Advent Marks New Beginnnings

The Christian season of preparation for the Nativity of Christ at Christmas marks the beginning of the liturgical year in Western Christianity. The name was adopted from Latin adventus “coming; arrival.” This year, Advent starts this Sunday, November 27.

By Fenwick Chaplain Fr. Christopher Johnson, O.P.

Happy Advent! Unfortunately, many people skip over this great season of prayer and preparation in a rush to maximize their enjoyment of the excitement of holiday parties, Christmas carols, Santa Claus, sweets and the busy-ness of shopping.

Advent is the great gift that the Church gives us as we have the opportunity to begin anew with a new liturgical year. We begin this new year with the challenge of preparing for the great mystery of God entering into humanity. The dawning of a new liturgical year with Advent preempts the arrival of a new calendar year and is an opportunity to reflect back on the past year of our life and what went not so well, and to consider what needs to change in our lives — then taking steps to bring about these changes. By doing so, we are creating room in our lives to allow the incarnation to take place in our own lives.

A sample of an advent calendar.

How should we approach Advent?

Once we recognize that this season is a call to prepare our hearts for God’s entrance into the world, we can take seriously the call to accept the invitation to welcome God into our lives. In accepting this invitation to allow God into our lives, we can renew our relationship with Christ with a spirit of quiet longing. To allow for a spirit of quiet longing to be a reality in our lives, we are called to discipline ourselves to not rush into the hectic milieu of holiday parties, Santa Claus, Christmas lights and Christmas music. We are called to rather delay that satisfaction and allow for a build up of the true desire for Christmas. Even if our intentions are mixed, choosing to delay the celebration of Christmas until the 24th creates a place for quiet in our lives.  In this quiet, we have a space to consider the purpose of Christmas and its reminder of the threefold coming of Christ:

  1. The historic coming of the Child Jesus long ago in Bethlehem.
  2. The future coming of Christ at the end of time.
  3. The presence of Christ in our world now, and His desire to truly make a dwelling in our hearts.  

How can we enter more fully into Advent this year?

I invite you to consider what it means for Christ to come at Christmas, at the end of time, and in the present moment.  We can begin with the words of Matthew’s Gospel for the first Sunday of Advent, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. While we cannot know the exact hour of Jesus’ return at the end of time, we can make the choice to start our preparations … now.  Advent provides us with an opportunity to recall that, as Christians, our lives are to be directed to the following of Christ.  

Continue reading “Advent Marks New Beginnnings”

Mass Intentions and All Souls

By Fr. Christopher Johnson, O.P.

We began the month of November with the celebration of All Saints on November 1, followed by All Souls on November 2. The celebration of All Saints is a joy-filled experience in which we, as Catholics, jubilantly recall the accomplishments, legends, miracles, and holiness of those who went before us. The Church even agrees with this, assigning white as the liturgical color.

All Souls’ Day is based upon the tradition of recalling the memory of the deceased, and praying for their eternal rest. The act of remembering the dead and praying for them is not a distinctly Christian, or Catholic practice, as most cultures throughout human history have sought to honor their dead in some fashion. 

Fr. Christopher Johnson, O.P. is Fenwick’s chaplain.

What is distinctly Christian is how we honor the dead and how we pray for them. Since the era of the early Church, people have regularly prayed for their deceased loved ones, and have had the Eucharist celebrated for them. In the first centuries of Christianity, these Masses took place on or near the tombs of their loved ones. Inscriptions found on tombs in the Roman catacombs from the second century provide evidence for this tradition. These inscriptions include prayers for the dead, as well as notes celebrating anniversaries of the death of those buried in the tombs. These prayers for the dead were intended to request the speedy passage of loved ones through their time of being purified of their sins and earthly attachments, and on to the Heavenly Kingdom of God.

The tradition of praying for the dead existed in the Jewish tradition as well.  In the Book of Maccabees, we see that tradition of offering sacrifices for the deceased in the story of Judas Maccabee taking up a collection for those who died on the battlefield, so that their souls would be spared of punishment for their wrongdoings. 

The Jewish practice of having animal sacrifices offered for the dead transitioned into having the sacrifice of the Mass offered for the dead in Christianity. At Mass, both the prayers of the presider, and of those attending the Mass, along with the graces obtained through the Mass could be offered for the needs of another, such as the deceased.  Prayers for the needs of the deceased and others also occur in the Eucharistic prayers. The next time you are at Mass, listen to what the priest is saying. You will hear him pray for the Church as a whole, the leaders in the Church and all those who have died. 

Funerary inscription from Roman catacombs bearing the early Christian symbols; a dove bearing an olive branch, the Alpha-Omega symbol and the Chi-Roh symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ.

The call to pray for the dead at Mass can be found in the writings of the Church Fathers. St. Augustine, who lived during the 5th century, recorded in his Confessions, the dying wish of his mother, St. Monica, that he would pray for her at the altar during Mass. The 7th century pope, St. Gregory, who is credited with the tradition of offering a series of Masses for the deceased, offered the exhortation, “Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.”

In the early Church, when Mass was celebrated, those requesting the Mass offered a “sacrifice” of the supplies necessary for Mass — bread, wine, linens, candles, and so on. They also traditionally offered extra foods or goods to support the priest, just as was done at the Jewish Temple.  At that time, the collection taken up at Mass was used to support the poor and sick of the Christian community, rather than for the operation of the institution. Therefore, those serving the Church depended on the generosity of others.  One way this was done was by giving gifts in exchange for the celebration of Mass on behalf of a family, or group.  This tradition was also born of, “the old Roman notion of gift-giving which does not entail reciprocity. Gifts freely given are freely received without the obligation of recompense.”  Priests were called in their generosity to pray and offer Mass for the wishes of their congregants. Likewise, donors provided support not out of obligation, but rather out of gratitude.

