31 October, 2011

What type of slavery exists today?

Bonded Labor... Forced Labor... Child Labor...
Commercial exploitation of children....

There are more slaves in the world today than were captured
during four centuries of slave trade! 

Trafficking of humans, especially young girls,
 is the second largest criminal industry in the world. 

This past weekend, several of our students were asked to speak at a Human Trafficking Conference being sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia. 

What was the response?  This a note we received from the Program Director:

"Dear Benedictine Academy,

I was so moved by Saturday's program that I had to follow up with this email. What an exceptional presentation! ! !
I t is incredible what you, Sister Donna Jo, Linda and your other students were able and continue to accomplish on behalf of trafficked persons. I was moved to tears and truly inspired throughout the entire presentation. To have young people so committed to a cause is outstanding, their gospel witness is extraordinary. Congratulations to each of you. Thank you for the example of your lives.

With gratitude and prayer,
Marie Angela Presenza
Program Coordinator"

For more information on Human Trafficking and what we can do, check out our website:
The Campus Ministry Team of Neumann University will be joining forces with Benedictine Academy to break the chains of violence of violence against our sisters and brothers.  


28 October, 2011

No Bystanders

What makes Benedictine Academy unique is that we are one sacred community, a family who cares about one another.  Whatever helps my sister helps me.... whatever hurts my sister hurts me.  At BA, we learn to listen with the ear of our heart and to lead the way with compassionate action.  There can be no bystanders. 

Yesterday's news article in the Star Ledger tells it all:
Benedictine girls XC team 
spells the very definition of sportsmanship

Today at Warinanco Park in Elizabeth, sportsmanship won out over split times. Compassion prevailed over competition. More than a mile-and-a-half into the two-mile freshman race at the Union County Championships, Benedictine's Tahjanaya Dorival noticed a Gov. Livingston girl (who will remain unidentified, per GL coach Chris Coughlin's wishes) face-down on the ground, not moving. Dorival didn't see her go down, but estimated that 10-15 runners passed the GL girl from the time Dorival saw her until the time she reached her. Unselfishly, Dorival made the decision to stop racing and offer whatever assistance she could for the GL girl. So did a handful of Benedictine teammates soon after Dorival arrived.

According to Robert Provost, the Marketing Director of the Star Ledger, the ten most important two letter words in the English language are: "If it is to be, it is up to me!"  And the most important two letter word in high school education is BA!

Leading the Way to Success

25 October, 2011


A few weeks ago, a young girl's life in Texas was saved because their teachers knew CPR and there was a defibrillator on the premises.  Andie, the President of the JTB Club, understands the importance of becoming knowledgeable in these life-saving skills.  After sharing this recent news event with the entire school community, she invited the students and staff to sign-up for training to become CPR and AED certified.  The response was an amazing 30% participation.  After the training, the  JTB Club is planning to meet with local officials regarding the passing of an amendment to the Good Samaritan Law.  Civil responsibility is part of the Christian ethics that are instilled at Benedictine Academy.  Thank you John Taylor Babbitt Foundation for inspiring us to inspire others to make our world a better place.

17 October, 2011


It was an amazing day as 20 of our top Students In Action Leaders attended a Jefferson Awards Leadership workshop at Rutgers University. 

Ms. MaryAnn Younger, the National Director of Students In Action arrived from Washington DC to welcome the North New Jersey students.  She spoke of the origin of Jefferson Awards, the Nobel Prize of Public Service, and the future of our nation in the hands of our youth. 

As the students shared their ideas for service projects and learned of the 7 directives, the staff shared their visions for helping humankind within
each of our respective schools. 

We are ever so grateful to Ms. Karen Hatcher, the Regional Director of Students In Action who organized this inspiring leadership event.  Our students came back on fire with the spirit ready to continue making a difference in our world , locally and globally. 

12 October, 2011

Freshmen Retreat

It was an amazing day as our freshmen students retreated from a day of academics to pray and play. Forming four tribes, one for each part of our BA Mission (+Listen + Learn+ Love+ Lead+),  our wonderful Retreat Director, Eddie, led our students through an initiation ritual to form one sacred community. 
The Power of One as a Leader increases exponentially when the class walks in solidarity with one another.  The Power of We, one mind and heart among many, requires sacrifice of one's own interests for the sake of the common good.  When we refuse to walk with our sisters, we weaken the tribe, create divisions, and often stand alone in the dark. 

What are your sisters to do?  Be the light of Jesus and lead them from the darkness into the light with kindness and friendship. 

The Senior Peer Mentors guided and supported their younger Sisters throughout their retreat with the light of their goodness.  As a special surprise, the Campus Ministers gave Eddie a WOW experience for his birthday. 

The message:  You are special! May every student and guest feel special when they are at Benedictine Academy.

11 October, 2011


It was such a WONDERFUL DAY.  The sun was shining in the sky above and in our hearts in Elizabeth.  The Senior Campus Ministery Leaders boarded the BA van and headed west to help build a six unit low income housing project with Habitat for Humanity

"Dreams take shape" as our we help build a home for people in need with young children.  Wearing their pink toolbelts and flowered knee pads, our students were ready for some serious work.  They know they deliver happiness by serving others.  Delivering happiness is really about blessing others. And when we bless others, we make them happy which makes us happy.  We have been working together for almost five years.  Together, we can and will make our world a better place.  

09 October, 2011

Sacred Heart Cathedral

It was a most beautiful celebration of liturgy at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark.  The Most Rev. Archbishop John J. Myers and Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha invited all the teachers and staff of the Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese to participate in this Mass on the Feast Day of our Lady. 

