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About Us > Letter from Olen Kalkus > Head Master's Journal

Head Master's Journal

Gratitude during the Holidays

Dear Carrollton Community, 

December is here, and with it often come the feelings of rushed schedules and crowded calendars. The clamor of the modern marketing of Christmas can make it a challenge for us to remember that gratitude, or thanksgiving, should be more than just one day on a yearly calendar. We should be thankful everyday for the gifts God gives us, and manifest our gratitude and kindness in the way we treat others, the love we share, and the patience we call upon when we are most hurried. 

The season of Advent brings to mind many memories of family traditions filled with appreciation, joy, and wonder. As a child, I remember the patience practiced and the delightful anticipation that was developed when my parents gave my siblings and me an Advent calendar. Ours had small doors for each day behind which was hidden a chocolate and a picture.  Not only was the chocolate something to look forward to, but as I grew older, I wondered and reflected more upon the image that would be behind the door.  

At Carrollton we take special time during this season of patient anticipation leading to the joy of Christmas. At the Advent Family Prayer services for each of the schools we take the opportunity to reflect about the meaning and hope of this most expectant season. I invite you to click here for a simple guide to enhance your patient advent experience. I have also included a link here to a web-based (no chocolate) Advent calendar to help guide your reflection. 

Most importantly, I ask that you keep Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in your prayers, as I keep you and your family in my prayers during this Christmas season. 

Blessings,

Olen

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Friday December 2, 2016
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A Message on Holy Week

Dear Parents and Carrollton Community,

As we enter Holy Week, I would like to share with you the message that I shared with our students at the Ash Wednesday Mass in February. Goal I of the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Schools states that: “Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a personal and active faith in God.” This goal challenges us to help all members of our community meet and make God a part of their lives.

Traditionally, Lent is a period when we set aside time to reflect upon Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection. Through prayer, penance, repentance, and self-denial we prepare ourselves to more fully embrace God in our lives.

To this end, one of the most important things that I can share is that “God meets us where we are.” What do I mean by this? Too often, I have found, and I certainly remember feeling this way at times, that people think that being spiritual requires perfection. That somehow in order to have God in our lives we must be perfect ourselves. This is akin to giving our house a thorough cleaning before important guests arrive, with the added belief that we must keep our “house” perfectly clean in order to keep our honored guest happy. But God does not want, nor need to be an honored guest; He wants to be a part of our family. Like family, He knows that the house will get dirty and unsettled again. Like family, He knows and understands the strengths and weaknesses of each of us, and what we are trying to improve upon. Like family, He wants to be invited in on our hopes and aspirations, to be asked to help us reach them. God does not expect us to be perfect before inviting Him into our lives.

To paraphrase Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ, our relationship with God, and one another, need not be perfectly finished, just seriously begun.

Blessings,

Olen

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Tuesday March 22, 2016 at 01:44PM
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Carrollton founded on a leap of faith

Before I begin my prepared remarks, I want to thank the dancers, choir, and musicians for sharing their wonderful gifts with us. Whenever I hear beautiful music, I am reminded of Kurt Vonnegut’s quote that “the only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.” 

As we celebrate the 54th anniversary of the founding of Carrollton, a quote from Goethe about taking leaps of faith comes to mind. He wrote: 

"Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. … Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” 

What Carrollton is today, what you as parents, students, faculty and staff are experiencing, what you as alumnae received as a gift, would not have been possible without the bold leap of faith taken by the founders of Carrollton, without the bold leap of faith taken by St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, and without the bold leap of faith taken by St. Madeleine Sophie herself, along with countless others.  

As we celebrate Carrollton’ successful growth we must always be mindful that all that has been accomplished and that we hope to accomplish is for the Glory of God. More eloquently stated in this poem by Santosh Kalwar: 

Life remains unchanged

till a leap of faith

runs towards heaven 

It is fitting that today’s liturgy was celebrated with the assistance of the arts faculty and students. Perhaps no other discipline encourages taking risk and leaps of faith more than the arts. In addition to what you have experienced here, I encourage you visit the art exhibit in the hallways of the Barry building on Barat Campus.  

