Saturday, August 5, 2017

Last Words

 A few words about Helen Marie Bouck— 

**The last of my Aunts died on May 11, 2017 at the age of 93. These were my send-off words at her funeral.

            I am Pat, Helen’s niece. I am honored to be able to share a few words in celebration of her life.  I know that one thing Helen would want me to mention is how grateful that she was of all who helped her out in any way. Often, she said how very much she appreciated even the smallest things that people did for her. I have helped her out the last few years. And I mean helped her out because she didn’t need anyone to take care of her—trust me. She made me realize that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things and then there is Helen’s way, and it was best to do it Helen’s way or you would have to redo it anyway!
I could tell you many stories about her ways. Some might think she was stubborn, but I really think she just had perseverance and endurance and knew what she wanted, which according to Helen is lacking in so many people today. After all, one needs endurance to climb the stairs to her apartment. Several times, I mentioned she should move downstairs. Her answer was I can see more up here and nobody would want to break in and carry stuff down the stairs. She also mentioned she was used to the stairs and they didn’t bother her and with time I would get used to them too. Well, I am still not used to them!
Helen was blessed with an outstanding memory. She often reminded me that my memory was not that good for a young person. One example is that of one Saturday morning when we were grocery shopping. I was helping her get the things on her list and thought we were finished and started to head toward the checkout. She said where are you going? I said we have everything on your list. She said I need cookies, candy, and ice cream. I said but they are not on your list. She said well everyone can remember those things. Then she randomly added, you and Sharon don’t have a good memory. I agreed Sharon doesn’t have good memory.
Helen enjoyed the simple things in life—fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh green beans—a plate lunch, so to speak— ice cream, cookies, and candy. She loved country music, family gatherings, and just getting out. There wasn’t much she didn’t like except for Chinese food, Mexican food, instant pudding, non-sweet rice, and cheap toilet paper. I may have missed a couple but those were at the top of her list.
Helen had a long and great run at life. I cannot even imagine all of the things that she witnessed in her lifetime. She embraced and faced every challenge and obstacle with positivity and endurance. She took great pride in her family-Sharon, Don, Pat, Brandi, Danny, and her great granddaughters-my continued prayers are with you.
I know she is smiling on all of us today, but she is likely thinking hurry up; it is almost supper time.   In closing, I am reminded of a few lines from a poem by Emily Dickinson, “Because I could not stop for death, it kindly stopped for me, the carriage held but just ourselves and immortality.” Until we meet again, I love you Aunt Helen and will deeply miss you. Many blessings for a great last road trip!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2016 Helias Catholic Hall of Fame Speech

I feel both blessed and honored to have been inducted into the Helias Catholic 2016 Hall of Fame!
First and foremost, I would like to thank God for giving me the ability and energy to teach for so many years. My heartfelt congratulations to all of the inductees. Special thanks to those who nominated me and to the Foundation committee. Thank you to the all involved with the Foundation for all of your diligent work in putting on such a fabulous banquet.
I was blessed to have parents who believed in the value of Catholic education and encouraged higher education. They also taught me the importance of being a lifelong learner. A special thank you to my family who have for so many years put up with me putting work first.
I was fortunate to have wonderful mentors when I first started teaching at Helias.  Bro. James and Pat Buchanan both taught me the importance of having high expectations for both myself and my students and the real meaning of passion for and happiness in teaching. Pat also instilled in me the desire to have an active role in my church community. Then there was Mr. Rackers…Miss Fuemmeler thinks that I am a character, well I learned it from the best. Mr. Rackers taught me that you must show up to work every day unless you are in the hospital or dead. I really did not realize the importance of this until one day when I buzzed the office three times within an hour to ask if we were getting out early because a few snow flurries were in the air…later that day, Sr. Jean said Seifert it is days like this that I would get rid of you if you didn’t show up every day. Mr. Rackers also said to always ask for a discount but not over 45% because you don’t want them to think you want too much. Then when they give you a 35% discount, you thank them for having such a great idea and so much kindness.
Past and present, I have truly had tremendous co-workers who believe in the value of Catholic education, strive to give Helias students the best, and also put up with me. I have had people ask me how can you still like teaching after so many years and some suggest it is a calling. To me, it is the best of the best and truly heaven on earth. Where else could one be employed and read all day and people think you are working or you can be a grammar snob or a spelling Nazi and students and teachers alike think you are helpful and say thank you. Where else could one be when you franticly search for your lost reading glasses and 23 students stare at you with a blank look for five minutes before they start laughing and then you realize your glasses were on your head the entire time. Without a doubt, I firmly believe that my job and the entire Helias community is a gift from God.
I would like to extend a special thank you to the Diocesan feeder schools who lay a solid foundation for many of the students who attend Helias and to the students who did not attend Catholic elementary schools, I am so grateful that they have given Helias a chance because I feel strongly that it is a chance of a lifetime. Year after year, we have extraordinary students who are faith filled and excel in both academics and extracurriculars.
I feel blessed to be part of a community that has wonderful students, parents, grandparents, and supporters. Thank you to all of you for being here this evening. I will leave you with one last thing—Miss Fuemmeler tries to tell jokes at the end of afternoon announcements and they don’t go so well—so I am going to give it a try—so here goes—So Jesus came upon a crowd who were about to stone a woman. He looked at the crowd and said “let the person who has not sinned cast the first stone” Shortly after saying this a woman came out of the crowd and hurled a stone. Jesus turned and said, “I hate when you do that Mom.” Have a wonderful evening and a safe trip home.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015


