60-Plus Holy Family Extracurricular Activities

We’ve all been there. We invest in all kinds of activities for our kids to pursue. It’s part of the growing process: developing the whole person, not just academically, but physically, socially and emotionally.

Then, as high school nears, that little voice sounds the alarm in the back of a parent’s head. Is my daughter or son good enough to make the team? Can they continue with music? Get a part in the play? Compete with other students? Is high school the end of the line?

“It’s interesting comparing Holy Family to other large schools in the area,” says Activities Director Nick Tibesar. “We have kids staying with programs longer than what I saw in public schools. So often, in other schools, kids come in playing ball with friends during their summers and evenings, sometimes for years, and all of a sudden they end up as a high school freshman and sophomore not on a team anymore.”

Not at Holy Family Catholic High School. Here, students get an opportunity to participate in sports and many other activities they are most passionate about. Plus, they often discover a wide variety of other sports, academic teams, clubs and activities they never considered.

“We encourage kids to try new things and stretch limits,” Nick says. “We want them to be involved in multiple things to fight some of the outside pressure to specialize in just one of them.”

Smaller School Size, Big Opportunities

With a student body of 523 kids, Holy Family provides unlimited opportunities to explore new things. Students often participate in more than one activity, not just during the school year, but also during a single season.

“When looking at sports, there are students who were on the trap and lacrosse teams, or tennis, track, and baseball,” Nick says. “But more common is a kid who participates in both a sport and one of our academic competitions.

“We had a player on our basketball team who also was on our varsity Math League team. As a coach, I recall a half dozen times he had to go to Math League. No one acted like that was strange or gave him a hard time. We said, ‘How did Math League go? And cool you’re doing so well.’

“It’s fun to be in a culture where someone is not ostracized for picking academics over athletics.”

Endless Opportunities

With over 60 extracurriculars to choose from, your Holy Family student is destined to pursue his or her talents, while trying new activities outside of the classroom.

“There are a lot of people who chose Holy Family for the right reasons—faith-based environment, college prep, joining a community where their student is known and cared for,” Nick adds. “All of those things extend to our classroom, lunchroom and after-school activities.

“We consider extracurricular activities the last class of the day. And, they provide the same values as everything else at Holy Family.”

QUICK FACTS:

95% of Holy Family students participate in extracurricular activities

92% of Holy Family students participate in multiple extracurricular activities in a school year

60+ Holy Family extracurricular activities are offered each school year

(more…)

Barth Receives Community Star Award

Holy Family junior Jack Barth is one of nine recipients of the 2020 Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Upper Midwest Community Star Award. This award, introduced for the 2020 RMHC Gala, recognizes young people who are dedicated to the organization’s cause. These recipients have gone above and beyond to embody the Ronald McDonald House values of respect for every individual, excellence in all you do, and compassion for those in need. 

Jack first became involved with the Ronald McDonald House in eighth grade. He immediately saw the value of helping his community members. When asked why he chose this charity he said, “I felt an instant connection to this organization because my uncle and his family needed to use a home like this when he was sick with cancer. It was so good for his family to be able to be together during [such a] hard time.”

Jack is a member of Holy Family’s Honor Society which promotes and celebrates volunteering with non-profit organizations beyond campus borders. His membership with the honor society inspired Jack to invest a significant number of hours at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis. There he cooked for guests, worked in the yard, and assisted with food drives. When he’s not volunteering, Jack plays on the Holy Family hockey team.

Membership in Holy Family’s honor society is not Jack’s only motivation to volunteer. For Jack, the real reward is “knowing that the work I do actually makes a difference in the lives of people living there… Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House has made me a kinder, more empathic, and compassionate person. I hope to remain involved with the organization throughout my life.”

Click HERE to learn more about Holy Family’s Honor Society.

Soccer Tickets

Holy Family Catholic High School Boys and Girls Soccer are back in action! Spectators wishing to attend games who do not own a booster club pass, family activity pass, or student/staff ID must pre-purchase tickets in advance.  Those with a booster club pass, family activity pass, or student/staff ID must reserve their seat tickets using the link below. Each event is limited to 250 spectators per the Wright County Conference guidelines. Please show the email receipt to the gate attendant and abide by all protocol in our fan guide: HFCHS_SoccerFanGuide

Purchase Game Tickets Here

View the Fire Soccer Rosters here: HFCHSSoccerProgram2020Web

The Rarest of Opportunities

You can do more with the grace of God than you think.- St. John Baptist de La Salle

In July 1999, Kathie Brown and her husband Dennis packed their belongings and relocated their family to the west side of the Twin Cities, an area more populated by cornfields than houses. Kathie was embarking on what turned out to be both an entrepreneurial venture and a vocational call – the creation of a new Catholic high school, the first to be built in Minnesota in over thirty years.

Twenty-one years later, Kathie views the decision to leave Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin as a significant close-your-eyes-and-leap of faith experience. “Sometimes a question challenges us to say ‘Yes’ to change, to embrace the unknown. Reflection is valuable, but we will never have all the information we would like to make a perfect decision. Leaving CMHS, friends, and extended family was difficult, but working with a passionate group of people to grow a school created a new sense of what it means to be family,” Kathie believes. This responsiveness to the needs of young people is a legacy offered to each class of Holy Family students.

