Friday, September 4, 2009

To Copy or not to Copy

It may seem odd to have an article about copyright issues under the title "living and learning the virtues," but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. When we teach children about virtues, they will learn best by our good example. All the saint stories, acts of virtue, memorized prayers and Bible verses will be lost if the parent gives a poor example when living out virtue.

Illegally photocopying material not only gives a bad example of moral virtue to children, it also prevents more good materials to be produced. It may seem a small thing to have a copy of an extra saint picture on hand or to copy a few pages here and there, but children see and follow our example. We need to be above repoach and models of virtue in their eyes.

Here are a few suggestions to make your life as a leader easier while keeping your virtue intact. 1) if you'd like another copy of a saint's picture, have the children trace it from the book. It will be their own work and can add to craft time. 2) If you have a new child join and they don't yet have a book, have another child share (thus practicing virtue). The new child can copy down the Bible verse and prayers, thus helping commit them to memory. 3) If you were delayed in ordering your books and are afraid they won't be there by the first meeting, plan something else or postpone the meeting. Remember, the program is flexible, so you don't have to do one virtue a month for nine months. It may sound like the perfect plan, but it's only an outline to help you. The first meeting is going to be hectic anyway. Plan a couple of ice breaker games, a short craft, and "getting to know you" activities. It will go much better than handing out loose sheets of photocopied materials. Also, I frequently get calls from leaders wanting me to read them the first lessons' materials so they can plan their meeting. They typically have been busy and forgotten to order the books ahead of time. To teach a lesson with no materials and little forsight does a disservice to the youth. Again, I urge you to postpone your meeting or organize something else until you can receive your materials. By the way, because I, too, am a busy mom, I am unable to read the lessons to each person who asks. Please forgive me.

As the publisher who has taken on the expense of printing this material, I am very grateful to all of you for your time and commitment to our youth. I strive to make the materials as user friendly as possible. I hope all of you have a wonderful year with your groups! God bless you in your work for His work!

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Year of the Priest Incentive!

FOR ALL LITTLE FLOWERS GIRLS CLUB, BLUE KNIGHTS BOYS CLUB, LITTLE WOMEN HOSPITALITY PROGRAM AND OUR LADY’S HONOR GUARD PARTICIPANTS! BY RACHEL WATKINS Behold Children, Behold Christ programs celebrate “The Year of the Priest!” It is truly fabulous that our Holy Father has given us such a wonderful year to celebrate! While many of us gained new knowledge of St. Paul and many graces from committing more time to studying his letters and life; the “Year of the Priest” seems much more approachable. I will admit that—having a brother who is a priest (currently serving as a military chaplain), as well as a son discerning the same vocation—I am more than a bit biased. With this mandate from our Holy Father, we have created the following “bonus” activity. Not a virtue, but adding this to your program will certainly help the children grow in virtue as they discover the gift that the priesthood is to our faith and our families. If you decide to take advantage of this, here is a new list of activities (there are 12 to chose from rather than the traditional 10 in honor of the 12 first priests/apostles), to complete it as you would any of the other virtues. Make a decision on what your member or group (based on age and ability as with all Behold Children, Behold Christ programs) can complete. The first three activities are * as it would be expected that all members would complete these. Upon completion, you can receive a special recognition prayer card and a medal of St. John Vianney, the patron of the Year of the Priest, to commemorate your participation in this holy year. Also available at are award certificates, or if you prefer you can create something of your own. The following can be downloaded as a .pdf from the website: THE YEAR OF PRIEST Memory verse: “His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you.’” Jn. 2:5 1. *Memorize the verse above as a sign of your own respect and love for the priesthood. For while they are not perfect, they are Christ for us here on earth. 2. * Commit to saying the Prayer for the Priest as suggested by our bishops during this year to spiritually support all priests throughout the world. Perhaps you could add it to your family rosary, say it together after your Sunday Mass, or after dinner each evening. You can find the prayer at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website ( yearforpriests/pdf/Peoples%20Prayer%20for%20Priests%20(English).pdf) 3. *Send a letter of thanks to your parish priests thanking them for their commitment to your parish. 4. Contact your parish priest (or other priest you may know) and ask for permission to interview him. Ask him about his ‘job’ and what he does. Ask about his vocation and how it came about. What can you discover that you never knew about priests? After the interview, write up what you discovered in the form of a newspaper column and give it to the priest as a thank you. Or you could seek permission to create a display that could be exhibited at your parish. (This could be done as a group if desired with each member asking questions.) 5. Contact your diocesan vocation office or military chaplain’s offices ( Inquire to see if there are any needs with which your group could assist them. Perhaps you could develop a pen pal program, a fundraiser, or collection of needed supplies. If nothing is available, create a spiritual bouquet and send it to the office (or seminary) requesting it be shared with those under their care. 6. Ask your parents about the priests who married them and performed sacraments such as Baptism or First Communion for your family. If possible, locate these priests and give them news of the family and how you are doing. Thank them for helping your family in their faith journey. If this is not possible, say a rosary in their honor and ask the Blessed Mother to grant them grace and fidelity. 7. Choose one of the many saint priests. Read their biography and share it with your group. Having an evening of discovery of the many priests who are also saints. 8. Priests give up a great deal of serve Christ and Christ alone. There have been priests who were once doctors, scientists, and great athletes. Some of these men were able to continue their work as priest while others gave everything up to follow Jesus. Investigate some of these extraordinary men, and create a display honoring their work. Perhaps there is one such man in your own parish or diocese? 9. There are many good movies that give tribute to the sacrifices and work of good priests (such as The Scarlet and the Black or Boy’s Town). Have a movie night and watch one as a group. Consider inviting your parish priests to enjoy it with you. 10. Using Catholic apologetic material or books, explore the scripture verses that show the establishment of the priesthood in the Catholic Church. These include: Lk 16:24, 1 Cor. 4:15, Mt. 19:12, Jn. 20:22-23, Acts 19:18, Mt. 16:18, and Lk. 22:23. Create an apologist’s brief in defense of the priesthood to give to all the members of your group. 11. Priests come from families just like yours. Praying for an increase in vocations and a generosity from many families is key. Many dioceses have Eucharistic adoration, contact those in charge and inquire if time could be dedicated to praying for vocations. Help them advertise this addition as a part of this year’s celebration. In addition, make a commitment as a family to pray for vocations regularly during family prayer time. 12. Participate as a family or a group in one of the programs your own parish/diocese is doing to honor this year. Send a thank you to the organizers of the event afterwards and let them know you appreciate their service. OR Fulfill the necessary obligations to receive the indulgences attached to this holy year as prescribed. You can find the list of indulgences on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website at

