Friars rank number one in Illinois’ Academic Challenge in Engineering and Science (ACES) STEM competition among schools with less than 1,500 students.
For the second consecutive year, Fenwick High School has finished first in Illinois in the Academic Challenge in Engineering and Science (ACES) competition, formerly known as the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) program. “We are the top STEM school in a division that includes all high schools in the state with 1,500 students or fewer,” reported David Kleinhans, ACES moderator and chair of the Fenwick Physics/ Computer Science Department. “Twenty-four schools competed at the State competition in our division.
“We also finished second when looking at schools in our multi-state region,” Mr. Kleinhans continued, “to Clayton High School in Missouri by eight points out of 500 total points. Congratulations to their team and all the other competitors.” This year marks the tenth consecutive year that the Friars have reached the state finals. Since 2012, Fenwick is the only Illinois school to win a first, second or third place State trophy each year — and the only Catholic school to finish in the top three spots.
Approximately one year ago, Kleinhans shared that Fenwick won the IL State ACES science contest for the 2019-21 academic year. “In addition, Fenwick bested all the Missouri schools in attendance to finish first in the Midwest region,” he noted. “I was so proud of our students and their perseverance through the switch to eLearning and eTesting amid the onset of COVID-19.” Like last year, the Fenwick 2021 team was undeterred by the online coaching and test-taking, demonstrating tremendous focus, perseverance and “wild intelligence,” according to their proud coach, to capture another state title. The top five students in each subject area received medals. Fenwick’s individual winners are:
Math – 1stFinley Huggins (perfect score!) Math – 2ndLogan Maue Physics – 3rdAnna Dray Physics – 3rdDaniel Majcher Physics – 3rdDmytro Olyva Chemistry – 4thFinley Huggins English – 4thKaty Nairn
The 14-member team (by class year and in alphabetical order):
Anna Abuzatoaie ’21 (Melrose Park, IL, Grace Lutheran School) – either Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania, or University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Cluj-Napoca, Romania (TBD)
Anthony Battaglia ’21 (Melrose Park, IL, Grace Lutheran School) – University of Notre Dame
Katie Cahill ’21 (River Forest, IL, Roosevelt Middle School) – University of Michigan
Anna Dray ’21 (Elmhurst, IL, Immaculate Conception Grade School) – University of Notre Dame
Therese Giannini ’21 (Wood Dale, IL, Immaculate Conception Grade School, Elmhurst) – Loyola University Chicago
Jacob Korus ’21 (River Grove, IL, St. Cyprian Catholic School) – undecided
Daniel Majcher ’21 (Chicago, Keystone Montessori School, River Forest) – Northwestern University
Logan Maue ’21 (Oak Park, IL, St. Giles Catholic School) – University of Illinois
Mary Rose Nelligan ’21 (Oak Park, IL, Ascension Catholic School) – University of Notre Dame
Dmytro Olyva ’21 (Cicero, IL, St. Giles Catholic School, Oak Park) – University of Illinois
Vince Beltran ’22 (Berwyn, IL, Heritage Middle School)
Zach Dahhan ’22 (Elmwood Park, IL, Elm Middle School)
Finley Huggins ’22 (Oak Park, IL, Ascension Catholic School)
Katy Nairn ’22 (Lombard, IL, Glenn Westlake Middle School)
The number and size of Catholic grade schools and high schools increased greatly in the 1950s. After 1960, the educational preparation of teachers, new issues for church life amid movements like ecumenism, racial justice in American society, and a general advancement in the quality of Catholic schools led to new considerations of the area of “religion,” of “theology,” in secondary education.
At Fenwick High School, conducted by the Dominican Friars in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, two movements emerged to expand and vitalize theological education in high school. One had to do with educational materials like textbooks; the other had to do with new approaches to religious education, with ideas for and beyond the classroom.
New Theology and New Textbooks
The developments in secondary education began with similar movements in Catholic colleges and universities. The simple and sparse catechetical format of the texts for required courses in religion in Catholic colleges and universities was more and more criticized in the 1950s. The shallow level of content often did not rise above basic catechetical propositions about Christianity to which was added some Aristotelian philosophy in ethics and theodicy. Some have gone so far as to say that prior to 1960 there was no theology being taught in most Catholic institutions of higher education in America other than seminaries. Certainly few courses touched on, for instance, the content of the New Testament or the theology of the sacraments and liturgy.
In those years teachers began to meet to discuss how teaching theology in college was more than teaching scholastic philosophy or catechesis. In 1954, they founded the Society of Catholic College Teachers of Sacred Doctrine (this became in 1965 the College Theology Society).1 At the first national meeting of the SCCTSD in 1954 (there had been regional meetings) three of the founders offered their approaches. Gerard Sloyan of Catholic University of America spoke on “From Christ in the Gospels to Christ in the Church;” Thomas Donlan, O.P., of St. Rose Priory, Dubuque, Iowa, presented “An Approach from the Dominican School of Thought;” John Fernan, S.J., of Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York, described a “historical, Scriptural approach.” These pioneers of the college theology movement had three different views of theological education: Sloyan’s was biblical; Donlan’s was neo-Thomist; Fernan’s was historical and biblical. All three were working on producing textbooks.
Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., in 1945 returned to the University of Notre Dame to begin his time of teaching theology there before he became president of that institution. He had written his doctoral dissertation at The Catholic University of America on the theology of lay people and the sacraments.2 Teaching undergraduate theology soon led to his conceiving of and editing textbooks, a series called “University Religion Series. Texts in Theology for the Layman.”3
Thomas Donlan, O.P., a native of Oak Park, Illinois, taught at Fenwick High School from 1946 to 1952. He went from there to teach at the Dominican seminaries in Dubuque, Iowa. While there he directed original publications in college and high school theological education. First he supervised a volume of essays exploring how sacred doctrine of a largely Thomist bent could and should be the framework for courses outside the seminary. Essays treated the arts, sociology, and the natural sciences, philosophy, and religion: This was an attempt to draw theology out of the isolation of clerical circles into a wider cultural world.4
Donlan and other Dominicans, some teaching at the first graduate program in theology to accept religious or laity at St. Mary’s College, South Bend, Indiana, decided to produce a series of textbooks for college. First books began to appear in 1952.5 They did offer a theology deeper than a catechism, but curiously it did not hold a particularly Thomistic order and principles and retained the order of apologetic manuals from 1860 to 1960. A second series of texts appearing in 1959 was a greatly improved enterprise. They held sections of Aquinas’ Summa theologiae, and included material from Scripture and practical moral theology.6
How a young alumna’s Fenwick
education has influenced and informed her understanding of and action on behalf
of her vocation.
By Tierney Vrdolyak ’14
One motto of the Dominican Order that has resonated with me these six years out of Fenwick is contemplare et contemplata aliis trader – “to contemplate and hand on to others the fruits of contemplation.” In my experience with Catholic educators there, so many have lived this truth: to contemplate Christ and share with others (students, specifically) the mystery of Christ through their words and works, their lessons and lives is the Divine call of the teacher. Through their witness and God’s grace, I have come to realize my vocation as teacher, too. I’d like to relay one person’s authentic witness as teacher to you in the hopes that you might contemplate and share with others this fruit.
As I have come to believe through education observation, theory
and practice, a teacher succeeds when the student develops; the teacher more
than less fades into the background. The
teacher leads only when he or she serves; the teacher imitates Jesus Christ,
the Divine Teacher, who freely humbles Himself to the point of death to Himself
(the words “humble” and “human” are derived from the Latin humus,
meaning “earth” or “soil” – that is, what is on the ground). The truly
successful teacher is the one who stimulates the student’s receptivity – qualifying
the pupil for all vocations (priesthood, religious life, married life, single
life) and opening up avenues for vocations within vocations (professional life)
– and remains humble by letting God lead, the students follow, and oneself
adapt to their promptings. The teacher, therefore, takes on the “He must increase,
I must decrease,” dynamic of which the Gospel speaks (John 3:30), adjusting his
or her view of the harmonious human person to the individual student’s
personality. Fenwick teachers have helped countless students come face to face
with reality, welcoming our vocation and that of others with joy.
Mr. Draski was my tennis coach during the Frosh-Soph fall seasons of 2010 and 2011. From the first week of tryouts through the last banquet, Coach Draski encouraged the team to seek and find wonder in all things. His practices, lectures and personal example oriented us toward our good as individuals and as a team. Although his teams had an 11-peat at that point, winning wasn’t the goal. Growing into our authentic selves was.
The “Ten Ball Drill” was certainly
an example through which we learned to love building speed, stamina and
strength during practices. It was a joy to place each ball on the racket before
our teammates’ feet on the doubles’ sideline as we ran to collect the next ball
from the opposite side.
Coach Draski’s words, too, and the
way in which he spoke, encouraged us to be nourished and renewed together. Before
each tournament, Coach Draski called us together to pray through Our
Lady and read a poem entitled, “The Champion.” He divided the poem into
stanzas, which some players would recite and on which all would reflect. These
words – which to me point to our universal call to greatness, which is holiness
– have stuck with me in small and large decision-making moments. Before I took
part in a city-wide half marathon last May, for instance, I warmed up with a
prayer and this poem. Some phrases that resonated while I ran the race were: “You’ve got to think high to rise./ You’ve
got to be sure of yourself before/ You can ever win a prize./ Think big and
your deeds will grow, think small and you’ll fall behind./ Think that you can
and you will; it’s all in the state of the mind…Our Lady of Victory, pray for
us!” I was able to run at a personal-record pace among many others – perhaps
tennis players themselves – keeping Coach’s words in mind. Before your work or
school day today in these times, we can ponder these lines again.