By the time Kathie reported for her first day of work in an office of then Klein Bank in Chanhassen, the architectural plans were drawn. The ceremonial shovels had been stuck in the soil of the farm that would support Holy Family Catholic High School. What was left? Everything.

President Paul Stauffacher asked Kathie Brown to be the first principal of Holy Family Catholic High School. When she arrived, the construction of the building was underway, but the curricula and the faculty who would teach it were not yet established.

Busing, food service, furniture, equipment, and supplies had to be acquired. These are essential components of a school that are so easy to take for granted in an established institution. Of great importance, however, was developing a vision for the curriculum and finding the educators who were knowledgeable, flexible, and creative to achieve that vision.

Kathie began by using her experience with a combined English and history course at her former school and imbuing it with theology. Integrated Studies (IS) was born. Seeking a theology teacher who could envision an interwoven approach to learning and deepen understanding of the Catholic faith, she found Doug Bosch, someone capable and willing to explore ways ninth grade students might see education as more than earning grades. Today, elements of this integration are found in the junior-level courses of American Literature, American History, and Catholic Social Teaching.

Eleven other teachers filled the available positions by the time the building was ready for limited occupancy. Four remain: Doug Bosch, Gary Kannel, Matt Thuli, and Jim Walker. Kathie credits the tireless efforts of these first twelve educators for setting a high standard of collegiality and innovation not only for each other but for the next teachers to join the professional community as the school grew.

The first students established many of the traditions we still celebrate today.

Kathie also recognized the importance of providing traditions and rituals for the first 147 students who walked through the doors in the fall of 2000. She established a weekly Convocation to pray, communicate information, and reinforce values. The classes of 2003 and 2004 established many other meaningful traditions. They suggested the Thanksgiving dinner and an honor society to acknowledge academic effort. These young people took ownership of their new school and led Holy Family quickly and decisively to a culture of excellence. Kathie recalls, “All they needed was someone to listen to their ideas and permission to use their energy to make them happen. I was in awe of their insights and eagerness to make Holy Family their school. They helped form me into the school leader they required.”

One of the most significant historical developments in the growth of Holy Family came in 2005 with the formal approval to join the Lasallian international network of schools. Former president Frank Miley initiated the discernment process and Kathie immediately identified with the Christian Brothers’ pedagogy that sees students as the center of the educational process. She loves the imagery of faculty and staff walking alongside youth as they teach minds, touch hearts, and transform lives – their own included.

In 2018, the Lasallian Region of North America recognized and honored Kathie Brown as a Distinguished Lasallian Educator from the Midwest District for 2018.

An essential aspect of our Lasallian charism is to “Live Jesus in our hearts . . . forever.” It is witnessed frequently in the way people say “Yes” to what will help students thrive. They are not concerned whether a task is in a job description. Over the last twenty years, faculty and staff have volunteered to moderate clubs, plan events, and suggest better ways to do things – and then do them. Kathie hopes the culture of doing “whatever it takes” is so well-established that such generosity continues to grow. She has tried to lead the way by serving whenever her skills are compatible. She remembers everyone in her family cleaning the school’s windows and bathrooms the weekend before Holy Family opened in fall 2000. Recognizing every job is an essential one, she has served as Holy Family’s first counselor, a substitute teacher, ticket-taker, concession stand coordinator, and, for eight years, as both president and principal.

These experiences explain why what comes next is not a question Kathie can answer. She could not have predicted what would be necessary to end this school year with as little loss of learning and relationships as possible. As the challenges increased, what became important was supporting students and teachers in their efforts to adjust and stay healthy in every way. Again, she had help. Teachers ensured the students were well-taught. The staff and parents supported the teachers. Family takes care of family.

All is well these days as Kathie packs up the many memories two decades can collect. And because all is well, she is not concerned about making plans for the immediate future. The question that needs her next “Yes” will come when it comes.

Additional Resources:

The Kathleen Brown Opportunity Scholarship Fund was established to honor Kathie’s legacy and commitment to our school. More information about her scholarship can be found at: http://www.hfchs.org/giving-opportunities/brown-scholarship/

Kathie shared Holy Family’s story during the 2020 Founders Week. Visit this Vimeo Showcase to view her videos: https://vimeo.com/showcase/7299211

Online Learning from a Student’s Perspective

We asked current Holy Family junior, Graham, to document his online school experience with a camera and a day-in-the-life journal entry. Graham is making the most of this atypical situation and discovering the benefits of routine, discipline, and looking forward to the fall. Here’s his story.

Online School Journal

Online school is very different compared to being in the classroom, though some things are similar. My morning routine has stayed almost the same: I wake up, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day.

Graham says hello to his teacher and classmates during a Zoom meeting.

A typical day of school for me is the same, schedule-wise. My week varies in terms of Zoom/office 365 meetings, and classwork time. All meetings occur during the duration of the regularly scheduled class time. If we are not meeting, teachers may provide videos, notes, worksheets, or other activities for us to do for class. I prefer to do the class homework during the scheduled class time to keep my day on track.