This tradition of asking for Masses to be offered for various needs continues on to today; the vast majority of Masses celebrated throughout the world are offered for an intention of someone. These intentions could be for one’s relatives or friends, be they living or dead, or as a gesture of gratitude towards God, or to seek God’s guidance for themselves, or someone else.  Today people no longer supply the materials for Mass, but are encouraged to continue to offer a gift of gratitude to support the priest celebrating the Mass. Currently in many developing nations, this is the only form of support priests receive. 

At Fenwick, Mass is made available daily for students, staff and faculty: Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday before school at 7:30 a.m., and on Wednesday after school at 3:20 p.m.  The Dominican friars of Fenwick regularly offer these Masses for those alumni of whose passing we are made aware.  Please know that the friars are willing and eager to offer Mass for the needs of those in the greater Fenwick community as well.  

To have prayers or a Mass offered for an intention of yours, please tap or click on the red “Submit Prayer Intentions” button. No donation is required for a Mass to be offered, but offerings out of gratitude are always welcome. 

For more information, please see:

Kilmartin, Edward J. The Eucharist in the West: History and Theology, ed. Robert J. Daly (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1998).

Saunders, William, “Mass Intentions.” Arlington Catholic Herald, November 6, 2013. https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/mass-intentions.html

Spahn, Stephen F. Mass intentions: Memorials, money and the meaning of the Eucharist. (Boston College University Press, 2011). 

Fenwick’s 2022 All-District Musicians!

The following Friar students have been selected from hundreds of auditions for the Illinois Music Educators Association (ILMEA) District music groups. Congratulations to our ILMEA District 1 Senior Choir (above, from left): Gianna Bonano, Rose Fagiolo, Cece Flosman, Troy Makani, Michael Sosna, James Leonardi (and Jazz Choir), Amber Cloud, Elise Weyer, Moira Finucane, Emma Meehan, Katelyn McHugh and Maria Romero. (Not pictured: Will Shannon.)

ILMEA District 1 9-10 Choir

Mia LoDuca (above, from left), Jerson Santos, Tyler Garrett, Vince Fagiolo, London Almeida, Elle Karl and Anna Garcia-Enriquez. (Not pictured: Charlie Shanley.)

ILMEA District 1 Orchestra

Natalia Harnisch (above, from left), Abd Rahman Al Zahabi, Natalie Vlcek and Clara Kalas.

ILMEA District 1 Band & Jazz Band

Adrian Salgado-Horst (Jazz Band, above from left), Will Chrastka (Jazz Band), Dario Santoy (Jazz Band), Caden Hardy (Jazz Band), Daniel Hardy (Band and Jazz Band), Gael Tafolla (Jazz Band) and Kendall Richards (Band). (Not pictured: Julia Overmyer (Band).)

The Illinois Music Education Association is the state-level affiliate of National Association for Music Education.

All Saints’ Day Mass 2022 – Fenwick High School

By Student Preacher Joe Burda ’23 (Riverside, IL)

Today, the Church celebrates All Saints Day, when we recognize those Christians who have achieved spiritual maturity. It is a day to venerate all the holy men and women who have been canonized, which is the official recognition process to certify a saint, by the Church. Saints are best defined as people who lived heroically virtuous lives, offered their life for others or were martyred for the faith. 

To gain an understanding of what a virtuous life is, we need look no further than today’s Gospel. Today we hear Jesus proclaiming the Beatitudes to the disciples. To live a saintly life such as St. Francis of Assisi and St. Peter, we must follow these beatitudes which guide us to building the kingdom of God on earth. It is through us people of God that we can manifest in this world the peace and solemnity of heaven. At the end of the list of Beatitudes, Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven.” The journey to becoming holy, that is a saint, is not easy. We will face many challenges and difficulties. However, if we give it our best effort, and trust in God’s mercy, we too can spend eternity with God: a reward well worth the struggle.

Growing up in a Catholic household, and having attended a Catholic grade school, I was always surrounded by saints whether it be in the form of a bracelet, movie or statue. I was frequently told during my younger years to pray for the intercession of saints, but what does that even mean?  

Intercession is basically a request for assistance. The saints dwell with God in Heaven and are able to reach out to Him to ask for His help, for us. For example, when you lose something that you cannot find anywhere, you can pray for the intercession of St. Anthony to help guide you to find the item. 

Another example would be, St. Michael. In a homily, I heard the priest say that every time he gets into his car he prays a prayer to St. Michael, because St. Michael protects those who pray to him from all harm and evil. This homily came to my mind when it was time to choose my confirmation saint. St. Michael is who I ended up choosing because being protected from the temptations of the devil is very important. 

Each saint stands for a crucial virtue, and so we should strive to cultivate friendships with many saints, so that we are comfortable in seeking their intercession in our times of difficulty or need. St. Michael and St. Anthony are good ones to come to know, but there are many others that can aid us on our journey through this life.

To close, I invite you all to think of a need … now together, let us say the prayer to Saint Michael which goes as follows:

St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

St. Michael the Archangel and all the Holy Saints of God: Pray for us!

The Good that Comes from Struggle

Student preaching at all-school Mass: Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, October 7, 2022.

By Anna Androsyuk ’24 (Chicago)

When you think of Our Lady, Mary, what comes to mind? I assume many of you think of motherhood, affection, love or care instead of things like warfare or strife. And, while these are all true, the origins of this celebration comes from our troubled history, in the Battle of Lepanto.

