission slips with the titles of the movies will be sent home next week.

Happy spring...happy May!  It is a busy one.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Well the weather has started to warm-up and I see the tulips popping-up, so that must mean that spring has arrived.  I really enjoy this time of year as it reminds me of the cool days of summer in Denver.  I keep praying for more rain, I hope this starts soon for all of us.

Testing is still in full swing and our students are accomplishing some major tasks right now.  State testing should be completed by the first week of May.  Our students, as usual are responding very well.  Please keep encouraging your children to do their very best on the assessments.  After State Assessments we still have Diocesan assessments to accomplish.  The Religion exam will be given in the second week of May.  Again, your encouragement means a lot in these final days of testing.

On May 1st, our new Bishop, Carl Kemme, will be ordained at the cathedral in Wichita.  Bishop-elect Kemme has declared a Diocesan Day of Thanksgiving and Praise for May 2, 2014.  As his first official act, he has announced that the diocesan offices will be closed as well as all grade schools and high schools.  We will be honoring this request here at St. Patrick.  School will not be in session on May 2.

Please take some time to pray for our new Bishop as he assumes all the leadership roles of our diocese.

A few pre-enrollment forms still have not been returned.  PLEASE return these as soon as possible.

May the risen Christ fill you and your family with much Easter hope and joy.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

March is Here

March has definitely arrived!  We have so many things to accomplish before the end of this month that I thought I would give you a few reminders.
Kindergarten Screen took place on March 6th and 7th.  If you still would like to get a student into kindergarten, or know someone that would, please contact the school office as soon as possible so we can make the proper arrangements to accomplish this for you.  All pre-enrollment paper work is due very soon.  Please complete this paperwork and return it to the office so we can have accurate counts for next year.  This information is invaluable to us, as well as make the process of registration move so much more swiftly.  Please get this paperwork back to us as soon as possible.

On March 14th we will be having conferences by appointment or request.  If you would like a conference with a teachers to talk about progress or concerns, please contact that teacher and set-up an appointment for this day.  Teachers may be contacting parents as well.

St. Patrick will be hosting a Summer School Program this year.  This program will run from June 16th through the 19th and June 23rd through the 26th. This program will offer individualized instruction in math and English/Language Arts.  Both weeks will cost $100 per student.  Please contact Trisha Moritz for more information.  Spots are limited so please register as soon as possible.  This would be an excellent way to keep the brain active, and have some fun while learning as well.

The annual St. Patrick Catholic Church Dinner is on March the 9th.  Great food, a raffle, and a live auction are sure to make this event very special this year.  While you are there, don't forget to check out the Shamrock Shop for some homemade goodies!  Please come and enjoy a wonderful day while supporting our parish and school.  Prizes this year seem to be especially nice, and the basket auction is gearing up to be one exciting event.  A little birdie told me that the total worth of some of the baskets is exceeding $1000.00.    I hope to see everyone there!  Thank you to the many individuals who put in so much time to make this a success every year.  I truly appreciate it.

Lastly, Spring Break will be March 17th through the 21st.  Classes resume on the 24th.  Happy Spring!

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Winter Has Hit

Old man winter finally has arrived.  I hope the winter storm did not cause too much chaos for all of you.  Now is the perfect time to make sure that we have all the correct phone numbers for our School Reach System.  If you received the messages about cancellation, then you are in the system.  If you would like to add phone numbers, please let the office know as soon as possible.  Currently we are concerned about the dangerously low temperatures. Please send your children to school with the proper warm clothing.  We will make sure each student puts it on before they venture outside.  With that thought in mind, I would like to remind all parents that the girls may wear blue uniform pants, or sweat pants under their skirt or jumper.  Tights are appropriate as well.  Covering the skin is the main concern.

Losing two days this week, we have plenty to make up.  The County Spelling Bee is February 13th at the high school.  It will start at 9:30 A.M.  The Valley Nine Spelling Bee is at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Goddard at 12:00 on February 27th.  Please mark your calendar for these events.  Also, donations for the basket auction have started.  Please contact the school office or Tracy Rohlman if you have questions about this process and project.  St. Pat's Dinner is approaching, and preparations for this major event have already begun.

