Archive for Conferences

What we’ve been up to…..

Things have been quite busy here. Between all of our school work and household chores, we have been fund raising for DD15 to go on a trip. She is leaving on Wednesday for the National Catholic Youth Conference. She is quite excited. I am happy that she is excited, but I am also a little nervous about the travel. The last time she traveled without me she was in an auto accident and it took her all summer to recuperate from it. I guess she is statistically less like to have any issues this time, but I am a mom, after all.
We participated in the making of several “drive thru dinners.”

We also participated in several bake sales, an M&M’s mini change fundraiser, a Knights of Columbus “tootsie roll drive,” a couple of pancake breakfasts, a craft fair, “Celebrate Ludlow,” a Tupperware fundraiser, and one day of “rent a teen.” There was also a fundraiser which included putting plastic flamingos on people’s lawns. We only did this once as it seemed a little like participating in graffiti to me. We had to raise about $1000. We paid a little bit out of pocket toward that goal in the form of the initial deposit.
We have worked toward this goal for the last eight months.
I am sure that the next several days will be wonderful for DD. She will be surrounded by 20,000 other young Catholics. They will celebrate the Holy Mass together and participate in Eucharistic adoration. She will be immersed in her faith. I pray that this trip draws her closer to our Lord.

Dear Lord,
Thank You for the opportunity for DD. She is excited. Please keep her safe as she travels. Please draw her closer to You and to Your Sacred Heart. May Your truth be all that she seeks. Please be with the other pilgrims on the journey. May all of their hearts be touched by Your love and grace. There are a couple of young people who desperately need You to touch their lives, Lord. It is obvious in what they say and how they act that they are searching. Touch them particularly, please.
Mother Mary, please lay your mantle over the pilgrims and keep them safe from harm.
Amen.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

We have reached the end of our homeschool “year.” This means taking a break from formal schooling for a couple of months.
Our homeschool support group just wrapped up the 3rd New England Catholic Homeschool Conference. This confeerence came into being after several of us traveled to the CHAPLET conference in Berlin, NJ five years ago. It is hard to believe that it has been five years. There is a HUGE homeschool conference that lasts several days here in Massachusetts where we live, but it is not a Catholic conference. It is a Christian conference, but there are no Catholic vendors. As Catholics, we longed to have a venue where we could begin with prayer in the way Catholics do, “In the name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We longed for history books that did not paint Catholics as evil, or ignore Catholic contributions entirely. We wanted to see and touch the Catholic curricula before we bought it. New Jersey was the closest Catholic conference, so we went. It was a long drive.
I don’t travel well. I have severe motion sickness when I travel by any means. Short rides are usually fine, but long ones, not so much. We were blessed to have a place to stay with the sister of one of the dear friends with I whom I was traveling. Their hospitality was so wonderful. I think I was a bit green when we arrived. My girlfriend’s niece was so solicitous. She brought us a snack and tea. Her father offered us wine. The other friend with whom I traveled has a sister who lives in New Jersey, as well. She lived in Massachusetts for years before moving there, though, and we missed her. We called her and she came to see us with her newest baby.
In the morning we had coffee and breakfast before setting out for the day long conference. We were too late for the opening Mass, but we were on time to hear all the talks. Rob Evans, the Donut Man, talked about his conversion to Catholicism and shared a couple of songs with us. His talk is the one I recall most clearly. There were two other talks that I attended, but their content has slipped my mind. We browsed the vendor hall. We met the leaders of the group that runs the conference. We gathered ideas and contact information. On the way home, we discussed what we liked and disliked. We wondered if we could do something similar. We wondered if God was calling us to put together a conference.
After we returned, we called other homeschool friends and we had meetings to discuss the feasibility. We tried to find a venue. Our diocese had precious few places available, those they did have were either too expensive, not available to a homeschool group, or not really appropriate for what we had in mind. We contacted a few folks at the Diocesan level and the leaders of our group went and met with some folks to discuss the idea. I was not one of the “leaders” at that point. It was another year before that happened, and it was really a bit by default. We had more meetings. People fell away from the group for one reason or another. There were many life changes that occurred.
We finally located a venue that was in a decent location and was affordable. We set a date. We contacted vendors. All the while we continued to pray. In June of 2009, we held that first conference. We dedicated it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was small, but it was successful. We were grateful to Seton Home Study for taking a chance on our fledgling conference.
In 2010, we had to change venues due to “pastoral planning” and the closing of many churches in our diocese. We were blessed to be able to use St. Stanislaus School, an active, local, Catholic school as the new venue. It was handicapped accessible and air conditioned. It was a win-win situation. We paid for the use of the school and their Parent group provided food to raise money for the school.
This year, we also used St. Stanislaus School. Our conference was later, though, and there were fewer vendors who could or would travel to our conference. One of the larger vendors was to come from California and they decided it would be fiscally irresponsible to fly out. We had some new vendors this year, though. We also had fewer advance registrations. We had numerous registrations at the door, but our total number of attendees was still down from the last two years. We still had wonderful talks and information. I have no doubt that God brought those people who needed most what it offered.
This year’s conference was bittersweet. We have had numerous changes in the core group that has worked on the conference since its inception, and fewer people seem willing to step up to help. It is simply not feasible for our group to try to put together this conference again next year. Through prayer and discussion, we approached another homeschool group to possibly take over the conference and move it toward the Boston area. In exploring this idea, we approached the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. This college has been a huge supporter of the conference the last three years. The president of the college, Dr. William Fahey, was our keynote speaker at the first conference.
Our contact at Thomas More is a young man named Mark Schwerdt. It became clear to us in conversation that God was calling the conference to another place. It is God’s conference, after all. The support of the college means that the conference can continue to serve Catholic Homeschoolers with authentically Catholic books. It also means that we who have worked on it to this point can back away a little and pray for the conference to be successful. We can ask God to bless those who are taking over the running of the conference, and to bless those vendors who have supported Catholic homeschoolers in our area. Prayer is the most powerful “work” we can do for the conference.
Other changes are happening in my family. My dear 15 year old daughter is spending the summer babysitting. She has one week when she will attend Srodowisko at Quiet Waters. She will be working on reading and math with two of the girls for whom she is caring. She will be the “teacher” for the summer.
My dear 11 year old son will be attending Montfort camp for the first time this year. It is an overnight camp, not a day camp, and they are not allowed to call home. That may be more difficult for me than for him. His best friend will also be attending camp. I hope they are still best friends at the end of the week.