During each tournament, Coach would invite
us to “give a love tap” to our partner after every point – win or lose – letting
our partner know that she is good, she can do it and you are there for her. He
would invite us, too, to come to him in difficult situations during breaks in a
game, set or match. Coach Draski would then poke his pointer through the wire
for us to each tap it and afterwards ask, “How are we doing?”
Not only did his practices and words
inspire my teammates and me, but his personal example reflected all that he
tried to teach. I will never forget Coach Draski’s smile, finger taps, fist
bumps or chuckle at some pasta party conversation. I will never forget his
personal stories that shed light onto the words we spoke in the “Champion,”
making me think about the wonderful power of our minds to think well and wills
to act well, no matter the situations within our societies, families or selves.
graduation from college in 2018, through the guidance of grace, my human
nature, mentors, courses and many more encounters, I realized my call to be a
Catholic educator. For two years, I attended graduate school in theology while
teaching theology within a Catholic middle-school setting. Following this
program, beginning this August, I was led into teaching in the home-school
setting using the Montessori and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd model as guides.
Here, I have the opportunity to walk with three children, fostering a
relationship with each child and God through formative learning experiences.
Lombard sisters — one law-school
student, one med-school student and one undergrad — returned home to
Western Springs, IL, for eStudy this spring.
The trio of Lombard sisters came home to Western
Spring, IL, this after college campuses shut down earlier this spring. “We haven’t all lived together or
studied together for almost 10 years, so it’s been really memorable,” says Lauren, the family’s “baby” and a 2017
graduate of Fenwick.
Elizabeth, the eldest, adds, “In many ways, in sharing
homework space, fighting for Wi-Fi capacity and complaining about exams and
tough assignments together, it truly reminded all of us of our Fenwick days.”
Lombard ’11 (University of Notre Dame ’15 – Double Major:
Accountancy and English) was a Friar
cheerleader and earned a varsity letter at Notre Dame as Senior Football
Manager. She worked for two years as a certified public accountant at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Chicago),
then returned to ND. Earlier this month, she graduated with an accelerated
joint degree: a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) in
law and Master of Business
Administration. Elizabeth soon will head to New York City to take a job in the
corporate practice division of law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Here are
her and her sisters’ “quarantine” stories:
just completed my third degree at the University of Notre Dame. My last
semester certainly did not go as planned with the onset of eLearning. However, I
felt lucky to have my family by my side throughout all of the chaos, to tackle
this challenge together. We have not all been together, living in our family
home in Western Springs, since I graduated Fenwick in 2011.
semester I was enrolled in Trust and Estates Law, Intercollegiate Athletics
Law, an Intercollegiate Athletics Externship, a Venture Capital and IPO Law
Seminar, and a Law and the Entrepreneur Seminar. Most of my professors decided
to still hold live, discussion-based Zoom meetings in lieu of our in-person
classes. I loved these live Zoom meetings, as it made me feel like I was still
in the classroom (minus being able to stare at the Golden Dome through the
addition to complications with moving the actual classroom learning online, I
also faced graduation celebration planning complications. This year, I served
as the 3L Class Representative for my law-school class on our Student Bar
Association (similar to a Student Council). A vital part of my job was planning
‘3L Week’ celebrations, for the week prior to graduation — including a Chicago
Cubs game, a winery tour and a massive banquet with our entire class. Obviously,
when school was canceled, these opportunities to celebrate our achievements as
a class were eliminated. I decided that we still needed to celebrate in some
capacity digitally. I created a virtual ‘banquet’ for my class — complete with
a digital congratulatory video from our professors and administration and a ‘Class
Slideshow,’ with a slide for each student showing their favorite law-school
photo, moment, class, as well as a senior superlative. It was very rewarding
for me to put this together and know that my classmates felt loved and
celebrated. Additionally, I coordinated a “Professor Send-Off” where five
beloved professors gave our class some words of wisdom and congratulations. Notre
Dame has rescheduled our official graduation for May 2021.
Fenwick has prepared me and my sisters well for our various career paths. I would particularly like to thank Ms. Logas for inspiring my interest in the law from her AP Government class; Mrs. Macaluso for inspiring my passion for writing and analysis in AP Literature; and Blackfriars Guild (BFG) for giving me confidence in my public speaking abilities. My time at Fenwick cultivated in me a hunger for learning and diligent work ethic, without which I would not have been able to excel during the demanding JD/MBA program. I look forward to joining Fenwick’s network of attorneys and continuing to grow my Fenwick family in the future.
