Friars Forge Bonds with Argentine Visitors

Fenwick families hosted 10 students from Buenos Aires this month.

Ten students from Colegio Champagnat in Buenos Aires, Argentina visited Fenwick High School this month as part of an exchange program developed by Spanish teacher Crissy Lilek ‘05. Argentine visitors spent more than a week shadowing 11 Fenwick junior and senior hosts, staying with their families and immersing themselves in American life and culture.

In addition to attending Fenwick classes and participating in extracurricular activities, the group explored Chicagoland over the course of their stay. They made visits to the Willis Tower and Six Flags Great America, counting Navy Pier and the United Center among their favorite attractions and bagels, cinnamon rolls and deep dish pizza as the best cuisine.

Colegio Champagnat students have been studying the English language since second grade. In presentations before Fenwick Spanish classes, they gave background on their neighborhood in the city of Buenos Aires, along with information on Argentine geography and history. Students learned about the similarities in their government and pastimes, noting differences in climate and school schedules.

Fenwick hosts were eager to hear about their visitors’ 12-hour journey to the U.S and how they feel about famed Argentine footballer Lionel Messi playing for Major League Soccer in the states. (They’re OK with it.) Classes also sampled a traditional Argentine mate drink, prepared by their guests in the classroom of Marianne Carrozza ‘96.

Lilek almost instantly saw the exchange experience as formative for her Spanish students. “This opened their eyes to a different culture and the power of world language…it showed them what language can do,” Lilek said. “I hope it inspires them to want to travel and continue to learn more.”

The bonds formed between hosts and guests was “heartwarming” to witness, Lilek said: “The relationships they’ve formed are so sweet…they’re genuinely best friends.”

Fenwick students are planning a spring break exchange trip to Argentina in March to reunite with their visitantes.

Student Reflections: 2023-2024

March 1

Olivia Nybo ’25 provided the Student Reflection at the 2nd Friday of Lent Mass Mass on Friday, March 1, 2024.

Good morning, my name is Olivia Nybo, and I am a member of the class of 2025. 

During the season of Lent, we are called to spend our time reflecting on who Jesus was, and the example He set for us to follow. 

In today’s Gospel, it is said:

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.” 

The cornerstone is symbolic of many things in Christianity. It can be seen as a symbol for Christ, a symbol of our faith, and most importantly a symbol for how we should live our lives. 

A cornerstone may often be seen as insignificant, but in truth, it is the most important stone in a structure. When constructing a building, builders must choose a cornerstone, and only the best stones are selected. Its job then becomes to connect the two walls and be the foundation for the structure. Essentially, a cornerstone is something that in the beginning seems small and insignificant but grows to become an important part of the whole. 

This idea of something “insignificant” transforming to be significant can be seen in our daily lives. Many of us here, including myself, have once viewed their faith to be insignificant. Growing up, I attended a Catholic grade school, where we would have morning prayer every day, along with religion class and Mass every friday. Growing up, I tended to view these events as something that could be brushed off. I didn’t view my relationship with God as something worth giving up my time for. However, as I grew older, my faith began to become an essential part of my life. My faith has become a cornerstone in my life because it is the foundation on which I stand on, especially during hard times. God has changed in my eyes from someone who I didn’t really desire to have a relationship to someone who I depend on and can’t live without. 

We are all called to make Faith the cornerstone of our lives, which is saying that our faith should be an essential part of us. There is a big difference between being a stone vs. a cornerstone. A stone is someone who has good intentions, who has a kind heart, and who tries to care about others. Whereas a cornerstone is someone who takes faith and acts upon the characteristics of faith.  A cornerstone does good in the world, treats others with respect, and puts others before themselves. 

Being a cornerstone rather than just a stone, however, is not an easy job. One of the most significant parts of the quote I previously read is that the builders had first rejected the stone. 

Jesus is the cornerstone of all cornerstones. He showed mercy to everyone and what it means to sacrifice for the good of others. Because of this, he was persecuted and crucified, before being raised again.

Similarly, we can choose to follow these often under-appreciated characteristics on Earth. Through things like service, choosing kindness, and putting others before ourselves. 

When I was 12 years old, I attended an overnight summer camp. At this camp, we had to pass a swim test to be able to use the boats on the lake. Luckily for me, I passed the swim test along with every other girl in our cabin but one. The first day we were able to go to the lake, the girls in my cabin decided to go on the boats together. However, this meant that the one girl who didn’t pass had to stay behind. A cabin counselor asked if one of us would be willing to stay behind with her, and I hesitantly agreed. It was a hard decision at the time and made me unpopular, but it led me down the path of creating a strong bond with a cabin mate. Because of this decision, I missed out on the opportunity to be a part of the group of girls on the boats, but I gained a friendship. A friendship I may not have made if I had not decided to stay behind. In this instance, I accepted the possibility of rejection from others in my cabin in making the unpopular decision, but I gained something even more valuable — a close friend who I still hold dear today. I learned that my long, meaningful friendship was worth more than being accepted by the group of girls in my cabin. 

As I finish my reflection today, I urge all of you, especially in the season of Lent where we try to follow Jesus’ example, to not just be an ordinary stone but to follow Christ and be a cornerstone, even if the task is strenuous, it will be rewarding in the long run as we seek to dwell with God in heaven. 

Thank you.

February 14

Patrick Gilboy ’25 provided the student reflection at Ash Wednesday Mass on February 14, 2024.

Hello Friars, My name is Patrick Gilboy of the class of 2025. As you may know, today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. Along with not having meat in the cafeteria on Fridays, we all have to give up chocolate right? Maybe not. As I have found myself falling victim to in the past, I would give up something that was slightly inconvenient at best. However, we are given the opportunity to grow in our faith here at Fenwick, that means that we can also advance our knowledge of Lent.