Finding the best place to study at home helps Graham stay on track with his homework.

I typically do my work in one of two places: the kitchen table or the desk in my room. I find that moving around throughout the day helps to keep my brain fresh. Any homework that I do not finish during class time, I will do around four o’clock, after a healthy break from screens. Following a schedule every day has been a critical part of my successful online learning experience.

Band and Jazz band are the classes that have changed the most. Playing together and communicating musically is something that cannot be recreated in an online setting, though we are still able to make music together. For jazz band we recorded several instrumental parts in Soundtrap, and stitched them together to create a song that will be in the virtual spring coffee house. We also recorded different pieces for band to make a mini concert created by Mrs. Boillat and Mr. Heller. 

Even concert and jazz band continue to rehearse.

Having a goal to work toward keeps me from setting my instrument aside and getting a little rusty. I’m excited our music will be part of virtual performances, but it doesn’t beat being in a band room making music with 32 other musicians.

Graham works on his lacrosse skills in rain, snow, sleet, and sunshine as he prepares to return to the field.

Online school also disrupted my spring sports season, along with every student-athlete nationwide. However, this disruption is not a time to forget about sports; it is time to train and become better for next season. Lacrosse is a team-based sport, but there is plenty of room for individual practice. Since online learning started in March and practices were cancelled, I continue to practice daily despite the weather. I go to Holy Family almost every day to practice in the fields. My practice routine consists of a 1-mile warm-up run, wall ball (throwing the ball against a wall to replicate passing), dodging drills, and shooting drills. It is every athlete’s responsibility to put in the individual work for the benefit of the team’s success.

Besides lacrosse, it has become clear that I miss Holy Family itself. From watching sports to seeing friends, to Mr. Murray’s fist bumps on the way into math class, Holy Family created an environment where students can grow educationally, socially, and spiritually.

Although we are ending the school year online school, Holy Family is finding ways to continue our education as best as possible. Teachers are more than willing to help students whenever they can. I am excited to go back to Holy Family next year and take advantage of the opportunities it offers.

Holy Family Dance Team Heads to State!

Holy Family Catholic High School Dance Heads to State in both Jazz and Kick!

Following very strong performances throughout the competitive dance regular season, Holy Family Dance Jazz and Kick teams brought their best to the Section 2A competition on Saturday, February 8. And it paid off! Fire Jazz won the Section Championship, and Fire Kick finished in third place, earning them a trip to the MSHSL State Class A Dance Tournament on Friday, 2/14, (Jazz) and Saturday, 2/15, (Kick)! Congratulations to the dancers, coaches, and parents!

Fire Dance Team Jazz performance schedule can be found HERE. We recommend arriving early as they often run ahead of schedule.

Fire Dance Team Kick performance schedule can be found HERE. We recommend arriving early as they often run ahead of schedule.

We are excited for the continuation of a strong dance program legacy:

Jazz/Funk State Champions:

2004, 2006

Additional State Appearances:

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2020

We hope you will join us in cheering on both teams at the Target Center. If you are unable to make it to Target Center, the competition will be streamed on https://www.prepspotlight.tv/MSHSL.

Holy Family Catholic High School Dance Team Interview from Holy Family Catholic High School on Vimeo.

Holy Family Students Love the Great Outdoors

Behind the Scenes: Holy Family Students Love the Great Outdoors

If you think the closest today’s kids get to the great outdoors is through Fortnite, Apex Legends, or other games exploring a virtual world, think again. Students at Holy Family Catholic High School, as well as schools across the state and nation, are itching to participate in the two fastest-growing, real-world outdoor sports—clay target and fishing.

In just 10 years, nearly 12,000 high school students across Minnesota, both boys and girls, have participated in clay target, otherwise known as trap. And fishing? One of the newest high school club sports seems to be following a similar trajectory. Only 56 kids participated on organized high school fishing teams in 2015. That number grew to 600 in 2017, giving you an idea of its skyrocketing growth.

Both outdoor sports were added to the Holy Family extracurricular list because individual students saw an opportunity to do something they love, while encouraging other students to give it a try.

Coach Maus with clay team members in the background
Coach Patrick Maus has been with the team since it started.

In 2012, Holy Family graduate Joe Yetzer, then in 11th grade, approached social studies teacher Patrick Maus in the hallway with the idea of starting a trap team. Four years later, Sawyer Schugel took the lead in getting students, teachers, and parents on board to launch the fishing team.

“These activities seem like a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively,” says Holy Family Activities Director Nick Tibesar. “There are plenty of other sports and pressure year-round. These outdoor sports open students up to competing in something they’ve done for a long time or just want to try in a non-intimidating way.”

So far, Holy Family students have given the outdoor activities a huge thumbs-up. This spring trap team will field its largest team with 37 athletes, and 10 are girls, the fastest-growing segment in the sport. Fishing started with a group of 10 anglers last summer and is anticipating more students joining this summer.