Notre Dame ’17
Rachel Lombard completed a degree in Science
Business at the University of Notre Dame in 2017. A few weeks ago, she began
her fourth year of medical school at the University of Illinois College of
Medicine at Chicago (Class of ’21). She is the recipient
of the Medical Student Council’s Tom C. Reeves Memorial Award, which recognizes
a third-year med student who exhibits outstanding leadership, volunteerism and
Before the pandemic hit, I had spent my entire third year of medical school completing clinical rotations in the different fields of medicine such as OBGYN, Pediatrics, Surgery, Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. While on my Surgical Rotation, the attending physician I worked with was also a Fenwick graduate and we bonded over our time at Fenwick. We both agreed that Mr. Farran was one of the best teachers we ever had and inspired both of us to pursue a career in medicine. It is really amazing how the Fenwick connections can always be found. Clinical rotations have by far been the best part of medical school, so far, because I finally got to work with actual patients and really feel like a part of the medical team.
I was just about to start my final rotation of
my third year in Family Medicine when the pandemic intensified. My medical
school, along with almost all other medical schools in the United States,
decided to pull all medical students from in-person clinical rotations to help
do our part in minimizing the spread of the virus and conserve the already very
limited amount of personal protective equipment. Like so many others, my life
drastically changed overnight. I went from learning medicine from real-life
patient encounters to learning from virtual online patient cases. Additionally,
I had online lectures over Zoom from our clinical professors. Some of my
clinical professors had just come off treating patients in the COVID unit and
would teach us about their experiences firsthand fighting the virus, which was
Even from home, 3rd-year Fenwick Social Studies Teacher Brian Jerger loves Western Civilization — and working with freshmen!
What is your educational background?
BJ: I went to high school in the southwest suburbs — Oak Lawn Community High School (’09). I have my B.A. in History from the University of Notre Dame (’13). My M.Ed. is from Notre Dame as well (’15).
What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?
BJ: I was a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher in Heredia, Costa Rica, for nearly a year before coming to Fenwick. Before that, I taught World Geography & Cultures to freshmen at Saint Joseph Academy in Brownsville, Texas as part, of Notre Dame’s ACE Teaching Fellows program (2013-15).
What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
BJ: It may not be for enjoyment, but it is almost impossible to avoid trying to stay current with the COVID-19 news. Aside from that, I am currently trying to finish The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
BJ: I really love to cook. Fall weekends are for ND football and the Green Bay Packers. Wednesday nights are Trivia Night for me. In the summer, I like to travel and try to get outside, whether it be for hiking, fishing, brunch, baseball games or something else. I also help out as a young adult leader for a youth group at my parish throughout the year.
To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?
BJ: A little bit of everything. I played golf and ran XC/distance track. I also participated in student council, class advisory boards, student helpers and a really unique group called Cross Countries — not to be confused with cross country. Cross Countries was a small group of eight students who fund-raised over $40,000 in three years to complete an international service trip to Bolivia to help build a hospital. I even did a group interpretation theater production my senior year. I was also really active in my youth group, Foundations, at Old St. Pat’s in West Loop.
Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
BJ: I am the assistant debate coach and the assistant freshmen girls’ basketball coach. I also go on every Kairos [retreat] Mrs. Nowicki will let me!
What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?
BJ: In general, I think they push themselves and are gritty. Fenwick is not the ‘easy’ choice; students are challenged here. That said, the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire. Our students come out on the other end far ahead of their peers and ready to lead. And, in the end, they still wish they had “FOUR MORE YEARS!”
Fenwick 2017 alumnae the Ritten triplets are eLearning together (but separately) in Oak Park, as they finish their junior years in college. The sisters reflect on the Coronavirus pandemic’s effect on their experiences.
Maria Ritten ’17 (at right) is majoring in political science (and minoring in poverty studies and sociology) at the University of Notre Dame:
these strange and unprecedented times of COVID-19 and social distancing, the
last phrase I ever want to hear again is “in these strange and unprecedented
times.” After being away from Notre Dame for over a month now, I have seen,
heard and said this phrase more times than I ever could have anticipated. I
hate the formality of it. While “in these strange and unprecedented times” is
undeniably accurate, I think that its use is basically us saying, “now that
I’ve addressed the elephant in the room, we can get back to how we normally
nothing is normal.
for me, several of my professors seem to be on the same page. During our Zoom
sessions, one of my professors has made it a point to ask each student how they
are doing, really doing. Rather than beginning class with a quick hello
and diving into material, he gives us time to talk about our real feelings
about this pandemic. Our conversations have included topics such as how to
celebrate a birthday during quarantine, good TV shows to binge, and how it is
nice to be spending more time with our families.
these positive conversations have been a source of light for me, we have also
discussed the situations of classmates who are away from home and missing their
families, or how the seniors felt after their graduation was postponed until
next year. These conversations, although limited, have been one of the few
formal settings during this quarantine in which I have felt encouraged to talk
about my real experience. In asking us about our feelings, whether good or bad,
my professor is enabling my classmates and me to acknowledge that nothing is
normal, and that our thoughts, fears and hopes are all valid. While these are
“strange and unprecedented times,” I am grateful for these Zoom sessions
because they have taught me one of the most important lessons of my college
career: When life throws a curveball, it is more important to reflect on the
situation and acknowledge its impact than to pretend it never happened and just
Missing New Orleans
Bridget Ritten ’17 (center) has a double major in public health and sociology at Tulane University:
people, New Orleans is a place to party and eat great food. However, New
Orleans is much more than that, and for the last three years I have been lucky
enough to call it my home.