At the conclusion of the celebration, Brother Ralph Darmento called the names of the people to be honored for decades of selfless service in the educating of our youth in the catholic tradition.  Sister Germaine Fritz, our President, and Justo Bautista, Math teacher, each were honored for their 25 years of dedicated service. 

Catholic Education is the heart and soul of our country.  If we had no catholic schools, the moral values of the human race would fall in the hands of the social culture of our times.  There would be no light to lead the way out of the ....

Living Rosary

Hail Mary full of grace, blessed are you among women.
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen

This Friday morning, our entire school community journeyed to the chapel of St. Walburga Monastery to pray for the intentions of our school community, friends, benefactors, alumnae, and the needs of our brothers and sisters around the world.

Fifty five students, staff and Benedictine Sisters gathered together to form a Living Rosary to celebrate our Blessed Mother.  Our Senior Campus Ministers led the Our Father in different languages representing their heritages of French, Nigerian, Spanish, Filipino, and Portuguese.  Then the entire school community responded in one sacred voice to the second half of the prayer in English. 

The Gospel Choir sang so beautifully the Salve Regina, as we meditated upon Pope John Paul II's Mysteries of Light.   Our fingers moved prayerfully along the beads of the blessed rosary rings and our hearts were filled with God's grace and love.

At Benedictine Academy, we believe that Jesus is the Light who leads the way.  How blessed are we to share that light with the stranger, the oppressed, our sisters and every person we meet.

Breast Cancer Walk

Each year, the entire school walks on behalf of Breast Cancer.  Mrs. Rodrigues, our Business Manager and the Moderator of the Portuguese Club, spearheaded this annual tradition. 

It is such an important event for our school.  So many of our families and friends have been affected by cancer. We gather together as one sacred community to give witness in the local community and to make a pledge in support of this good cause.  Our school raised over $2,000 toward the research for a cure for breast cancer.

Let us continue to pray and walk in hope for the healing of all who are ill.

Feast of St. Francis

Dear "Good People",

This is the salutation that the gentle soul of St. Francis used each time he met the people of Assisi.  Francis walked the hillsides of Perugia spreading the peace and joy of God's love. 

Our very own Franciscan, Sister Donna Jo, the Director of Guidance, can often be found strolling the hallways of Benedictine Academy singing joyfully.  True to the Franciscan spirit, she often preached the gospel with her beautiful presence, and only when necessary used words. 

The Senior Students surprised Sister Donna Jo with a mini-celebration on her Feast Day. She received a huggable wolf that prompted her sharing of the legend of "The Wolf Of Gubbio".  Sister reminded them that we are all called to calm the wolf inside each of us with kindness and love.  Happy Feast of St. Francis to one and all.

04 October, 2011


It was another amazing day at the Tiger Global Conference in New York City.

 "Jim Collins is one of the most influential management thinkers alive." (Fortune)   He shared tremendous insights from  his new book, Great By Choice.    Drawing from his empirical research, he analyzed the true Great Companies over the past century.

"In difficult times", he challenged the major entrepreneurs from across the globe, "what makes a great leader different from the ones that reach the deathline?"   Disciplined steady growth, the "20 mile march" will get you through the difficult times... and "the right people in the right seat".  The wrong person on your team will weaken your entire internal structure to the point of crumbling when the world around you is in disarray.

The great companies are the ones that are operating at the threshold of peak performance of their major competitors.   This means that every employee must be incredibly passionate about driving the eco engine of your company.  Ask yourself, "what is your main piston and which one is misfiring?"

Next, Dr. Larry Lindsey, the former Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to President George Bush on global economic issues, held a fireside chat with Julian Robertson, the Chairman of Tiger Management.  It was a phenomenal discussion on the outlook for the US economy and Europe's sovereign debt crisis.  He revealed two significant truths.

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First truth: In crisis mode, we mistakenly focus on the urgent, instead of what is important.  This causes us to run out of time and brain cells to do what really needs to be done.  

Second truth: To forgive something does not solve the problem.  It is still there!  Echoing Jim Collin's advice, great leaders love confronting the problem and fixing it quickly to minimize damage.  The questions that are raised are not about the past, they are really about the future!

His economic advice for the next decade?  
                                           Keep it safe; diversify; and have liquidity!  

03 October, 2011

Delivering Happiness

It was a most amazing day as we attended a Global Conference at the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and Jenn Lim, CEO of Delivering Happiness gave inspiring talks about the  transforming power of delivering happiness on both profits, productivity and life.  "There is a movement underway to create a culture of happiness in our society.  Happiness is what gives meaning to our lives, to be part of something bigger than oneself with a higher purpose.  According to Maslow's Hierarchy,  more than a job or a career, it is a calling."  

Do you know what is your calling?   The Book of Esther tells us we are each created for a special purpose that no one else can fill... we may never know what that is, however it is enough that God knows what He is about.
 Next, David Fischer, the Vice President of Global Operations of Facebook, shared their marketing vision for the present and the future.  The importance of building connections and the new 21st century wave of Word of Mouth Marketing was the basis of exponential growth for companies spanning the globe.  He shared several truths regarding the social design of communication and a more partnered centered approach as a platform for creating an ecosystem that yielded results.  

What was key?  The ability to get STARTED NOW and MAKE IT HAPPEN TODAY, and not weeks/months/or a year from now.

Guardian Angel Day

October 2 was the Feast of the Guardian Angels. 
 The angels are pouring down blessings from heaven on our Benedictine Academy school community. The Senior Campus Ministers were busy distributing Guardian Angel Prayer Cards and little sweets to their classmates as they passed through the hallways throughout the day. Sharing kindness and a smile with their BA Sisters filled their hearts with joy.

Angel of God My Guardian dear
to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.