As I mentioned, in years past, I would give up something that did not have much value to me. Without value, it was pretty easy to give up. Eventually, I started to consider what it would be like to give up something that was dragging me down. It was hard to imagine a world without something which was of such importance in my life. Forty days without my phone seemed impossible. I considered 40 days without Starbucks or Celsius, and maybe even 40 days without the snooze button. As I started to learn more about Lent, I discovered that most churches have the stations of the cross every Friday, along with confession. I also learned that Lent is not only to prepare us for the Death and Resurrection of our Lord, but to enter into a piece of the suffering that our Lord endured for the 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. Therefore this year, I invite all of you to join me in giving up something that holds value to you. Whether that is giving up the Instagram Reels that you use to procrastinate, or the warm showers that you happen to spend 45 minutes in, allow yourself to give something up; Something that would be a true sacrifice, for the glory of God. That’s the next part, for the glory of God. A true sacrifice is pointless if it’s replaced with another useless activity.

Allow the time or the pleasure which you save from this sacrifice to be beneficial. For example, instead of the extra 15 minutes of laying in bed after your alarm, get up, get ready, and enjoy a conversation with a family member. Instead of the extra 30 minutes that you spend just standing in the hot shower, use that time to start your homework or get to bed earlier. Best of all, instead of scrolling through your phone for hours on end, take that time to talk to God, tell Him about your day, or even visit Him in Adoration.

After learning about all of the sacrifices I could make, a different kind of Lent was introduced to me. A Lent where love and mercy are the motivations for my actions. Of course, there is some sacrifice to bring ourselves closer to Jesus, but just as important, actions full of love. I learned that a Lenten promise could be fulfilled by not giving something up, but by doing something that would grow my relationship with God. Some ways to grow your relationship with God could include going to daily Mass, here at Fenwick, at 7:30, to experience the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior. Or you could call your grandparents everyday for 15 minutes, even something as simple as starting your homework right when you get home will Glorify God. Whatever it is, act with love and mercy in your heart.

Finally, when we get to the end of Lent. Challenge yourself to continue with your new habit. Continue going to Mass or calling your grandparents; don’t just revert back to your old habits, allow yourself to be better. Lent is a very powerful time to grow closer to God (pause)  if you allow it to be. Thank you. 

February 2

Julia Schumm ‘25 provided the student reflection at Mass during Catholic Schools Week on Friday, February 2. Read her entire reflection below.

Good morning Friars. My name is Julia Schumm and I am a member of the class of 2025. Today we not only celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, but we are finishing up the celebration of Catholic Schools week. In today’s Gospel reading, in accordance with Jewish tradition, Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. This was to fulfill the law of Moses, which required firstborn sons to be dedicated to God. At the Temple, they encounter two pious individuals, Simeon and Anna. Both recognize Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, marking a significant event in the New Testament.

I find this extremely similar to how my parents presented me to my faith. Much like many Catholic children, I was baptized as an infant, and yearned to find a way to continue my faith. My parents then exposed me to youth catechesis where not only did they desire me to grow my faith, but they were my teachers themselves. While the other children felt as though it was a chore to show up every Sunday morning, I was eager to attend and learn more about how to grow in my faith each weekend. By utilizing my parents as his agent, God has brought me to experience some of the most incredible places and communities.

Three years ago my parents led me to a new opportunity to develop my faith, one like I had never experienced before. My decision to go to Fenwick led me to experience many “firsts.” First time having a substantial commute to school, first time wearing a uniform and taking a daily theology class, and first time experiencing an academic environment rooted in Catholic values.

My Fenwick peers and I live out these values in our hallways, classrooms, athletic venues, clubs, and throughout our daily lives. We are taught to live out the four Dominican pillars of prayer, study, community, and preaching, not only while we walk the Fenwick halls, but every single day. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, we are Friars.

I think it is important to recognize that the time we get to spend at Fenwick isn’t as long as we think it is. Throughout my past two and a half years, I have learned that it is never too late to get involved in something new. This year I finally became active in the Respect Life Club, and had the opportunity to attend the March for Life in Washington DC, an opportunity that as an underclassmen I would’ve never taken advantage of. 
I urge each and every one of you to make the most out of the opportunities that the Fenwick community can provide for you.

Seniors, although you only have one semester left, there is no better time than the present to make a new friend, try something new, and make a difference.

Juniors, it is almost time for us to step up. It is now our chance to learn from the past to cultivate an even brighter future.

Sophomores, take advantage of every opportunity Fenwick gives you. Try out for the sport, join the club. Every opportunity, big or small, will turn into something amazing.

And finally, Freshmen. I know by now you are all tired of sitting in the balcony getting “four more years” chanted at you, but I can assure you, don’t take it for granted. You have four more years. Enough time to make new friendships, learn how to walk on the right side of the hallway, learn to ask for help, and live in the moment. Much like how Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, we have been presented to Fenwick and it is up to us to embrace every moment we have here.

January 19

Mia Menendez ‘25 provided the student reflection at Mass on Friday, January 19, 2024.

Good Morning Friars. My name is Mia Menendez, and I am a member of the Class of 2025. I am pleased to welcome you to the first Fenwick all-school Mass of 2024, celebrating the Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time.

I would like to begin by asking all of you: When was the last time that you felt you answered God’s call? It could be something as small as giving a couple dollars to a homeless person, donating a coat to a coat drive, or even buying coffee for the person behind you in line. Maybe you have answered God’s call on a larger scale, such as making the decision to attend Fenwick, starting your own charity, or going on a mission trip. There are endless ways to answer God’s call. Mother Teresa once said: “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” Whether it be big or small, we all respond to God’s call in our own, unique ways.

The Gospel in this Mass celebrates when Jesus called the twelve apostles, a pivotal moment in Salvation History. In preparation for calling the twelve apostles, Jesus spent much time praying on a mountain, entrusting God, the Father, to look over Him. Jesus then called the apostles by name and told them to go out into the world, preach His word, and cast out demons. Jesus believed in them and saw the goodness in their potential. The Lord does the same with all of us.