Finally, our Carrollton artists remind us that our leaps of faith be taken with enthusiasm and joy. In the words of Mother Janet Erskine Stuart: 

"To be a joy-bearer and a joy-giver says everything; it means that one is faithfully living for God and that nothing else counts, and if one gives joy to others we are doing God's work."   

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Thursday February 4, 2016
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2016: The start of a promising year

 

Dear Carrollton Families, 

Welcome back to school and the start of an exciting 2016! This year holds great promise as we continue in our collaboration to educate and form your daughters to be the best for the world. Later this month we will be enjoying the fruits of our volunteers’ hard work as we revel in the Anniversary weekend activities. If you have not done so, buy your tickets now and get ready to Celebrate 2016! 

This March we will host presentations by Dr. Lisa Miller, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology and executive Director of the Spiritual Mind Body Institute at Columbia University. As the author of the New York Times best seller, The Spiritual Child; The New Science of Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving, she has been reviewed interviewed and discussed in media outlets such as the New York Times, Today Show, MSNBC, NPR, TEDx, Washington Post, Time, and New York Magazine. Also in March we will be coming together for the twelfth annual Golf and Tennis Tournament. 

The rest of the semester is filled with equally exciting events and activities promoting your daughter’s growth in grace and grit - from athletic and performing arts events, to liturgies and prayer services, to visits from authors and presentations from renowned lecturers and researchers. I look forward to seeing you at the many events that will take place this semester. Please stay tuned to your emails as more information will be forthcoming. 

Finally, I want to personally thank you for your extraordinary generosity toward and support of our faculty, staff, and administration. Your generosity gave us a very special Christmas. Your kindness, commitment to the school, and partnership with us, is making my first year as Carrollton’s Head Master a joyous one. 

On behalf of the students we serve, and the faculty, staff and administrators that make up the adult community, I thank you. 

Best wishes for this promising New Year. 

Sincerely, 

Olen Kalkus
Head Master 

P.S. Congratulations to the JH soccer team on winning the South Florida Middle School Conference Championship! Go Cyclones!

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Monday January 11, 2016 at 02:14PM
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A Christmas Message

Dear Carrollton Community, 

As Christmas nears, it is almost impossible to avoid the cacophony of the modern marketing of Christmas, and the feeling of rushed schedules and crowded calendars.  Consequently, it is especially important that we take some time to reflect upon and increase our awareness of the true meaning of Advent and Christmas. Advent is a time of patient waiting and pondering. It is a time of quiet hope, reflection, and anticipation, followed by the joy of Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Christ, God’s greatest gift to humankind. The gift giving that characterizes the season is an external gesture of gratitude to our family and community. Other expressions of gratitude are manifested in the way we treat others, the love we share, and the patience we call upon when we are most hurried. The environment we create for ourselves and our families is one where Christ is always welcomed. 

The Advent Prayer Services at Carrollton encourage the students and adults to slow down, to reflect, and to set priorities that place value in the meaning of Christmas.  This time we give ourselves is a great gift. I encourage any and all of you to attend one or more of these services. I would like to remind you of the words of St. Madeleine Sophie that are found on the December page of our school calendar. “Form the habit of mindfulness by putting a stop to over activity when you become conscious of it.” 

I hope the enclosed Christmas message, created and sung by Carrollton students, fill you with much hope and joy. As I keep you and your families in my prayers, I ask that you keep Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in yours. Together, this family of Christ’s Heart in Miami will rejoice in our blessings. 

I look forward to seeing you at our Christmas gatherings listed in the Carrollton Christmas card and wish you and your families time filled with peace and joy. 

