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Fresh Take

Fresh Take is a page written exclusively for young adult Catholics about their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their triumphs and their tragedies. The page debuted April 11, 2013 and is printed exclusively on the web. A new page will be posted when the new Messenger is posted. If you could, subscribe to the e-edition to help support this page. Yearly subscriptions cost $25.00. If you already subscribe to the print edition, the e-edition can be added for $5.00. Please take a few minutes and look at these pages. Email some suggestions if you’d like or comment on the stories. Send comments, questions, suggestions to:

Aug 10, 2017 Shannon Philpott-Sanders discusses how faith helps her cope with sending children off to college. Columnist Maureen Pratt explains how listening at work and in our daily lives enhances our spiritual life and understanding of others.

July 28, 2017 Bringing the spiritual side of work home can benefit the entire family, says Shannon Philpott-Sanders. Find out her take on it. Columnist Maria-Pia Negro Chin explores how teens around the globe continue to seek peace.

July 13, 2017 Columnist Shannon Philpott-Sanders offers tips for “shaking up summer” with faith. Columnist Maria-Pia Negro Chin explains how listening is a selfless act of love.

June 29, 2017 Renewing faith through family discussions energizes Shannon Philpott Sanders as she engages in dialogue about “The Shack.” Effie Caldarola reflects on the awareness of God’s presence in each life, including the birds of the air and the humans walking the earth, mindful of one another.

June 15, 2017 Listening is a critical skill that is sometimes overlooked. Maureen Pratt explores the need to listen and why it is important. Shannon Philpott Sanders sees silence as frightening and exhilarating at the same time. Read what she has to say.

May 18, 2017 When someone is called to a particular vocation, it isn’t always easy or necessarily glamorous, Laura Kelly Fanucci says. Find out her take on it. Shannon Philpott Sanders realizes her children, growing into adulthood don’t necessarily look at the journey the way she does. See what she has to say.

May 4, 2017 Moving forward with faith is a way to allow wounds to heal, Shannon Philpott says. Carolyn Woo thinks about Mother’s day, just around the corner.

April 20, 2017 Columnist Shannon Philpott thinks about “fighting fair” when she has family disagreements. Columnist Maria-Pia Negro Chin sees technology and social media as one more way to encourage youth to get involved “off line.”

April 6, 2017 Columnist Shannon Philpott takes a look at the quantity vs. quality time parents spend with their children. The right answer: it’s complicated. Columnist Maria-Pia Negro Chin looks at the call to religious life.

March 23, 2017 Columnist Shannon Philpott is taking some time to reflect on her communication skills with the people in her life and with God who has always been right there for her. See what she has to say. Effie Caldarola reviews the problems that Catholic Ireland failed to admit.

March 9, 2017 Columnist Shannon Philpott looks back on her Catholic faith as foundational and important to pass on to her children. Effie Caldarola reflects on the first week of Lent and how she had planned to celebrate the beginning of the season. However, illness gave rise to reflection and a chance to see her illness as a gift.

February 23, 2017 Columnist Shannon Philpott is thinking about weddings, both those she has attended and her own upcoming wedding this summer. They’re emotional events no matter what. See what she has to say. Erick Rommel knows attitude makes a huge difference in whatever encounters and exchanges people have, especially when applying for a job.

February 9, 2017 Columnist Shannon Philpott makes sure her children know she is just a phone call away, even if one of them is away at college. See how she handled a call from her daughter. Columnist Erick Rommel encourages everyone to “make a connection” with everyone you meet.

January 26, 2017 Columnist Shannon Philpott thinks about her sabbatical and realizes she was one of those people who needed to be busy. See how she adjusted and learned to put the most important things first in her life. Columnist Effie Caldarola talks of climate change as a “Catholic” issue, supported by the writing of Pope Francis and the statements of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. If you can’t breathe, you can’t do anything else.