New Orleans because it is the opposite of every city in America. Most cities
are fast-paced and stressful while New Orleans is slow, easy-going and fun. New
Orleans reminds me of a party that celebrates life that everyone is invited to.
Unfortunately, there is not much to be celebrating these days as Coronavirus
has spread throughout the nation, and particularly in New Orleans.
my family and I are healthy and have been sheltering in place in our home in
Oak Park. Over the last month, many college students have been thinking about
and missing their friends, classmates and classes. Although I have also been
missing those things, I have often found myself thinking about New Orleans and
wishing I were there.
a post-Father’s Day reflection, a Fenwick senior remembers his late father –
and thanks his big brother.
Fenwick soon-to-be senior Patrick Feldmeier wrote this essay for the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. Patrick was honored, along with his older brother, Danny (Class of 2018), on June 6 at the Union League Club in Chicago.
By Patrick Feldmeier ’20
two, three: Hi Daddy, we love you and we miss you.”
(Mom always adds, ‘You’re in my heart, Sweetie.’)
These are the words my family says after grace every time we sit down for dinner. And simultaneously look at the open seat at the head of the table. Our hearts yearn for the man that God called up to Heaven seven years ago: Dad. It sends a shiver up my spine saying the word out loud, yet his presence still resonates in my family.
Every once in a while, his cologne can be smelled from his closet. His faded blue Ralph Lauren hat still hangs on the wall in my mom’s bedroom. His 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee may have finally been towed, but his K-Swiss “dad shoes” rest untouched in our mudroom. To say that Bob Feldmeier is a role model to me is an absolute understatement. Words will never express how much I miss him; how much I need him in my life; or how much I love him. Through my actions, I attempt to be like him every day.
As a partner at Schiff Hardin, long hours seemed to swallow his work-week. Yet, somehow, someway, he always had time to play catch or take us to watch a White Sox game. After little-league games, my dad would take my brother and me out to “men’s dinners,” where he would teach us lessons such as, “It’s ok to admit it is cold, but it is not manly to complain about the cold.” He was also an avid Notre Dame alumnus and taught us the essence of hard work. The impression he left on me is what is most important. Through watching the way he treated my mom, my siblings and me, and kept God as a focal point in his life, I truly learned what it meant to be a father. His etiquette, manners and gentlemanliness are values I strive to model because I want my children to look up at me the way I look up to my Dad.
My father’s ultimate goal was for his family to live a
life like his, which includes strong family bonds and an excellent, Catholic
education. He continued to set an example of how to be a father and how to find
strength through tragedy by protecting us until the very end.
Gift of Peace
When he was first diagnosed with melanoma, he told my
mother, “Do not tell the kids about my disease. I want to give them the gift of
peace.” He truly was the perfect role model for a dad. It was more important to
him to keep us happy and successful in life than for us to crumble under fear.
His ultimate goal was for his family to live a life like his. Instead of
succumbing to anger after his death, I honored his memory by achieving goals and
setting the bar high for myself. I aspire to attend the University of Notre
Dame, like him, and to provide for my family the same way that he did. His
spirit lives on in my heart every day, and every day I thank God for one of the
greatest gifts He has ever given me: my Dad. Perhaps the greatest lesson I
learned from my Dad was that a man is not solely defined by his career and
accomplishments, but by his display of love to his family. Perhaps that was why
he was able to stay strong during his last days, because he truly had reached
his ultimate goal of success in life: to love and be loved by his family.
Fenwick, the storied downtown restaurant has stood the test of time for nine
decades — and for three family generations.
By Patrick Feldmeier ’20
The impact that the late Franklin Delano Capitanini, Class of 1950, left on Chicago cannot be justly put into words. Instead, his impact resonates in his family, friends, Fenwick High School and the famed Italian Village Restaurant(s). Born in America in 1932 and named after U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Frank lived a life founded on strong family ties and treated everyone who dined at the Italian Village as if they were old friends. Today, the Italian Village serves as a reminder of the kindness that Mr. Capitanini spread for 85 years.
Located at 71 W. Monroe Street in Chicago’s “Loop” for
almost 92 years, the Italian Village was opened by Frank’s father, Alfredo, in
September 1927 – two years before Fenwick opened its doors. Frank and his kid brother,
Ray (Fenwick ’53), grew up knowing
that the restaurant someday would be theirs to manage. Frank’s early years
working there included responsibilities such as food preparation for the chefs
and waiting tables, according to his close friend, Fenwick classmate and
President EmeritusFather Richard LaPata, O.P. ’50. Learning
how to talk to adults and serve their requests at an early age benefitted Frank
greatly in the years to come. Frank’s son and fellow Friar alumnus, Al Capitanini ’81, says that the “best
internship is waiting tables because you learn about customer service and how
to handle people.”