With love, prayers, and gratitude,

 

Olen Kalkus
Head Master

 
   
Posted by Olen Kalkus on Thursday December 3, 2015 at 07:12PM
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Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, RSCJ

Dear Carrollton Family, 

In November, it is a tradition of Sacred Heart Schools to celebrate the Feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, RSCJ, the foundress in America of the first houses of the Society of the Sacred Heart. One of my favorite quotes of St. Philippine is: 

“Preach by example of your lives rather than by words.  Example is the very best sermon.” 

We can certainly learn much from her example. The daughter of an eminent lawyer, and ancestor of a President of France, Philippine persevered through hardship and disruption to bring to fruition her lifelong ambition to be a missionary and make known the Love of the Heart of Christ to the Native Americans. She was educated by the Visitation nuns and joined the order when she was 19, only to see it dispersed during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. In 1804, she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart, and worked and waited fourteen years before she was able to set sail for America. At the age of 49, she and a few other members of the Society set sail on a 70-day voyage across the Atlantic. She arrived in New Orleans, traveled the Louisiana Territory, and ended up in St. Louis, eventually establishing the first house and school of the Society of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Missouri. The school and house faced many struggles. The weather was cold, and funding was scarce. Yet, she and four others prevailed and established six houses in America by 1828. It was not until years later that a school in Kansas was founded for the children of the Potawatomi tribe. Unable to learn the Potawatomi language, Philippine dedicated her time to taking care of the sick and to prayer. The Potawatomi named her Quahkahkanumad, which stood for "Woman Who Prays Always." She was canonized on July 3, 1988, by Pope John Paul II. Her Feast Day is November 18. 

Her example is especially important today, as she lived a life of faith, perseverance, courage, and compassion during times with as much, if not more, disruption and risk as we face today. In 1818 the First Seminole War was taking place in Florida, and with the exception of Louisiana, the lands west of the Mississippi were still only territories. In spite of the certain hardships and possible dangers, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne lived a life true to her words: 

Strength of character is certainly needed to face life in the world and to stand by right principles, especially in the age in which we live.” 

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne has given us a model of being “the best for the world,” and the “grit and grace” I have spoken of when describing the formation of our Carrollton students. We would all do well to not only remember her, but to emulate her as we live our lives. 

Yours in thanksgiving,

Olen 

The Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the United States and Canada has been in touch with our counterparts in France. They are deeply shaken by last Friday’s events but they are safe.  They are observing the national days of mourning at their schools.

The students at Bloomfield Hills wanted to do something to show solidarity, so they created an Instagram account that will be updated regularly: https://instagram.com/sacredheartstudentsforpeace/ Any student/teacher/admin/alumna from any of our sister schools who wants to email a submission is welcome to email our Director of Communications, Isabel Singletary at isingletary@carrollton.org

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Wednesday November 18, 2015
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Feast of Mater

October 20, 2015

Dear Carrollton Community,

 

October is a particularly important month in the life of a Sacred Heart school. We celebrate the Feast of Mater, a feast that is very dear to our devotions and traditions. Mater Admirabilis, represented by that beautiful image that welcomes one at all Sacred Heart schools throughout the world in prayer, song, liturgy and service, is a unique portrait of Our Lady working (spinning), and at the same time, in calm meditation. She unifies us in our observance of her peaceful strength, her commitment to work represented by the staff and the spindle, and her quest for knowledge of God as she appears to have just put down the still opened Book of Holy Scriptures. She reminds us of the Invisible and the Essential that can only be sought within the quiet of our hearts. She seems in perfect balance of work and prayer. A model that seems ever more important for all of us in the ever more rapid pace of modern life.

As we come off of the high energy and activity of September and getting the school year started, Mater Admirabilis calls all of us to make time for espacio in the midst of our very busy lives, and to reflect on and recreate the balance in our lives that her image inspires.