“Our Lady of Victory”

On this day, 451 years ago, combined forces of Naples, Venice, Savoy, among many others, fought in an intense battle with the fleet of the Ottoman Empire. They were called the “Holy League” and aimed to diminish Ottoman control over the Mediterranean, but they were overpowered and outnumbered. During this military endeavor, Pope Pius V encouraged the faithful to pray for the intercession of Mary to aid their soldiers through the recitation of the Rosary. He ordered the churches of Rome to remain open day and night, hoping the faithful would reach out to Mary for her guidance. The Holy League triumphed and thankful for Mary’s intercession, Pope Pius V added October 7th to the Roman Liturgical Calendar to be the feast of Our Lady of Victory. 

Like the Holy League, we all face our own battles in life. Whether big or small, we can turn to Mary for her intercession and guidance. She teaches us every day that good things come out of struggle — and she is here to guide us through them every day.

Growing up in Ukraine, my grandparents had a huge influence on my upbringing. They were the ones who introduced me to my faith and the ones who helped foster and raise it. My grandma taught me my prayers: We would say them together every night. With much patience, she taught me the two fundamental prayers – the Our Father and Hail Mary. What was interesting, is that instead of alternating prayers, she encouraged me to start with an Our Father and always follow up with a Hail Mary. To this day, that is still the way I pray.

The Ukrainian flag.

Now when I look back, she does many things to incorporate Mary into her faith. And, she did many of these things in hopes that my brother and I would also understand how important Mary is. Every time she cleaned out her wallet, she would take out an image of Mary and Jesus. It was very special to her so she would show it to us every time and have us kiss it. Once in a while, she would also show us the beautiful blue rosary she kept in her purse. And when we visited her in the summer, the day before our flight back to the States, we would visit a tiny chapel on the outskirts of a village. It was said that Mary had once appeared in this chapel. 

Rather than visiting the large church just down the road, she made an effort to take us to this tiny chapel. I wondered why. Grandma insisted that we pray both prayers at once. She had a picture of Mary, and not Jesus or another Saint. And again I wondered, why? In reality, the answer was very simple, it stemmed from a story I have heard many times before.

When my grandmother was pregnant with my mother, she had a difficult pregnancy. She recalls being extremely weak and would spend her nights crying out in pain. On one of these nights, in a dream, a woman approached her. She acknowledged my grandmother’s pain and reminded her that she was with her. This woman told my grandma not to cry because she will have a beautiful little girl named Halyna. Because my grandma’s name was also Halyna, she was very hesitant about giving her child the same name. Ultimately, she put her trust in this woman, who she presumed to be Mary, and did as she asked. 

Since this day, Mary played a very important role in my grandmother’s life. During the difficult times my grandma would again turn to Mary for her guidance. She understood the importance of Mary’s intercession and through the little things like going to that chapel or showing me that image in her wallet, she tried to explain it to me as well. 

We each have our own struggles that we must battle everyday. During our battles we might shut down and feel like giving up, but we can remember that Mary is someone we can reach out to. Simply praying even a decade of the Rosary can go a long way. She reminds us, every day, that there is good to come out of struggle. Fighting your battles doesn’t set you back in your faith. If you don’t give up, they are simply a stepping stone that will lead to a much greater outcome. But during these difficult times, just like people from the Holy League or just like my grandma, we can all turn to Mary for guidance as we each navigate our own journey to God.

Leading the “Men of Steel”

Players from Fenwick’s 1962 undefeated (10-0) football team share fond memories of their coaches/mentors.

Introduction by Mark Vruno

Tree leaves from 60 autumns have fallen since the mighty Fenwick football team of 1962 went undefeated and claimed the City of Chicago’s “Prep Bowl” title. With 10 wins and zero losses that season, the Friars outscored their opponents 313 to 32 — quite a dominant margin of victory! The Chicago Sun-Times named Fenwick as the No. 1 football team in the area that year.

All-Illinois offensive guard Joe Marsico, Sr. ’63 (5’11”, 205 lbs.) , carrying the coveted “Daley Bowl” trophy at City Hall, and All-American fullback Jim DiLullo ’63 (right) went on to play at the University of Notre Dame under Head Coach Ara Parseghian. (Marsico roomed with collegiate All-American DT Alan Page!)

Readers may remember that this was in the era before Illinois instituted the state-playoff system for high schools, so the parochial-school champion squaring off against the public-school champ was a big deal in the city. How big? The Chicago Tribune day-after headline read: “91,328 See Fenwick Rout Schurz, 40-0.” A staggering 15 players from that team went on to play Division 1 college football.

Sixty seasons later, 11 team members woke up some echoes from the past and share memories of their five coaches:

  • John Jardine (head coach)
  • Rudy Gaddini ’53 (backfield coach)
  • Future Hall of Famer Jack Lewis (line coach)
  • Tony Lawless (then the school’s athletic director)
  • Dan O’Brien ’34 (freshman football coach and athletic trainer).

The Coaching Staff

After Fenwick, John Jardine (1935-1990) served as the head football coach at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1970 to 1977, compiling a record of 37-47-3. Jardine’s best season came in 1974, when his Badgers went 7-4 and placed fourth in the Big Ten Conference. Noteworthy was the Badgers’ 21-20 victory over the perennial powerhouse Nebraska during the second week of the season.

Coach Jardine at Wisconsin

Jardine was a graduate of Purdue, where he was a starting guard in 1956 and ’57. He began his coaching career at Central Catholic High School in Lafayette, IN, in 1958, then moved to the head coaching job at Fenwick HS. His five teams at Fenwick produced an overall 51-6-1 record and the Friars played in the Chicago Catholic League title game in 1959, 1961 and 1962.