“There are a few activities that are co-educational, like cross-country, track and field and fencing,” Tibesar says. “These outdoor sports are the same. Whether it is sighting in on clay targets or pulling a bass from the water, both are activities where girls and boys compete together.”

Outdoor Activities: A Community Effort

The reality is it took the efforts of many to get both fishing and clay target off the ground. While Schugel led with passion, organizing from a student-participation standpoint, it was the help of many parents that got the fishing team outdoors and in the water.

Picture of HF's first fishing team
Holy Family’s Fishing Team competed in its first season in the summer of 2018.

“So many people helped to get it going” credits team coach Jim O’Donnell, parent of sophomore angler Aidan. “There was good cross-class interaction, from seniors to incoming students still in seventh and eighth grades. And the parents divided and conquered to help out.”

Jon Blood, parent of 9th grade angler Nick, helped get the team going in year one by taking care of the administrative details, navigating registration and outfitting the team with jerseys and sponsors. Becky Lund, parent of 10th grade angler Owen, helped in coordinating team communication and O’Donnell volunteered to fill the coach role.

The biggest obstacle, however, is finding volunteers willing to captain and provide a boat for the fishing teams. Some two-person teams have access to boats and someone over 18 to shuttle the anglers to fishing hot spots. Others, like Schugel, have been resourceful.

“I have a neighbor with a really nice boat,” he says. “You sometimes just have to find people willing to volunteer their time, and even a boat if you need it.”

Likewise, the clay target team wouldn’t exist today without parents, teachers and volunteers. Coach Maus, who remembers shooting trap recreationally as a kid, has led the team since 2012. Yetzer’s dad, Steve, helped form the team and has volunteered as an assistant coach from day one. With the need for one coach for every 10 shooters, Holy Family counselor Josh Rutz joined in 2014. Assistant coach John Kunze oversees range safety and more parents take on volunteer roles, including scoring at the shooting stations.

Watertown Gun Club Manager Gary Kubasch and Assistant Manager Gene Lack also deserve a bit of credit. They opened their outdoor range to Holy Family and other metro high schools, including Chaska/Chanhassen, Watertown, Waconia and Mayer Lutheran, providing a place for students to compete.

“One of the biggest draws to the sport is that you don’t have to be the big, tall guy or the strongest person to make the team,” Kubasch says.

That resonates with team members like senior Ava Kunze, who joined the Holy Family clay target team when she was in eighth grade.

“It’s nice that anyone can do this,” she says. “It’s more of a mind game than a physical type of sport. It attracts more diversity than you get in typical high school sports, and we have a number of girls that have joined since I started.”

Taking Your Best Shot

The first spring season, Maus coached 10 students. Some were introduced to the sport through hunting or shooting with family. For others, it was their first time shooting a shotgun.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids who are interested but haven’t had a chance to shoot,” Maus says. “There’s only one thing kids need to compete—they must complete Minnesota’s Firearms Safety Certification.”

“Probably 50 percent of the kids have never done it before, but if they express interest and if they have their Minnesota Firearms Safety Certificate, they can come give it a try,” Rutz adds. “Some have to wait until they complete the safety class, but they can get in the following season (spring or fall).”

Safety is the number-one priority for the clay target team. There is a huge amount of pride across the state that it is the only sport that has never had an injury. To keep it that way, here is a sample of the rules all high school clay target athletes must follow:

  • Shotguns are never allowed at school. Students go home to get their equipment before heading to the gun club.
  • Team members are only allowed to handle their own shotgun.
  • All shotguns must be made safe during travel and when being handled. That means actions are open and visible to the safety ranger.
  • All guns stay in cars, safely stored and secure until all team members arrive, including those coming from middle schools.
  • When handling shotguns, team members must have two hands on the gun at all times and muzzles must be pointed in a safe direction.
  • No one is allowed on the range without eye or ear protection.

“Our fourth coach is the range safety officer to make sure everything is safe,” Maus says, standing behind the shooters, who line up in groups on five, equally spaced behind each “trap.”

The trap is where the action is. A single clay target is launched into the air when the shooter commands, “Pull.” Seconds later, “POP!” If the target breaks, it’s recorded as a hit. If the target flies straight and is unscathed, it’s a miss. The next shooter steadies, “Pull!” Again, followed by “POP!” The rhythm goes on and on until all shooters have completed their rounds.

Ava Kunze shooting with Will Swanson watching.
Seniors Will Swanson and Ava Kunze have been with the team since middle school.

Team members must provide their own shotgun. It could be theirs, or one borrowed from a family or friend. A one-time, $200 fee paid by each team member covers all shotgun shells and clay targets.

The team meets five consecutive Tuesdays in spring after school. It’s a virtual competition. Each shooter gets 50 clay targets, 25 in each round. Hits and misses are recorded by a scorekeeper and entered into the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League database the next morning.

“We meet only one day a week, so many of our shooters can do another sport while also competing in trap,” Maus says. The team also competes in a fall league.

Will Swanson, a senior, has been competing for Holy Family since seventh grade and has qualified for the state tournament each year since 2014.