Frank continued his work at the Italian Village when he attended Fenwick, where he participated in football, basketball and track. Unfortunately, his athletic career was cut short due to an injury. Al remembers hearing how his father had to divert all of his attention to education after the injury because Frank’s parents highly valued education. Frank’s father, an Italian immigrant, wanted him to have a strong caring for education due to his own limited schooling opportunities in Italy. When Frank was not hitting the books, he left his friends drooling in the school cafeteria because of the sandwiches he brought daily from the Italian Village. The aroma of Italian lunch meats and cheeses made their palates jealous.
Frank and Fr. LaPata both went on to Notre Dame, but their paths did not cross much at the university: one entered the seminary while the other (Frank) was in the ROTC program. It was not until Father LaPata became president of Fenwick in 1998 that he developed a friendship with Frank, eating at the Capitanini home around once a month.
Once out of college, Frank immediately went back to
work at the Italian Village. In the 1950s and ’60s, opera drew huge crowds in
big cities like Chicago, so the Capitaninis became well acquainted with some
the world’s most famous opera singers. When asked about the relationship
between it and the Italian Village, the Lyric Opera Company kindly stated,
“American singers and Italian singers of the 1950s and 1960s dined at the
Italian Village.” However, opera stars were not the only celebrities to
frequent the restaurant. The walls of the Italian Village are lined with
autographed pictures from well-known celebrities and sports figures, including
Frank Sinatra, Lou Holtz, Mike Ditka, Florence Henderson, Ryne Sandberg and Jon
The Italian Village has maintained its reputation of
great service and hospitality because of Frank’s leadership and family values:
“Hundreds [of restaurants] closed, but the Italian Village stayed strong due to
its hospitality, charm and kindness,” praises Father LaPata. With an
old-fashioned aura and breathtaking architecture, the Village has stood the
test of time by adhering to its roots; something that many restaurants in
Chicago have failed to do. Upon entering one of the three restaurants in the
Italian Village, patrons are engulfed in a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. The
Village, the upstairs restaurant, features dimmed lights that hang low and
walls painted to mimic a scenic view in Italy. No windows are present, and it
truly feels as if you are dining in Italy.
Later in Frank’s life, he began to teach his kids how
to manage the family restaurant. Fortunately, his four children, Lisa, Gina, Frank II ’78 and Al, had hands-on
involvement for years. Al vividly remembers growing up at the Village: waiting
tables and making food just like Frank did years ago. “We ate more than we
actually learned,” he admits. Gina still works in the family business.
When the kids were a bit older, Frank would take them
to the restaurant for breakfast, then walk with them to catch a Bears game. Al
describes his father as an “old-school type, hardworking, honest to a fault,
always there, and would help anyone in an emergency.” Frank served as a great
mentor to Al and his other children, and they work hard to emulate their dad.
His philanthropic contributions to Fenwick are greatly appreciated as well.
I had the pleasure of having lunch with Al this spring
at the Italian Village. We talked about the history of the restaurants and
Frank’s long-lasting impact on them. When the topic of Frank’s years in high
school arose, Al was quick to mention that Fenwick was essential in molding
Frank into the man he wanted to be. Frank may have had a career already set
through the Italian Village, however, his success and achievements in life
required the lessons learned from Fenwick to come to fruition. Through the
stories Al shared about Frank’s life at Fenwick as well as his own, I was truly
able to understand that Fenwick is great at preparing its students for life
Frank passed away one year ago at age 85. His funeral was held at his grade school, St. Vincent Ferrer in River Forest, and Father LaPata touchingly led the Mass. His presence will be missed, yet his spirit will live on in the lives of those around him. Frank Capitanini will forever be a Friar, and his impact on his family, the Italian Village and Fenwick High School will last for generations to come.
Coming soon: The Frank Capitanini Classroom at Fenwick
In addition to their generous classroom-naming donation, the Capitanini family also has created an endowed scholarship in their father’s memory. The fund will provide tuition assistance for a Fenwick student in need.
Patrick Feldmeier is a finishing up his junior year at Fenwick High School, where he is an Honor Roll/National Honor Society student and president of the Class of 2020. Pat also plays on the Friars’ football and rugby teams. He lives in Western Springs, IL (St. John of the Cross) and is hoping for acceptance this coming fall into the University of Notre Dame, where his Evans Scholar brother, Danny ’18, will be a sophomore.
Ten years ago in your life, where were you? If 50 is the new 40, then 40 is the new 30. A lot can happen in the span of a decade: Young alumni finish college, some attend graduate school, then begin to establish themselves in their professional careers; others contemplate marriage, perhaps. Slightly older alumni may have had children and started families. Older children in junior high school, hopefully, are considering taking the admissions test at Fenwick this coming December.