Jardine left the prep ranks following the 1963 season, returning to Purdue as an offensive line coach under Jack Mollenkopf. He coached the guards and centers and recruited the Chicago area. He then served as offensive line coach under Tommy Prothro at UCLA from 1965 to 1969. He became Wisconsin’s head football coach in December 1969. (Source: Wikipedia)

A more recent photo of Gaddini.

Post-Fenwick, Rudy Gaddini ’53 served as the head football coach at the now defunct Milton College in Milton, WI, from 1970-81, compiling a record of 61-43-5. (The college closed in 1982.) A native of Chicago, Gaddini attended Fenwick, where he was an All-State fullback. He moved on to Michigan State University, where he played college football for the Spartans in 1955 and ’56. (Source: Wikipedia)

Jack Lewis in 1964.

The late Jack Lewis ’40, a U.S. Marine who served in the South Pacific during World War II, was known for his discipline, according to his 2000 obituary in the Chicago Tribune. After coaching at his high school alma mater in Oak Park, Lewis took control of a struggling football program at Immaculate Conception Catholic High School in Elmhurst, IL, in 1967. Over the course of 25 years, he built a powerhouse that earned respect statewide. Coach Lewis was inducted into the Illinois High School Hall of Fame in 1987. Two years later, he was named to the Chicago Catholic League Hall of Fame and, in 1992, was awarded the Notre Dame Club of Chicago’s Frank Leahy Prep Coach Award.

Dan O’Brien ’34

The late Dan O’Brien ’34 was part of Tony Lawless’s football coaching staff for 34 years. His Fenwick freshman teams compiled 20 undefeated seasons in the rumbling, tumbling Chicago Catholic League (CCL). Ever versatile, O’Brien also was Fenwick’s head swimming and diving coach – a title he kept for 23 years. In the pool during that time, the Friars won 23 consecutive CCL titles under “the Dobber’s” leadership. His teams were undefeated in dual meets: 325-0. They lost only one invitational (64-1).

Coach/AD Lawless

Much has been written about Fenwick sports legend Anthony R. “Tony” Lawless, who was the first layperson hired by the Dominican friars in 1929 to direct the athletics’ program at then-new (all-boys) Fenwick High School in Oak Park, IL. Lawless graduated from Spalding Institute in Peoria, IL, in 1924. He played on the Fighting Irish’s national Catholic high school championship basketball team that year, before moving to Chicago to attend college at Loyola University. He later was inducted into Loyola’s Hall of Fame for both basketball and football. On the gridiron, Lawless played running back when Loyola and DePaul still had football teams.

Nearly 45 years have passed since Mr. Lawless died. For nearly half a century, the man worked for the students of Fenwick and the school since its inception. In addition to the old gymnasium bearing his name, Coach Lawless also has Chicago Catholic League annual awards named in his honor. (See the links below to read about his athletics/coaching prowess at Fenwick.)

Voices still echo in their minds

Memories of John Jardine from lineman George Vrechek ’63: “Even though Coach Jardine was only 24 years old when he arrived at Fenwick in 1959, he earned our respect quickly. If he said to do something on the football field, that’s what we tried to do. He was fair, tough and competitive, and he also had a sense of humor that surfaced on rare occasions. It got so that if he had a crew cut, we thought a crew cut was the way to go. If he had his hands a certain way coming back from communion, that’s the way we thought you should do it.

The No. 1-ranked, 1962 undefeated Friars (10-0).

“During my senior year, the Chicago Sun-Times quoted Coach Jardine saying something surprisingly flattering about my blocking and tackling abilities. I saw him in school the next day, and he quietly told me with a very slight smile, ‘Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers.’

For many years, George Vrechek ’63 volunteered as a part-time journalism teacher at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago.

“Coach Gaddini has been great attending our prior 1962 team reunions, staying in touch with the players and returning to Fenwick for the Golden Friars gatherings. Somehow, we have gotten closer in age. The winged-T offense he installed confused our opponents. Guys came at you from every direction. Not knowing any other offenses, we didn’t fully appreciate whatever those guys were doing in the backfield at the time. We enjoyed running the ball.”

Jim DiLullo ‘63, All-American fullback and Chicago Sun-Times “Prep Player of the Year” in 1962: “I was always envious of Coach Jardine’s ability to whistle so loudly. He didn’t use a coach’s whistle.

“As a running back goes, Coach Gaddini handled our drills. One enlightened expression has made me smile all these 60 years — Rudy: ‘I don’t mind, and you don’t matter.’ So many times, I used this in life experiences.

“Tony Lawless was properly named. Everything he did and said was his law — and not a veritable concept, such as boxing selections. I always loved the December 1 news photo of the start of my 97-yard sprint. His arms and hands went up to convey a prayer that no one throw a block or clip any longer because, if I didn’t trip, no one could catch me.

Pigskin-carrying fullback DiLullo (at right, from Lombard, IL) would be named an All-American and go down in history as one of the best prep runners of all time. His first season of playing organized football was his freshman year at Fenwick in 1959!

“Jack Lewis was a special kind of individual experience. Once while talking to my father and me, he mentioned that ‘I WAS SUPPOSED TO RUN THE PLAY AS DRAWN ON PAPER WITH Os AND Xs.’ I smiled and kind of told him that running plays generate their own ‘field of possibilities.’ Sometimes the opportunities just appear. He definitely was a ‘lineman coach’ who rode a driving sled. I was very relieved that Rudy was my coach. Every play in our book was [designed] to SCORE A TOUCHDOWN … NO MATTER WHAT.

“No one person could be more caring than Dan O’Brien. He watched our health and well-being. One August night after summer practice, he called my parents to see if I was eating ‘OK’ because weighing out and in I had lost over 10 pounds of water weight. Yikes! Another hot day at practice. He cared!”