“It just keeps getting tougher and tougher,” Swanson says. “Throughout the league, only 100 kids qualify for the state tournament based on the spring season. With more than 11,000 kids competing, it gets more difficult and they all keep getting better and better.”

Maus says there is a special satisfaction in watching kids grow with the sport, and seeing many Holy Family shooters go from beginner to state qualifier.

“They start out by averaging single digits and they improve pretty quickly,” Maus says. “Last spring, Will made state with an average of 23.8 targets per round. That’s only 12 missed targets out of 250.

“It’s even more fun to see our past middle school kids, like Will and Ava, now running the show and helping younger kids in the sport.”

Community of Anglers 

Like clay target, fishing is an outdoor sport in which anyone, any size, can excel. And for Schugel, who helped the Holy Family soccer team to the state tournament this year and also competes in hockey, fishing offers a different type of competitive satisfaction.

“It’s not like a sport where you need a team,” he explains. “You need a great partner. You fish against everyone else in the tournament, including kids from your school. The highest combined weight from a five-bass limit determines the winner.”

Schugel adds that fishing offers a different pace from other sports, and because it takes place over the summer months, it allows time to enjoy something refreshingly different.

“It’s pretty calm,” he says. “You’re on the water, tossing lures. And when you get a fish, there is an adrenalin rush that comes with it. It’s something everyone can do, even if you don’t have a lot of experience.”

To get involved, students need their own equipment, a partner, and one boat and volunteer captain per team (two anglers). To help offset costs, the team secures sponsors and receives discounts on fishing equipment.

And the rules?

  • Anglers fish in three conference tournaments against 40-50 teams from other schools.
  • Five fish limit per team, maximum weight, 12-inch minimum.
  • Boat captains can discuss strategy and provide advice, but cannot handle or assist in netting fish.
  • Anglers qualify for the state tournament based on a point system, awarded on team finishes.

According to O’Donnell, the greatest reward during the first season was seeing Holy Family anglers support each other. The result—every angler improved tournament-to-tournament, with three Holy Family teams qualifying for the two-day state tournament in Grand Rapids on Pokegama Lake.

Fishing offers a differently paced competition.

“Like clay target, there is a camaraderie on the fishing team,” O’Donnell says. “There is a team component, competition and a social piece that make the overall experience rewarding.”

“The kids are very digitally connected,” he says. “Between competition, they learn new techniques online, give each other tips, and post pictures on what’s working.” A group of anglers also volunteered at the Minnesota Bass Adult state tournament and the Classic Bass Championship.  Their reward for doing so was insights from fishing pros and two anglers earned a wildcard spot for the state tournament.

For Schugel, the reward isn’t having the chance to participate in a sport he obsesses about. In fact, as a senior, he cannot compete this summer once he graduates from Holy Family in May.

“I want to see our team do well this summer, and leave Holy Family with a stable group of kids who love to fish and will continue the program,” he says.

Judging by the overwhelming interest in high school outdoor sports, both fishing and clay trap have good shots at growth for many years to come.

Relic Visits Holy Family

Holy Family Catholic High School Receives Saint Relic

In recognition of the 300th anniversary of the April 7 Good Friday passing of St. John Baptist de La Salle, a relic of the saint is traveling for display and veneration throughout the Christian Brothers Midwest District. St. John Baptist de La Salle is a patron saint of teachers and all those who work in education. 

The reliquary will be on display through Friday, April 26.

Holy Family Catholic High School is the first high school in Minnesota to receive the transfer of the relic for display.  Holy Family President Mike Brennan, Principal Kathie Brown, Lasallian animator Doug Bosch, and Brendan O’Connor received the relic from Brother Dennis Galvin before the start of the Founder’s Week MassIt will remain on display from the April 23 Mass through Friday, April 26, before transferring to Totino-Grace High School in Fridley. 

According to Catholic teachings, relics of saints may be displayed for veneration but are not worshipped. They are holy objects with association to  saints who now live in God’s presence. 

The Holy Family community is welcome to view or venerate the relic during school hours (7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.) The relic will be displayed a cabinet in the school foyer and in the school chapel for the Friday, April 26, Day of Giving 24-hour Prayer Vigil.

Click HERE to watch the transfer ceremony.

Dr. McInerny comments on relics and their veneration:

Holy Family theology instructor, Dr. Brendan McInerny, prepared the following information on relics and the Catholic Church:

The veneration of relics appears to coincide with the broader veneration of the saints. Already in the first ‘post-apostolic’ (after the deaths of the apostles) generation of Christians, we find accounts of Christians collecting the relics of the martyrs. There appears to be some scriptural support for this in miracles occurring by touching the garments of, e.g., Peter or Jesus, and the reverence being given to the remains of prophets and patriarchs within the book of Genesis (all the more striking since the authors of Genesis did not appear to have a belief in the idea of the resurrection of the dead). Between roughly 200 and 1500, relics were a constant, universal, and central feature of Christianity.