In the late winter of 2009, now 28-year-old Kenneth “Kenny” Matuszewski ’09 had a typical case of “senioritis” at Fenwick, counting the weeks until graduation and finalizing his plans to attend the University of Notre Dame. (In South Bend, he would major in biological sciences and Spanish.) But something profound happened during Christmas break of his junior year that, literally, changed the course of Matuszewski’s life, he says.
After the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Matuszewski and 37 of his classmates traveled to New Orleans to help people rebuild their homes. He vividly recalls “seeing the devastation, three years later.” More than 1,835 people died in the Category 5 hurricane and its subsequent floods, making it the deadliest storm in U.S. history.
“We went … as a part of the Mission New Orleans trip, a Fenwick organization,” Matuszewski explains. Their three chaperones were teachers Mr. Paulett, Mr. Ruffino and Ms. Logas, he notes. “While I had little experience with power tools or construction, I was still able to do something and help a family move into a home. That experience motivated me to find ways I could help people with my strengths; through my pro bono work, I realize I have found such opportunities.”
Fast-forward 11 years: “I have always felt it was my duty to use my talents as an attorney to give back to the community around me,” says Matuszewski, who grew up in La Grange Park and now resides in Westchester, IL. “That is why I have developed a commitment to pro bono work over the years. While this desire was instilled in me by my parents, who were and still are involved in the local library board and Special Religious Education (SPRED), Fenwick further honed it through the [Christian] Service Project.”
Latin students at Fenwick know that pro bono publico is a phrase used to describe professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment. Unlike volunteerism, it is service that uses the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them.
Matuszewski at a Glance
Graduated from Fenwick High School, 2009 (Kairos leader, Friar Mentor, JETS, Scholastic Bowl, NHS, football, band)
University of Notre Dame, B.S. in Biological Sciences and Spanish, 2013
Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D., 2016 (Managing Editor of the Chicago-Kent Journal of Intellectual Property, 2015-16)
On March 21st will be honored by United State Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with the 2018 Pro Bono Service Certificate for the second consecutive year.
Family of Friars: Kenny’s three younger siblings also are Fenwick alumni: Kevin ’10, Carly ’15 and Jasmine ’17.
Pro Bono and More
Today, Matuszewski serves the community in several ways. His pro-bono activities include work for the Chicago-Kent Patent Hub. “The patent process can be expensive, confusing and inaccessible to inventors. However, the barriers to entry for low-income inventors are even greater,” he explains. “As a volunteer attorney, I help low-income inventors obtain patents for their inventions. Over the past couple of years, I have worked with inventors who have invented devices ranging from simple footstools all the way to computer applications.” As a result of his efforts, Matuszewski earned the Patent Pro Bono Service Certificate from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for 2018 and 2017.
Fenwick nurtured the service seeds planted by the parents of this alumnus, who has been employing the power of business to solve social problems for five decades.
By Mark Vruno
Fenwick High School and University of Notre Dame alumnus Paul Tierney, Jr. ’60 resides on the East Coast in Darien, Connecticut, and New York City. But his humanitarian roots were planted at home in La Grange Park, IL, and at St. Francis Xavier Parish & School.
“My mother and father always talked about the importance of doing good works for your fellow man,” says Mr. Tierney, who is three months into his retirement as chairman of TechnoServe, an international, nonprofit organization that promotes business solutions to poverty. The company works with enterprising people in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. “Our clients are small, poor, grassroots,” he notes.
Tierney encourages the use of private equity and venture capital to fund entrepreneurial firms in locales such as Africa and Latin America. As he told Forbes magazine in 2010, he believes this funding approach “can be a superior alternative to the traditional development funds funneled through the likes of the World Bank,” the international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects.
Paul Tierney at a Glance
From La Grange Park, IL / St. Francis Xavier
Fenwick High School, Class of 1960
University Notre Dame, 1964 (magna cum laude)
Harvard Business School, 1968 (Baker scholar)
U.S. Peace Corps (Chile)
Growing up Catholic had a lot to do with his public-service interests, especially helping those less fortunate. “My parents taught that with great gifts, great action is expected,” points out Tierney, who has had a highly successful career in investments. The then-youngster heeded the advice of Mr. & Mrs. Tierney, whose ideals and principles, in turn, were honed and nurtured by the Dominicans at Fenwick. Fifty years ago, using the power of business to solve social problems was somewhat radical; it definitely was not a mainstream notion.
Tierney graduated magna cum laude in 1964 from ND, where he majored in philosophy. He applied to law school, business school and several doctoral programs but instead chose the Peace Corps, U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s volunteer organization founded three years earlier. “I was sent to Chile on an economic-development program to work with farmers in the agrarian reform movement,” he explains. “My job was to help people structure and improve cooperatives.”