January 12, 2017 Columnist Erick Rommel takes time to reflect on what he learns as attends to activities he loves. See what he has to say. Shannon Philpott is determined not to let fear of confrontations or of failure rule her life. She is guided by faith, and as long as God is at her side, nothing can keep her down.

december-15-2016 Columnist Erick Rommel makes a suggestion for the holidays. As people gather for Christmas and look forward to the new year, we have the opportunity to listen to the stories of our elders and link ourselves more closely with the past as we move forward into the future. Take time to read what he has to say. Shannon Philpott is looking forward to 2017 as she reflects on how her family is blending with those who will be part of her new family this year. Christmas, a time of many family traditions, will be a blend of her traditions and those of her fiancé. Happy Christmas to all families this year.

november-17-2016 Shannon Philpott sees a television show as a springboard to conversations within her own family and a sway to stay strongly connected to a daughter away at college. Erick Rommel sees knowledge of trivia as perhaps a way to the subconscious, a way to guide someone to deeper thinking.

november-3-2016 Carolyn Woo, head of Catholic Relief Services, reflects on what Thanksgiving means to Catholics this year as we have  just concluded the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Shannon Philpott realizes once again that her mother was right: “Worry” should be turned over to God.

october-20-2016 Mothers sometimes miss their daughters more than their daughters miss them when they go off to college. Shannon Philpott shares her feelings. Erick Rommel reflects on the value of weekend time and how to spend it so that it refreshes rather than depletes us.

october-6-2016 October 6, 2016 Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t “fix” someone’s problem. At that point, prayer is always an option. People can make indelible impressions on youth, especially if they respond to them unexpectedly, like Erick Rommel remembers them doing to a youngster writing to a game company about his dream of becoming a programmer.

september-22-2016 Some folks find reflection time at home, quietly seated in a room by themselves, but columnist Shannon Philpott finds her reflection time as she rides her bike, thinking about family, goals, faith and blessings. Erick Rommel looks at suggestions for good writing as more than just tips for writing but ways to live life.

September-8-2016 Mothers and sons have special bonds, and Shannon Philpott, who had no brothers growing up, discovered that with the birth of her son. See what she has to say. When life begins to change, and we’re not sure which path to take, turn it over to God in prayer. Effie Caldarola wants to know what God wants her to do.

August 25, 2016 Who’s your favorite movie star might be a question you could answer, but what about the one about your favorite child? Don’t want to go there? Check out what Shannon Philpott has to say. When something happens to another person or creature, we feel bad, wish we could do something, right? See how Effie Caldarola handles the problem.

August 11, 2016 Getting ready to send a child off to college is important and exciting for parents as well as the new student, but it can also cause a certain angst in both as well. See what Shannon Philpott has to say. Living and loving a child or children begins when they are in the womb and continues through the generations. It never stops. Bill Dodds talks about “Parenthood and the High Cost of Loving.”

July 28, 2016 Not just newborns can begin with a clean slate. Shannon Philpott talks about how to re-form ourselves in faith, connecting more closely with our communities of faith, our families and our children. See what she has to say. Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services takes us on a journey to visit refugees and finds hope.

July 14, 2016 Whether parents like it or not, eventually they will need to give their teens space and privacy. See how Shannon Philpott deals with this new way of life. Responding to the curves life pitches us can say a good deal about how we react in situations that would produce panic in others. See what Maureen

June 30, 2016 Engaging in conversation with teenagers is seldom easy, and as they get older, it seems to get harder. However, Shannon Philpott says don’t give up, just try to find common ground with them. Columnist Effie Caldarola said she has to guard against acedia. Read her column and find out what it is.

June 16, 2016 Columnist Carole Norris Greene remembers an encounter with Muhammad Ali when she was in college. Elated, then devastated, now heartened by the words of his former wife. Shannon Philpott is experiencing the “growing pains” of a parent getting ready to send her first child off to college.

May 19, 2016 Where do you look for guidance? Shannon Philpott mentions family, friends, our Catholic faith. See what she has to say. Effie Caldarola describes the awakening of Oskar Schindler that she watched unfold in the movie, “Schindler’s List.” It’s worth a read.

May 5, 2016 Based on your maturity and where you are today, what four words would you tell your 17-year-old self if you could? That’s the question Shannon Philpott answered in this issue. Erick Rommel said he chooses not to be defined by the past even if he  isn’t quite ready to let it go.

April 20, 2016 Karen Osborne bids farewell in her last column that is full of reminiscences and life lessons. Shannon Philpott knows what it means to “Let Go and Let God,” to release anger and turn to God for healing. See what she has to say.