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fundraising Opportunity

We've just put up a new website to help your clubs afford to pay for books, badges, sashes and shirts.

Basically, all the information is on the new fundraising website:

Here's how it is going to work:

1.) Register your group on the site's registration form.

2) Get a customer login and password by return email

3) pass the email with the customer login, password and fundraising website to club members, families and friends.

4.) When they purchase books from the fundraising website you earn 40% of that sale as a credit toward your club's purchases of supplies on the entire Ecce Homo Press website.

5. Once a month, you'll receive a gift certificate for 40% of your month's sales to use at

Please see the fundraising site for more details and information.

God bless you in your work for His work!
Joan Stromberg

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Avoiding Burnout

With summer upon us and many groups on ‘vacation,’ you may be looking back at the past year with relief that it is finally over, or anticipating next year with a sense of dread. If this is true for you, you may have a case of burnout. Whether it is family life, homeschooling, or Little Flowers/Blue Knights, burnout can be a real struggle. I know - I’ve been through it in all of this situations mentioned above at one point or another.Burnout is described as physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. But even without Webster’s definition, we all know it when we see it in others but often don’t realize when it hits us - until it is too late.But it can happen and sometimes does. I hope it offers you some comfort to know that burnout happens to the best (and worst) of us. I also hope it offers you additional comfort to know that burnout doesn’t have to happen. And lastly, if it should happen, it says nothing about who you are as a person (or Catholic). We are flawed people reaching out for the grace of God in all circumstances and sometimes our arms fall a bit short. We also need to realize Satan is never idle, and the stress and overwork that causes the burnout often has his dirty fingerprints all over it.Through burnout Satan makes us feel either incompetent or inferior - two adjectives that should never be used when talking about a child of God. However, consider your own experience with burnout. Did you refuse to admit it could be happening to you and attempt to muscle through the difficulty with your sheer will and some extra prayer? Or did you crumble under it and refuse to undertake any similar work or activity again?The first approach - muscling through - is the inferiority complex of burnout. You are only burning out because you don’t pray enough, pray the right prayer, or commit yourself to the right mix of prayer, sacrifice, and sacrament. In this model burnout doesn’t happen to ‘good’ Catholics so there must be something wrong with you.The second approach - crumbling - is the incompetency complex. You obviously aren’t holy enough, fit enough, smart enough, or whatever enough to be doing this (whatever ‘this’ is!). You are not the person for the job and God will just have find someone else.Neither of these are true. Burnout happens for many reasons as mentioned above - how do you define stress and overwork? I often call it - Life!In the end, regardless of how burnout makes you feel, whatever brought you to burnout needs to be addressed. Burnout is not your ‘fault’ but perhaps you can put into place a few key resolutions to prevent it from happening again (or in the first place!).Don’t go it alone. Take the advice of Christ himself who sent out his own disciples in pairs. When starting any group (either LF or BK), insist on help. Have a sign-up sheet at the first meetings of organization and insist that everyone find somewhere to help. It can be as simple as providing the snacks or picking up the craft supplies. While many groups run their meetings as drop-off meeting, it should be expected that one or two parents stay to help out. These parents need not be leaders, unless they want to, but having an extra set of hands and eyes is always welcome. There is a place for everyone to help; encourage their participation with reminders of the Christian call to helping. You are, after all, not even asking for their coat, just an hour or so of their