We are called to imitate the apostles and help Jesus carry out his ministry in the world. All of our calls from God are different, and it was not until I joined the youth catechism program at my parish that I truly discovered my call from God. This was when I began to study the Bible, pray on a regular basis, and serve others. After I went through the program myself, I was given the opportunity to be an aid in one of the classrooms. I felt as though this opportunity was the perfect way to continue to answer my call from God. Now, for my junior service project, I have continued my commitment to my parish, and I help out at family gatherings on Sunday mornings.

While we all have different answers to God’s call, we do share a commonality in our faith journeys. All of us in this auditorium made the commitment to be Fenwick Friars. Students, we have all answered God’s call by attending Fenwick and accepting the responsibilities that come along with it being a Catholic high school. Many of us contemplated and debated coming to Fenwick for some time, similar to how Jesus prayed to God for a long time before embarking on calling his twelve closest followers.

There are an infinite number of ways to answer God’s call. I challenge all of you to be more cognizant of doing small acts in your daily lives to respond to your call from God. Your answer can be something as simple as greeting someone that you normally don’t talk to. Just as the Lord saw talent in the apostles, He sees it in all of us as well. With the Lord by our sides, there is nothing stopping us from continuing to incorporate acts of love and kindness in our lives. Thank you.


December 8

Luis Avalos ’24 provided the Student Reflection at the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception Mass on Friday, December 8, 2023.

Hello, my name is Luis Avalos from the class of 2024 and I’d like to welcome you for today’s Mass celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Today is designated to celebrate Mary’s conception without sin, including the original sin present in all humans since their birth. Her conception free from sin was in preparation for her becoming the mother of God, Jesus Christ, who is a pretty important character in our faith, if I do say so myself.

I am not going to stand here and lie to you all.Truthfully, I have never had that struggle in my faith where I thought, “Oh, God can not be real because of what I’ve just gone through,” or “God would never let something like this happen.” But, in a life where I’ve experienced many difficult things (evictions from my home, the sudden deaths of relatives and well, let’s just say “relationship issues” in the past), God has been the only constant in my life. Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose the lives we’re born into, nor do we get to control the roller coaster that life is. One thing we can all control, no matter what, is our faith and how that will impact our lives. We can choose to allow God to walk alongside us, and trust that he will help us through difficult times.  We can choose to trust that He has a plan for us, just like He did for Mary.  We can choose to believe that despite the difficulties we might face in life, God can do miraculous things- things like healing a relative, giving us the courage to leave a difficult situation or relationship, or even allow for the conception of a person without original sin, and then allow that woman to conceive a child through the help of the Holy Spirit.

As Fenwick students, we’re oftentimes scared and worried about things we can’t control: “Will my teacher give me a test this day? Will I get into this college, or will I get into this summer program?” At the end of the day, we don’t make that decision; somebody else does, but we can prepare ourselves as best as we can, and trust that God will help us with the rest. When we face our doubts and uncertainties, let us turn to the witness of Mary.  We can recall that God had faith in Mary to conceive His only Son. From the moment of her conception she was spared from sin — she was “immaculate.” Mary could not have known in the moment of her “yes” all that she was saying yes to, but she knew that God had a plan. With the grace of her immaculate birth and through the faith built through her relationship with God, she could trust in Him and accept her role as Mary, Queen of Heaven, Mother of our Lord.

I invite us — you and me — to embrace the uncertainty in our lives, and to embrace our relationships with God just like Mary did.  God has given us graces to help us say “yes”’ just like Mary to His plan. In the words of a famous poet, “Life is such a roller coaster—then it drops, but what should I scream for? This is my theme park.” It is in these “drops” where the only certain thing you may have in your life is your faith, so remember to embrace it, just as the immaculate conception of Mary prepared her to embrace her role as the Mother of God. Thank you.

November 17

Rozlyn Plazas ’24 provided the Student Reflection at Mass on Friday, November 17, 2023.

Good Morning Friars. My name is Rozlyn Plazas, from the class of 2024, and it is an honor to welcome you all to today’s school-wide mass. As we gather, the profound words of our reading resonate with the remarkable life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, an inspiration who devoted herself to establishing hospices for the impoverished and ailing.

Born into royal privilege, St. Elizabeth felt a divine calling to use her status for the betterment of the less fortunate. Rather than turning a blind eye to the struggles around her, she actively sought ways to assist those in need, ultimately renouncing her royal ties to wholeheartedly dedicate herself to helping the impoverished. St. Elizabeth’s unwavering devotion to love and care for the less fortunate established her as a substantial symbol of Christian Charity. 

Today’s reading from the book of Wisdom has a striking quote: “For they indeed have gone astray perhaps, though they seek God and wish to find Him.” This line illustrates St. Elizabeth’s unwavering faith. Surrounded by her environment, she had the opportunity to fall back on her status, yet she devoted herself to the service of others. This notion intersects with a pivotal moment in my own life. At the beginning of high school, my great grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, a painful journey witnessing her decline alongside the effects of old age. In moments of deterring faith, especially when caring for her during her illness, I discovered strength within, sensing the love and presence of God. Despite grappling with doubts about the morality of her suffering, my great grandmother’s commitment to her faith became my guiding light. Every Sunday, I would spend precious moments with her, providing the care she needed. This connection prompted me to care for her until her passing. I cherished the shared memories and felt grateful for the time I could support her. Today I am grateful to God for allowing me to imitate St. Elizabeth in being a source of comfort for my great grandmother until the end of her life. 

As we gather here today, I encourage each one of you to reflect upon the enduring legacy of St. Elizabeth. In the face of personal or others’ adversities, we can draw strength from our faith, trusting that with God’s love, we can overcome. We can support loved ones confronting challenges, embodying St. Elizabeth’s message of genuine Christian charity. Let her be an example to inspire us to reach out and assist others, a fundamental tenet of Christianity. May we continue to act in accordance with extending our hands to support those in need, whether they be a friend, a loved one, or even the person seated next to you today. I encourage you to emulate St. Elizabeth, becoming genuine role models of Christian charity within our community. 

November 1

Matthew Brown ’24 provided the Student Reflection at Mass on Wednesday, November 1, 2023. 

Good morning everyone. My name is Matthew Brown from the Class of 2024 and I would like to welcome you to today’s Mass. 