Lastly, I wanted to let everyone know that on Thursday, February 30th, St. Patrick Catholic School was honored again by receiving its 6th Governor's Award for Academic Achievement and its 5th Banner School Award.  Both honors are an outstanding achievement and I am very proud of the exceptional honors we have received.  Our students, faculty, parents and parishioners should also be proud of these outstanding marks of success.  Way to go Crusaders!

I am praying for all of you.  Keep up the great work.  Stay warm.

With You in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Catholic Schools Week is a Whirlwind

Mr. Lyall's Line

This week has been a whirlwind of great activities in celebration of our Catholic School.  I would like to thank the student council and its sponsors for all of the fun activities that they planned.  We truly have a fantastic school and I am very proud of all of our accomplishments.

As I mentioned last week, our school was honored for the fourth consecutive time by the Diocese of Wichita as a Banner School.  This distinction comes to us because of all the hard work and dedication from each person in our parish and school.  Together we can accomplish anything.  This honor recognizes us for the outstanding contributions to education academically, physically, and spiritually.  It says that we are honoring our mission to teach and live a Catholic life, and understand that we must share our gifts with others.  Thank you to everyone who has helped, volunteered, donated, and participated in any way here.  You truly are appreciated.  "We have dynamic, creative Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wichita. Our principals, teachers and students inspire one another with Christ's love. I take the opportunity that Catholic Schools Week affords me to thank the principals, teachers and students for all that they do and to thank the parents of our students for the sacrifices they make to provide their children with the treasure that is a Catholic education." (Bob Voboril, Superintendent, Catholic Diocese of Wichita)

May God continue to bless us abundantly!

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall


National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2014 is January 26 to February 1. Schools typically observe National Catholic Schools Week with Masses, open house and other activities for students, families, parishioners and
community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.

"Catholic Schools…Building Communities of Faith, Academics and Service" is the theme for the 2014-2015 National Catholic Schools Week. Our school will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week as well. We will join the more than 2,000,000 Catholic school students in more than 7,800 Catholic schools across the nation to celebrate how our schools teach students to join their hands and hearts to build a better world community through faith, academics, and service to one another.

At St. Patrick, we are gearing up for a very good week. Multiple activities have been planned to make this week very special for the students. We are very proud of all the wonderful accomplishments of our students and school. In fact, we just received word that we will be named Banner School in the Diocese of Wichita for the fourth consecutive year on Thursday January 30th. To earn this distinction four times says a lot about the quality of education and
character of our school. We are honored to be named Banner School as it reflects the hard work and dedication everyone puts into our parish school. I am honored to accept this distinction for our school.

Please enjoy this week’s activities and participate fully. We certainly look forward to seeing everyone at the Grandparents lunch on Friday, January 31st. Please make sure that you return your RSVP note so that we can save you a spot. I hope to see everyone there! Thank you also to
everyone who makes our Catholic School a model of faith, knowledge, and service.

With you in Christ,

Mr. Lyall

What Is Being Catholic

Mr. Lyall's Line

People have chosen to enter the Catholic Church for various reasons.  Members of the Church have different understandings of what makes them Catholic or why they are Catholic.  However, there is a common thread that binds all Catholics together.  Catholics belong to a Christ-centered faith community that views Jesus Christ as the foundation.  Catholics share Jesus’ vision and model their lives after Jesus’ example of love.  Catholics are called to care for one another and to use their unique gifts and talents for the good of the community and the world.  Below is a listing of some of the basic beliefs and values of a Catholic, and what we teach here at St. Patrick Catholic School, no matter what standards are presented:

  • We believe in God who is our loving Father and creator.  God’s love is limitless and overflows into our hearts and lives.  God has created us out of His love that sustains and supports us daily.
  • We believe that God sent us his own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who suffered, died, and rose from the dead, to save us and offer us the gift of eternal life.  We profess faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the son of God.  Jesus is our Lord and Savior, our Shepherd and King.
  • We believe in the Holy Spirit and in the Spirit’s powerful presence in the Church today.  The Spirit, given by Jesus to the Church at Pentecost, enables the Lord to continue to be present with us today and to continue his saving mission.  The Spirit imparts wisdom and knowledge to us and gives us our various spiritual gifts, which are found in the Bible.  We are called to recognize and share these gifts with the community.  The Spirit helps us to continue to develop our faith and to grow in our relationship with God.
  • We strive to follow Jesus’ teachings in our lives: to love God above all else and to love others, to practice forgiveness and mercy, to care for the poor and helpless.
  • We work for peace and justice in our world. We bring God’s kingdom of peace, unity, and love to a world faced with conflict, division, and strife.
  • We worship and praise God by living a sacramental life.  We recognize the need for forgiveness and see the sacrament of reconciliation as a means to receive this great gift of forgiveness.  We recognize that our sin harms the community in some way and the sacramental gift of reconciliation helps heal our relationships with others, the community, and God.  We also encounter the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and are nourished and fed by the Eucharist on a weekly basis.  The Eucharist binds us together as a community and with God.  We believe that the Eucharist is not merely a sign or symbol of Jesus, but rather the real body and blood of Christ.  We are open to receiving this real presence and to becoming the body of Christ in the world.
  • We recognize the importance of prayer and take time to develop an active prayer life.  Prayer strengthens and defines our relationship with God.  Without prayer, we lose touch with our loving God and we isolate ourselves from a God who desires intimacy and closeness.
  • We recognize the importance of reading and praying the Sacred Scriptures.  The Bible is God’s word and we strive to learn and understand the word of God by applying the Scriptures to our lives today.
  • We acknowledge the primacy of the Pope and respect the office of the papacy as the true teaching authority of the Church.  We seek guidance for moral decisions from the pope and the bishops in communion with him.
  • We recognize the importance of service to others.  Believing that Jesus came to serve and not to be served, we strive to follow the example of Jesus and spread his message of love.  We try our best to live lives centered on the Gospel and to live for others, rather than just for ourselves.
  • We preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both in word and in action.  We are willing to stand up to opposition and preach Gospel values in a world whose values are often contrary to the message of Jesus.  We are willing to endure suffering and rejection, as did Jesus, for the sake of the Gospel and to speak up for what we believe to be right, just, and true.
  • We are devoted to Mary, the Mother of God, and see the saints as true examples of holiness and faith.  We pray through Mary and the saints and ask them to intercede for us.
  • We are committed to the protection of all of life, in all stages.  We pray for the protection of all of human life, from the moment of conception until natural death.  We also work to strive to respect the dignity of every human being and to eliminate prejudice, oppression, poverty, violence, and injustice.
  • We are a community of believers united with Catholics from around the world.

With Jesus infused into all that we say and do we are confident that we are striving to produce disciples of Christ, and believers who will make a real difference in our community and world today.

As always...

With you in Christ,

Mr. Lyall

Happy New Year

Welcome back to second semester, and Happy New Year!  I am very pleased to report a very good first semester and I am looking forward to all of the great things that await us in this semester at St. Patrick.  Did you know that even though we are back to school the Christmas season is still with us?  The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 6th). On the updated calendar — since Epiphany is celebrated on a Sunday — these days may be more or less. We have 19 days this year because the Christmas season extends until the feast of the Baptism of Christ and we need to include them all. The origin of the Twelve Days is complicated, and is related to differences in calendars, church traditions, and ways to observe this holy day in various cultures. In the Western church, Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the time the three Wise Men or Magi arrived to present gifts to the young Jesus. In some cultures Epiphany is observed as Three Kings Day, or simply the Day of the Kings. Even though December 25th is celebrated as Christmas in these cultures, Epiphany is often the day for giving gifts. In some places it is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
The Christmas carol comes from 16th-century Europe. But the 12 days are really only part of our Christmas observance, which also includes important feast days in honor of Stephen, the first martyr (December 26); John the evangelist (December 27); and the Holy Innocents, the infants slain by King Herod (December 28, Matt. 2:16-18). These are known as the comites Christi, "companions of Christ," because their lives gave unique witness to Jesus through martyrdom (Stephen and the Innocents) and the written word (John).
Other Christmas feasts include the Holy Family (Sunday after Christmas) and Mary, Mother of God (January 1). The liturgical season of Christmas ends with the feast of the Lord's Baptism (Sunday after Epiphany).
Unfortunately, like the 50 days of Easter joy that we often forget after a rigorous 40 days of Lenten fasting (notice which is longer!), our Christmas party often ends too early. But though we wait a bit to get our holy days going, they carry us far beyond the college football championships. So save some celebrating for all the other important feast days in the Christmas season. It is not too late to say Merry Christmas!
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Christmas Blessings

“Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men, I bring you good news of great joy to everyone.” These are the words the angels said over the hills outside of Bethlehem when they announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds tending sheep through the night. It was great news. A baby had been born and this baby was the demonstration of God’s love for us. That first Christmas is the reason we can live a life of purpose and significance. The baby in the manger was proof that God loved us, and that His love was deep enough to make a way for us to know Him.
Experiencing a meaningful Christmas is not in buying more gifts or decorating more elaborately. It is in putting Christ first, focusing on what matters most, and then sharing that with others. This Christmas celebration can be a time to pause and reflect on the love that God has for us, and then find a way to share that love with others.
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you would experience a meaningful season full of love and peace. My Christmas wish is that you come to a deeper knowledge of your mission in this life, as a member of God’s family, and a messenger of His Good News to others.
All of the faculty and staff at St. Patrick Catholic School would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! May the blessings and love of our Lord  prepare your heart to receive the greatest gift of all.
In Christ,
Mr. Lyall

The Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath
Beautiful and symbolic, the Advent Wreath reminds Christians of the deeper meaning of Christmas and stirs within the heart love, joy, peace and hope for our world. There are several theories about the origination of the Advent Wreath. Whether it began as a non-Christian tradition or whether it did not appear until the 19thcentury are discussions best left to historians. It really does not matter because the Advent Wreath has become a symbol of great significance to Christians.
Advent defined by Webster is the "arrival" or "coming" of something significant. For Christians, the birth of Christ and His later crucifixion were momentous events. As Christians, we celebrate His birthday, Christmas. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. For many Christians, part of the celebration of Advent is the beautiful Wreath.
Every part of the Advent Wreath is steeped in symbolism. Made of various evergreens that represent continuous life, the Wreath is also a reminder that with Christ, we have everlasting life. Each evergreen has its own specific meaning. The prickly leaves of holly serve as a reminder of the crown of thorns placed on Christ at the crucifixion. Using laurel represents victory over persecution. Pine cones used in decorating the Wreath signifies life and resurrection. Of course, the circular shape of the wreath symbolizes eternity and enduring life.
Four candles adorn the Advent Wreath. Most Advent Wreaths are made with three purple candles and one pink candle. Many modern Wreaths include a larger white candle in the center of the wreath which represents Christ. The four outer candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Each Sunday, an outer candle is lit. On Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, the middle candle or Christ candle is lit. According to historians, in the early years of the church, each candle in the Wreath was given a name. The outer candles were hope, peace, love and joy and the center candle, the Christ.
Through the years, the Advent Wreath has become a family tradition for many Christians.  This is a wonderful family tradition you can begin. The beautiful memories you make with your children will last forever. As adults, they will want to continue this wonderful tradition.


Reflections of Advent-Week 1
“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” With these words, Pope Francis penned his first major teaching “on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world.” In this time of Advent, God invites us to share that joy: “Those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.”
Advent is a time of waiting, but also of hope. It is a time of great expectation, as the coming of the Lord into history, but also a time of great joy at the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is a time of great changes, in nature and in history – “the great reversal of all things,” “a new ordering of all things on earth,” a time of shalom when justice, peace, and the integrity of creation shall reign.

The readings from the first Sunday of Advent speak to the joy of this time of new beginnings, a time filled with the joy of salvation, the birth of Jesus Christ, and the coming of God into our history.
The world into which Jesus was born is not too terribly different from our own. Then, as now, the world was torn asunder by violence, deeply divided by injustice, creation itself was rocked by “wars and rumors of wars” and devastating earthquakes and natural disasters.
The readings invite us to “pray for peace!” but such a peace requires that we be vigilant: “You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.” Above all, we must renounce the instruments of war and war itself and become instruments of peace and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

As one of the martyrs of our time, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, reminds us: “If we want to be part of these events, Advent and Christmas, we cannot just sit there like a theater audience and enjoy all the lovely pictures. Instead, we ourselves will be caught up in this action, this reversal of all things; we must become actors on this stage.”