March 24, 2016 Parents and whooping cranes? What could those two have in common. Read Maureen Pratt to find out. Shannon Philpott sees signs that those we love continue to be with us even though they have returned to their heavenly homes.

March 10, 2016 Columnist Shannon Philpott encourages us to seek out inspirational videos on the web instead of the “junk” videos about a star’s latest antics. Making “bucket lists” isn’t just for the geriatric set when illness strikes. It makes you think about what’s important to you, and it’s not “stuff,” says Karen Osborne. Check it out.

February 25, 2016  Find out about a priest from Oklahoma who died for his faith in Guatemala. He wouldn’t leave his people, and he was killed because of it. Shannon Philpott knows a good deal about stubborness and where it can lead as well as family support and love that can bolster someone up sometimes in spite of what they might think.

February 11, 2016  See how columnist Karen Osborne explains that “We are all brand-new versions of an ancient tale in her column detailing what’s new is usually a take on something that has been told over and over through the generations. Shannon Philpott takes a look at the difference between our “wants” and “needs” through the eyes of her children.

January 28, 2016 John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America looks at the “rebirth” of suspicion of immigrants, an example of which is the haranguing of Donald Trump relating to the citizenship of Ted Cruz. Shannon Philpott as teacher speaks about the contributions young people make in their schools, communities and the wider world.

January 14, 2016 Shannon Philpott knows how difficult it is for anyone, especially young people to step up and volunteer for roles in their classes with their peers but doubly so if they are thinking about offering to help out in their parishes. See her take on it. Erick Rommel looks at resolutions from a different vantage point. Make them flexible, he says, and then resolve every day to try.

December 17, 2015 Shannon Philpott reminisces about Christmases past when her grandmother sat at the head of one of the family tables where her children and grandchildren gathered to form community to celebrate Christmas. Karen Osborne describes some of the bad decisions she’s made along the way but said making good decisions will come with practice.

November 19, 2015
After terrorist attacks in Paris, Pope Francis says “nothing can justify terrorist attacks.” Columnist Erick Rommel says it’s important to believe in yourself. Faith and confidence go hand in hand. Shannon Philpott reminds us that we don’t know what other people feel when we meet them. We need to be less judgmental and realize everybody struggles.

November 5, 2015
Social media is a “blessing and a curse,” says columnist Shannon Philpott. Find out why. Effie Caldarola looks to St. Ignatius to show us that we should “see God in all things.” She sees gratitude as a spiritual practice.

October 20, 2015
Effie Caldarola talks about faith and vocation, about “work.” Before he begins work on a movie, actor Hugh Jackman reflects on the movie and the fact that his children might see it someday. We all need to remember that each day should somehow have God at its center. Shannon Philpott knows that listening to someone else is so important. It can make the difference in someone’s day and the way they feel.

October 8, 2015
It’s time for her son to learn to drive, and it’s time for Shannon Philpott to trust that he can do a good job, that he’s ready to begin taking himself to activities. It’s difficult to let a child go, even one who is 16. Karen Osborne reflects on what it might be like to be a refugee, to leave your home, to literally flee because you might be killed. How would a teenager process this?

September 24, 2015
Shannon Philpott looks to a time in the not-to-distant future when her teenagers will be moving into college dorms and away from home. She intends to make every moment count. Karen Osborne reflects on child brides through the lens of Guatemala and children forced to marry older men. Erick Rommel wants us to be who we are and accept who we are as we grow into adulthood. A tall order, it’s doable when we can see that some are better, smarter or prettier/more handsome but that doesn’t make us less of a person than we are.

August 27, 2015
Columnist Charlie Martin looks at the difficulty of facing self doubt, sometimes the worst kind. It can stall action; it can cause problems to become more intense. Martin says look to God when you doubt yourself. Shannon Philpott thinks about different learning styles and realizes as a teacher she needs to be more aware of how people learn so that she can reach out to her students.

August 13, 2015
Unplugged cell phones and no need to check out texts made for a family vacation that reminded columnist Shannon Philpott of her youth. Check it out. Growing up means taking on more responsibility and living up to expectations. Erick Rommel found out one lesson: Never let your mother worry.