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints Day. All Saints Day originated in the year 609 A.D. during May, when Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Later, Pope Gregory III changed the date to November 1 and shortly thereafter Pope Gregory the fourth extended this celebration to the universal church. Catholics view saints as anyone who makes it to Heaven. Today we celebrate all saints, whether they were formally canonized Saints (with a capital “S”) within the Church, or simply those who made it to Heaven.

In Theology class this year when learning about the world’s different religions, we discuss who the exemplars are for the various faiths we study. Exemplars are people who serve as role models. For Catholics, saints are our exemplars. Saints lead by example and show us how we should devote our lives to God. Yet, we also oftentimes have exemplars who aren’t saints that still lead by example and show us how we can worship God.

I am a devout Catholic, but even devout Catholics struggle with their faith in many different ways. Whether it is struggling with praying, attending Mass, or believing in God, each and every person has struggled with their faith at least once. I am no different. High school has not been easy for me, and I think it’s safe to say that each of us has felt that way at some point or another. Personally, I had a very tough sophomore year, oftentimes feeling very alone, and as a result my relationship with God struggled. I didn’t understand why these bad things were happening to me and it felt like God was punishing me for reasons I didn’t understand. But throughout this entire time, my older brothers kept showing me how to remain faithful and grow in my relationship with God. We’d go to church together, pray together, and talk about our faith together. They encouraged me to pray and to ask for the saints to intercede for me and help me with the struggles I was going through. My brothers were the perfect exemplars that I needed to remind me that God is always with us and that He deeply loves and cares for us.

As my brothers were exemplars for me, there are people in your life that are exemplars for you, people who hope to help you grow in your faith. I encourage all of you to consider who your exemplar is. It could be one of your siblings, parents, grandparents, or even your friends.

And if you truly believe that you do not have an exemplar, someone who will show you the way, then the saints are perfect for you. I can guarantee that each and every one of you will relate to at least one saint in some way shape or form. There are an estimated 11,000 saints, so there are plenty to choose from when considering who your exemplar will be. As we enter into this Mass, I encourage you to ask God for the strength to go out and set a good example; to be an exemplar. We are called to imitate the lives of saints and lead by example with our worship of God. Now I leave you with one parting question that I’d like you to think about. How can you go out and be an exemplar for those around you?

October 20

Anna Androsyuk ’24 provided the Student Reflection at Mass on Friday, October 20, 2023. 

Good morning everyone. My name is Anna Androsyuk from the class of 2024 and I want to welcome you to today’s mass.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul discusses Abraham, the founding father of the first covenant between God and His people. Paul explains that according to Scripture, Abraham’s belief  was the reason he was credited as righteous, not because of his work. Despite the fact that Abraham had done countless good deeds and had a profound impact, he was chosen by God solely because of his steadfast faith. 

There are many ways to attain the spiritual gift God offers us. At times you may doubt yourself and wonder: am I doing this right? Do I really live as Jesus taught? But all God asks is for you to put your faith into Him. 

There are multiple ways we, as students, can exhibit our steadfast faith. Following the four Dominican pillars is a path that will lead you to righteousness, but more importantly also grows and solidifies your relationship with God. Through prayer,  community, study, and preaching we can learn how God wants us to live out our lives. However, these pillars cannot simply produce righteousness. Our actions are fruitless if not fueled by faith — belief in God and His promise. These pillars help us to embody our faith and connect it through our heart, mind, and soul — only then can God give us this spiritual gift.

My faith has not always been steadfast. I, too, have had low moments when I didn’t feel the presence of God. In middle school, I didn’t understand the importance of having a relationship with God. Just like most of my peers, I was preoccupied with other things like when I would spend time with my friends, what grade I got on a test, or what my plans were the following weekend. But regardless of whether I was focused on God, He was there even when I was too blind to see it. Especially when you feel an absence of God, Jesus reminds us, “Do not be afraid.” Looking back now, I realize that He was there to guide me every step of the way. Even when we stray from God and good deeds, God still wants us to return to him. We don’t need to be afraid of God if we have made mistakes. God was there through all my triumphs and my failures. He was there then just as He is now. He was there for me and He is there for each of you. God offers salvation as a gift to each and every one of us. He is forgiving, sins can be cured, and there is always a path to God.

October 13

Catherine Quinn ’25 provided the Student Reflection at the Votive Mass for the Most Holy Rosary on Friday, October 13, 2023.

Good morning. My name is Catherine Quinn of the Class of 2025.

When I was younger, my extended family and I spent our summers at my aunt and uncle’s house in Michigan. I created some of my fondest memories there, from being dunked in the water by my older cousins to staying up past my bedtime to enjoy s’mores. The lake was where I first learned to shuffle cards, where I first heard stories about my grandparents, where I first began to understand the blessings of family. It was my haven and my happy place. Eventually, during COVID, my aunt and uncle decided to sell their house. I was stunned and devastated, feeling that the sale marked the end of an era.

The First Reading from the Prophet Joel today explains how God’s people prepared for the end of something- the end of the world. The advice from Joel can provide us with guidance on dealing with the end of things. The People of God were advised to approach the alleged end of time with prayer, fasting, and acts of gratitude.

Every end presents its challenges, some small, like the trivial disappointment of finishing an ice cream cone or a favorite TV show, or the sale of a beach house that wasn’t even my own, and some large, like the heartbreaking anguish that accompanies the loss of a loved one.

Although we can never be fully prepared for something that abruptly comes to an end, we can try to view these experiences a little differently. We can attempt to live more fully in each moment to better treasure the various experiences that life has to offer. We can remember to give thanks for our blessings each and every day. Through God, we can recognize and appreciate the beauty of our past adventures and the people and memories we will forever hold. And, with His guiding hand, God can help us to remember that with every end comes a new beginning.

Oftentimes it is difficult to appreciate what is right in front of us when we expect it to always be there. But as a Fenwick community, we can work to embrace the occasions that bring us joy and express our gratitude towards God for gifting us these moments and opportunities.