Scott Wright

Mr. Lyall's Line

During his presidency, Bill Clinton once remarked that running a country was a lot like running a cemetery: you have a lot ofpeople under you and nobody is listening. His remark seems to suggest that being a leader is a little more difficult than it might appear to be. The leadership role of parents in their family situation is likewise more difficult than it appears to be. The degree of difficulty depends somewhat on the style of leadership we choose to use and our reason for choosing that particular style. If we choose to use an autocratic style, where we totally dominate and use the benefit of our adulthood to impose our will on our children, then, we will be in for a power struggle and will have to use threats, fear and punishment to achieve what we want. Unfortunately, our children will probably feel unsafe, unloved and mistrusting of us. Our very strict rules and suffocating structures will cause our children to yearn for freedom, to be rid of us and our heavy-handed style of parenting. If we choose the opposite extreme and choose to use a permissive style and choose to be physically or emotionally absent, don’t set limits, be afraid to say “no” and never hold our children accountable, then, we will reign over chaos. Our children will think they have the right to do anything they like and, because they don’t respect us, they won’t respect other forms of authority. Unfortunately, our children will probably be perplexed by life, lack motivation to achieve because they have never known structure in their lives, and will find themselves easy prey for people who do not have their best interests at heart; they too, will live in fear and feel unloved. If we choose to be in the middle of these two styles, we will be choosing an authoritative-democratic style. This style is based on respect, love and trust, where positive communication and cooperation are enjoyed on a daily basis. Our children will probably feel safe, loved and accepted yet free to be who they are. If we are pro-active and foresee problems before they can fully emerge, if we can welcome opinions and offer choices while not guaranteeing that our children will always get what they want, then, our children will be confident, able to think for themselves and able to make decisions that have a positive outcome. If our leadership has a confidence about it, it will inspire our children to take up the leadership role in their own lives.
Our leadership style is of vital importance to our children because, for better or worse, parenting styles tend to repeat from one generation to the next. The good news is that everyone has the capacity to develop good parenting skills and to be aware not to repeat patterns that expose children to negative and destructive experiences. Our children will feel loved and secure, if the way we go about living our lives and engaging with our children is in a positive, friendly yet firm manner. Our children will sense a comfortable and uplifting atmosphere and environment that allows them to be relaxed and optimistic about life. Our children might even agree with the comment, “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t even hear what you are saying.” Author unknown.
“Jesus, our leader, with the guidance of the Spirit within us, may we bring a spirit of joy, generosity and enthusiasm to the leadership role we have as parents. May our children learn about you by the way we lead our lives. Amen.”
Peace and Best Wishes,
Mr. Lyall

November-A Month for Gratitude

November seems to be traveling by very quickly.  Next week, on Friday, we will already be dismissing for Thanksgiving break.  Thanksgiving always makes me think about what my blessing are.  I am thankful for many things, including everyone here at St. Pats.  I did a little research, and found that if we are “more” thankful we may even be healthier.  Where do I sign up?

Grateful? Write it down. Think about it. Talk about it. 'Tis the season of thanking, and not only will you spread those positive vibrations to those around you, your health will benefit, too.

For those who tend to be more Grinch-ish than grateful, there's some hard evidence that might make you want to turn that frown upside down. A positive outlook and feelings of thankfulness can have a direct and beneficial effect on the brain and body.

People with a strong sense of gratitude, love and appreciation don't necessarily have more than others; they aren't "luckier". They simply recognize and see more beauty in their lives. A 2003 study suggests that people who count their blessings are generally happier and healthier than people who don't.   If you ever feel as if anything in your life isn't "enough", try practicing an attitude of thankfulness. You might realize how good you have it after all.

I truly am thankful for everyone involved in all that we do at our school.  The people of this community truly put the needs of others first.  I am happy to be a small part of that.  Our students, parents, teachers, and parishioners work together to make our church and school what it has become.  Thank you for all that you do.