July 30, 2015
Columnist Charlie Martin explores the lyrics to Swedish pop singer Tove  Lo’s song “Heroes (We Could Be)” and how being disciples of Jesus requires more than “love and a little light.” Read Martin’s discussion of the song. Columnist Shannon Philpott  looks at how a niece’s “mimicking” can give her food for thought and hopes for her niece’s future.

July 16, 2015
Columnist Shannon Philpott and her daughter learned a lesson about flat tires, faith and learning to deal with the unexpected. Find out how that worked out. Erick Rommel talks about his first job and then the next and the next. See how his journey can help you with yours.

July 2, 2015
Columnist Effie Caldarola reflects on Jesus’ Gospels in relation to someone who knows about fishing, about farming and about the implications of sowing seeds not only on ground but in our lives as well. We need to let God take control of the planting and the harvesting. Catholic University of America president, John Garvey, takes a look at not only what we do but also the reasons we do things. He uses examples from a recent road trip to his home town.

June 18, 2015
Difficult as it may be, we all have to let go of our children as they grow, change and move on with their lives. Columnist Shannon Philpott reflects on her students and her own children and “letting go.” Effie Caldarola reviews her work and her joy in helping Nebraska to repeal the death penalty in her state.

June 4, 2015
Columnist Father Kenneth Doyle discusses smoking and morality as well as confession and whether people have a right to anonymity. Local columnist Shannon Philpott takes on the “dreaded family meeting” as a topic to begin the summer. How do we make sure it remains a conversation and not a monologue of haranguing our children? As with all things in parenting: Life isn’t easy.

May 21, 2015
Effie Calderola thought about her daughter as the earthquake shook Nepal. That daughter was traveling in Asia. For Shannon Philpott, ” We have to give in to our faith whether spirits are high or low and know that if a day of defeat is on the horizon or a day of bliss is in store, our blessings are always present.”

May 7, 2015
Effie Calderola talks about welcoming a refugee family in a very personal way. She and other parishioners helped a family get settled in a new place. Shannon Philpott is making memories with her son that she can cherish in coming days, months and years.

April 23, 2015
Take a look at these song lyrics and see what columnist Charlie Martin has to say about the song “Tell Me It’s Okay.”  Columnist Shannon Philpott finds a parallel between taking care of the lawn and nurturing the faith of her children.

April 9, 2015
Are you a “cookies and milk” kind of mom? Shannon Philpott describes what kind of mom this is and why it may be a way to go with teens. Columnist Karen Osborne knows that fame doesn’t come overnight. Even folks who show up on reality TV have worked hard to hone their special gifts.

March 26, 2015
Effie Caldarola reflects on the Gospel of the Prodigal Son as she thinks about family, parenting and a God who loves us as only a parent can: with unconditional love. Columnist Shannon Philpott thinks about the strength and endurance of teens, even as they challenge parents.

March 12, 2015
Columnist Shannon Philpott takes up a topic we all know too well: the blame game. We often want to blame others for mistakes or shortcomings in our lives instead of taking responsibility for what goes right and wrong. Erick Rommel describes the moments that we remember and the many others we tend to forget because they don’t hold great meaning.

February 26, 2015
As we journey into Lent, columnist Shannon Philpott takes a look at herself and parenting mistakes she might have made. Turning everything over to God is the best advice she can give to readers and to herself. Carole Norris Greene reflects on law enforcement and holding them accountable for what they do.

February 6, 2015
This time, we’ve included the Question Corner from The Messenger. Fr. Ken Doyle takes on the subjects of purgatory and whether Pope Francis writes his own speeches. Shannon Philpott reflects on raising independent children. It’s not so much fun when they’re 7, but it gets better.

January 29, 2015
Longtime reporter and now columnist, Shannon Philpott talks about parenting with, sometimes, too many questions for her children. See how she resolves the issue. Erick Rommel wants folks to read beyond the headlines to find out what stories really have to say. Sometimes the headlines do not tell the whole story.

January 15, 2015

Locally known Father Fernand “Ferd” Cheri III, was named an auxiliary bishop in New Orleans. Columnist Shannon Philpott describes “Parenting in a World of Excess.” Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services talks about how broken resolutions made at the outset of the new year, “don’t have to die.”