While in rural South America, Tierney says he met a lot of bright people in development. “but few of them knew business or had practical skills.” So, after his service, he went to Harvard Business School (HBS) on a fellowship from the Ford Foundation“to learn how commerce actually works. By the time I finished my MBA program [in ’68 as a Baker Scholar],” he adds, “I thought that more effective work in economic development would be done in the private sector.” In a 2002 profile written by the Harvard Business School, Tierney says he realized he could make a larger impact on society if he first succeeded in business. “I’ve really had two careers,” he observed, “one as a for-profit financial entrepreneur and one as a crusader for economic development.”
Tierney set out on what would be a 30-year career in investment management, first starting a merchant bank in London and then overseeing financial programs at the U.S. Railway Association, which would become Conrail (now CSX). Next, he was a senior vice president at White, Weld & Co., which Merrill Lynch purchased. In 1978, he co-founded Gollust, Tierney & Oliver, the general partner for Coniston Partners, which was a $1-billion value investment partnership focused on strategic block investing and private equity. The firm split up in the mid-1990s.
“After about 15 years of building my own company, I felt like I should come up for air,” Tierney reflects. “I’d made some money, I had some experience, I saw how the real world operated, and I understood capital markets. But I still had a taste for the work I was interested in when I was in the Peace Corps.”
Technology in the Service of Mankind
Tierney started looking for ways of getting re-engaged and surveyed several organizations. “I found many relief organizations, but I didn’t find many development-assistance organizations,” he told HBS. “I wanted something that was hands-on and firm-based, not just a think tank or a Band-Aid.” A friend mentioned TechnoServe, and Tierney’s world changed
Businessman and philanthropist Ed Bullard founded TechnoServe in 1968 after his experience volunteering at a hospital in rural Ghana, West Africa. Bullard was inspired to start an organization that would help hard-working people harness the power of private enterprise to lift themselves out of poverty. He launched TechnoServe – short for “technology in the service of mankind” – to help poor people by connecting them to information and market opportunities. “It was a much smaller organization back then, with a single office in Norwalk, CT, and an annual budget of around $5 million,” Tierney remembers.
“I visited four of the countries TechnoServe operated in and, as I saw what was going on in the field, I became more and more confident that this was an organization with a good approach that was making a real impact.” Tierney kept stepping up his involvement with TechnoServe, starting as a volunteer member, then a board member, then chairman of the Executive Committee and, ultimately, chairman in 1992.
For 27 years he was at the helm, steering the philanthropic “ship” into countries such as Haiti in the Caribbean, India in South Asia and Mozambique in Southeast Africa along the Indian Ocean coast. Based in Washington, D.C., TechnoServe today has grown to more than 1,500 employees and operates in 29 countries. “Thirty-five years ago, there were only five or six [countries],” Tierney reports. TechnoServe has become a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. “By linking people to information, capital and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities,” proclaims its website.
One of his favorite success stories from the field is set in civil war-torn Mozambique, where Tierney encountered female workers in a cashew-processing facility who were grateful for their jobs. “It was very hard, grinding work, but these women told me they were happy to be able to do it in safe conditions,” he remembers. “They were sending their children to school with the money they were earning.”
At a coffee project in Tanzania, people literally broke out in song and dance, praising TechnoServe for the work it did, which has contributed to a greater level of education in the community. “It is gratifying to see how this type of work allows a second or third generation to continue on a trajectory of significantly increasing their standard of living,” he shares.
Meanwhile, at Aperture Venture Partners, the other half of Tierney’s time was spent assisting portfolio companies interested in healthcare in a variety of ways – from strategy and raising capital to M&A, business development and corporate governance. He also is co-founder, managing member and partner of Development Capital Partners, LLC, a New York-based investment firm with an exclusive focus on “frontier” and emerging markets such as Africa, India and Latin America. His son, Matthew, is the other co-founder.
Fenwick builds on foundation
When he thinks back to his high-school days 59+ years ago, Tierney cites the overall culture and style of Fenwick: “Its tradition of education and achievement,” he notes. Father Regan had a particularly strong influence over young Paul. “He was the best theology teacher, in my opinion, and made the most sense out of Christianity and Catholicism.”
Father Jacobs was Fenwick’s Dean of Studies in the late 1950s. “He was approachable,” Tierney recalls, “and talked a lot about [my] interests.” He has fond memories of Latin Teacher Fr. Hren’s invitation-only “Mozarteum” group that featured pizza and music. “For me, it added a level of sophistication to school,” says Tierney, admitting that Gene Autry cowboy songs were about the extent of his play-list genre early in life.
“At Fenwick, I participated in a lot of teams, clubs and activities,” he remembers. The 1960 Blackfriars yearbook lists Tierney as a member of the National Honor Society as well as the golf and debate teams. “Father Conway taught math and coached debate at that time,” he says. “We also competed in oratorical contests,” which is where Tierney developed his capacity to think on his feet, argue, debate and speak in public. He reflects: “These skills have served me well, always.”