In giving God our prayers and trust, , we can further cultivate our relationship with God and those around us so that when our own “end times” approach, we are prepared to be united with God.

During this month of October, when we celebrate the rosary, we can remember the power of prayer. Through the prayers of the rosary and Mary, the Mother of God, we can find the guidance to grow closer with our Creator and the strength to understand that some experiences are fleeting, so we must cherish them as they come.

September 29

Anna Schloss ’24 provided the Student Reflection at the Feast of the Archangels Mass on Friday, September 29, 2023.

Good Morning Friars! My name is Anna Schloss of the class of 2024 and I’d like to take a moment to welcome you to mass this Friday morning.

Today we celebrate the feast of the archangels, Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. The archangels are often viewed as heroic messengers and protectors of the Church. St. Michael’s greatest feat was defeating Satan in dragon form in the Book of Revelation, St. Gabriel’s appearing to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, and St. Raphael’s healing Tobit and Sarah when they both prayed for death. The archangels are symbols of strength, courage, and heavenly power and, while this is important, it can also seem daunting. How are we supposed to follow the example of the archangels when we aren’t powerful, divine creatures but mere humans?

When I was in kindergarten, my grade school matched us up with eighth-grade students that would be our mentors for the entire school year. These eighth graders were called our “guardian angels.” As guardian angels, they were meant to be role models of faith and goodness for the youngest students in the school. We had a special mass and ceremony, sang songs with our “guardian angels,” and received angel pins. The school made a big deal out of this as it had been a tradition for what seemed like forever. Truthfully, as a kindergartener, I didn’t understand this tradition’s importance. I never talked to my eighth grader outside of our scheduled activities and didn’t understand what it meant to have a guardian angel. My eighth grader wasn’t there to constantly protect me or teach me so the whole idea seemed pointless. However, when I entered eighth grade and finally got to be a guardian angel to a kindergartener, I began to understand the tradition’s significance. 

Eighth grade was the year I was confirmed and happened to be the year I began to take hold of my faith and actively work to grow in my relationship with God. As I spent more time focusing on my faith and my role in the church, I realized how important my mentorship was to the youngest students in our school and our parish community. As an eighth-grade guardian angel, it wasn’t my job to fight dragons. It wasn’t my job to perform miracles or be a divinely powerful being. I was called to be a symbol of God’s strength and courage in humanity by showing the kindergarteners how to participate in mass and by doing acts of service with them. This guardian angel tradition shows us that the angels and archangels are there to protect us and that we can model their values in our own lives. This doesn’t need to be done in a matter of grandeur but rather by having the courage to practice our faith when it is challenged and by having the strength to continually reach out to God even when we don’t feel close to Him. The angels and archangels are symbols of God’s love and serve as our guides as we navigate both our lives on earth and our spiritual lives.

I would like to leave you with the lyrics of the guardian angel song we’d always sing during the ceremony. I invite you to open your hearts to feel the presence of God and the angels. I invite you to open your minds so that we can imitate their values of strength and courage. And now we pray:

“Angels before me, guide and direct me. Angels behind me, guard and protect me. Angels above me, keep watching over me. Angels beside me, care for and comfort me. Amen.”

September 15

Xahil Gonzalez ’24 provided the Student Reflection at the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows Mass on Friday, September 15, 2023.

Good Morning. My name is Xahil Gonzalez from the class of 2024. I would like to welcome all of you to this Mass celebrating the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The name “Our Lady of Sorrows” was given to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Often depicted mourning the loss of her son, this name was meant to exemplify the immense pain and suffering she had gone through during the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Full of the sorrow and grief that comes along with the loss of a son, through the hurt she rejoiced his death as she knew what was to come of it. Our Lord sent his only son to be born from the Blessed Mary, only to suffer and die for our sins. She knew his suffering was necessary for Salvation. She knew he was our inheritance.

When we hear the word inheritance, we may find ourselves imagining a distant relative we may have never met, or even heard of, who might leave us an estate or castle in a foreign country. We might imagine hearing the news of a great uncle or aunt leaving us a sizable amount of money that would allow us a lavish existence for the rest of our lives. But that is not the definition I mean as today’s responsorial psalm says, “you are my inheritance, O Lord.” When he died for us, we were given an undeserved favor in the form of Grace, something not earned but given freely. We were forgiven from our sins and granted mercy in order to achieve salvation. Sometimes it may seem as if we do not deserve the infinite love and mercy of Our God, but that is the thing about inheritances: one receives it regardless of their worthiness.

Sometimes it can feel as if we are isolated in life, but I can assure you that we are never alone because the Lord is always with us. There have been times where I have felt that I was alone, hopelessly walking, feeling as if there was no actual light at the end of the tunnel; however, I could not have been more wrong.

Last year I lost someone who I was very close to and I was deeply affected by it. The pain of knowing I’d never see them again caused me to lash out and just feel angry all the time. I felt unworthy of any forgiveness and kept pushing away my faith. But I knew that in those moments, I had to remember that His undying love and mercy was my inheritance, whether I felt I deserved it or not. I remembered that through my baptism I had placed my faith and my heart in the hands of God as I knew to trust whatever he had planned for me. I knew he would lead me to the light. As the psalmist says, we are to turn to the Lord for answers, and He will provide them. 

Our Lady stood by her son while he suffered and died for our sins. Even when faced with his death, He was not alone. Our Lady suffered alongside Him. She was mourning her son just like anyone would for someone they loved. We must remember to take refuge in the Lord, as she did, for he is our shelter. We must learn to seek counsel from Him, for he is our teacher. He is always with us and in our presence, for he is the path to life. It is important to remember that no matter what we may be going through, He will always be with us to guide us, teach us, console us for the Lord is our inheritance. 

And now, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and Our Lady, if you know it and would like to, please join me in saying the “Dios te salve, Maria.”

“Dios te salve, María,
Llena eres de gracia, 
el Señor está contigo. 
Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres, 
y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús. 
Santa María, Madre de Dios, 
ruega por nosotros, pecadores, 
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.
Amen”

Fenwick “Mathletes” Place 1st at Illinois Regionals!