Yours in peace,

Olen

Head Master 

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Tuesday October 20, 2015
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A Message of Joy

Dear Carrollton Community,  

Earlier this month I had the honor and pleasure of speaking with all of our students at the Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebrated once with the Junior High and High School students and faculty, and on a separate occasion with the Primary and Intermediate students and faculty. In my conversation with the older students I shared with them my love of “enthusiasm,” both as a word with meaningful roots and as a sensation that is one of the “fruits of the Holy Spirit.” The text of my comments can be found at this link.

With our younger students I entered into a dialog with them about the difference between the joy that we feel when we receive something (we all like presents), and the joy that we feel when we are kind and give or do for others (we all feel good when we help others). I shared with them that science has known for a long time that joy, or happiness, seems to give significant health benefits to individuals. Recently researchers have been able to design experiments that have investigated which type of happiness is responsible for the health benefits associated with happiness. I was pleased, but not surprised that, when asked, the girls were able to surmise that the research strongly indicates that the happiness resulting from giving and kindness is responsible for almost all of the health benefits associated with happiness. I was not surprised, because as children of the Sacred Heart they know and understand that one aspect of Goal I - developing a “personal and active faith in God” is experienced by adopting “the attitudes of the heart of Jesus expressed in respect, compassion, forgiveness and generosity.”

This afternoon and evening we host the Dig Pink volleyball games in the Wellness Center. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to experience Joy in the spirit of enthusiasm, as we cheer on the Carrollton Cyclones, and in the spirit of kindness and giving, as all proceeds from Dig Pink are dedicated to breast cancer research.

I hope to see you at the games!

With great joy,

Olen
Head Master

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Friday October 2, 2015
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The Power of the Holy Spirit

As I thought about what I would share with you today, I spent a lot of time reflecting on what has been written and said about the Holy Spirit, and I realized that the most important thing I could share you is that the Spirit of God wants to have fellowship with us. Whether we are aware of it or not, God is working in and through us. We create with God wherever and whenever we are involved in our school community, our family, our friends, the world. It is the Holy Spirit that moves us to do the right thing, and it does so not with admonishment or guilt but with good feelings. St. Paul in his Letter to the Galicians put it succinctly when he wrote, “the fruit of the Spirit is joy, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” 

You may have already heard that one of my favorite words is “enthusiasm.” It comes from the Greek “en theos” or God within. I believe when we are enthusiastic, in the zone, experiencing flow, joyful, we are feeling the power of the Holy Spirit; we are close to God. 

The founding mothers referred to the importance of joy in their writings: 

  • St. Madeleine Sophie- Be humble, be simple, and bring joy to others. 
  • Janet Erskine Stuart - To be a joy-bearer and a joy-giver says everything; it means that one is faithfully living for God and that nothing else counts, and if one gives joy to others we are doing God's work. 

I will end with this image:

In the movie Chariots of Fire. One of the characters about whom the movie was made is Eric Liddell. He was a Scottish athlete and missionary forced to choose between his religious beliefs and running his best event in the 1924 Olympics. He chose not to run on the Sabbath, and entered the 400 meters, not his best event. During the preliminary heats, his style was so awkward that he was derided by the other runners, including the favorite US team. He won. Eric Liddell was the son of missionaries and was expected to return to China, where he was born and his parents worked and lived, but he wanted to be in the Olympics representing the UK. In one exchange with his sister, who was urging him to begin his missionary work, he was reported to have said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure!” That voiceover in the movie as he runs and wins the gold medal, is one of my favorite scenes in any movie. The pleasure he felt was a Pure Joy coming from within. His teammates and coaches said he was a humble man without any vanity, despite being not only a superb runner but an outstanding athlete on the rugby field, as well. Eric Liddell returned to his mission work in China and died in a Japanese internment camp in 1945, where he gave up his spot in a prisoner exchange to a pregnant woman. 

May we all open ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit and feel the God’s pleasure as we work alongside him and one another this year growing in faith, intellect,

hope, compassion, and courage as we do good at Carrollton, our homes, the greater Miami community, and the world.

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Friday September 18, 2015 at 02:49PM
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