                   MERRY CHRISTMAS!
                     HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Just a little Happy Holiday poem!
 I Made Myself A Snowball                       
 I made myself a snowball,
As perfect as could be,
I thought I'd keep it as a pet,
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas,
And a pillow for its head,
Then last night it ran away,
But first - it wet the bed!
(Poet - Shel Silverstein)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wise Writing

Wise writing is an individualized tactic that too many people ignore or take for granted.  As the 2015 school opens, I would like to take time to reflect on the fact that we frequently ignore the fact that writing is and should be one's own and developed to the utmost.

America seems to promote science, math, and technology but too often leaves writing at the end of the list of important skills needed to be successful.  It is time that writing climbs to the top of important skills for the future.  After all, we hear the noble and lofty strides of science, math, and technology from written articles.  The written word has and will continue to be a necessary and important element in society.

Most importantly, each person has the opportunity to realize the value of the written work and fine tune their skills as wise writers.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

National Honor Society Address

Good evening. I am honored to be given the opportunity to speak with you this evening.  First of all, I would like to say congratulations to the returning NHS members and congratulations to the new inductees.

Also, congratulations to the families and friends of the students who are being honored this evening.  Your love and support has helped to form the quality individuals that these young men and women are today.

I started teaching at Helias Catholic with the intention of staying a couple of years so I could save up enough money to move or go back to school.  The couple of years turned into over 30 years because I fell in love with the superior students at Helias Catholic. I also came to realize that I was not alone on my path in life. I believe strongly in God’s guiding force. I am sure that most of you have some goals in mind for the future, and I encourage you to not be afraid to ask for spiritual help to share your path in life. For most of us, there is no doubt that we can use all the help that we can get.

We live in confusing and trying times. There are social, political, and economic problems that surround our daily lives. NHS members and inductees—you are our future—it is your task to create a better place for all and to clear up some of the confusion in our world.  A few contradictions include: you are told that to steal ideas from one person is plagiarism but to steal from many is research. You are told that technology and social media are the way of the future but you cannot use your cell phones during class to correspond with friends. There are more stringent steps to obtaining a driver’s license then to purchasing a firearm. We are told to watch our spending but the United States Government estimates that the national debt is equal to over $154,000 per taxpayer. A professional baseball player gets paid 3.4 million per year or more and a surgeon gets paid $230,000 per year. We are told to conserve energy but the CEO of Ameran makes 5.7 million in salary and compensations, and the list of contradictions that surround life could go on and on. You are a generation who will be the game-changers.

I would give you words of wisdom, but I am not sure I am wise. However, I would like to share some thoughts or points to ponder.

You are being honored this evening for your achievement in character, service, leadership, and scholarship. I believe these four virtues or traits are very closely interrelated and build upon one another.