Dear Lord,
So many changes all at once. My children are growing up and turning into fine young people. Please help me to loosen the apron strings where they should be loosened and to know when to still hold tight.
Amen.

Time Flies

I have been busy with baseball, planning the NECHC, finishing the school year, and trying to plan our curriculum for next year. On top of that, I am on the board of Allie’s Five O’Clock Fund which hosts the Summer State of Mind Concert each year to raise funds for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.

Our area was hit with severe thunderstorms this week, and last week several of the surrounding communities had tornadoes. Tornadoes are rare up here in the north east. The damage to the surrounding communities is extensive with several schools destroyed, numerous businesses affected and peoples home lost to the appetite of the tornado. Three people lost their lives, one was a mother sheltering her child. We were fortunate. We had wind, rain and hail, but the tornadoes missed us. We are counting our blessings.
I have also been battling a “summer” cold. We are also still housebreaking our puppy.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the many blessings in my life. I know I am fortunate to have all that I do. Help me to reach out and help in those areas where you would have me help. Help me to teach my children just how much we do have and how blessed we are.
Amen.

New England Catholic Homeschool Conference 2011

The New England Catholic Homeschool Conference (NECHC) is entering its third year! We are excited to announce that the theme will be Answering Our Baptismal Call.


The conference will be held at St. Stan’s School in Chicopee, MA on Saturday June 25, 2011 for the second year running. We have several speakers lined up and the vendor applications can be done traditionally (by “snail mail”) or online here. You can find more information about the conference as it becomes available at the homepage.

We are excited to have Our Lady Queen Of Saints homeschool group helping out with some of the behind the scenes work this year. They have been a God send.

Dear Lord,
Please bless all those involved in this work with the wisdom to seek Your will. May all those who volunteer for this event seek to do the work You would have us do. Please bless all the families who have attended this conference in the past and those who will attend in the future. Please bless the speakers who have agreed to appear and those who have been invited but have not yet replied.
Amen.