Dear Saint Mary’s Families,

Before Saint Mary’s was ever even a thought in my mind I was asked to write a devotion for a collection based on this church calendar year.  I was given this Sunday’s readings as the basis for the devotion.

This is also the same reading in which Father Mike’s homily was based at this week’s school Mass.  It involved Spiderman pajamas, Darth Vader and  pillows with drool on them.  Be sure to ask your child about it.

I share my devotion with you today to provide a brief glimpse into my own spiritual journey.


Speak, Lord, Your Servant is Listening

At six-years old I stood in the middle of our family room and told my mother, “When I grow up I am going to be a teacher.”  My mother, thinking this was just another idea in a litany said, “That’s nice, Jenni.  Why do you want to be a teacher?”  I knew exactly why and clearly stated, “Because I know I can do a better job than the lady I’ve got now.”

The decision was made.  At six-years old I was called to teach, albeit I may have been a bit inappropriately precocious about it.

From age 21 to 42 I was in what my grandmother calls “the school business.”  I taught middle school.  I was a high school librarian.  I was an administrator.  Yes, there were some difficult years, but overall I loved it.

That was until the last couple of years.  My responsibilities continued to increase and the issues that I had to deal with on a day-to-day basis became insurmountable.  The school business was having a negative impact on my relationship with my son and my own personal health.

After 21 years I decided it was time to leave education altogether.  I didn’t know what God had in store for me, but I knew it was time for something different.  I knew God would reveal in time His plan for me, but what I was certain of  was that I wasn’t going back into education – at least anytime soon.

August arrived.  Teachers began going back to school and the students followed.  I wasn’t a part of it and I was miserable.  The only days in which I found solace were the ones that former colleagues called me for insight or advice.  But, no, I wasn’t ready to be back in a school.  I was not going back into education.

I was supposed to be taking some time off, but having worked since age 16 I found I missed working terribly.  The last Sunday night in August I started to look for jobs – in the non-profit sector, not education.  

That night I wrote in my prayer journal, “Lord, if I am supposed to be working, you are going to need to drop a job into my lap.”  In a way that was a lot more demanding than Samuel, I said, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9).  I closed my prayer journal and went to sleep.

The next morning, on a whim, I looked for jobs in education.  I knew most schools had already started and the likelihood of any jobs being open was slim to none.  But I looked anyway.  Even as I pulled up the web site I told myself how ridiculous and what a waste of time it was that I was even looking.

And then there it was.  A posting that had been placed earlier in the month for a position in a school that seemed to be made for me.  It was position that was being kept open until they could find the right person.

I had to get out of my own way and quit trying to control what would and would not happen.  I turned it completely over to Him and He gently guided me back to exactly where I needed to be.

Journal Prompt:  When you get out of your own way and listen for God, what is He saying?


While God didn’t exactly drop a job into my lap, he clearly led me to Saint Mary Catholic School.  No matter what happens I continue to be sure that I am exactly where God needs me to be.

Jenni Ellis


IMPORTANT DATES THIS WEEK: Please visit the school calendar regularly for the most up-to-date information as times and dates may change.

Friday, January 12th – Tonight – Middle School Dance
Saturday January 13th – Saint Mary’s School Band Concert
Monday January 15th – Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, School Closed
Tuesday January 16th – Chipotle Fundraiser
Wednesday January 17th – School Mass
Friday January 19th – Report Cards being emailed to parents

Saint Mary’s Christmas Band Concert: Saturday, January 13th, 3:00 p.m. at Benedictine College Preparatory,  12829 River Road, Richmond VA 23238.  Come enjoy Christmas music played by our beginner and concert/symphonic bands and led by Mr. C, our new band instructor.

Saint Mary’s Go Forth! Capital Campaign: The Go Forth! Capital Campaign will provide the funds to renovate our elementary school wing classrooms and offices, remodel and increase security of the school entrance, and to convert our library into a state-of-the-art library and digital media learning center. The campaign will also increase our school endowment fund to better position our school for the future.  If you would like to make an online contribution, online contributions can be made here.

PTO Events:  
The PTO has two more fundraisers planned in January:

  • January 16th 4:00 p.m.– 8:00 p.m.:  Join St. Mary’s at Chipotle!  Bring the Saint Mary’s flyer, or show it on your smart phone (Flyer) and St. Mary’s PTO will receive 50% of the proceeds.  This is only valid at the Chipotle at 7000 Forest Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230.  Look for flyers coming to you next Tuesday.
  • January 27th 6:30 p.m.:  It’s time to start perfecting your chili recipes or your taste testing skills!  The 9th Annual Dad’s Chili Cook-off will be held on January 27th at 6:30 pm in Parish Hall. You provide a pot of chili and we’ll provide the fixings, (plus chicken nuggets and mac n’ cheese for the kids).  (Flyer)  Click Here to Register.  Like any other event, Chili Cook-off volunteers are needed to make it a success.  If you are able to help refresh supplies, sell 50/50 tickets, work the check-in table, or provide a dessert please follow the link below.  This is a great way to get student service hours!  Any help is greatly appreciated. Please volunteer by clicking here.

Thank you for your support of Saint Mary’s PTO!

Monarch of the Month: This month our Monarchs clearly express their ideas both orally and in writing.  They speak more than one language and they are good listeners.  Congratulations to our Communicator Monarchs of the Month!

First Grade – Landon Carter, Mary-Catherine Vehorn
Second Grade – Anna Porter, Aerin Hoppler
Third Grade – Anne Keating, Megan Joss
Fourth Grade – Alex Corbitt, Jeffrey Sproull, Gavin Team
Fifth Grade – Molly Morrissey, Alex Price
Sixth Grade – Ellery Team
Seventh Grade – Sofia Battles
Eighth Grade – Anna Christian

Musical Monarchs:  The students are challenged to “sing like they mean it” during Mass.  When a child is spotted by Mrs. Taylor, our music teacher, or another teacher that student’s name is entered into a drawing to be recognized as a Musical Monarch for the month.  This month we are recognizing:

Second Grade – Thomas Do
Third Grade – Victoria Fortune
Middle School – Madison Ashby

Church Events:

“Polish Night Fundraiser” The Knights of Columbus is sponsoring its annual Polish Night Fundraiser on Saturday, January 20 at 6:30 pm in the Parish Hall.  Tickets are now available online and sell out fast so be sure to get yours today.   Click Here

“The Power of Forgiveness”  Tickets Available Now! Monsignor Charles Kelly Faith Formation Forum. Saturday, January 20, 2018, 10am, St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Tickets $10 per person available at St. Mary’s Church Website or call 804-740-4044 (Flyer)

Join us for this presentation on the effects of forgiveness on our physical and mental health, our relationships, and our spitituality, and how we can move forward to forgiving ourselves and others.

“Find Your Greatness” Tickets Available Now!  Dynamic Catholic:  “Find Your Greatness”, Saturday, May 19, 2018, 9 am – 1:30 pm, St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Tickets $25 per person available at or call 859-980-7900 (Flyer)

Great habits create great lives.  What are your habits?  Are they helping you become the-best-version-of-yourself?  Our lives change when our habits change.  Dr. Allen Hunt returns to St. Mary Church (after last year’s event “Passion & Purpose for Marriage”) for this half-day event based on Matthew Kelly’s book The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.   “Find Your Greatness” will introduce you to four simple habits to help you reach your full potential.  Come join us and make 2018 a great year for yourself!

Helpful Links:
Volunteer in the Lunch Room
Painless Fundraising
Flynn O’Hara Uniform inform