Tim Wengierski ’63, All-State halfback, shares some thoughts about Gaddini, Lawless and O’Brien: “A few days after we won the Prep Bowl, he walked up to the gym open microphone.  After a long pause, Rudy said, ‘I can only express the crescendo in my heart.’ There was instant jubilation in the packed gym! Coach Rudy was a terrific person in many ways, always a gentleman.

“Coach Tony Lawless [was] a great athlete, mentor and athletic director. He was always ‘on duty’ and ran a tight ship. I can hear him say, ‘Please boys — move along,’ with his hand at the belly button level! 

“Coach Dan O’Brien was a great trainer and coach extraordinaire! While he was taping my ankle during the first few weeks of school, he asked my name. I answered Tim Wengierski. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘if you are half as good an athlete as your Dad, Ray, or Uncle Julius, we are very glad to have you at Fenwick!’”

Ken Hayes ’65 was a sophomore at the time: “I spent a couple summers working at Fenwick for Carl, our maintenance manager, and Tony Lawless. A nice place to work, but the pay was only $1.00 an hour. One weekend Tony invited myself and John Stapleton to his summer house on the Fox River to paint his home. As you might expect, it was fairly difficult to say no to Tony — if we wanted to continue our football career.

A young Tony Lawless.

“We got to see the other side of Tony: a family man who loved playing with his grandchild, went swimming and was truly relaxing — and getting a great deal on his house painting! We finished early on Sunday and Tony lined us up with a neighbor to take us water skiing. There was a ski jump on the river, and his neighbor gave me instructions on how navigate the jump, since this was my first time. I made the jump, just barely! However, I did not see Tony screaming on the pier, ‘Hayes, you better not try the jump and break your leg! Football practice starts in a week.’ I did get another lecture from Tony later, but I was so happy I cleared the jump; it truly was worth it!”

John Gorman ’63, quarterback: “John (Jardine) was way ahead of the curve in 1961-63. We had a scouting department (Norris, Maddox and Shannon). They would break down film, and I would meet with them on one night during the week. Senior year, he allowed me to change plays, on occasion, on offense, and more so, on defense, where they had plotted certain schemes, for situations, especially against St. Rita.

“We prepared the way colleges were preparing, and with John being 26 and most of us just turning 18, we became friends. When I graduated, John got me a screen test in Hollywood, when he was an assistant at UCLA, under Tommy Protho. I wasn’t discovered, so back to Chicago, to prepare for the draft … not football, but the Army, but it never happened.

Coach Jardine signaling a play (1962 season).

“John was the assistant basketball coach, under Bill Shay, and when we played Loyola, they would play a suffocating man-to-man, and Colleran, a great defender, would be my biggest challenge, all year. John would cover me in practice, all week, beat the cr*p out of me, to help us prepare for the game.

“A mentor, a friend, a great coach, and a wonderful man, who left us way too early! He allowed me, as a kid, to have an opinion, that occasionally was put into action, which was a great confidence builder, that allowed me to work hard, and not be afraid to fail. John Jardine was a winner, a man of high character, and his footprint, is all over our championship season! 

“Dan O’Brien was our freshman football coach, and Sitz [future U.S. Olympic gold medalist Ken Sitzberger ’63] showed up, on day one, and wanted to be a quarterback. He wasn’t about to let the best diver in the nation waste his time and get hurt, while he coached the swimming team. He was told that he could show up every day, but he would never play one minute! 

Gaddini in his playing days!

“Rudy (Gaddini) was a terrific athlete and expected things to come easily as it did for him. He would push you, to reach your capability, in a manner that was quiet, supportive, but always efficient. He was big on stay calm, preserve your energy, and don’t over-think, but react! A great role model, coach and friend! 

On the Friday, before the Prep Bowl, I was in the training room, getting taped by Dan, and talking to Rudy. In walks Tony, and remember, everyone would get very quiet, when Tony Lawless, entered a room — out of respect and some amount of fear. Tony says to Rudy, ‘Hey boy, who sent Gorman to that interview, on television?’ Rudy said, ‘Coach, you’ll have to talk to John.’ In walks Jardine, who gets the same question. John’s answer was the show asked to interview the quarterbacks from both teams! Tony was not happy, and said, ‘Next time, send a lineman!’ However, he looked at me, and said, ‘Go do your job tomorrow!’

“How fortunate we were to have such wonderful role models.”

Matt Hayes ’63, lineman: “During the middle of our football season, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. Not only were we talking about our football season but also about the future of our country. One day after practice, Coach Jardine advised us that Coach Gaddini was called up by the reserves for active duty. We were all shook up by that news. We now knew someone close to us that was actually involved in the crisis. Fortunately, the crisis passed and Coach Gaddini returned to coach our football team and help us win the Prep Bowl. Coach was proud to coach our team and proud to serve his country. Thank you, Coach Gaddini!”

Jim Daniels ’63: “John Jardine was always slow with a compliment when we were out on the field. He completely surprised me in the hallway, the day after we finished the senior play (Fenwick’s first musical). ‘Didn’t know you could do that,’ he said, ‘Good job.’

“I found out later, he sought me out, rather than a chance meeting.

“Jack Lewis was always gruff and had a tough visage. My sophomore year in college, he took over a local family bar and became head football coach at Immaculate Conception High. He learned I was playing football at Brown and invited me: a) to a come to the evening workouts of his team and run with the punt teams and b) drop in and ask for advice/company whenever I was near his place. It turned out to be a pleasure to do both.”

Denny DeLarco ’63: “During a practice, Coach Jardine had me running halfback plays and ran me about six consecutive times. (I was totally gassed.) Needless to say, I was getting rather slow and Coach Jardine said to me, ‘You’re running like an elephant backwards. Pick it the hell up.’ So, I dug down deeper than deep. My number was called, and I sped through the ‘D’ all the way. Coach J. said, ‘Guess you got it … just need a little goose.’ What a motivator!

