Category Archives: Inspiration

The Prince-Priest Died 175 Years Ago

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One hundred seventy five years ago, on May 6th, a remarkable missionary priest died. His story is one of contrasts – royalty and poverty, well-loved and disinherited, injured and always on the move.  Fr. Demetrius Gallitzin, aka Augustine Smith, was born in Holland in 1770. His father was a Russian prince and Augustine lived a life of ease. After arriving in America at the age of 22, Augustine entered the first class at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore.  For forty-one years, Fr. Gallitzin was as a missionary priest in the wilderness of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Fr. Gallitzin started a Catholic colony called Loretto, in Pennsylvania. He has been given the title “Servant of God” on his way to sainthood. Visit the website www.demetriusgallitzin.org to view a 1945 comic book about this “Apostle of the Alleghenies.” Fr. Gallitzin is also featured in our PA Catholic community resource. His story is inspiring. His story makes me proud to be a Catholic. His story needs to be told to our young people so that they can catch his passion for the Catholic faith.

Take Students on a Catholic Journey

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What a journey through time as I wrote the lessons for The Catholic Community of the United States: Highlights from the Colonial Period through the Early Republic. I had a goal for my journey – a finished product in mind, but truly it was the journey that mattered most of all. The Catholic people of the past that I met, the events I experienced through their writings, the awe inspiring faith they shared with me made me a better person. I am prouder to be Catholic than I was before I began this journey. I realize now that I go forward in faith stronger and more passionate because of this journey – because I have met them.

Our children need to take this journey. If there ever was a time when our children need the fortitude and the zeal for their faith, it is now. This journey through time will be what inspires them to journey into the future with God at their side. These Catholics of the past can be examples of how to live, love and sacrifice well.  This book is my gift to students, but they need to be led. Within the few moments that teachers have in history class, during math instruction, while reading in Language Arts, or after prayer in Religion class, these lessons can be integrated into the school day. The children may not thank their teacher for the journey, but they will be blessed and, I dare say, so will the teacher.

Kim Lytle

3/3: Feast Day of PA Saint – St. Katharine Drexel

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It was a front page story when Katharine Drexel gave millions away to join a convent and become a sister.  Founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Drexel was dedicated to serving Native American and African American communities.

We encourage teachers and students to visit the Interactive Timeline about Saint Katharine found on the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and National Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel website.

Share with students the amazing life of Saint Katharine via these incredible pictures and student-friendly content.
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Saint Katharine Drexel is featured in our Pennsylvania Catholic history resource, The Catholic Community of Pennsylvania: Past and Present. This lesson includes a two-page telling of Saint Katharine’s life story, a graphic organizer to guide students’ interaction with this story, and a crossword puzzle.

A Visit to St. Patrick Church – Pittsburgh , PA

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I expected St. Patrick Church in Pittsburgh to be in a setting that one would expect for such a historic building – spacious grounds, large entrance sign touting its historic significance, and a fancy walkway leading up to enormous doors. This church was the first in the Pittsburgh area, built in 1808. This is the church that is the “American Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes.” This is the place where over two million (yes, 2,000,000) free meals were given to those in need during the Depression. This is the place where the pastor, Fr. Cox, was known as the Mayor of Shantytown and the “Pastor of the Poor.

There were no spacious grounds. There was no large entrance sign, no fancy walkway and no enormous doors. This church was sitting in the middle of life in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. The sign was so modest. The grounds were modest with a few statues. The walkway was modestly done. The wooden doors were modest in design. This church was nothing like I expected and everything that I was hoping for. This historic church was now like it was probably then at the center of everyday, plain ordinary life.

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After walking inside, the first view that struck me was the Holy Stairs. These stairs represent the 28 steps between Christ and Pilate, when Christ was condemned to death. The sign says to ascend the steps on one’s knees and prayers are provided for each step. What an act of penance and humility for one to climb these steps. This picture is looking down on the steps from above.

