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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Gather around for a Christmas story that keeps on giving. But first, picture this scene…
It’s early Christmas morning 1980-something. A fresh snowfall blankets the ground outside. Inside, Christmas-tree lights splash a warm glow over carefully wrapped packages. Nearby, a young Johnny Dols fidgets, patiently waiting for his chance to open a gift.
Little did he know on this Christmas Day he was about to experience an overwhelming joy that continues to live in his heart today.
“I remember those Christmas mornings and the gifts I’d get,” says John Dols, now Holy Family’s Assistant Principal and Campus Minister. “None was more special than the year I got a Storm Shadow G.I. Joe. It was like the gift of the year–and I got it! I knew it meant something. My Mom had to do something extra special to get one of those for me.”
School Rallies Around Families
That childhood memory drives Dols’ commitment to bringing Christmas magic to Twin Cities’ kids whose families are in need. Since joining Holy Family Catholic High School 12 years ago, Dols has ignited the Sponsor-A-Family Program, which has delivered Christmas joy to more than 150-plus families.
“It helps many of our students realize some families may not have a Christmas like those you see on TV,” he says. “When you can’t provide for your family, it’s very personal and emotional. What helps is that we not only give the gifts, but also include wrapping paper, tape, and other materials so parents can wrap the gifts for their family. It gives them the chance to make it their Christmas celebration.”
Dols is quick to point out this Holy Family tradition isn’t a one-person effort. (He’s good, but he admits he isn’t Santa Claus). It takes just about every student, teacher, and administrator to make it happen. The goal is to make sure every family’s “wish list” is filled and complete.
Classrooms adopt individual families. Large families are divided among multiple classes. One eight-member family presented this list:
Two baby dolls
A remote-control car
A stuffed unicorn
Winter jackets and boots
Hoodies, jeans, and tennis shoes
A small kitchen appliance and cookware
And multiple sets of bedding
Each sponsored family also receives a sizable gift card to the grocery store of their choice to help with a holiday meal.
Science teacher Ian Parzyck’s B-period chemistry class traditionally takes the Sponsor-A-Family tradition seriously. Parzyck turns the program over to students to get the job done. And every year, his class delivers big time.
Leading efforts for his class this year were 10th graders Alex P., Sydney L., and Elle B. (See photo above.) Together, they collected cash donations from classmates, and then handled the shopping duties. Alex was out on the busiest shopping weekend of the year to stretch their dollars. She consulted with Sydney and Elle via Snapchat and texts for individual gift ideas, selections and picks until their family’s wish list was complete.
“There are a lot of families that go through Christmas and don’t have the joy of receiving gifts that most Holy Family students do,” Sydney says. “Everyone in our class seems to realize that and were eager to contribute.”
Alex adds, “This service project is fun because you know you are directly providing for a particular family. They are directly impacted by what you’re doing for them.”
Holy Family’s Sponsor A Family project culminates at an all-school convocation in early December. The gifts are carefully marked and identified for distribution to each family, blessed, and loaded onto and a large box truck sent from Sponsor A Family MN.
“Other schools do different types of programs, like Toys for Tots and giving trees, but this one fits Holy Family,” Dols explains. “We’re all about the family, so why not pick a service program that makes a difference for entire families.”
While the sponsor-a-program supports families outside of our community, Holy Family Catholic High School recognizes there is need within our school for families to receive financial assistance in order to provide Catholic education for their children. Please consider supporting tuition assistance with a gift to the Holy Family Annual Fund.
Click here to read our Advent Annual Fund Appeal Letter. If you would like to make a gift to The Holy Family Annual Fund, you may download and print the form on the letter, click on the link in the postscript of the letter, or make an online donation by clicking the button below.