December 20, 2014
It’s time for a “Holiday Halt,” columnist Shannon Philpott explains. And Charlie Martin, longtime CNS columnist explains the lyrics to “Let There Be Peace.”

December 4, 2014
Shannon Philpott remembers her grief when her ‘gram’ died and how her children helped in her grieving. Effie Calderola reflects on the importance of saints in our lives, especially those that help us find what is lost.

November 20, 2014
Effie Caldarola talks about finding God in silent moments, those not filled with the numerous sounds and chatter that fill all our days. Shannon Philpott reminds parents that no matter how young or how old their children, they never lose that most important title: parent.

November 6, 2014
Shannon Philpott wants to raise children who are informed about the world, able to separate fact from fiction, especially with so much fiction on the Internet, and children who are informed by their faith. Erick Rommel takes prayer for his topic in this issue. Does something happen because we pray or do we pray because we want something to happen? Read what he has to say.

October 23, 2014
Shannon Philpott has discovered that she’s not “perfect,” but she also knows that’s not unusual for us humans. She wants to work on her imperfections, strengthen her faith and continue to move toward perfection. Guest columnest, Kelly Bothum looks at the Synod on the Family with hope, especially for those who fall in that category who are usually not named: divorced, homesexual, cohabiting folks who are also Catholic.

October 9, 2014
Effie Caldarola reflects on the brevity of life and the many changes it brings along the way. Shannon Philpott talks about telling the truth, even when it may not be what someone wants to hear. A short prayer to find the right words to say when delivering not-so-good news always helps.

September 25, 2014
Erick Rommel takes on the challenge of discussing the disconnect between idealism and reality, the betrayal people feel when others don’t live up to anyone’s expectations. Shannon Philpott tackles a parent’s dilemma about how much a parent should try to “save” their children from mistakes by “fixing” things.

September 11, 2014
When prayer becomes the first thing in a day instead of something you try to fit in with everything else, the day unfolds more peacefully, more focused, says columnist Effie Calderola. Shannon Philpott reflects on the saying: “Never get too busy that you forget to make a life.” A good thing for all workaholics to consider.

August 28, 2014
The first day of school can be an anxious one for youngsters heading off to embark on their careers of learning, but they can also be anxious days for parents. Shannon Philpott looks at future days when her children will be heading to class without her. Effie Caldarola takes issue with bumper stickers that encourage honking except one that says: ““If you love Jesus, seek justice. Any fool can honk.”

August 14, 2014
The gift of tears and the reasons we cry. Effie Caldarola takes a look at the possible reasons for tears and their benefits. Shannon Philpott reflects on what the busy-ness of our lives does to our relationships, and then she comes up with a plan to keep her faith “in gear” as she pedals along.

July 31, 2014
Pope Francis gathers servers together for a meeting; 50,000 showed up to rally with the pope. He told them to use their time well. Unaccompanied minors are flooding the United States in an effort to escape life-threatening experiences in their Central American home countries. Groups gathered to talk about how to help them.

July 17, 2014
Erick Rommel has some interesting ideas about life from the perspective of a goldfish. Shannon Philpott tackles questions as a mother and a reporter. See what her children think of that.

July 3, 2014
It’s summer time, and slowing down a bit is a good idea. Shannon Philpott looks at memories, some older than others, and thinks about what they mean. Pope Francis weighs in on the need for and how to be open to God’s love. A little openness and humility works wonders.

June 19, 2014
The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border from Mexico into the United States is growing rather than diminishing. What do we do? DIoceses and social service agencies are trying to provide assistance. This issue, Shannon Philpott talks about faults and faith.

June 5, 2014
The number of shootings taking place in schools is alarming. “When will this insanity stop,” one father cries after his son is killed recently. Sr. Margaret Carney talks about the problems and lack of clarity in the solutions. Shannon Philpott looks at what happens to a person who plans and also has dreams.

May 22, 2014
About 60 retired or active duty U.S. military personnel packed their uniforms, flags, wheelchairs, canes and the inevitable emotional baggage of their daily struggles to take part in a pilgrimage to Lourdes. See what they had to say about their journey and how it affected them. Shannon Philpott reflects on the difficulty of trusting teens when they are out of sight and what part faith plays.