Only where Protestant Christianity became dominant do we see a disappearance of relics. As those who have been in historically Catholic or Orthodox countries (France, Italy, Spain, Greece) might attest, relics are still very much in existence and sometimes very much on display. It is widely reported that a relic of the Crown of Thorns was saved from the 2019 fire at Notre-Dame. Up to the 1960s, virtually all Catholic churches had a relic in the altar. They are still around us, though we often don’t notice or know what to do with them.

What are we to make of all of this?

First, we can understand relics as a special instance of what is commonly referred to as “the sacramental imagination” or “sacramental worldview.” “The sacramental imagination” refers to the Catholics belief that God’s grace or presence works through tangible, physical things. Encompassing the seven ‘chief” sacraments (baptism, chrismation/confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony) as well as the innumerable ‘lesser’ “sacramentals” (the altar, incense, candles, images/icons, song, funerals, etc), the sacramental imagination in fact stretches to embrace all of creation. Everything can potentially be an avenue of God’s presence and grace because God is creator of everything, and called all of it good. Furthermore, God “assumed” this tangible, physical, created order “directly” (though mysteriously) in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Word became flesh and through his flesh Jesus is connected to the whole web of relationships that make up the material universe.

One crucial purpose of this sacramental economy of grace is to transform men and women in holiness. God does not simply work through created things as passive instruments. God also works together with free human beings, who, in ordinary and extraordinary ways, become witnesses of God’s love. These men and women imitators of Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit, or simple “saints,” become vessels of grace themselves. Sometimes this grace is shown in miracles during a saint’s life, sometimes not.

Second, just as the immaterial and material are bound up together in the sacramental imagination, so too does Catholic theology maintain that the body and soul of human beings are distinct but not truly separate. This lack of separation is what undergirds the practices of fasting and abstinence. What happens in the body affects the soul. Therefore, from a Catholic point of view, a ‘complete’ human being is an embodied soul or an ensouled body and even after death the two realities remain, somehow linked. In our lives we might see something of this in the care with which we treat the bodies of the dead or the way in which we treasure mementos or heirlooms.

Somehow, we intuitively sense that a corpse is still our loved on in some manner or that a treasured object is still theirs. From a theological viewpoint, this common intuition reflects the truth in reference to the resurrection of the dead or the resurrection of the body. Being body/souls, we are incomplete in death and await a re-union of body and soul. Just as Christ rises bodily from the dead, so too will we. What exactly that resurrection body is or how it might relate to the assemblage of molecules that make up our bodies on this side of death and which pass into other bodies as a result of decomposition remains a mystery, but Catholics hold the conviction that the body, fully united with the spirit, will have a share in paradise.

In the instances of holy men and women – those beatified and canonized – we imagine the ‘link’ between body and soul in this life and after death as somehow ‘stronger’.  To put it in a spatial metaphor: because the saint is ‘closer’ to Christ, he or she is ‘closer’ to the state of paradise in which there is no discontinuity between body and soul. As a result, the saint is both present and (potentially) active in and through his or her relics. Perhaps, it is better to say through the relic, the believer is made present to the saint. It is for that reason that people went to such lengths to go on pilgrimage to Paris, Canterbury, Rome, Constantinople, and Jerusalem: to be in the company of saints in the presence of God.

 

 

Behind the Scenes: Coffee House

Coffee House: Holy Family’s Unique Stage Delivers Unforgettable Performances

Prince unleashed his one-of-a-kind talent in 1981 to a sold-out show at Sam’s, now known as First Avenue, in Minneapolis. That single performance revealed the unlimited boundaries of Prince’s musical gifts. For him, it was a place of comfort where he could be himself.

Holy Family Catholic High School also has a stage that has been the launchpad for unforgettable performances. It’s called “Coffee House” and gives students a comfortable venue to reveal their inner talents, on their terms.

“Kids are different after a Coffee House performance,” says vocals teacher Annelise Brown, who co-organizes the event with instrumental teacher Laura Boillat. “It’s a chance for students to finally show themselves for the rest of us to see. They have a chance to be genuine—it is something that is unique to our school.”

Can’t-Miss Event

Held twice each year (fall and spring) in the school’s Performance Center, Coffee House is a hot ticket. Yes, it’s free to everyone, but for a seat on the comfy couches that encircle the stage, students show up 45 minutes early. It has become the can’t-miss event at Holy Family. The packed house provides energy, fueling performers to step into the spotlight, confront their stage fear and show their true personality.

Held twice each year (fall and spring) in the school’s Performance Center, Coffee House is a hot ticket. Yes, it’s free to everyone, but for a seat on the comfy couches that encircle the stage, students show up 45 minutes early.

“Unless you go, you can’t understand Coffee House,” Boillat adds. “It’s really special. It’s an experience. Other schools may have talent shows, but this is way more than that. This isn’t karaoke. And we literally have coffee!”

“Kids get to express themselves in a nonjudgmental area,” adds Brown. “Even if they have mistakes, those are the performances that get thunderous applause and encouragement. It helps get kids through it. It’s where we see the best of our kids.”

A renewed year-end event—Alumni Coffee House—has been added on Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. The Alumni Coffee House features Holy Family teachers, alumni and 2019 grads, who get to leave on a drop-the-mic moment.