The Friars out-performed staunch competition from Latin School of Chicago and north suburban Lake Forest Academy.

On Saturday, February 25, at the Niles West State Math RegionalsFenwick took first place and — for the 30th consecutive year — qualified all 33 members of its Math Team for the State Math Finals. The finals will be held at Illinois State University in Normal, IL, in April. The top three Math Teams (with their scores):

  1. Fenwick  845
  2. Lake Forest Academy  832
  3. Latin School  661

The Friars finished first in five of the ten events:

  • Algebra 2 Team
  • Calculator Team
  • Oral Math Topic Team
  • Two-person Junior/Senior Team
  • Eight-person Freshman/Sophomore Team


In individual events, for the first time in the 43 years of the State Contest, Fenwick had two perfect scores: by Kyra Miller ’25 (Riverside, IL) in Geometry and TuoyuToby” Yang ’24 (Oak Park, IL) in Algebra 2. Quinn Hynes ’23 (Western Springs, IL) also placed first in Pre-Calculus.

Congratulations to the entire team and their six coaches/moderators: Mrs. Brigid Esposito ’96, Mr. Roger Finnell ’59, Mrs. Bozena Kopf, Mrs. Maria Nowicki, Mr. Andrew Reuland ’94 and Ms. Diane Sabbia!


PHOTO GALLERY

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

Alumnus Fr. Tom Logue ’11, who grew up in the Hinsdale, IL parish of StIsaac Jogues, returned to Fenwick on January — to preach as a priest!

By Father Thomas Logue

My name is Fr. Thomas Logue, and I graduated from this school some 12 years ago now, and I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ just this past May.

It’s great being back in this way to celebrate this Mass. I was on Kairos with a couple of the alumni here who are my age, and many of my teachers from my time as a student are still here, which is awesome.
If I recall correctly, I think in Latin class, Dr. Porter told us we wouldn’t use Latin all the much.

So, I’ve just got to say, Dr. Porter, as a priest I get to use Latin all the time: checkmate.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Conversion of St Paul. And you might be wondering, “Okay, that’s cool, Father, but what’s with the gold thing you processed in with?”

Well, I’m glad you asked! My doctor happens to be a fellow alumn, and we have worked together in healing ministry; he lent me this relic of St. Paul — I believe it is a fragment of his bone. So we’re incredibly blessed that this real man will be with us as we come to worship the real Jesus together with him.

Alumnus Fr. Tom Logue, Fenwick Class of 2011.

Now, as we look at what this man experienced, coming face-to-face with God the Son in resurrected human flesh, and who was struck blind for three days thence — all these amazing things — we have to remember that Luke — the guy who wrote this down — didn’t write it down for Paul:

“Hey, Paul, want to hear the story you told me again?”
“Um, no.”

God, the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write this down for me and for you, so that we might believe. It was all written for you ….

So, that begs the question: All this crazy stuff happened to this man that fundamentally changed him from a murderer of Christians into the greatest Christian witness the world has ever seen — okay.

But, what’s the import for me?

It all centers on the one question Paul asks of Jesus: “Who are You, Lord?” . . . “Who are You, Lord?

Because, for Paul up to this point, before encountering Christ, if someone asked him, “Have you ever heard of Jesus? Who is He?” he’d ultimately say something like: “Jesus is just some dead nobody who’s keeping my life and my culture, even my worship, from what I want it to be. Just some dead nobody who’s caused me a lot of trouble.

But the genuine revelation of the Catholic faith says something quite different, otherwise this school wouldn’t exist; the Catholic faith wouldn’t exist.

A miraculous image from the 1st century, believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus.

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is the God who holds us in existence.

He is God the Son who took on my broken human flesh, calling first the Jewish people, and through them the whole world — me and you — back into relationship with the True and Living God, Himself. And, to do this, from our lowly human flesh, as God and as a Man, He made a perfect act of love to God the Father when He consecrated Himself a sacrifice for me and for you, and then died a torturous death by suffocation in crucifixion, and rose three days later.

“Who are You, Lord?”

But even from 13 years of Catholic schooling growing up, I feel like many, many of my peers, and even a few of my teachers, and me especially, if asked, not just on a theology test, but through the way you can really tell what someone believes — by how we live — if you asked us, “Who is Jesus?” and looked at how we live, our answers might correspond to something like:

  • “He’s just a good moral teacher, or maybe a revolutionary.”
  • Or, “He just asked us to be nice or something; He died, but He didn’t rise from the dead — He’d have to be like, God or something, lol.”
  • Or, “He was just a made up idea that helps people be kind.”

In our culture, and in a culture like this, when we reject Christ, we don’t usually reject Christ outright. We make a new Christ that fits my view of things. And, as a priest who I know says, “that is a very effective way of murdering Jesus Christ, to change Him to suit our own desires.” It’s not the real Jesus we talk about when we do this. We are just making up our own.

And what I felt — and some of you might know what I’m talking about, though I hope you don’t know what I’m talking about — I felt like, ironically, the Catholic culture for me growing up, and the apathy I experienced towards the faith and towards our Lord in it, which seemed louder than the Gospel — that it almost vaccinated me against Catholicism.

You might be thinking, “Vaccinated?” You know, with old school vaccines (not the new mRNA stuff) if you want to make someone immune to something that is very contagious, what you do is you take the contagious thing, you isolate it, you kill it, and then you inject the dead thing into the person, so that when they encounter the real thing out in the world, their system just says, “Oh, I know what that is, and it’s not for me.”

But what have we done the past few generations with our Catholic faith but this very thing? We isolate the fullness of the faith and the real Jesus, we give to our young people a dead, seriously deficient version of the faith, and we’re surprised they don’t practice it — when in fact we’ve vaccinated them against it.

We do this to our Catholic faith, and this has happened to many of us here. C.S. Lewis says, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately
important.”