Dick Ambrosino ’64 is in Northern Michigan U’s Hall of Fame. He was an All-American player and captain of the Wildcats’ undefeated 1967 football team who later coached at Fenwick!

 Richard Ambrosino ’64: “Coach Gaddini and I reconnected when I was the head football coach at DC Everest HS in Schofield, Wisconsin. My star QB Dave Krieg played QB for coach at Milton College. Dave ended up playing for [NFL teams] Seattle, Arizona, Detroit, Chicago and Tennessee for a total of 19 years. At the same time, I reconnected with Coach Jardine when he was the head coach at Wisconsin and sent him my All-State players. Thanks, coaches!”

Mike Barry ’64: “John (Jardine) was bigger than life. I was in awe of him. I wanted to be a football coach after my sophomore year. Years later I got a call from Coach congratulating me on being the 1990 National Champions at Colorado. We laughed and remembered Fenwick years. Then the following March, his heart transplant rejected.” [Editor’s note: NFL coach Joe Barry, Mike’s son, is the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator.]

Dan Dinello ’64, halfback: “John Jardine elicited my respect as well as fear, especially when I was an insecure junior on the 1962 varsity team. He epitomized the sign on his office wall: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ His gruff-voiced criticism of my blocking in spring practice really stung. Later, he held the blocking dummy and coached me after practice. He worked hard to make me better. 

“As a junior, I was grateful for the attention. It made me work harder to improve and to earn his approval. Coach Jardine also knew my financial situation: The only reason I could afford to attend Fenwick was because my mother, Mary, worked as a cleaning person in the sophomore section, so I attended tuition-free. He also knew I didn’t own spiked football shoes. He sent me out to buy a pair and paid for them. This showed that he cared about me. Coach Jardine used clichés like, ‘Play with reckless abandon,’ so I wanted to do that and impress him. Despite the tough exterior, Coach Jardine cared about all his players. He demanded good grades as fiercely as he demanded good blocking.”

Some of the team at an early-1980s’ reunion.

Fr. Richard LaPata, O.P. ’50: “I was privileged to be the main celebrant at Dan O’Brien’s funeral Mass at Ascension Church in Oak Park. Standing at the altar, I watched his coffin being carried in by eight Fenwick students, boys and girls wearing Fenwick letter sweaters. I must admit that I choked up a bit before I could start the Mass: a fitting tribute to a man who loved the school and its students his whole life to the end.”

Walter McCarty ’63: “I was a swimmer. Dan O’Brien was the swim coach and trainer. Somehow, I was roped into filming the games. We had a meeting with Jardine at the beginning of the season. Coach was very adamant that he wanted Gherke and me to ‘follow the ball!’

“After the first game, we were summoned to the coaches’ office. Jardine was apoplectic. He ran the first kick off on the screen. 

“’Who took this?’ he asked me. ‘What are you doing here?’ as he pointed to the screen!

“‘Just following the ball like you asked ….’ I had followed the football alright, up in the air!

“One of the things not everyone knew about O’Brien, was that every season he would invite the freshman swimming team from the University of Illinois to swim against us at a private meet at Fenwick. Every year they would arrive ready to kick our [butts]. And every year we would send them home with their tails between their legs. I asked Mr. O’Brien why their coach kept coming back? 

“O’B said it was because he needed to show his All-American prospects they could be beaten. When we left Fenwick, the swimming team hadn’t lost a dual meet in some 30 years!

That was Dan O’ Brien …”

NEWSPAPER HEADLINES & PHOTO GALLERY

Before (above) and after (below) city newspaper cartoons leading up to and following the Friars’ BIG game against the Schurz Bulldogs on Saturday, December 1, 1962!

Some gridiron shots from the Blackfriars 1962-63 Yearbook:

Continue reading “Leading the “Men of Steel””

Different Is Good

All-school Mass on August 22 celebrated the opening of Fenwick’s 94th academic year!

By Elise Weyer ’23 (Western Springs, IL)

Good morning, Friars. Welcome to the first Mass and the first day of the 2022-23 school year! It is so exciting to see everyone this morning and wonderful that we are all together again.

A week ago, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a post that caught my attention. It said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” As I sat down to write this reflection, I kept thinking about this quotation. We may think that it’s easier to go on our own track and take the easy way out when trying to accomplish a task. However, when we go together, we can achieve much more than we would alone.

St. Catherine of Siena

This phrase reminded me of another quote from St. Catherine of Siena: “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” When we accept ourselves and accept others for who they are, we create a community of people who are striving to share the fire. Sometimes we think that we can’t trust in God or we feel far from Him. However, when we trust in His will and trust the people in our lives that He has sent for us, the difficulty of growth becomes much easier. 

South Bend in the Summer

At the end of June, I had the privilege of attending the Notre Dame Vision retreat with members of the Preaching Team and other members of the Fenwick community. During this week, we were able to experience small-group discussions, lectures on faith, reconciliation and adoration. One of the main stories we focused on was Agnes: The Lost Sheep. This story is an adaptation of the parable of the lost sheep (one of Jesus’s stories). This version imagines that Agnes is a sheep who has a different color coat from the rest of the other sheep. She is ridiculed by the other sheep for not fitting in, and they tell her that the Shepherd will never love her. Agnes feels so rejected that she runs away from the flock. She runs into a wolf who tells her that the Shepherd would not even know if she had disappeared. The Shepherd realizes that Agnes is missing and leaves the rest of the flock to find her. Agnes sees that she was foolish to let others make her think that she is not wanted and that the shepherd would abandon her. 

