On the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Fenwick junior from Berwyn reflected about the Blessed Mother’s special connection with the oppressed, the impoverished and the powerless.
By Chelsea Quiroga ’21
Today, we gather to celebrate and honor the virgin of
Guadalupe; the mother of Jesus, known to most of us as Mary. Just shy of 500
years ago the virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, who was an Aztec
peasant who had recently converted to Catholicism, on the hill of tepeyac just
outside of present day Mexico City.
She appeared with a green cloak covered in gold stars
as well as having the same olive complexion of that of the native Juan Diego.
She told him to build a church in honor of her, and he humbly accepted. Juan
Diego went back down the mountain into town to see the bishop and informed him
of his recent encounter.
Juan Diego told the bishop of Mary’s request, and the
bishop was doubtful and asked for Juan Diego to bring him proof of her
existence before he approved any construction. Mary appeared to Juan Diego for
a second time, and she responded to his request for proof by telling him to
gather the wild plants around the hill, which was very dry and desert like. She
told him to put them into his tilma, which was like toga, and not to open it
until he saw the bishop.
Juan Diego listened and carried the dried plants down
the hill, and when he came to the bishop he let down his tilma. In the place of
the dried, wild plants out fell dozens of red roses, and the image of Mary was
imprinted onto his tilma. Soon after, a church in her honor was constructed.
Ten years prior to her visitation to Juan Diego, Mexico had been conquered by
the Spanish and Catholic conversion was pushed onto the natives.
La virgen of Guadalupe’s appearance to a native
peasant caused many similar to Juan Diego to feel a sense of belonging in Catholic
faith and caused Catholicism to spread like wildfire. Mary’s visitation to a
poor native peasant demonstrates God’s love for all backgrounds and the special
connection had with those oppressed, impoverished and powerless. Her visitation
was a triumph and allowed for Mexicans and Latin Americans alike to have a
personal tie to their faith and gain a strong feeling of home with God.
St. Jude Children’s Research
Hospital has been the backbone of the family of Sadie Briggs ’20 for four
By Sadie Briggs ’20
Editor’s note: Long-time Fenwick Speech Teacher Andy Arellano reports that Sadie Briggs presented this past summer to the St. Jude Leadership Society in Memphis, TN. “She began crafting her speech last April,” Mr. Arellano says proudly of his protégé. Sadie made the trip from River Forest with her grandfather and her mother, who knew nothing of about her presentation and really didn’t want to “waste the weekend.” During the speech, her surprised mom “broke down and cried,” Arellano says.
Today, I would like to thank everyone who has made this
experience possible. This is my second time being able to come to this event,
and even though I am up here again, this experience truly leaves me
Many people ask me why St. Jude means so much to me and, honestly, when I was little, I felt that my amazement was obvious. Everywhere I went, from my grandparent’s homes, to dinners, events, and more, St. Jude was always present. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to meet my great grandfather, Joseph Shaker, who explained the importance of this great hospital. My great grandpa was one of the co-founders of the hospital along with Danny Thomas. Being first generation Lebanese, with five children and a wife to support, my great grandfather decided to join Danny’s dream. Today, I am the oldest of 20 of Joseph Shaker’s great-grandchildren. Only my brother and I ever got the chance to meet my great grandfather, but trust me, all of the little ones hear enough about him to make them feel as if they had met him too. They also know that they have the duty to carry on his St. Jude legacy.
“Show me my way in life and I will build you a shrine.”
– Danny Thomas’ prayer to St. Jude Thaddeus
My great grandfather’s son, Joseph [Fenwick Class of 1968], my grandfather, has also played a major role in my love for this hospital and the St. Jude mission. He still actively participates on the St. Jude/ALSAC board. My grandfather is a person who is often described as one of a kind. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him, and there is nothing that makes him happier than helping St. Jude and teaching his five grandchildren about this hospital. Because of him, we all keep St. Jude so very close to our hearts.