Well, this was the message I got — that it’s moderately important: like basketball or a TV show. And since this, sadly, is how many of us were raised, when confronted with Christianity and the real Jesus who calls us to repent, who calls us to change — when, in fact, we don’t want to repent; when we don’t want to change — what do we do but try and invent our own Christ.

A painting of the Apostle Paul from 1600s.

But, tragically, we know that when we invent our own Christ, that our own “Jesus” is totally impotent; that “my Jesus” is powerless to save or forgive me; that when I erect my own “Jesus,” in my own image, the
only person I worship is me. And, if I’m honest, I am powerless to save myself … and so I lock myself within my own heart.

But the real Jesus, who comes knocking on the door of our locked hearts — the One who appeared to Paul — we know and believe that He can actually do something about my life. This Man who conquered death and is alive right now, with real Blood flowing through real veins as He sits at the right hand of the Father — that He can heal me; He can save me. He comes full of mercy, full of peace, forgiveness, with genuine meaning (not the futile self-fabricated kind) — real, genuine, objective meaning from the Person who is Truth Incarnate Himself — He offers this for those who will receive Him as Lord, as Master and as Savior.

Ask Him, “Who are you, Lord?”

In my own practice of the faith, my parents went to Mass, and though I felt an affection for the Lord, the liturgy and prayer in childhood (I was even considering priesthood non-stop since I was 5), as I got into junior high and the sort of vaccination I received against Catholicism began to take effect, along with my difficulties with some of my peers and distance from my family, I began to, like Paul, frame Jesus as someone else than who He really is:

“Maybe he’s just a good teacher, probably not God,” I pondered. But this was just a cover for the fact that, even though I was interested in Jesus, I doubted that He could really be interested in me. I felt rather unloved and unwanted, and began to paint the lies on my heart over the face of God.

By the time I got into high school here at Fenwick, I was pretty convinced I was an atheist, and that Christianity was some weird scheme or money grab; it was just something I had to just endure and
put up with until I graduated. But through the testimony of the priest who taught me freshman year, I began just to crack open the door of my heart, and a little bit of light began to shine into my darkness. I was beginning to believe. And, at the time, although I was dead scared of going to confession, I felt tugged towards it, and it terrified me.

Saul is knocked from his horse and blinded on the road to Damascus.

My sophomore year, I was sitting next to my atheist friend up in the front row of the nosebleed seats here in the Auditorium when all-school confessions were being heard, and I finally overcame that fear and, by the grace of God, returned to confession for the first time in 9 years. It was incredible.

But I was still clinging to sin in my life, and it was slowly eating away at me. It wasn’t until my senior year about this time of year, actually — that things came to a head.

I went on the Kairos retreat and had such a profound encounter with the real Jesus that all I could do was weep on the floor in my bedroom, overwhelmed by this love I hadn’t known before, but was utterly familiar, and had been present all my life, in all of my pain. And laying prostrate before the crucifix in my room (like I saw one of the Dominicans do at his ordination), I looked up at the cross through tear-blurred eyes and said, “I will do whatever You want me to do, Jesus, just tell me what it is.”

Well, spoiler — He made that pretty clear.

Needing the Lord

Fr. Tom as a Fenwick senior in 2010-11.

But, due to my surrounding myself with less than quality friends, the following week (again, about this time of the year), I got in some very big trouble in pretty much every aspect of my life. Got 15 detentions
and demerits. I was in trouble in school and out of school; it was a huge mess. I bet you didn’t think a priest alum would say something like that!

I realized through the experience of my big mess up that some ofthe friends I thought were my best friends that I had invested in for 6+ years were in fact just using me. And in my hunger for acceptance, after naming the serious wounds of rejection I’d felt for years, I found myself drifting further and further from the Lord.

Continue reading “Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul”

“Reflections”

A poem by John O’Neill, Jr. ’75 as published in the 1975 Blackfriars yearbook:

Reflections of my younger days
Are piercing through a web of haze.
A web a string of years has spun
On those I’ve known and things I’ve done.

I’ve loved the times and people here,
And I regret the end is near.
Here they fed me life and laughter
To build me up for what comes after.

From here on in I understand
That no one leads me by the hand.
It’s time to do what I’ve been shown
And try to make it on my own.

There’s something calling; I can’t wait.
The future’s knocking on my fate.
I’m climbing, never asking why,
My spiral staircase to the sky.

Before I go along my way,
There’s something that I have to say.
I wouldn’t change it if and when
I had it all to do again.

Reflections of my future days
Are glowing in a cloud of haze,
Lighting the stage of those I’ve met,
With my hour to strut and fret,
And sing a past I won’t forget,

And sing a past I won’t forget.

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””

Girls’ Water Polo Heads to IHSA Elite 8!

Senior Demi Ovalle is conference POY; alumna Liz (Perry) Timmons ’04 goes to state for first time as a head coach.

Last weekend in the pool, the Fenwick girls’ water polo team (23-6-1) defeated Northside College Prep, Oak Park-River Forest and then York High School (Elmhurst, IL) to win the IHSA Sectional championship and head to state! The Friars the Dukes of York 10-9, holding the lead the entire fouth quarter. The girls play in the state quarter-finals at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 20, at Stevenson HS (Lincolnshire, IL) against the host Patriots.

Fenwick student-athlete Demi Ovalle ’22 (Chicago) has been selected as an all-Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference player as well as a member of the All-Sectional 1st team. Teammates Linden Gierstorf ’22 (Oak Park, IL) andAnnie McCarthy ’23 (Elmhurst) also were named to the MCAC and Sectional 1st teams. MCAC 2nd-team selections are Xiomara Trejo ’24 (Chicago) and Pamela Medina ’23 (Chicago); at the Sectional Tournament, Trejo made the 2nd team and Medina was honorable mention. Additionally, Ovalle is the MCAC Girls Senior Player of the Year!

Stay tuned in, says Head Coach Liz Timmons, a 2004 alumna of Fenwick, because “we are still waiting on [the] All-State and All-American lists.”

