Fenwick Hires Full-Time School Resource Officer

“The safety and security of our students always is our first and foremost priority.” – President Father Richard Peddicord, O.P.

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Fenwick has hired one of its own as a School Resource Officer. James Sperandio (pictured above), from the Friars’ Class of 1985, retired in June from the Village of Oak Park Police Department, where he served for 27 years; the last 19 as a detective.

“The safety and security of our students always is our first and foremost priority,” stated President Father Richard Peddicord, O.P. “They truly are our most valuable resource, and we need to do whatever it takes to protect them when they venture across our ‘moat and draw-bridge’ from the secular world.

“We Friars are celebrating our 90th academic year here at Fenwick in 2018-19,” Fr. Peddicord continued, “and this is the first time we will have someone in this capacity on a full-time basis.” Officer Sperandio, who nearly everyone knows as Jimmy, has worked part-time for several years at Fenwick. “His is the smiling face behind the glass at our reception window,” Peddicord said. For the past 11 years Mr. Sperandio has taught a non-credit “Street Law” class at his high school alma mater.

Get to know Fenwick’s Officer Sperandio by reading this blog from May of 2017: https://blog.fenwickfriars.com/tag/jimmy-sperandio/

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DOMINICAN LEADERSHIP

Building and Sustaining Community

By Richard Peddicord, O.P.

Stained glass in the Fenwick chapel.

Every religious order is marked by a unique charism, a defining grace, a particular mission. At the same time, in light of that charism, each founder of a religious order discovers a distinctive way to be his or her community’s leader. In this post, I will explore the way that St. Dominic led the Order of Preachers as its founder, and will offer a reflection on the uniqueness of Dominican leadership. In this, offering one’s gifts for the common good, respect for subsidiarity, and collaboration will take center stage. Ultimately, the goal of Dominican leadership will be revealed as the building and sustaining of community.

Traveling through the South of France in the early 1200s, Dominic encountered people deeply affected by the Albigensian heresy.  His intuition told him that the best way to help the Church counter this divisive and harmful movement was to engage a community dedicated to preaching the truth of the gospel. This community would be an “Order of Preachers” and its members would live by the pillars of prayer, study, community, and preaching. The friars would “practice what they preach” and give to others the fruit of their contemplation. Dominic believed that the witness of his community’s life and the grace-filled reality of its preaching would win people to the truth.

St. Dominic preaching.

Dominic had long recognized that he had been given the gratia praedicationis—the grace of preaching. He put this gift of his at the service of the common good and took on the project of establishing a religious order. In this, he left behind his native Castile and his former way of life as a canon regular attached to the Cathedral of Osma.

The Cathedral of Osma in Spain.

Dominic’s first challenge was to articulate his vision and to persuade others to join with him in the task of preaching the gospel. Of course, the radical freedom of those he addressed had to be respected; there could be no coercion, no trickery. Fr. Simon Tugwell, a member of the English Dominican Province, in his poem “Homage to a Saint,” writes this about St. Dominic’s style as leader:

He founded an Order, men say.
Say rather: friended.
He was their friend, and so
At last, in spite of themselves, they came.
He gave them an Order to found.

Writing several decades before the appearance of Facebook, Fr. Tugwell says that Dominic “friended” the Order rather than “founded” the Order. Dominic built relationships of trust and intimacy. He was a man who was inclusive, who welcomed others with open arms. He shared his vision in a way that helped others see that their gifts and talents would be respected and honored and put to use in a positive way in the Order.

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Learning from My 50th Fenwick Reunion

By Mike Shields ’67

I graduated from Fenwick in June 1967 and attended my 50th class reunion this past September 9th. Class reunions, particularly 50th reunions, by their very nature, are always fraught with surprises. And there is always the question of ‘going or not going,’ but this reunion was well planned, energetic, hit the right notes and, overall, my wife and I had a wonderful time. More significantly perhaps was the fact that I learned a few things about Fenwick, or was reminded about a few things, and what it meant to me and likely many of my classmates – things that one can see more clearly looking back over 50 years – a very unique perspective.

Shields, the author, knows never to stand on the Fenwick Shield!