Jude’s Mission Statement
The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research
Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric
catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the
vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race,
religion or a family’s ability to pay.
I first participated in the St. Jude Leadership Society when I was a freshman in high school. I was one of the youngest students present, and visiting the hospital for that first time changed everything for me. I became more grateful for all of the work that my family has done to support this wonderful facility. At that time, I also learned that everyone can play a role in helping St. Jude, no matter one’s occupation or college major. Even though I have no clue as to what I want to do when I am older, I do know that with God’s help I will always stay involved with the St. Jude mission.
Fenwick junior urges her classmates to learn from sisters Martha and Mary in
the Bible — and be more diligent with their prayer lives.
By Grace McGann ’21
In today’s Gospel, we learn about two sisters named
Martha and Mary. When welcoming Jesus into their home, Martha scrambles to
clean and organize the house while Mary simply sits at Jesus’ feet to listen to
his wisdom and prayer. Eventually, fed up and exhausted, Martha complains to
Jesus about the actions of her sister. Jesus simply explains to Martha that her
own anxieties and worries have gotten the best of her, and that Mary has made
the better decision by choosing to pray alongside Jesus.
It’s easy, especially as Fenwick students, to see
ourselves in Martha’s position. From what seems to be endless hours of
homework, maintaining grades and also maintaining meaningful relationships,
high school does come with a lot of things to be worried about. So many of us
have gotten to a point where it feels like these worries consume us. It’s at moments
like these where we must remember the Gospel. Jesus told Martha that she was
too focused on worrisome things and that she should focus more on the thing
that truly matters: prayer. We are all individuals with very busy schedules,
but as Jesus said to Martha, we cannot let our worries take priority over our
faith. In the long run, your grade in geometry is not going to have a
significant impact on your life. Your faith, however, can set your soul on fire
for the rest of your life, and that all starts with our prayer habits.
Yes, we do pray before every class and some of us might
pray before every meal. But it is easy to find ourselves stuck in the rabbit
hole where we are just going through the motions. We stand up, say a “Hail Mary”
or even an “Our Father” and sit down. But how often do you think about what you
just did? An easy step to take to improve your prayer habits is being aware of
what you are saying. We pray before class, for example, because we are asking
God to help us with our struggles, not to just focus on our struggles and
completely and ignore Him in the process. There are thousands of ways to engage
in meaningful prayer. For me, its praying before I go to bed.
Fenwick parents Diane Ellsworth and Pete Kornowske have four children, including twin boys Eric and Jack, who will be sophomores this coming school year. (Older sibling Will is a senior Friar.) Of the twins, “Jack is the more independent one,” their mother says. She is about to find out just how self-sufficient her 15-year-old son is, as he embarks in mid-August on an 11-month study opportunity near Berlin, Germany, as part of the Rotary Club of Oak Park – River Forest’s Youth Exchange Program. The cultural experience will feature several host families, not just one.
“We host two [Rotary] students per year,” explains Mrs. Ellsworth, who hails from nearby Norridge and became familiar with the program from a friend who is a Rotarian host. “My friend once ran a school in France and had great experiences hosting,” adds Diane. Ellsworth-Kornowske’s Oak Park house was the U.S. home of a junior student from Brazil attending Oak Park-River Forest High School this past spring. Last fall they hosted a student from Italy who was a guest at St. Patrick High School in Chicago. The family also has hosted other foreign-exchange students, from France and Japan, in the past.
As for Jack spending almost a year away from home in Germany, his mother admits to being a little “freaked out” by the prospect of her young, teenage son traveling, by himself, across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. “I was preparing for my oldest to go to college,” she explains. And now, this! Kornowske is one of eight students sponsored by the Rotary district to study abroad for the 2019-20 school year. Rotary International handles the logistics; each participating family is responsible for their child’s airfare and travel insurance.