When I think of character, it reminds me of a Christmas card that I received this year from a former Helias teacher—she said that when she sees Helias people she asks how Mrs. Seifert is doing and they assure her that I am still a character.  Sometimes Sister Jean says, “Seifert stop being such a character.” Sometimes she does not say anything—I just get that look.  Our character defines much of who we are, how we think, how we act, and what we say or do. Our character is shown in what we think even when no one is around. Our character determines how we justify what is right or wrong or when we say yes or no to something. A person of character does not follow the crowd or take a poll to determine the right course of action.

I believe Character is at the core of the other three traits. The second trait is service. In my mind, there are two kinds of service—one type of service is a person who only wants to serve themselves, in other words, they think “what is good for me” and they never think of others. Then there are those who think and seek to primarily serve others. Service to others lies at the foundation of positive change; service to others makes life worthwhile. To me, service does not always have to be something huge. Service can be as simple as visiting or helping an elderly person or giving a few canned food items for a food drive.

The person who has the kind of character that seeks to serve others usually also develops a sense of purpose for life. Those who serve have a natural tendency toward being leaders. To me, leadership is not so much about techniques, methods, or being the president of every organization that I am in, but it is about opening the heart. It is not about the title or position, but rather about being an active participant in society. One can be a good leader by setting a good example, by actively participating in a faith community, or by helping to pick up trash at a local park. John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience. I urge you to find meaningful experiences.

The last of the four virtues is that of scholarship. You are all scholars. Your scholarship and training must have a purpose to be fulfilling; however, I hope that you will never be finished. I was at the Foundation Hall of Fame Banquet last year and I was introduced to a woman. I generally know almost everyone at the dinner; however, I did not know her. She opened by saying, “So you are Pat Seifert”? I said, “Yes”. Then she accused me of being the reason her husband does not always pay attention to her. Yes, I was stunned and speechless and those of you who know me know that I am rarely speechless. I thought what are you talking about? After a few seconds, she said he reads books because of you and does not always pay attention to me. She went on to say, he started reading when he had you for English. Needless to say, I was relieved and chuckled a bit. I sincerely hope that all of you will be lifelong readers and lifelong learners. I hope that you yearn not so much to be taught, but rather wish to learn. I have found that the more I learn, the more I find out how much I do not know. If you think you know it all, then your learning has ceased. I hope you attempt things that you cannot do, so that you can learn how to do them. Also, please never stop questioning. Believe in your potential and abilities.

 I would like to share a little story about the wise donkey (I love stories):

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well.  The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out a way to get him out.  Finally he decided it was probably impossible and the animal was old and the well was dry anyway, so it just wasn't worth it to try and retrieve the donkey.  So the farmer asked his neighbors to come over and help him cover up the well. They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well.

At first, when the donkey realized what was happening he cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down and let out some happy brays.  A few shovel loads later, the farmer looked down the well to see what was happening and was astonished at what he saw.  With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was shaking it off and taking a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he continued to shake it off and take a step up.  Pretty soon, to everyone's amazement, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off.

The moral of this tale might very well be: Life is going to shovel dirt on you. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off

and take a step up.  Through applying wisdom every adversity can be turned into a stepping stone.  The way to get out of the

deepest well is by never giving up but by shaking yourself off and taking a step up.

What happens to you isn’t nearly as important as how you react to it.

I hope that each of you will find something you love to do and are able to pursue a career related to it. I wish each of you the best in your future endeavors, may you always enjoy life, and may God Bless you each and every day.
I would like to leave you with a few words from a very wise and brilliant man—His name is Dr. Seuss
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own, and you know what you know.
And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.

Have a wonderful evening!