2022 Friars are small but mighty

Both varsity and JV levels have proven themselves in the pool throughout the season, reports Coach Timmons, “even though they have played many games without or with very few substitutions.” Leading the team are seniors Ovalle, Gierstorf, Naomi Szczeblowski (Berwyn, IL), Christina Mireles (Cicero, IL ) and Elizabeth Mack (Chicago). The varsity season started strong with a win at the Naperville North Tournament and continued with wins at the Fenwick Quad and Fremd tourneys. Other notable games for included the Friars’ crushing defeat of cross-town rivals OPRF and beating MCAC rivals St. Ignatius, Mother McAuley and Loyola Academy. (Check scores for all of the Friars games throughout the varsity season.)

IN SHAPE: The few, the proud, with their conference-winning shirts!

JV also has had an incredible season, finishing 4th at JV MCAC. All players demonstrated a lot of improvement, their coach notes with a smile. There were many close games, including a tough, one-goal win against Loyola.

Pool Queen

Szczeblowski (in formal gown, below), who suffered a season-ending injury, showed up to support her team on her prom night for their 8:45 p.m. Sectional game last Friday. “It truly shows how dedicated this team is to each other and how much they want to see each other succeed,” praises Timmons. “They have set a goal and have been working toward it all season. We are excited to show everyone what we can do here at the end.”

Read the Oak Park and River Forest Wednesday Journal’s coverage.

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”

Meet One of Fenwick’s Trailblazing Alumnae

As Women’s History Month 2022 continues, we give a shout out to Mary Kate Callahan ’13 (of La Grange, IL), who made IHSA history nine years ago.

At Fenwick’s Fall Sports Recognition Night on November 15, 2021, Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99 introduced a special, guest speaker:

Mary Kate has been navigating life on four wheels for as long as she can remember. At five months old, a virus attacked her spinal cord, leaving her a paraplegic. Now, at 26, she has been around the world racing triathlons, advocating for what she believes in, and mentoring people of all abilities.

Mary Kate has crossed numerous finish lines; spending 11 years racing on U.S. National Team in the sport of paratriathlon, running marathons, and even breaking the course record at Ironman Louisville. She enjoys educating and spending time with people to show them how the fitness industry can be adapted for all types of athletes. Mary Kate has a passion for helping others find their own starting line to tap into their own potential and inner athlete. 

Further, Mary Kate is the reason the IHSA holds a State Series for athletes with disabilities! As a student at Fenwick, she stood in front of the IHSA advocating on behalf of athletes with disabilities. As a result of her efforts, there is now a State Series in place. Mary Kate was actually the first to compete at State! In my 18 years at Fenwick, she is the toughest, most determined, resilient athlete I have seen.

Ms. Callahan spent a few minutes addressing the Friar student-athletes in attendance in the Auditorium, helping them to keep their sports lives in perspective. Her remarks answered three key questions that she encourages all athletes to ask themselves:

  1. Did I try my absolute best — no matter what cards were handed to me each day? 

  2. Did I show up for people and help bring out the best in them when I had the chance? 

  3. And, did I do all of this while having fun?

Read Mary Kate’s full blog, “The Finish Line Is Just the Beginning.”

Last August, Ms. Callahan started a new job as senior consultant of Enterprise Transformation at footwear manufacturer Nike, Inc.

Curious Adults Can’t Read without Books!

A non-profit organization founded by a Fenwick alumnus from Oak Park is helping to advance literacy in the Chicago area.

By Franklin Taylor ’15, president and executive director of Our Future Reads

During the pandemic, I graduated from college. At the same time, I received a Fulbright Grant to go to Germany and teach English — a dream that I have had since my Fenwick German classes with Frau Strom and our German Club trip to the country. Since the pandemic pushed back this opportunity, I was able to find a job as a data analyst while I waited.

One day while working from home, I glanced around my room and pondered what to do about the giant mountain of books I had accumulated from attending Fenwick and Bowdoin College over the years. Some of the books I had really enjoyed reading, but others I would never pick up again. I thought “Do I throw these out? Who throws out books? Can I give these to someone who would enjoy them? Where can I even donate books in the area?”

These thoughts led me to reflect on the junior-year service projects we got to do as students at Fenwick. These memories motivated me to look on the Internet for places that would take in books for adult readers. To my surprise, I could only find organizations looking for children’s books. Since I was unable to find much information, I felt my Friar spirit kick in and marched down the field to do something about it. That is when the idea for Our Future Reads was born. I thought, if I have this problem, then I am sure many others share this problem, too. Instead of finding an organization to donate these books, I decided to do it myself.

Our mission statement at Our Future Reads is: For those that are curious, be curious! Through books, curiosity is born. People say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ we say it’s fine to do that, as long as you took the first step in picking it up. Our Future Reads is here to make sure those without readily available access to books get an opportunity to read whatever piques their curiosity.

Franklin played some football at Bowdoin College in Maine.

I learned many things at Fenwick, and the most important was to help others when you can; and at Our Future Reads we are doing exactly that. In just eight months, Our Future Reads has collected over 10,000 new and gently used books, established relationships with a number of other charitable organizations in and around Chicago, and donated over 2,200 books to people in need. Brian Heuss, a fellow Fenwick Football teammate and Class of 2015 alum, as well as [my brother] Jared Taylor (see below), Class of 2019, are on the board of the organization along with a good friend from OPRF. Class of 2015, Matthew Herbst. We have received amazing support from individuals and other local organizations who have conducted book drives to help Our Future Reads build its inventory to accomplish its mission to redistribute books to those in need.

Help us achieve our goal of increasing the literacy rate in the Chicagoland area by donating. If you, or your child or grandchild who is currently a Fenwick student, would like to hold a book drive to support our inventory at Our Future Reads, please reach out to me via email. For any more information, you can explore our website.

Let the Curious, Be Curious … and Let’s Go Friars!

Fellow alumnus and former football teammate Brian Heuss ’15 of Cicero, IL, serves as vice president of Our Future Reads.
OFR Board Member Jared Taylor ’19 dons a Fenwick German Club T-shirt! Jared, who studies economics at Knox College (Galesburg, IL), also played football for the Friars.