“It’s such a rewarding, ongoing tradition,” Brown says. “It wouldn’t happen if no one showed up or signed up. Now, we’re adding more because Coffee House is so loved. There is nothing else like it out there.”

Celebrating Individual Moments

This past fall, junior Jackie Uhas performed at her first Coffee House. She brought her backup band, friends she met several years ago at the former Minnetonka Music in Excelsior.

Uhas’ gutsy performance of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” brought the crowd to its feet. So did the vocals of sophomore Marie Fahey, who sang  “She Used to be Mine” from the Waitress, with junior Logan Radick providing piano accompaniment. Senior Shannon Hickey, a regular at Coffee House, breezed her performance solo. Each performance left one impression. Wow!

“I think Coffee House is all about fun,” says junior Carson Liebeg, who plays drums and guitar for several performers. He and sophomore bass player Anthony Olson back up several students who need musicians to deliver their best performances.

“We may play for 60 or 70 percent of the acts,” Liebeg estimates. “The way I look at it, if I wanted to do a song and someone wouldn’t help me, I wouldn’t like that. So I try to play for as many people as I can.”

That’s the coming together and support that makes Coffee House unique.

“There isn’t a winner or loser. Coffee House is just for fun,” says senior Eve Breimhorst. “Sure it’s hard work. But the payoff is you get to do this cool performance for whoever wants to come. And most of the school is there.”

Liebeg describes it this way: “It’s like game day for arts. It’s a chance to show off your talents like others do on the field or court.

“I think more people should come out and do magic, card tricks or maybe a standup act. If you have an idea, talk to Ms. Brown or Ms. Boillat. It would be great to see even more creative freedom.”

Rooted in the Music Department

Between individual student performances, Holy Family’s Jazz Band and Voices of Fire make regular Coffee House appearances. It’s their chance to take the stage and share some favorites in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Jazz Band performs between individual performances.
Between individual student performances, Holy Family’s Jazz Band and Voices of Fire make regular Coffee House appearances. It’s their chance to take the stage and share some favorites in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Without Voices of Fire experience, Breimhorst admits she may have never found the courage to take the stage to perform at Coffee House.

“I definitely was shy and didn’t want to do solos or participate in Voices,” Eve admits. “Then I tried out (for Voices of Fire) and had my first solo. I loved it and wanted to keep performing!

“I like Coffee House because I get to pick my own songs and music that reflects who I am. I think it is interesting to see and hear music other people pick and how it reflects their personalities.”

Brown has her own experiences that have shaped what Coffee House is today. A 2004 graduate from Holy Family, Brown remembers the early years, before there was a Performance Center with proper acoustics.

“I was in the first Voices of Fire that started Coffee House,” she recalls. “We held it in the ‘cafertorium’ and it was very jazz-focused. We learned music has to be fun. So we stopped being fancy. Now, it’s a chance to enjoy, sit on couches with your friends and have fun.”

Your Chance to Be a Star

About a month before each scheduled Coffee House, Boillat and Brown post a sign-up sheet and conduct auditions. Students perform a small sample of their act. You’ll be slotted into the program if your performance is ready for prime time. The rest is up to you. Practice and polish come on your own time.

One week before Coffee House, students can take to the stage, perform a sound check and discuss lighting with the student-led stage crew. Before you know it, it’s GO TIME!

Each Coffee House starts at 6 p.m. That way, most students can attend after sports practices or other after-school events and still get home early enough to finish homework.

“We pack the house every time. Kids will stop in after basketball games and other activities,” Brown says. “That’s the way it should be. It’s put on for everyone to enjoy. It’s our gift to you.”

Boillat adds this final thought: “It takes personal strength to get up in front of peers and perform. High school is not the easiest time to express yourself. We love how loving and caring other students are here to let you do that.”

Join us for our next coffee house on Friday, April 26, at 6 p.m. in the Performance Center.

 

The Lasting Power of Holy Family’s Campus Ministry

Behind the Scenes: The Lasting Power of Holy Family’s Campus Ministry

Almina Katie Galioto ’14 on the Lasting Power of Campus Ministry

The squishy black couches were the same. The motivational posters stuck to the white cinder-block walls were the same, as was the whiteboard covered with colorful scrawls. Mrs. Bosch was there, of course, with her trusty clipboard and pencil, the only tools she needs to command her cohort of Holy Family’s campus ministers.

But as soon as I entered the room, my eyes were drawn to the back wall. A few inches above some orange flames framing the word “FIRE” was a signature—my own, from 2014, the year I graduated from Holy Family. My black Sharpie autograph was surrounded by my classmates’ black Sharpie autographs, which were surrounded by those of our predecessors and successors. Almost a decade of campus ministers are represented on that wall.

I walked over to one of the squishy black couches and handed my sister a coffee. Anna is a senior at Holy Family now, and I am a nice older sister. Also I needed some caffeine in my veins to stay awake for a B Period class.

I perched near another squishy black couch and opened my little reporting notebook. I’m working as a journalist nowadays, which I’m guessing is the reason my alma mater asked me to write about its Campus Ministry program.