In this blog post, I mention below some of the things that really stood out for me at this class reunion. Hopefully, these recollections will encourage others to reconnect with Fenwick and, in general, support the school’s ongoing mission to guide and inspire each and every student to lead, achieve, and serve – not only to help oneself but also to help make the world a better place.

  • Surrounded by my many classmates, almost all who had lives of achievement (i.e. U.S. Ambassador, Governor, Judge, Architect, Doctors, Lawyers, Business Executives, Entrepreneurs, etc.), I had a profound sense of feeling very fortunate of having gone to Fenwick. There is no doubt in my mind that Fenwick’s unique combination of strong ethics, drive for academic excellence and serious thinking, and its competitive and ambitious student body elevated us all to a much higher level than many other schools, not an insignificant thing during our formative teenage years. I mentioned the word fortunate but we were also very lucky to have gone to Fenwick even though I suspect many of us didn’t realize it at the time.
  • Although many of us had not seen each other since June of 1967, it was very easy to ‘pick up the conversation.’ We really enjoyed each other’s company. Why? I think the reason is that during our Fenwick years we were a lot closer to each other than we realized. Fenwick in those years was a very serious, no-nonsense place that stressed discipline, learning and achievement, and I believe we came to depend on each other to successfully make it through its rigors and challenges. That easy camaraderie was clearly visible five decades later at the reunion.
  • Throughout the evening we talked and talked, and even had a group sing of the Fenwick Fight Song. Even though so many of my classmates had truly notable life achievements, no one came across as ‘full of themselves.’ These guys were down-to-earth and seemed very satisfied with their lives. That was really good to see. And in the many conversations, it was clear they had a genuine fondness for Fenwick and what it provided them.
  • The final thing that really stood out for me during the evening was how truly dedicated the people who run Fenwick are to this day. The list of these people is long, and several were at the reunion from the school’s current President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P. to dedicated teachers like Roger Finnell (who taught his very first math class at Fenwick to us in September 1963 and is still teaching!) to key staff such as Vice-President of Institutional Advancement Chris Ritten and Director of Alumni Relations Cameron Watkins; it was really clear and impressive that all of these people not only want Fenwick to continue on but to thrive and excel. They are an inspiring and dedicated group just as their counterparts back in the ’60s, etc. were.
Mike Shields in 1967 (yearbook photo)

In closing, I do hope that this blog post of my perspective on Fenwick and its lifelong value and positive impact might be read in particular by some younger alums and even a few current students. I say this because I myself over the years, as I became busy achieving my own high goals and raising a family, sometimes ‘forgot’ about Fenwick. This 50th reunion, reminded me, however, of many things, as I’ve noted above, with perhaps the most important thing being how lucky I was to go to Fenwick. It truly made a huge positive difference in my life.

About the Author: After graduating from Fenwick, Mike Shields received a bachelor’s degree in economics, graduating with Phi Beta Kappa Honors, from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1971; he received a Master of Business Administration Degree from the University of Chicago in 1973. Shields spent almost all of his professional career at Abbott Laboratories focused primarily in financial management. Mike and his wife, Karen, reside in Niles, IL.

Deepening the Dominican Spirit

Ten Days in the South of France:
How the President of Fenwick High School Spends His Summer Vacations

By Father Richard Peddicord, O.P.

The inspiration to establish the Order of Preachers came to St. Dominic during his time living in the South of France. There he encountered people who had been led astray by the Cathar heresy. Before too long, it became clear to him that the Church needed a religious order dedicated to preaching the gospel. Pope Honorius III agreed and in 1216 formally approved the Order of Preachers with Dominic as its first Master.

There are a number of significant places in the South of France that tell the story of the founding of the Dominican Order and that evoke the presence of St. Dominic and the early Dominicans. I have had the privilege of helping to lead a summer pilgrimage to these “lands of St. Dominic” for the past 12 years. Sr. Jeanne Goyette, O.P. (Caldwell, NJ), Sr. Mary Ellen O’Grady, O.P. (Sinsinawa, WI) and I take 25 pilgrims on a trek to St. Dominic’s country in France. We stay in Fanjeaux with the Dominican Sisters of Sainte-Famille who operate the “Couvent St-Dominique”—a guest house that had been a Dominican priory in the 15th century.