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As I learned about Fr. James Cox and prepared the lesson in the PA book about him, I was so impressed by the way he lived the faith. Sometimes I think that it is so easy to talk the talk of the Catholic life, but someone like him who lives it by loving the poor and voiceless is a WOW in my book.

What a sense of the sacred amidst ordinary life. Thanks, Sara, for taking me. It was a pleasure sharing the experience with my daughter.

I realize that most of your students can’t come here, but please tell them the story of St. Patrick Church. It is Lesson 14 in The Catholic Community of Pennsylvania: Past and Present. We need their ordinary lives to be immersed in the sacred.

10 Reasons I am Proud to be a Catholic from PA

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  1. St. Katherine Drexel was born in Philadelphia.
  2. St. Anthony’s Chapel is in Pittsburgh and it has the most relics in the whole world outside of the Vatican.
  3. The colony of Pennsylvania was unique because of the freedom William Penn gave to Catholics to practice their faith.
  4. Pennsylvania can lay claim to Fr. James Cox of Pittsburgh. This priest was called the “Pastor of the Poor” and led a huge march on Washington.
  5. The first Benedictine Monastery in the United States was in Pennsylvania.
  6. Operation Rice Bowl began in Pennsylvania.
  7. A church in Brownsville is in Ripley’s Believe It or Not as the only cemetery with heated graves!
  8. Eighty-seven different Religious Communities for Women are currently serving in Pennsylvania.
  9. Fr. Walter Ciszek grew up in Pennsylvania and spent over 20 years in a prison camp in Russia. He never gave up on his faith and depended on God’s strength to carry him through terrible conditions.
  10. Our churches and cathedrals are beautiful and are filled with believers who are even more beautiful.

Help our students be proud Catholics from Pennsylvania.
Teach Catholic History – Create a Catholic Future

All of the above are featured in:

The Catholic Community of Pennsylvania: Past and Present

Kim Lytle, Author and Owner
History of the Catholic Community

Mother Agnes Spencer, SSJ – What a Woman!

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Mother Agnes Spencer, SSJ – What a woman!

Dead at 59, but lived so passionately that the ripple of effect of her life touched thousands of children and sick even to this day. She is a role model for the students in our classrooms, especially the girls.

Mother Spencer had a love for children and the sick of all faiths. She had a real business sense, great foresight and was an outstanding leader. She lived at a time when women had few options and little respect in the world of business. Getting loans at banks, dealing with legal paperwork to incorporate, buying land, and organizing hundreds of workers – Mother Agnes did all of this in the 1800’s.

To her credit, the following intuitions were started:

  • St. Mary’s Orphanage, Canadaigua, NY
  • St. Mary’s Academy, Canadaigua, NY
  • St. Hippolyte’s Academy, Frenchtown, PA
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital, Meadville, PA
  • St. Vincent Hospital, Erie, PA
  • St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum, Erie, PA

Under her direction, many elementary schools were staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Mother Agnes, You were quite a woman! Thank you for standing tall and strong in your faith. May the young ladies of today be inspired by your story. May they dedicate their lives to serve children and the sick. Amen.

For that to happen, we (you and I) must share her story. We must teach Catholic history.

Let History Inspire

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The teaching of history in Catholic schools – whether it is the history of the larger community or, more specifically, Catholic history – must develop the mind, heart and soul of the student. It is through the stories of people who have gone before us that we can accomplish this awesome task. Facts and dates, although important, do not inspire. When students interact with stories of Catholics who have lived well, served well and loved well, they will want to do the same. Resources from HCC bring students in contact with those Catholics that have such a story. The Pennsylvania resources share stories of a WWII prisoner, an orphan and a missionary priest to name a few.

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Pictured above is Msgr. John Carter at his ordination in 1949.  He is featured in The Catholic Community of Pennsylvania: Past and Present in A Letter from an Orphan lesson.  He was raised at St. Joseph’s Orphanage from the age of two.  He later served as chaplain there.

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Fr Carter Article