Friday, October 11, 2013

October Occurrences

     Well...I has been a while since I have posted anything.  Trust me, it is not because I lack insight or am unable  to write a complete sentence.  I have not posted lately because it seems that every time I get started, I get interrupted with "here is one more thing you need to do" or "this needs to be done now."
     As most of you know, our world today seems obsessed with forms, busy work, lack of real communication, and the me attitude.  We, as people in society and as consumers, allow the influence of what I like to call "fluff-stuff waste" to overpower our lives.
     What am I talking about?  First, I am talking about how there seems to be a form for everything.  Just think about how many forms you fill out in a month.  I mean--count them up! I am not just talking about paper forms; I am also talking about online forms.  There are even forms to have forms emailed to you. Recently, the United States government has made it mandatory for all people to have health insurance. Guess what?  When people tried to access sites to get the needed information to fill out the necessary forms, the site was overloaded and was not available.  To me, there seems to be a form for everything.  Are we really a better person and society because we fill out forms?  I suppose I really think that most forms are busy work that allow someone to justify a job that is really not necessary.  Instead of forging on we are forming on!
     Thus, I come to my thoughts on busy work.  Busy work seems to abound almost everywhere.  Even recreational clubs and organizations have a meeting to discuss meeting dates.  How many meetings are filled with items that should take a few minutes to discuss but turn into an hour or more worth of unnecessary time spent repeating or rehashing simple items.  As a society, we seem to be into meeting mania but lack focus and purpose.  It is sad that so many folks out there feel the need to justify life with mandatory meeting mania. Perhaps more people should find a meaningful hobby to occupy their time and lead them toward fulfillment.
     While I think about it, it seems that people find no fulfillment is face to face communication.  In the past month, I do not remember one person confronting me face to face when they wanted something.  It is really rather easy to email someone whatever you want because you do not have to deal with an immediate response nor do you have to deal with seeing their emotions.  Emailing and text messaging are not equal to talking!  We no longer have a personal touch to life.
     The lack of the personal touch to life brings me to my last point.  We are all in this world together, and we are all part of the big picture.  We need to start acting like we are people and not computers.  We need to stop allowing people to justify their "self" by cluttering our lives with their me attitude.
     It always seems that just when I am on a rant, then something comes along and reminds me that those little things are really not important in regard to the big picture.  One day when I was just about sick of  the "me attitude" that abounded around me, I saw this inspiring sight in the sky above me and could not help but take a picture of it. The message it seemed to give me that day was that I need to check the box next to "don't sweat the small stuff" rather than checking the box next to "take care of this now".  Despite all of the "fluff-stuff waste," God always seems to take the time to remind me to focus on the right things!  If God is at the top of the list, the rest just does not matter.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Wonder

I know that I wanted snow because we had barely had a dusting prior to the last couple of weeks; however, I think that I have had enough. After shoveling yesterday's wet snow, I am ready for spring.  There just was not much of any way to move the snow.  Oh well, we really needed the moisture because we are still way behind from the summer.

I do love snow, but I also love warm weather.  I really miss wearing sandals and shorts, but I am sure winter will roar a little more before it moves out.  After all, snow flurries have gone on all day today.  This is good old Missouri, and one can just never really predict what the weather will do next. About the only thing a person can do is just go with whatever Mother Nature has in store for tomorrow--but I still wonder what tomorrow's weather will be like.

I Wonder about the future of the Catholic Church

Farewell Pope Benedict XVI

On a more serious note--I wonder about the future.  The future that I am talking about is the future of the Catholic Church regarding the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict's Morning Prayer

In his final General Audience this morning, a warm and encouraging good-bye message, Pope Benedict mentioned a simple prayer that he recommends saying every morning. You can tell that it was an old, familiar prayer--the sort of thing a child would learn in a devout family.

I heard this prayer before and know that there are a couple of different versions.  I presumed that it was written by some priest, nun, or saint.  Now I see that it was the morning prayer of the ordinary families of Catholic Europe, prayed in Bavaria as well as in northern Italy.

Here's how it goes:

I adore you my God, and I love you with all my heart.
I thank you for having created me, made me a Christian and kept me this night.
I offer you my actions of this day. Grant that they all may be according to your holy Will.
May your grace be always with me, and with all my dear ones.

And, here's the nighttime version:

I adore you my God, and I love you with all my heart.
I thank you for having created me, made me a Christian and kept me this day.
Pardon me the evil I have committed, and if I have done some good, accept it.
Take care of me while I sleep, and deliver me from dangers.
May your grace be always with me, and with all my dear ones.