The parable of the lost sheep shows us that God loves us no matter what. He loves us with such fervor that he would die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He knows each and every one of us by our names. We must remember that we are meant to be different. It is good to be different from your neighbor.

Sometimes we feel lost. We may be struggling with the relationships we have with others, things not going our way, and we may even feel abandoned by God. I have learned that many of these struggles happen for a reason. When we ask for kindness, God gives us the opportunity to compliment someone. When we ask for strength, God puts us through the ringer. We are taught to be a more loving friend, a more generous community member, and a more faithful sheep. 

As we grow in our faith, it becomes crucial to remain grounded in who we are: beloved sons and daughters of God. The influence of social media and the news makes it very challenging for us to feel truly loved and have confidence in our faith. There is a constant push and pull in what is “right” and “good,” “wrong” and “evil.”

Being who God intended us to be can most of the time mean not fitting in to what society expects. Jesus loves us just the way we are. We are created to be different, and this reality provides the opportunity to flourish.  Jesus is calling us to Him.

More importantly, He is calling us to use our talents and gifts in service to others. The Fenwick community allows all students, faculty and staff to work together to encourage each other to embrace their talents for the sake of discovering the best versions of themselves. The welcoming environment of this school celebrates the importance of being unique. We are not perfect. We make countless mistakes, yet Jesus continues to love us and forgive us no matter what. You cannot find a love better than His anywhere.

With the new school year ahead of us, and as we continue on the journey to discover our purpose and vocations, I want to remind us again of the quote from St. Catherine of Siena. “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” And, I ask you, what will your fire be? How will you answer God’s call? Remember: You are wanted. You are loved. You do belong. You are a Friar. 

MASS REFLECTION: Saint Catherine of Siena

Student preacher Kate Dugan ’22 shared this message with the Fenwick student body on April, 29, 2022.

We gather this morning to celebrate the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine of Siena was born during the plague in Siena, Italy, on March 25, 1347. Though Catherine’s parents wanted her to marry, she was opposed to the idea and instead joined the Third Order of St. Dominic. At 21, she described herself as in a mystical marriage to Christ. She frequently visited hospitals and homes where the poor and sick lived. Catherine played an instrumental role in restoring the Papacy to Rome and forming peace deals during conflict and war in Italian city states. St. Catherine was also instrumental in the resolving of conflict between the two popes. She passed away at the age of 33. The exact reason is unknown, but she fell ill in January of 1380 and eventually passed away on April 29th. St. Catherine is the patroness against fire, illness and nurses, among many other things. 

One of the most well-known St. Catherine quotes says “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.” REPEAT. Now I don’t know about you, but I do know that my faith has been tested time and time again. It was tested when school was shut down because of a global pandemic. It was tested when we were told both my Grandma and Grandpa had cancer. It was tested when my brother was in a car accident that should have killed him. It was tested when my Grandpa passed away from said cancer last year in May. But through it, I have somehow found a way to strengthen my relationship with God. 

In psychology class we learned about an idea that shapes the world view of many Americans. It is an idea called the Just-World Phenomenon in which someone believes that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. It’s something a lot of people in the world believe in, including me, up until recently. If the Just-World Phenomenon did exist and God could control who got hurt and who didn’t, then why did he let any of this happen to me and my family? How did he decide to take my Grandpa away from me so soon? It took me awhile and many long nights, but I finally realized that God had bigger and better plans for my Grandpa than I could ever imagine, and the only thing that I could do was pray for everything to turn out for the better, even if it meant losing family. It sounds corny, but everything has turned out exactly as it was meant to and has helped me to grow in my faith in God and as a person. 

As graduation draws closer and the daunting task of college approaches, I think back to the quote mentioned before: “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.” Now, after having been in this school for four years, I can confidently say there were many times I was tested and many times I either failed or prevailed. Most of you have big aspirations for what you want to do with your life, and I ask that you remember this quote. “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.” 

If you want something, it is hard work. Nothing ever comes easy. Every class here is designed to test your mental capabilities and your willingness to become a better and smarter version of yourself by the time you graduate. Fenwick wants you to take the lessons you learn here and apply them to the rest of your life and, if you do, you will do great things. 

St. Catherine’s life inspires us to have a life of hope and trust in God. A trust that God will bring the right things forward to you and present you with only what he believes you are able to handle. St. Catherine’s commitment to her relationship with God and her willingness to follow God helped her to have an extraordinary life, just as we are meant to do. You are all here for a reason. You are completing homework assignments and taking tests for a reason — all for that higher goal. St. Catherine’s story serves as a reminder that if you are doing your best, that is good enough for God. 

Kate Dugan (above) is a Fenwick senior from River Forest, IL.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – Sports Matter for Girls: 50 Years After Title IX

For this year’s Women’s History Month, basketball alumna and Fenwick Broadcasting Club founder shares how Frair teachers guided her along a career path to sports journalism.

By Karli Bell ’12

Two years ago, an icon in the basketball world passed away unexpectedly. Kobe Bryant’s death was something that shook the sports world and shook me to my core. I lost an icon, a coach and a hero. Then, I had to go on air and talk about this in my sportscast.

I broke down. I tried to hold in the tears and emotions. But to me, I had a hole.

I spent upwards of 10 years on the hardwood. It was the one sport that I loved to my core (and still do) for a few reasons. I loved the constant flow of the game, having constant action, the selflessness, the mental challenges.

But it’s also the only sport that is gender equal when it comes to the core of the game. The only differences in women’s and men’s basketball are the size of the ball and the number of steps allowed to travel. It was a game that I could play with anyone, anytime and, really, anywhere. Growing up as the only girl on a Northwest-side Chicago block, it was a classic staple in my alleyway.