The goal of the pilgrimage is to deepen one’s sense of Dominican life and spirituality. Most of the participants are lay women and men who serve in Dominican ministries—usually in Dominican schools. Since I became president of Fenwick High School, we’ve sponsored one faculty member a year to participate in the pilgrimage. The only stipulation is that he or she must give a presentation on the experience to the full faculty and staff at one of the first meetings of the new school year. This past year, Ms. Toni Dactilidis from the Mathematics Department was our Fenwick pilgrim.

Each day of the pilgrimage begins with Morning Prayer and a conference. The conferences that I present include “Dominic in Fanjeaux,” “Dominic the Itinerant Preacher,” “Dominic and Prayer,” “Truth and Compassion in Dominic’s Life,” “St. Thomas Aquinas and Study,” “The Life and Legacy of Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, O.P.” and “Art as a Means of Preaching in the Dominican Order.” Each day includes an excursion to a significant Dominican site and time for personal and communal reflection. I celebrate Mass for the group several times during the course of the 10-day experience. I can’t help but note that, since it is France, each meal is exquisite!

It is wonderful to watch the participants come together as a community, deepen their Dominican spirit and claim their identity as collaborators in the Dominican mission.

Snapshots of the places on our itinerary each year:

Fanjeaux

The village of Fanjeaux sits on a hilltop. The view from the “Seignadou”—a lookout point associated with St. Dominic—is spectacular. The fields below alternate between wheat and sunflowers. As you can see, it’s easy to imagine that you’re in the 13th century!

St. Dominic’s house in Fanjeaux.

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Chicago’s West Side Story

How Dominicans shaped Fenwick and the surrounding areas.

By Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P.

Saint Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221) and his contemporary, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), were 13th century religious innovators. As founders, respectively, of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders, their vision was to bring the good news of the gospel to the urban centers of Europe. The members of their religious communities, known as friars, would be present to the people of God — living and ministering in the same milieu as the people of God.

This move was revolutionary for the religious life of the time. Up to that time, the overarching model had been monastic life. The great monasteries of Europe were in the countryside. The monks worked the land and supported themselves through agriculture. They took a vow of stability — promising to remain physically attached — to their monastery. This ethos has been succinctly referred to as fuga mundi, “fleeing from the world.” The monks, who had, by entrance into the monastery, fled the world, would not go out to the people; the people would go the monks for prayer and education.

In contrast, Saint Dominic and Saint Francis began what we might call a “ministry of presence.” They and their friars would not be remote and removed from their brothers and sisters.  Instead, they would live in their midst, take part in their lives, and minister to them on their own turf.  They would, so to speak, embrace the world and be leaven in the world to transform the world.  At the same time, they would not expend their energy in agriculture; they would live by the charity of others — recognizing that because of their ministry, the worker is worthy of his wage (cf. Luke 10:7).

Continuing the Tradition

The Dominican friars at Fenwick High School continue that ministry of presence first envisioned by St. Dominic. The friars of Fenwick are present to the Fenwick community in all aspects of the “Fenwick experience.”  (And, the visible sign of their religious commitment, “the habit,” does indeed help us to stand out in a crowd!)  Through our teaching, celebrating the sacraments, coaching, supervising, counseling, and cheering teams on to victory, the Dominican friars bring the good news of the gospel to the Fenwick community.

During the 2016-2017 school year, eight friars have been assigned to Fenwick by the Dominican provincial, Fr. James Marchionda, O.P. This commitment of manpower (under the general conditions of a clergy shortage) is a powerful sign of the significance of Fenwick High School in the Order’s ministerial priorities. They are:

  • Richard Peddicord, O.P.—president
  • Richard LaPata, O.P.—president emeritus, member of the Institutional Advancement department
  • Dennis Woerter, O.P.—director of campus ministry, teacher, assistant soccer coach for boys’ and girls’ teams
  • Michael Winkels, O.P.—teacher, assistant technology director, assistant hockey coach
  • Douglas Greer, O.P.—teacher
  • Paul Byrd, O.P.—teacher
  • Nicholas Monco, O.P.—teacher, chess team coach
  • Joseph Trout, O.P.—teacher, assistant cross country coach

    Historical Brotherhood

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