May 8, 2014
Some young adults are about to be vaulted into the world with a college diploma and debt that will follow them for some years to come. Being able to say you have made it through college and have a diploma is important. It requires life skills: the willingness to try. Shannon Philpott reminds us that we’re more than the jobs we have especially if we live by our faith, a faith that people sometimes can’t see.

April 24, 2014
Catholic News Service columnist Karen Osborne describes creating a “safe space” for teens as more important than a mobile phone or a drvers license. Shannon Philpott knows that faith is the rudder for parents who want to do the best for their children.

March 27, 2014
Shannon Philpott finds her career by trial and error and constantly relying on her faith. Karen Osborne sees a first job not only as an opportunity to test the waters but also a way to earn some extra cash.

March 13, 2014
Pope Francis: a Jesuit through and through, according to columnist Steve Kent. He’s a real “man for others.” Shannon Philpott is looking back to the road that led her, through faith, to being a college professor and writer.

February 27, 2014
Karen Osbourne talks about rules: those you can break, and those you can’t. Shannon Philpott takes time to reflect on how to turn flaws into faith, and Erick Rommel sells us some bananas and talks a little baseball on the side.

February 13, 2014
Columnist Erick Rommel discusses how his definition of success and how people achieve it. Shannon Philpott finds a way to reduce the amount of “busy-ness” in her family’s life and the results. To view story related to basketball team being pallbearers.

January 30, 2014
Erick Rommel describes how folks should be measuring success, not by age but by what you do at any age. Shannon Philpott looks at parenting through the teen years. Not an easy task but worth it.

Fresh Take January 16, 2014
Shannon Philpott has signed on as a regular Fresh Take columnist. In this issue she talks about making sure kids can be kids. Erick Rommel cautions critics that they need to be ready for the verbal fallout that comes from their “stand” on an issue.

Fresh Take January 2, 2014
In this first issue of 2014, Julie Holdener describes her first days in Rome as a college student studying for a semester abroad. It’s difficult to leave friends and family, but the newadventure was worth it. Then Shannon Philpott remembers all her blessings just after Christmas. Having two wonderful children makes everything worthwhile.

Fresh Take December 19, 2013
In this last issue of 2013, Sarah Ayran, director of religious education and coordinator of youth ministry at Corpus Christi Parish in Shiloh shares her faith journey. She knew as a youngster she wanted to be involved in ministry.
Karen Osborne talks about the reasons young people need to get enough sleep.

Fresh Take December 5, 2013
For writer Shannon Philpott, there’s no such thing as a “last holiday” as long as family gathers together.
Kortney Webb met Father Gene Neff as a youngster, and his faith sharing strengthened hers.

Fresh Take November 21, 2013
Kati Swierjohn reflects on what it’s like to have two children under 2.
Neil Abegg sees the tremendous value in parish youth programs.

Fresh Take November 7, 2013
Tom Ziegler talks about his career in emergency nursing and working in high stress situations.
We learn some of Pope Francis’ favorite saints.

Fresh Take October 24, 2013
Shannon Philpott thinks about mothers as super heroes.
Bailey Kampwerth remembers her roots and takes her faith to college.

Fresh Take October 10, 2013
Nick Lampe ponders the question of the ages: Who is God?
Emily Smith wonders about whether to give her two boys an allowance.

Fresh Take September 26, 2012
Kahiwalani Cornman loves being an elementary school teacher at a Catholic school.
Kyle Prader puts together a 5K run to support a family devastated in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Fresh Take September 12, 2013
Ella York takes her faith to work with her, but it’s a real balancing act.
Karen Osborne decides new technology does not necessarily lead to happiness.

Fresh Take August 29, 2013
Jessica Trout treasures overseas experiences.
Forest Hempen sees study at Catholic university “the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Fresh Take August 15, 2013
Catherine Burkart examines God’s call to each person.
Karen Osborne explores the meaning of World Youth Day.

Fresh Take August 1, 2013

Fresh Take July 18, 2013

Fresh Take July 3, 2013

Fresh Take June 20, 2013

Fresh Take June 6, 2013

Fresh Take May 23, 2013

Fresh Take May 9, 2013

Fresh Take April 25, 2013

Fresh Take April 11, 2013