With you in Christ,

Mr. Lyall

Mr. Lyall's Line

With All Saints Day in the distance past, I thought I would tell you about a couple of ordinary people who became Saints. Ever thought of being a saint? No? Not for you? Probably, two people who were declared as saints in 2010 never thought of being saints either. The two people were St. Mary Mackillop, declared on 17th October and St Damian de Veuster, more easily recognized as Father Damian of Molokai, on 10th October. Though they led vastly different lives, they both had uncommon kindness and both were examples to us not to forget those people who are the “forgettables” in our world.

The saints are always calling us back to our Christian roots. They are real human beings like us with their own personal problems but who battle on to achieve extraordinary deeds. Because of this, we should not leave them as lifeless statues or stained-glass windows and excuse ourselves from our responsibilities to other people on the pretext that we aren’t perfect. The very fact that they are human like us is a reminder to us of our responsibilities even if we are flawed and imperfect persons. The following two observations highlight the “ordinary person” of St Mary Mackillop: We want our saints to be inspiring but to understand the pathways we walk. Mary is a model of human possibility and she worked with what she had available to her and made things happen in a practical, humanly sensitive way.

The real Mary Mackillop was, in her youth, a rather photogenic, nice nun who grew up to be a remarkable woman of toughness and imagination in the way she lived her faith. But she was also an old lady in a wheelchair nursing her little dog after her active days were over.

Father Damian of Molokai was a Belgian missionary priest who worked with Hawaiian people who had leprosy. About 8000 people had been separated from the rest of their society and isolated on the island of Molokai where they were abandoned. It was mostly missionary volunteers like Father Damian who cared for them in three-monthly shifts. After several shifts, Father Damian volunteered to stay permanently and take up the work that needed to be done on behalf of the lepers. Not surprisingly, after a period of living, working and sharing with the lepers, he caught the disease himself and at only 49 years of age the disease caused his death.  His tireless and selfless efforts caught the attention of many who shared his Christian beliefs and people like the famous author, Robert Louis Stevenson, eventually forced official assistance to be given to the lepers.

The life of St Damian of Molokai holds out a powerful message that one single life properly motivated and directed to the needs of others, can make a lives-altering difference. Even though the necessary two miracles needed before declaration of Sainthood were proven, Mother Teresa said of Father Damian, “Damian, himself, is a miracle.”Not everyone can be a Mary Mackillop or a Damian of Molokai, but we can all do something, if only of a minor nature, to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged and neglected people. The world needs more saints in the making, so that question again: Ever thought of being a saint? St Mary Mackillop of Australia and St Damian of Molokai, may the spirit of your lives live on in the lives of Christian people right now. May we, ordinary people like you, be inspired to reach out to needy people as you did. May God’s Spirit be powerful in us as it was in the both of you.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Parent Teacher Communication

It’s important to remember that parent-teacher conferences can play a very important role in a student’s development and academic success.  Unfortunately, this relationship is often overlooked, ignored or undervalued.

The truth is, teachers and parents often see different aspects of a student’s personality. Only by maintaining an open dialog and comparing notes on the student’s achievements or behavior can these perspectives be useful for both.

When parents take advantage of parent-teacher conferences and other opportunities to speak with teachers, it often allows parents to learn of any challenges — academic or otherwise — their child might be having.

By the same token, parents can let the teacher know of any special circumstances at home that might have some bearing on the student’s performance or behavior.

Let’s face it; kids today face a lot of pressure in school.  When parents and teachers work together to try and provide the best environment for learning, the child stands to benefit the most.

If you still need to schedule your conferences, please contact Pam in the school office as soon as possible.  She will be happy to find a time slot for each of your students.

Next, I want to say that we had a wonderful week with all of the great activities that we participated in during Red Ribbon Week.  Each activity was not only fun, but also taught a drug free message and a healthy living style.  Thank you to STUCO and their sponsors for making this week so special and fun.

Basketball has begun for our girls and boys teams. Please visit with your child's coach if you should have questions about practice or games.  Good luck to all of the athletes during this basketball season.  St. Patrick, pray for us!

Have a great weekend.

With you in Christ,

Mr. Lyall

Mr. Bob Lyall