Visiting an English-speaking country is not an option for students participating the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, Jack notes. “I was asked to rank my top 12 countries,” he recalls. At first he thought he was heading to Lithuania, number 7 on his list. However, in May, Outbound Coordinator Sue DeBolt (Rotary District 6450) and Youth Exchange Officer Lesley Gottlinger notified the family that his destination had changed to Germany. Soon, passport in hand, he will be on his way to board an airplane at O’Hare’s International Terminal.
Sprechen Sie Deutsche? Young Kornowske does not speak fluent German, so to get ready for his 4,400-mile journey he has been working with a language tutor this summer. “Rotary helps with the language skills — they expect Jack to be fluent after three months,” his mom reports. He will attend a language camp his first week in Germany. And he won’t be allowed to text or FaceTime his family in Oak Park; at least not at first. As part of the Rotary program’s deeply immersive strategy, Jack cannot communicate with his parents or siblings at all for those first 90 days, which makes his mother even more anxious.
Throughout the course of 90 school years, Fenwick High School has seen its fair share of high-achieving scouts pass through its storied doors. Earning the Boy Scouts’ distinction of Eagle Scout or receiving the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award are akin to graduating as a Friar: They are highly significant accomplishments that, quite frankly, may never get removed from someone’s résumé.
Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program. The designation “Eagle Scout” was founded more than 106 years ago. Only 4% of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill. Since its founding in 1912, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by nearly 2.5 million young men. Fenwick senior Ian Havenaar reports that he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in May 2017. Classmates Ethan Baehrend,Daniel Barry,Erik Janc,Jacob Marchetti, Sam Patston, Salvatore Siriano and Matthew Nolan Walsh also are Eagle Scouts, as are juniors Patrick Barry and Billy Brown as well as sophomore Aidan Janc.
Requirements include earning at least 21 merit badges. The Eagle Scout must demonstrate Scout Spirit, an ideal attitude based upon the Scout Oath and Law, service and leadership. This includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads and manages. For example, Sal Siriano’s Eagle project was planting a garden at Fraternite Notre Dame in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood near Fenwick.
It’s “a Mother House that serves Austin with childcare, food pantry, [and] clothing drives, among other things. Dr. Lordan helped a lot, finding a project with me as well as getting the project started,” says an appreciative Sal.
“The … sisters explained that they had nothing on the side of their convent, and they asked me to build a garden in the fall that will bloom this spring,” he explains. “We mulched, planted bulbs, bushes and existing perennial flowers.
Some Girls Are Golden
Riverside senior Natalie Skiest has achieved the gender equivalent to Eagle Scout rank : The Gold Award is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of the USA. Junior Anai Arenas is working toward her Gold Award as well. Earned by Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts in high school, only 5.4% of eligible girls successfully complete the Gold Award: In 2018, approximately 5,500 girls received it nationwide.
The award allows young women to make lasting change on an issue about which they are passionate — from human trafficking to ocean pollution to education access to expanded STEM training for girls in underserved communities. By the time a girl puts the final touches on her Gold Award, she will have taken seven steps to develop a lasting solution to the challenge:
Identify an issue: Use your values and skills to choose a community issue that you care about.
Investigate it thoroughly: Use your sleuthing skills to learn everything you can about the issue you’ve identified.
Get help and build your team: Form a team to support your efforts and help you take action.
Create a plan: Identify the root cause of an issue, and then create a plan to tackle it.
Present your plan and gather feedback: Submit your Project Proposal Form to your Girl Scout council for approval.
Take action: Lead your team and carry out your plan.
Educate and inspire: Tell your story and share your results.
Gold Award recipients also have a competitive edge in the college admissions process and are eligible for scholarships, says the Girl Scouts organization.
Junior Conor Kotwasinski is close to completing his quest for prestigious Eagle status. This past October, he partnered with CVS Pharmacy in Brookfield to organize a preservative-free Flu Vaccination Clinic (for ages 10 and up) at St. Mary Church in Riverside. Now that his service project is complete, he only needs his “Personal Fitness Merit Badge and to complete my Board of Review,” says Kotwasinski, a member of Troop 92.