How A Possum Ended Up In The Prayer Service

For Christian Brothers High School, this has been a year of great achievement. We saw major accomplishments on the football field, baseball and softball diamonds, golf courses, tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, in the pool and on the track and fields of lacrosse, rugby and soccer.

Our students saw incredible academic success in robotics, engineering, academic decathlon, mock trial, and broadcasting.

We saw enormous success for our actors and singers and dancers on stage here and on the road. The Lasallian art show was amazing as were the literary arts journal, the Open Mic nights, the one acts, and the Talon. It was worth the price of admission of this whole entire year really to see Ian Ferrell channel Bob Fosse, or to hear the poets spitting at Open Mic. CB students are so talented and cool, don’t think your teachers don’t notice.

And what about the teachers? We achieved daily triumphs as students and teachers did the work of the classroom, the strange alchemy of learning that happens every day in thousands of individual moments throughout our school as you get ready to enter college and life, achieve your dreams and serve the needs of your communities.

But now it’s almost summer. So awesome. You deserve this! You’ve worked so hard, most of you. Most of the time. Now how to make the most of the next two months of your life? How to squeeze the most adventure and greatness out of those two short months before you start school again in August?

I’m going to tell you a story about something I did a couple summers ago when I taught summer school here. So it was the first summer I was trying to get used to life without my dog Zeus who had just died. Zeus was an amazing watchdog and one time had chased an intruder out of our house when my daughters and I were alone. He was really a great dog. I loved that crazy dog.

So there I was a couple weeks after Zeus died of old age and my husband went on a trip and it was my first night in the house alone without a dog to make me feel safe. That night woke up at 1 a.m. to the sound of scraping and shuffling in the workshop outside.

I was super into Walking Dead at the time so I jumped out of bed and called the police because I was sure it was a group of bandits or zombies or most likely both who had come to murder us and steal our belongings.

My daughter was terrified, I was terrified but I decided, no. I was not going to show my fear. So while I waited for the police to come I stood by the window and yelled threats to the thieves. I called the cops, I said. It’s time for you to leave. Leave right now. Get out of here. This is my house. My house!

So the cops came and they went to the workshop but there was nobody there, and no sign of anyone being there. Nothing was missing.

You know what would help you feel safer, the policeman said. You should get a dog.

Thank you, I said. That is very helpful advice. Then the next day I went to teach summer school and I told my students the story about how I stood up to the mysterious people in my backyard the night before. I’m very tired today, I said. You’ll have to excuse me but I had to stand up for myself against the criminals who were in my workshop last night. Did you know that they were so scared of me they ran off without even stealing anything? That’s right. I’m bad.

When we got home that evening, my daughter went to explore the backyard for signs of the bandits. After a few minutes, she said to me, Mommy I know what that noise was last night.

She took me over to the workshop and under the bikes was a dead baby possum. His little head was stuck in a trap.

So all the time I thought I was being very tough and strong scaring away a band of zombie thieves from our bikes and tools, I was actually yelling at a poor, frightened, dying baby animal. Go home, this is my house, I was yelling while that poor little possum was probably thinking, I’m trying to go home, lady. I’m trying.

So then I had to go back to school the next day and admit to my students, remember when I told you I was so brave and stern with those backyard bandits? Well what I was really doing was yelling at a baby animal as he was slowly succumbing to his painful and lonely death.

I was so full of fear and trepidation, so full of grief over the loss of my dog, that I was totally sure that the shuffling noise in my backyard was something that was going to hurt me. I didn’t know what it was a walker or a thief or a murderer or what but whatever it was it was out to get me I knew it.

I was so blinded by what I was afraid of and what I didn’t understand that I missed a chance to help a living thing that could have used my help. I frightened my daughter and gave us both a sleepless and agitated night. I called the cops when they could have been out stopping an actual crime. And for what? For nothing.

But no, there’s a lesson in this. It took me a couple of years to realize it, but here it is. Here is the truth, and it’s something I see you practice every day around here.

I see you refusing to succumb to imagined dangers and fear every day. I see you helping others, working hard, and refusing to succumb to racism and harmful stereotypes of what you don’t understand. You are such powerful young people. But I don’t see you going around bullying others. I see you using your power for good. I see you working hard, trying to do better than you did yesterday, listening to others, and helping.

I see you at retreats, Ven-a-Ver, Wellspring, Oak Park Cleanup, and getting involved in your communities in countless other ways. I see the kind way you treat your friends and the kindness and tolerance you have for who maybe aren’t your friends exactly but who are still your brothers and sisters in scholarship. I see you. I see you spread love.

So my words of wisdom to you as you go into your well deserved summer break are in this prayer:

I know you won’t be like me screaming hate at a baby possum.

You’ll go out into the world helping others cause you’re awesome.


You learn as you enter and serve as you leave

You are more powerful than you can ever believe.


So open your hands to the universe that loves you

That wants your success and your hopes and your dreams and your light to


Shine in the night for everybody to see by

Your stars are so bright they illuminate the night sky.


Have a beautiful summer be good and be true

Come back to us whole no bad choices for you.


Juniors, you are our leaders now step up to the plate

We need you to be our role models, there is no time to wait.


Sophomores now you’re upper and isn’t that cool?

No more tenth grade now, no more wise fool.


Freshman, you’re rising up it’s about to get real

You’re getting older and wiser on time’s turning wheel


For those who are seniors, you were here and we love you

AS you go out to the world we will always be thinking of you


Don’t forget us as you go save the world for humanity

Bring order to the universe and save us from insanity


Go get the love and adventure and success you deserve

Always remembering we LEAVE TO SERVE


Your CB family surrounds you in love and prayer

Seniors, always remember how much we all care


All of you are loved by Christian Brothers your heart and your home

We’ve all got your back you are never alone.


We are Christian Brothers connected here, there and wherever

St John Baptist De La Salle. . . . .PRAY FOR US

Live Jesus in our hearts. . . . . .FOREVER!


R.I.P., little guy. I hardly knew ye.
Photo credit:


  1. This post makes me sad because I have guard flock dogs and they are always killing possums and feral cats…to protect the chickens and wild rabbits. But still…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maribeth Ennis-Leu

    Maureen…you never disappoint! Love these words as much as I love You!
    Grace and I will miss you. Thanks for all of your guidance …big hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love and will miss you, too. But I will always see you at Iscariot gigs!


  3. Moira Warmerdam

    Maureen – you bamboozle me every time with your words of prose, rhythm & rhyme, and wisdom. You enrich all of us @ CBHS with your knowledge and presence. I love you ~ beautiful person that you are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love you too, sweet friend.


  4. Lovelovelove this… poor baby possum and poor you, scared out of your wits. I’ve done the same thing in my own backyard, too, and it’s not pretty. But in your own good words, “I see you working hard, trying to do better than you did yesterday, listening to others, and helping.” And you are, in your teaching, in your sweet poem to these magnificent students. We lucky teachers (and no, it’s not all luck as you so beautifully reminded me yesterday!) to have those amazing students, spreading love. May we all do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading, and for talking with me. It’s wonderful to be a teacher in this community with you.


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