My time as an athlete is a time that forever shaped me. It taught me discipline, teamwork, selflessness, confidence and to put in 110 percent in everything you do. Work ethic is everything. If you put your mind to it, you truly can accomplish anything you want to do. 

Sports Matter.

Karli as a young Friar hooper.

When I ended my time as a basketball player, the world of sports had such an impact on me that I couldn’t just leave. Basketball and sports saved my life, in all honesty. It brought me so much confidence, empowerment and boosted my self-esteem. I couldn’t leave this space; that’s when I found sports journalism and media. 

Sitting in Mr. Arellano’s speech class is when I wanted to start working on my craft. I would ask him for advice on how to fix my delivery, my presence, if I had any nervous ticks. I wanted any and all feedback. He answered every bothersome, annoying question I had. He was the first teacher I went to when I ‘pitched’ what is now the Fenwick Broadcasting Club. 

Fenwick was training camp. I spent hours in Mr. Paulett’s basement English classroom, editing videos with makeshift software. I was in the tech office, reading a Microsoft Word script off a laptop to a small little camcorder or interviewing classmates about school events. I would post countless Facebook posts to promote viewership, as I’m now learning was maybe a bit too much. (Sorry, guys!)

I put all my effort into it, just how I used to put all my effort into basketball. Work ethic, confidence, selflessness, teamwork, discipline, communication, creativity. I learned all that on the basketball court. It all translates. Those times on the court are memories that stick.

Sports Matter.

Bell on the set.

Flash forward to now 10 years later: That work ethic translated to being in a top-three sports market before age 30. Communication transferred into networking and building a list of professional contacts. Creativity shows in countless stories, videos and photos. Discipline, teamwork and selflessness is used every day in the workplace.

CLICK OR TAP HERE TO CHECK OUT ONE OF KARLI’S VIDEO FEATURES.

Life lessons are learned on a court, field, diamond, track and mat. Sports are impactful. They have a profound influence on youth, but particularly little girls. Basketball showed I’m equal. The only thing that mattered was how you play the game. Let the work and practice speak for itself, which would be the best way for me to enter a male-dominated field.

Sports showed me a rigor and fire in myself that I couldn’t find anywhere else. They gave me a social circle and group of friends that every tomboy girl needs. They challenged me constantly, both mentally and physically. You learn respect for authority, to listen, to analyze; all of these being valuable lessons that were first learned on the court. 

READ ABOUT FENWICK’S TITLE IX-PIONEERING
GIRLS’ BASKETBALL COACH, DAVE POWER.

Continue reading “INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – Sports Matter for Girls: 50 Years After Title IX”

2022 Lenten Reflection

By Student Preaching Team Member Grant Schleiter ’23 (Elmhurst, IL)

Lent is a time when Christians focus on the three pillars of fasting, prayer and alms giving. Today is Ash Wednesday, the kickoff of Lent, or as I used to think of it in grade school “the day when we compete to see who can keep their ashes on the longest.” Lent is known as a time of sacrifice. When I was little, Lent was always a competition in my family. Lent was always “who could give up the most difficult thing.” This competition was mostly between my sister and me, and it was a battle of who could succeed at a harder Lenten promise. One year, I took it so far I gave up added sugar, and it came to the point I was searching up menus of fast-food restaurants to make sure I was beating my goal. Having sugar-free yogurt every morning for 40 days is absolutely disgusting. I do not recommend it. 

But what I was doing was actually the exact opposite of what Jesus says to do. In the Gospel today, Jesus says, “When you fast, do not look gloomy. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet. When you pray, pray in secret.” Instead, I was making it known to everyone that I was struggling with a difficult penance — and was making it known that mine was more extreme. I was not sacrificing for God but rather for my own bragging rights.

As Fenwick students, we are called out to follow these three pillars. Prayer obviously is something we practice every day; at the beginning of second period we usually get to hear the enthusiastic voice of Charlize Guerrero, or maybe, every once in a while, the deep voice of Lee O’Bryan. 

Fasting is the pillar most people associate with Lent. Many people associate Lent with giving up food, but you can also change a practice of something, like working out every day, or being nicer to a sibling, or going on your phone less. Fasting from something that distracts you from God can free up more time to do something to praise God. Something as easy as reflection through prayer could be done, or maybe you take it a step up and do charity work to accomplish almsgiving. 

All of these actions help us become better people, and in becoming better people, we grow closer to God. In making time for God in your life, you are making time for goodness. Another thing about Lent is once you start to get into a routine, it is hard to snap out of it. When I did my sugar fasting, as soon as I hit Easter I had about 40 cookies and probably half of the lamb cake. All I was focusing on was “getting to Easter so I could enjoy sugar again.” Yes, some bit of fasting is to compensate for the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, which is your typical giving up foods you like; but usually we go back to these after Lent, so maybe this year focus on something that you could build into a new routine — something you can do that can make your life better. Maybe instead of looking at your phone in the morning, talk to one of your parents; or if your parents are not awake, maybe take some time for silent meditation. You could even read the daily Bible verse. Do something simple that can help bring you closer to God. Jesus died for our sins and there’s no point in going right back to them after Lent. Instead, use it as a time to realize what you can change in your life to bring you closer to God. 

Fenwick Student Preacher Grant Schleiter is a junior from Elmhurst, Ilinois.

Lent is a season where we must turn away from pleasures and see how we can redistribute our time for the needs of others and the needs of God. Lent is not a season for bragging; instead it is a season for serving. Focus on serving God and our neighbors. Do something that can help make a positive impact on others. Giving up sugar was something that did not make a positive impact on others; I think it only helped the Oikos yogurt brand. Do something that brings you closer to God.