When I was younger, I enjoyed doing cross-stitch needlework. A friend once likened cross-stitch to life. Sometimes we see only the mess of tangled thread on the backside, but God sees how it all comes together to create a thing of beauty. As I’ve gotten older, I can see more clearly the way the tangled threads and knots have worked together to create the truly wonderful life God had planned for me.
God called me to teach in a Catholic school forty-four years ago at a time when it wasn’t even on my radar. My parents were wonderful role models of faith, and I attended Catholic schools (Queen’s and Lumen Christi), but the thought of teaching in a Catholic school had never crossed my mind. God had a plan.
After a year of substitute teaching because the job market for teachers was extremely tight and I couldn’t find a job in a public school, God spoke to me through my former 8th grade teacher who was then principal at Queen’s. Mrs. Cagney saw my mom at daily mass one morning, told her there was a fourth grade opening, and asked if I might be interested. God had a plan.
Two years later, when the closing of a classroom at Queen’s meant that I would not have a job there the following fall, Sr. Rose Ange Leddy hired me to teach second grade here at St. John. Due to some unforeseen challenges, I was switched to sixth grade the day before school started. God had a plan.
Around that same time, two things happened to give me a glimpse of the front side of the needlework. My parents gave me a Bible for my birthday. On the inside cover, my dad wrote a message that included Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me.” Shortly after that, I met with Fr. Dave Howell to do a fearless and thorough confession, and to let go of the knots of the past so that I might truly embrace the gifts of the present. God had a plan.
Many years passed, and the day came when Fr. Jim Shaver showed up at my classroom door to ask me to accept the role of principal. Despite every doubt and fear and deep desire to remain in the classroom and to NOT say yes, I knew that God was calling me. The dragonflies that the teachers and staff hung in the halls and my classroom the following day let me know that I wouldn’t be doing this alone. My husband and daughter fully supported the decision, and Judy Smith promised to be my “Pip” and she’s been beside me every step of the way. God had a plan.
For the past six years, I have been blessed to be a part of the St. John Parish Leadership Team. During that time, the membership has changed, but the one constant has been Fr. Chas. Getting to know Fr. Chas through weekly meetings and more frequent PLT check-ins, to witness Divine inspiration and guidance in action, and to experience grace through praying with him and the other PLT members, Shayne Slough and John Richards, provides further evidence that God has a plan.
My parents, Mrs. Cagney, Sr. Rose Ange, Fr. Dave, Fr. Jim, Judy Smith, Fr. Chas and the PLT, my family, the teachers and staff, the school families, and all of you are some of the many angels that God has sent to gently guide my path. You have helped to support and sustain during the challenging times, and to celebrate the many blessings and successes as well. St. John School would not be the wonderful place where faith and family meet academic excellence without your prayerful and monetary support. My heart is full!
During the past few weeks, tears have spilled down my face multiple times a day as I’ve been incredibly moved by the outpouring of love and generosity from my school and parish family. The cards, gifts, kind words and well wishes are all greatly appreciated. I’m especially grateful to all of you for the beautiful celebration earlier this month. There was such a God-graced, positive, loving feeling in that room, and the entire experience – who was there and what was shared – was clearly exactly the way that it was supposed to be. God’s hand was all over that, for sure! Thank you so very much!
While this has been an emotional time for me, there is an underlying calm that comes from knowing that God has a plan. Part of that calm assurance comes from truly feeling that Renee Hornby, our new SJS principal, will be a wonderful addition to our school family. She’s already begun the transition to St. John and is as excited to be here as we are to welcome her. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciate as we watch the next chapter in God’s plan for St. John School unfold!
With love and gratitude,