Hand in Hand: Preparing for a life well lived

Will McMillian, a graduate of the Hand-in-Hand program at Pope John Paul II High School, has a job at the Green Hill Y in Nashville, TN on Wednesday, 23 January 2019.

In 2004, John Paul II High School embarked on an experiment: could students with intellectual disabilities attend school with typically-developing peers in a rigorous, Catholic scholastic environment, and not only co-exist on the same campus, but become fully immersed and accepted members of the school community? The answer must have been a resounding “yes”, because the program is still going strong and boasts a full roster of graduates, and a second Hand in Hand initiative is under way at … [Read more...]

Communicating with a Child That Does Not Speak, through Photography

Aidan in a swimming pool

Fifteen years ago, new mom Jen Vogus – now a parishioner at Holy Family Church in Brentwood – became concerned about her five-week-old son. “Aidan was a full-term baby,” said Vogus. “I had a normal birth. But shortly after he was born – Mother’s Day, 2002 – I was breastfeeding him and he started doing this eye twitch and lip pucker thing. It was odd, and I had never seen it before.” The family’s pediatrician confirmed that Aidan was having seizures. “It was devastating,” recalled Vogus. “And … [Read more...]

Cooking Up Helpings of Multi-cultural Cuisine and Community

Father Ryan Cooking Club and Pedestal Foods prep for Room in the Inn guests, coming Christmas Eve.

When you think about eating sushi in Nashville, Father Ryan High School may not be the first place that comes to mind. But on a day in early January, the school cafeteria was brimming with at least 20 cooks, hundreds of seaweed squares, an imposing pile of scooped fresh avocado and assorted other ingredients. Welcome to the Father Ryan Cooking Club. Last August, Father Gervan – or Father G, as his adoring students call him - was approached by seniors Olivia Scruggs and Elliott Gild and … [Read more...]

Teaching is a Family Affair at Holy Rosary Academy

twins jumping

Courtney Schletzer and Kristin Schletzer Burnett have a lot in common, even for twin sisters. Besides growing up under the same roof, they attended Christ the King School, Father Ryan High School and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville together, frequently as students in the same classes. They’ve even been roommates most of their adult lives. Now they teach directly across the hall from each other at Holy Rosary Academy. “We are each other’s best friends and worst enemies,” laughed … [Read more...]

Catholic Charities Jobs Program Creates Sewing Training Academy

The Sewing Training Academy (STA) is where people in Nashville learn commercial sewing as a trade for the purpose of employment.

From all appearances, Nashville is the latest boom town. People of all ages are moving here, and rents and home prices reflect that. New businesses are opening up; in fact whole industries are blooming, seemingly overnight. All of this positive commotion has had an impact on Catholic Charities too, specifically its four-year old jobs training initiative for refugees, the unemployed, underemployed and underserved. To meet the needs of a burgeoning clothing industry, Catholic Charities has … [Read more...]

Memorable Memoirs: Monica Wood’s “When We Were the Kennedys”

When We Were the Kennedys at Pike's Place

  A while back I devoted almost two years to reading nothing but memoirs. For this period I had become disenchanted with fiction, and felt like the only truly compelling story was a lived one. These were not “celebrity” memoirs, they were captured moments in time by ordinary people who had, typically, faced some kind of adversity, and, in most cases, had come out the other side enlightened, empowered and able to articulate that challenging journey. I discovered some of my now favorite … [Read more...]

At 82, St. Bernard Alumna Releases 36th Book

Goulash, Garage Sales, & God

While at St. Bernard Academy, Bernadette McCarver Snyder was in an oratorical contest and competed with an original speech. She won at the school and city levels, but then fell just short in the state finals. In her senior year, her reputation for being an excellent communicator landed her a co-editor position on the school newspaper. “We worked hard on that newspaper that year and we won this award from the State of Tennessee for being the best high school newspaper from a school our size,” … [Read more...]

Memorable Memoirs: Koren Zailckas’s “Fury”

Fury by Koren Zailckas

In the case of Fury, Koren Zailckas’ exceptional follow up to her best selling book Smashed: Story of a Drunken Childhood, the term “memoir” may be a bit of a misnomer. Although it does indeed chronicle many of her personal experiences, it is also a scholarly book that quotes and references numerous sources – very effectively. The topic is anger. We are introduced to the author as she is flying back to the states after a failed relationship with a British musician – a devastating ending that … [Read more...]

Memorable Memoirs: Rick Bragg’s “The Prince of Frogtown” and “All Over but the Shoutin'”

Rick Bragg's "The Prince of Frogtown"

I read Rick Bragg’s wonderful All Over but the Shoutin’ years ago, before I even knew I preferred - well even liked - reading memoirs. The story of growing up in poverty in Alabama with a devoted, loving, hard-working mom, and a mostly absent alcoholic father, it managed to be, by turns, excruciatingly sad, laugh-out-loud funny, hopeless and life-affirming at the same time. If you love beautiful prose for prose’s sake, you will most likely enjoy this Pulitzer Prize winning author’s writing, with … [Read more...]

Memorable Memoirs: Barbara Robinette Moss’s “Change Me into Zeus’s Daughter”

Barbara Robinette Moss's Change Me into Zeus's Daughter

Change Me into Zeus's Daughter is an examination of the author’s youth; growing up verbally and physically abused by her alcoholic father, willing to risk eating poisoned corn to satiate her endless hunger, and sharing a ramshackle home with her mom and eight siblings in rural Alabama. Moss, with pitch perfect prose, describes a father who is gone more than around, which is mostly preferable given his propensity for inflicting pain: I had just turned seven years and didn’t think Dad’s … [Read more...]