time!Accept the reality that others will help to the best of their ability and with their own strengths with no detrimental effect on the group. Allow other parents to bring their own talents and temperaments. They may be louder than you or more sedate. They may prefer to work straight from the book while you work more loosely. You may wish that every snack be homemade and they bring pretzels and juice boxes. The girls will gain a great deal from a variety of techniques and seeing others in action. It may not be way you like things to be done but it is not the “wrong way.” Accept gratefully and charitably the help that is offered with no criticisms, unless errors in Church teaching occur.In a group setting, rules must be established addressing how inappropriate behavior or activity will be handled. Burnout often happens because of the stress from meetings that are not the places of fun and faith they ought to be. It can be awkward when you find yourself having to correct children that aren’t your own. Making it clear beforehand with all of the parents of what behaviors are expected can help prevent, reduce (and hopefully eliminate) any problems.Feel free to step back from the guidelines for the programs and have meetings that are just fun and games. If you are feeling overwhelmed due to a belief you need to do every activity or every craft, the children are going to sense that. Scheduling an occasional meeting or gathering for a good movie, games, or a trip to a local zoo will be appreciated by everyone.Finally (and firstly), be sure to dedicate your program, the families, and children involved to the protection and watchful eye of God. Whenever you are striving for holiness, Satan (as mentioned before) is surely twitching. Making sure to always pray before planning any meetings, starting any meeting, and ending every meeting will afford you the grace you need to run a program that is fun and inspiring for both the children and the adults involved!Burnout is not inevitable but should not be unexpected. Putting into place some strong foundational expectations before meetings begin will help them from developing any stress fractures or crumbling all together.God Bless,Rachel Watkins

Friday, May 29, 2009

New England Conference

Come visit Ecce Homo Press at the New England Catholic Homeschool Conference in Chicopee, MA on June 6th and save! Conference goers save 15% on all materials and get free shipping on supplies they wish shipped to their homes.This conference is a perfect opportunity to check out new items, stock up for next year and get catalogs and materials to help build your club for the coming year.If you plan on stocking up for the next year's clubs, just shoot me an email ( and I'll make sure I have the supplies you need. See you in New England!

Foam Sword

Are you afraid your boys will enjoy their craft swords a little TOO much? Here's a great link to a site to make a safer foam sword.

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Look, New Books

My dear son, Joe, graduated from Franciscan Univ. of Steubenville in December. I've been anticipating his graduation for some time. Not just because he'll be a college graduate but also because he holds a bachelor of arts in English composition. A very handy degree for a publisher. He also has worked for Ecce Homo Press during the summer for the last few years. So Joe is with the company full time and we decided Blue Knights needed a little face lift. Thanks to Joe, we've edited, reformatted and perfect bound the Year 3 and 4 Blue Knights Leaders and Member's Guides. They now have new illustrations, new covers, and the member's guides have new, easy for children to read biographies. The Craft Companion also has a new cover and crisp new photos and illustrations. We also now have memory cards for Years 2, 3, and 4. These are packaged in sets of 10-one for each saint plus one of St. Joseph, patron of Blue Knights.

We'll be featuring these items and more in our monthly newsletters. The newsletters will also have discount codes to get these items at deep discounts. Other items in the newsletters include leader training, idea and craft activities for the groups, and frequently asked questions. If you aren't signed up to get the email newsletter, visit the website at and scroll down to the bottom of the page to sign-up. The next newsletter goes out March 21, 2009.