By Sister Kris Schrader, ASC

(Sister Kris Schrader has had a long-time ministry in Guatemala, where she does teacher formation, school development projects and programs that promote women.)


We’ve just begun the school year in Guatemala, and at the Adorers’ Maria De Mattias Institute, our 16 teachers and staff got things started with a lunch and in-service.

My sister Kitty sent me 16 cowboy hats she had purchased at the dollar store in hopes that we could use them somehow. We did!

We used the hats at our first in-service, when we talked about movement and adventure and the new. Each teacher selected a cowboy hat as a prop to explore personal identity, gifts and strengths. Each decorated his or her hat accordingly.

Then we discussed our common identity as men and women of the Maria De Mattias family, marked by the spirit of the Adorers’ founder, Maria De Mattias, as well as the charism of the Blood of Christ.

Each teacher fixed a heart to his or her hat. Then, together, we made a birthday wall in the teachers’ lounge of hand-colored cowboy pictures, our birthdays and a small photo of each of us.

We decided that at the first parent meeting, we would wear our hats and use them to explain our hopes for this new year adventure with their sons and daughters. It was great fun, lots of laughs and a chance to just be kids.

We have committed this year to reduce our use of paper and plasticware. So, we ate with real dishes and utensils, and washed them afterward. Guatemala might be the plastic bag capital of the world. Even a soda purchased at a corner store is given in a baggie with a straw. All agreed it was a small step that could have a big impact. 

It is a privilege to work with this committed group of men and women, 12 of whom are graduates of the school and my former students. The combined years of service is 127 years!

They exhibit a loyalty to the education of youth and a remarkable ownership of the Institute. They are, truly, sons and daughters of Maria.

  • What adventures are you embarking on?
  • What prop would you choose to explore your personal identity, strengths and gifts?