Renewed, Refreshed and Ready !

Dear Hill-Murray Community,

We’re on the verge of welcoming students back to Hill-Murray, and I couldn’t be more excited about leading this wonderful community through another school year!

Being part of a school community that values spiritual growth, prayer, and reflection is a gift.  I know that my commitment to continue deepening my faith is key to my ability to provide the kind of leadership Hill-Murray needs and deserves from me.  There is humility in knowing that I don’t have it all figured out, and that humility helps me trust in God in a way that strengthens me and gives me confidence.

I was fortunate to have a few different experiences this summer that have strengthened my faith and truly transformed me. As a wife, mother, and 25-year educator, I have learned over the years that investing in these kinds of experiences is worth making the space and time in what otherwise could turn into a busy, fast-paced summer.

In July, I participated in the John Johnston Institute along with Catholic school leaders from around the country, including our own Dean of Students, Aaron Benner.

The Institute is a two-year formation experience where school leaders deepen their understanding of the Lasallian charism and contemplate what it means to be a Catholic school leader.

We learned about St. John Baptist de La Salle, founder of the Christian Brothers, an innovative educator in 17th century France.  A priest deeply committed to the Catholic faith, he gave up all he owned to lead and inspire teachers, who were brothers, to educate the poor.  The more we learned about St. John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers, the more I realized that my vocation as a Catholic school leader is simply part of my bones.  We spent time in prayer, conversation, studying, and sharing our stories – stories that bound us together in our shared mission for Catholic education.  Here are my reflections on the experience. 

A Silent Retreat
I would have never imagined it, but I completed an 8-day Ignatian silent retreat a few weeks later this summer. Yes, an 8-day silent retreat – no technology, no expectations, no never-ending in-boxes, no scrolling… We challenge our students to push themselves in positive ways, and this unique retreat was a stretch for me, but I knew I needed to go. It was worth it, and I will forever look back on the 900 acres and the days at Mundelein Seminary as some of the most transformative days in my life.  I learned to be still and to finally slow down to truly listen only to Him.

Benedictine Oblate Formation  
When the Benedictine sisters built Archbishop Murray Memorial High School (our current campus) in 1958, they lived in the band wing of the school until they built their Monastery, next door to Hill-Murray, in 1965.  The Benedictine charism, values, and spiritual influence continue to flourish at Hill-Murray today. Hospitality, balance, listening, community, and a deep awareness of the presence of God permeate Hill-Murray.  I am very drawn to these values personally and, after returning from the silent retreat, made a commitment to enter into the yearlong Initial Benedictine Oblate Formation program.

An oblate is a lay person who is connected to a religious order, in my case St. Paul’s Monastery, and commits to the values and spirituality of the order.  Our cohort meets monthly to pray, learn and deepen our understanding of the Benedictine way of life.  I left our first meeting feeling a deep sense of gratitude for the gift of the Benedictine charism and am looking forward to continuing this spiritual journey with them.  Here’s more information. 

I am so grateful to have opportunities for spiritual growth within both the Lasallian (Christian Brothers) tradition and the Benedictine tradition.  Both the Brothers and the Sisters have given Hill-Murray such a solid foundation upon which we can continue to do the good work of inspiring our students to utilize their God-given strengths to become leaders who will make a difference in our world. This is our mission. This is the heart of everything we do each day.

After spending a great deal of time learning about Hill-Murray’s founders’ histories, traditions, and charisms, I saw it all come alive as a group of recent H-M grads and current students did a landscaping project at an inner city Catholic school in St. Paul. Led by J.P. Yocum, they gave back to the community and used their gifts to improve the grounds and playground for the children of Saint Peter Claver.

To watch our students live out our mission statement as it comes alive in real time is truly incredible. It’s why I do what I do and why I’m committed to always becoming a better leader, a better educator and a better person – not only each summer but every day of each year.