We Chained Up and Got out of Town

Picture this!  Four Sisters pull out their Les Schwab tire chains, get out the directions and put them on the car for practice in case they need them on the summit of the coast range. Lets step back a few paces and get the full picture.  Sister Colleen Schmitt, Sister Alison Green, Sister Michael Francine and I had planned to go to the beach for Martin Luther King weekend.  A nice four day relaxing weekend to play cards, and celebrate Sister Michael Francine’s birthday on the 16th.

One of the Sisters passed away and the vigil and funeral were scheduled for two of the days of the vacation cutting it in half.  The ice and snow predictions were coming in full force and by 2:00 on Wednesday the 11th it was snowing hard and 6″ had dropped.  I paged the Sisters and asked them to meet me in the parlor where we talked about making the trip that afternoon since no one was at the beach house, and stay till Sunday afternoon which would give us 5 days at the beach!!!  Everyone was in.  We packed our bags and met at the car in an hour.

When we got back to the car, we got out the chains and practiced putting them on. Seemed like a good idea to make sure we could get them on easily and that they fit the car.  The Sisters were the dream team of chain gangs!  They got them on and the hard part was tightening them up.  We got it done, drove a short distance and tightened them again.  We were good to go.  Les Schwab puts out some good tire chains by the way!

We took the chains off and drove out to Murray Blvd., which was mostly open pavement. Our question was what would it be like on the Coast Summit?   If we needed the chains, we were in good hands!   We got past the memorial Tunnel and that was about where the snow and packed ice began.  As things got slippy we switched into 4 wheel drive and said the Rosary. Thanks be to God,  we made it fine!  We drove slowly, no one was on the road but us….good time to travel…and for about 10 to 15 miles were were in snow and ice conditions.

A ways beyond Camp 18 we ran out of snow and ice and had a glorious 5 days at Cannon Beach.  With two teachers in the group, we celebrated Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as news arrived that school was called for the following days.

Meanwhile, back in town…


I Drove Back for the Cabbage!

JANUARY 10, 2017 CYO/CH –Did I tell you what I saw this summer on my way to the office from Camp Howard?  The area has some very impressive “truck farms” which means they raise vegetables for local stores and sales.

The daily summer trips to and from camp from the office or from the convent or from the bus pick up and drop off, affords the opportunity to watch the entire process from planting to harvest of the cabbages and it is beautiful.

I am driving one day and I notice halfway down the field that they are planting the field with the cabbages.  I drive a little ways and I think to myself, “I haven’t seen the planting process in all of my twenty years of trips to the camp!  It will take an extra half hour of time but do it!”

I drove back and patiently waited for the men to get all the way to the end of the field then come back to the end I was at.  It was worth the wait and I would like to share my photos with you of what I saw.  Would you go back for the cabbage?


Planting a field of cabbage four rows at a time.


Above: Making the turn at the end of the row.


Above: refilling the containers with cabbage plants.  You can see the black circles with small plant holders in which each individual plant is placed.  With the help of some sort of mechanical mechanism, the plant drops and is guided by the two silver levers and the plant is planted!  The large orange wheels create a “seed bed” for the plants.


Above: four individuals take a seat on the chairs provided and keep the circular mechanisms filled with plants as two individuals follow for quality control.


Above: All seven of the workers were thrilled to be photographed.  Their work provided a lot of enjoyment for me through out the summer!

Top Summer Camp Position Filled With Top Notch Leader

JANUARY 9, 2017 CYO/CAMP HOWARD–Anna McLean will step into the position of Program Director at Camp Howard for the 2017 summer camping season.  Camp administration is pleased to name this position early in the year and look forward to working with her this summer.  The Program Director is seen through the eyes of the summer campers as the “Camp Director”.  That goal of the administrative staff behind the scenes such as Nora Gravengaard (Camp Director), Shawna King (Asst. Camp Director, Leila Blakely, (Health and Safety Director), Jolie Abraham Phanton, (CYO Office Liason), Karen von Borstel, (Camp Howard Property Director), and Sister Krista (Exec. Director) is to promote the youth in the Catholic Youth Organization to leadership roles.

McLean who has been a summer camper, Counselor in Training and on the summer staff for multiple years, brings a lot of “can do” to her role.  She has been around the camp for many years and has a thorough understanding of what works.

Camp Staff positions are being filled between now and June.  Individuals 18 years and older are sought to fill the nearly 60 positions available at the camp this coming summer.  Camper materials will be available very soon.  The snow and ice took a toll on our process at the end of December and early January!

BELOW: Anna McLean, 2016 Unit Director and part of the Big Swing and Zip Line crew, prepares a camper for a ride on the “Big Swing”!


When a Sister Passes


After graduating from Oregon State University with my degree in Education, I entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.  February 1980 was my entrance month.  One of the things that I found interesting was when a Sister would go through the dying process and pass away.  I have to be honest, I was uncomfortable with the idea of death in the early days of my religious life.  Thirty-seven years later, I am very comfortable with all aspects of the process and I understand clearly that we will all make that journey one day.

This morning, Sister Janice Boogard left us after a struggle with her health.  We all walked the journey with her, drove her to appointments, visited with her, prayed with her, and these past several nights, stayed at her bedside 24 hours per day until she made her way to our Lord this morning around 9:30am.

I heard a call over the intercom from Sr. Julie, our house superior, announcing that Sr. Janice had passed away.  Our tradition is to go to the room of the deceased and pray together with the body as the soul continues on the journey to God.  We gathered together and prayed the prayer of departure then sang together.  Each Sister says goodby as we prepare for the body to leave the convent and go to the mortuary where it is prepared for the funeral.

After you have lived several decades with a person there is a sorrow that accompanies the process even though you are happy they are free of the suffering they have endured. The feeling you have for their family members are deep as well as you have come to know them as a result of your association with the Sister and the families association with the community.  One of Sister Janice’s blood sisters was with her as she passed this morning which was very special.

I will write about her funeral next week.


What? Games Cancelled?

CYO/CAMP HOWARD JANUARY 6, 2017–Cancelling games is one of the hardest things we do at CYO/Camp Howard in Portland, OR.  We know how much you want to play and we WANT YOU TO PLAY!  When the weather becomes a factor, and everyone is cancelling their activities, we take it all into consideration because ultimately, we want our players, coaches, officials and parents to be safe!

The athletic team here at CYO is working on contingency plans to help make up games where possible.  That is a gigantic effort which takes the participation of Athletic Directors, School facilities, coaches and team families to help make the games up.

In the meantime, be safe this weekend and we will see you at a gym near you very soon!

You Think it is Cold at Your Place….

JANUARY 5, 2017–The power went out Wednesday night at 1:00 am.  The water was left dripping in key areas of the camp such as the faucet in the dining hall to keep the pipes from bursting.  Good news is that we use wersbo (flexible pipe) in some areas of the camp where pipes have a tendency to freeze.  If you look carefully at the photo below you will see it  is frozen water not running water.

The lumber has been ordered to fix St. John the Apostle.  After the snow and ice go away and it warms up a little bit, we will get started and make it better than new!

Stay warm!  Camp Brochures almost ready for 2017!