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Karen Monette invites you to The Garden Party

Karen & Nick Monette

Karen Monette’s enthusiasm for Xanadu 2016 is evident from the first moment you meet her. The Priory mom (to Nick, ’16) is the Xanadu chair, and she bubbles with anticipation for the biggest fundraising event of the year. This year’s theme is Garden Party, selected because “Xanadu is in February when it’s cold. We’re all anxious for Spring after our long, cold winter, so this will be a little taste of what’s to come!”

Her favorite package in the live auction is a croquet party, because it ties into this year’s Garden Party theme. Four fun Form IV families, the Bagwells, the Brannans, the Brnjacs and the McNeives, are hosting this party for 30. “It’s an old favorite from the past that hasn’t been repeated much, and I think it will be a lot of fun,” Karen said.

In the silent auction, Karen recommends checking out Jane Sehnert’s art featuring the words to the Priory boys’ favorite hymn, God of Great and God of Small. Jane is a calligrapher, and she makes beautiful works of art. This year, she had a number of prints and notecards made, so if you don’t win the original art you can pick up a copy. Karen had one of the prints matted and framed, and arranged for all the boys in the senior class to sign the mat. “It’s a beautiful donation and so generous,” Karen said. “I have numerous favorites but that one stands out!”

In addition to chairing Xanadu this year, Karen has donated her own event to the fundraiser. “I’m hosting a lunch and book reading with Father Ralph,” she said. Father Ralph recently released his newest book, DOGS, A Global Alphabet.

As Xanadu creeps closer and closer, Karen maintains an air of calm efficiency. “I credit Development,” she explains. “They are like a well-oiled machine up there in Switzer House. They have a calendar and a plan, so we stay on task. It’s all coming together beautifully!” She also thanks all the generous donors in Priory’s community. “So many people have given their time, their resources, and donations…it’s overwhelming.”

She wasn’t sure she wanted the job when Xanadu 2015 Chair Kim Kuchan approached her. “I said ‘I am not your gal!’ and drew up a list of names of other people she should ask,” Karen laughed. Thankfully, Kim was very persuasive and Karen committed to the project. “It’s been very manageable, and I have a lot of help. There’s a whole Xanadu committee with about 35 moms. Some roles are larger and some are small, and there’s something for everyone and every contribution is so helpful. Our section chairs have been working since last summer, and other projects, like Trivia Night, are already finished. Between the community and Priory’s Development team, I have no regrets with chairing Xanadu!”

Karen is used to volunteering at Priory. She takes a shift in the bookstore before Mass once a month, and enjoys interacting with the students there. She said, “You get to see all the guys, and you get a little flavor of the day.” She chaired the Xanadu Sports section with Kathy Thompson last year, and worked with current Mothers’ Club president Geeta Swaminathan the year before on the sports committee. As a Form I mom, she set tables, and as a Form II mom skirted them. “It’s nice, because mothers can volunteer on an as-needed basis through the years. It’s a great way to meet other moms in your Form.”

Nick MonetteShe loves being part of the Priory family. “Nick says he can’t imagine going to high school anywhere else. It’s been a great place for our whole family. It’s small enough at Priory so that this wonderful community of parents, faculty, staff and monks really is a family. We feel as though we are part of something really special.” Karen and her husband Scott just celebrated 25 years of marriage in September. Besides Nick, they also have a son, Matt, 20, who works at St. Clare Hospital. Two labs, Hershey and Marley, round out the family.

The Monettes aren’t native St. Louisans, but they have definitely made this town their home. While their favorite pizza is Dewey’s, she does admit that they also like Imo’s, which is traditionally scorned by non-natives. “Imo’s grows on you,” she laughed. “It’s an acquired taste, which we have acquired.” She isn’t a huge fan of Ted Drewes frozen custard, but won’t turn it down. And now that she’s had kids in high school she understands St. Louis’ fascination with The Question. She said, “I compare it to fraternities and sororities in college. For better or worse, you can see stereotypes!”

Karen grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and Scott in San Antonio. She went to school at Arizona State, and later met him when they both lived in Dallas. After Scott completed graduate school, he went to work for Hallmark in Kansas City. “We were big Chiefs fans, having lived in Kansas City for years,” she said. The family transferred to St. Louis so Matt could attend Central Institute for the Deaf, and now they feel very much at home here. She said, “St. Louis has been very good to us.” They are Cardinals fans, and they cheered on the Rams. “We love football, and are sad that there won’t be football in St. Louis now. We might revert back to being Chiefs fans!”

Even though Xanadu is less than two weeks away, Karen is already looking into the future. “After Xanadu, I can feel the end of the year,” she said. “Immediately after Xanadu we’ll have our wrap-up meetings and debriefings, then Mom Prom is only three weeks later. After that we go right into spring break, Senior Mothers’ Retreat, and Senior Mother & Son Mass and brunch. It’s a busy time leading up to graduation.” We are sure Karen will handle this busy schedule with grace and aplomb, just as she’s planned this year’s Xanadu.

Karen encourages everyone in the Priory family to register for Xanadu. “Please sign up for this wonderful night! Even if you don’t have a table together, go ahead and register as we can place you with parents from your form. If you can’t make it to Xanadu, stop by the Preview Party the night before. It’s a fun, casual event, and you can register your cell phone and start bidding!”

And she already has words of wisdom for whomever is asked to chair next year’s event: “You will get out of it more than you put into it. You’ll meet wonderful families and see overwhelming generosity. You’ll get better acquainted with faculty and monks, and you kind of get to see the ‘other side’ of Priory. It’s all good!”

Click here to register for Xanadu 2016: Garden Party.

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

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“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

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Chapter 22, 8

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Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

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Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

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Chapter 53, 1

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Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4


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Saint Louis Priory School

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