In some ways, it is hard to describe what exactly Campus Ministry is. The program is something so special, so unique to Holy Family. But I will try my best.

Shaping the Spiritual Foundation

The goal of Campus Ministry, as Assistant Principal John Dols describes it, is to train Holy Family students to minister to other students.

The school first offered Campus Ministry as a class in 2007, an option for students’ senior-year theology requirement. That inaugural group of campus ministers took charge of planning and leading daily convocations, class retreats and community service projects—work previously handled, for the most part, by faculty.

In the years since, Campus Ministry transformed into an institution at Holy Family, a privilege for those in their final year at the school. Seniors who choose to sign up for the class are tasked with providing opportunities for the school community to grow in faith, service and community.

Campus Ministry is responsible for the Lenten spiritual programming including the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“It certainly is the vehicle where we have students who shape the spiritual formation of Holy Family,” Campus Ministry instructor Lynnae Bosch said. She and Dols have provided guidance to campus ministers over the years, but the bulk of the decisions are made by students.

“As a school, we have said we are so proud of our kids and we are so confident that we have, for three years, trained them so that we’re comfortable with them going out, giving messages, teaching kids,” Dols said.

Campus ministers are in charge of some of the school’s biggest events, like the highly anticipated Thanksgiving and Christmas Convos debuted each year before holiday breaks. They’re also in charge of the small behind-the-scenes details—the type of work, Bosch said, that can be overlooked.

The 17- and 18-year-old campus ministers coordinate all-school Masses, and they design reconciliation services during Advent and Lent. They organize spiritual retreats at local elementary schools, just as they do for their Holy Family peers—students have an all-class retreat each of their four years at the school.

Campus Ministry students prepared rocks for the 6th grade retreat at St. Hubert Catholic School in Chanhassen.

The campus ministers are the ones who set up the giant projection screen for assemblies and run to Costco to pick up enough snacks to feed more than 100 hungry high-school students. Each day, they stand before the entire school community and lead them in prayer.

“For the younger students, to see someone your age do that every day, I think there’s power in that,” Bosch said.

The Cornerstone of Community

The bell rang, announcing an end to B Period, and I join the herds of students parading to the gym—a walk down memory lane.

As some 500 students clamber to their spots on the bleachers, I watch the group of campus ministers leading the day’s convocation. They scramble to check in on all the last-minute details, exchanging whispers and a few nods, before one grabs the mic and says the magic words.

“Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God.”

I’ve never tried it, but I wonder if you said those words someplace—a bar, perhaps, or a crowded restaurant—full of Holy Family alumni, would a hush fall over the room? Would we remember the days we spent in those bleachers, when those words were uttered and all the chatter—the gossip, the gabbing, the giggles—ceased?

The convocation on the day of my visit was Holy Family Feud, a knockoff of the popular game show created by surveys campus ministers collected. On the gym floor, senior Ryan Bowlin quizzed competing students and faculty on the preferences of Holy Family students — their favorite uniform tops, their favorite sporting events, their favorite cafeteria foods.

It was clever. It was funny. The team of teachers crushed the team of students, though, to be fair, they had years of institutional knowledge on their side.

Then we prayed. A campus minister grabbed the microphone and thanked God for creating our family with a purpose. “We know that you have plans for us individually and for our family as a whole,” she prayed. “Help us to have an appreciation for each other’s personalities, gifts and even our weaknesses.”

We clasped hands and said the Our Father. We turned to the American flag and said the Pledge of Allegiance. After announcements, the chatter resumed as students and teachers began to make their way to the next class. I stayed for a moment at the top of the bleachers.

It is impressive, I thought, that a group of 17- and 18-year-olds is in charge of everything that just happened. A straggling group of campus ministers was still taking down the giant projection screen.

Leaving her signature on the wall, just like the alumni before her did.

In preparation for my visit, Mrs. Bosch asked the current campus ministers to write down what they learned from the class and why they valued it. Many said it gave them great public

speaking experience or helped them practice organizational skills while planning large events. Some spoke of creativity, of cooperation, of faith, of leadership.

I thought back to my own time as a campus minister. Certainly, I learned those skills—skills that would prove to help me immensely in future leadership roles I took on in my college dorm and campus newspaper. But like I said, it’s hard to articulate exactly why I think Campus Ministry is so valuable to the Holy Family community. Because it does so much more.

“It is a cornerstone of Holy Family culture,” one student wrote.

“I personally think,” another wrote, “it’s the center of the community aspect that makes HF so great.”

I went back to the Campus Ministry classroom to grab my bag and looked at the back wall, the wall my sister and her classmates will sign before they head off to college. This year’s campus ministers will soon pass on the torch to the next group. And the Holy Family tradition of faith, service and community will live on.

 

Katie Galioto (’14) graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May 2018. Since then, she has reported for the Star Tribune and the Chicago Tribune as an intern on both papers’ metro desks. She currently works as a breaking news intern for POLITICO in Washington, D.C. You can follow her work on twitter @katiegalioto.