Welcome Back to St. Mary's! Take a look at how we've changed the new website, new courses, new technology, and new opportunities. Of course not everything changes, and that's good. A lot of students have walked these halls, had the same teachers (we are blessed with teachers with a strong commitment), and have been challenged through the years to live the motto: Spirituality, Academics, Service. We have a lot in common and would love to develop our alumni base. Please contact us and send us information about you and your family. See "Alumni Information Form" below. Let us know the best way to let you know what's happening. We are just getting started and want you to be a significant and continuing legacy of St. Mary's.
Alumni Relations Coordinator
Christina Legner 402-210-2981
Alumni Board and Other Positions
As shared in the Fall 2016 newsletter that was mailed out on November 22, 2016, and included in the parish bulletin, school newsletter, and on social media, we are excited to announce the formation of a St. Mary's School Alumni Board--President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer--as well as the establishment of other Alumni positions. All alumni were encouraged to submit an application by 1/28/2017. See below for Alumni Board members and other positions.
President - Cindy (Wessling) Donahue ('80)
Vice President - Kevin Duffy ('63)
Treasurer - Sarah (Roth) Mlnarik ('92)
Secretary - Hannah (Menzel) Clark ('02)
8th Grade Liaison - Christina (Hascall) Legner ('91)
Volunteer Coordinator & Website/Social Media Steward - Suzy (Peters) Godwin ('99*)
Alumni Email Address
Alumni Information Form - Provide contact information, stewardship (time, talent, treasure) interest, etc.
Newsletters are mailed out to those addresses we have in our database. Remember to communicate address changes to us so we can keep our data current and not mail out to invalid addresses! Going forward we plan to send out our newsletters in the Spring and Fall.
News and Events
Alumna Academic Honors
Isabella Medrano received High Honors for the 2nd semester of the 2017-2018 school year at Roncalli Catholic High School. Congratulations on your academic success!
Scholarships to Continue Their Catholic Education
Forty-eight percent of St. Mary’s 2018 graduating class, 11 of 23 students, have chosen to continue their Catholic Education by attending Catholic High Schools. Seven thousand dollars in Catholic High School scholarships have been awarded. Congratulations to our 2018 St. Mary’s school graduates and scholarship winners.
Timothy Bartz - Dr. Charles and Mrs. Amy Longo Memorial Scholarship
Raoul Djidjoho - St. Mary's School Alumni Scholarship
Alexander Lee - Dean Hascall, Jr. Memorial Scholarship (2018)
Owen Legner - Knights of Columbus Scholarship
Anisa Lucia - Catholic Daughters of America Scholarship and Spirit Scholarship
Jack Nutter - Dr. Charles and Mrs. Amy Longo Memorial Scholarship
Nathan Schmitz - Knights of Columbus Scholarship
Gabrielle Sjostedt - St. Mary's School Alumni Scholarship
Grace Tucker - St. Mary's 8th Grade Class Scholarship
Jada Williams - Catholic Daughters of America Scholarship and Spirit Scholarship
Samuel Wilwerding - St. Mary's School Alumni Scholarship
Send-Off and Fundraiser for Two St. Mary’s Alums Going to Seminary
This August Jacob Connealy, class of ’07 and Will Targy, class of ’00, both St. Mary’s School graduates will start their seminary studies for the Archdiocese of Omaha at Kenrick-Glennon in St. Louis.
Will says, “It's incredibly exciting to have the two of us entering together and representing St. Mary's! Jake and I have a spaghetti feed fundraiser on Sunday, July 8th in the St. Mary's Parish Center. We'd love to have you join us! It'll go from 1:30 P.M. - 6:30 P.M.”
Will will have another fundraiser Tuesday, July 24th at Vino Mas, a wine bar in West Omaha.
Additionally, there is an online donation site if you'd like to contribute.
We hope you will be able to join us this Sunday, and send God’s blessings to these two men who are representing St. Mary’s as seminarians!
Alumni Academic Honors
Nine alumnae at Mercy High School received academic honors for the 2nd semester of the 2017-2018 school year. Anou Akot, Baylin Davis, Maureen Goetz, Theodosia Mba and Macey McGargill received First Honors and Sena Djidjoho, Madison Kimsey, Lia Rose Reckmeyer and Therese Ruff received Second Honors. At Duchesne Academy Cate Lillion received Highest Honors and Mary Jane DuGuay received Honors. At Marian honors go to Gillian Krueger. At Creighton Prep Second Honors go to John Patrick Donahue IV, Fredy Gnambi Kadjo and Ethan Michael Yale. At Daniel J. Gross 10 alumni were on the Honor Roll. These students earned a 3.25 GPA or greater for the 4th quarter. They include: Lucia Mansisidor, Lauren Schmitz, Jaycee Billings, Callie Billings, Maggie Heltzel, Kathryn Goetz, Jamie Legner, Jacob Goetz, Kellie Halliburton and Rebecca Schaffart. Congratulations on your academic success!
Current Alumni Board Openings!
St. Mary's Alumni Board needs you! We need to fill vacancies at both the Secretary and Treasurer positions. Interested in joining our team? Please fill out the application below. You may also contact one of our current board members with any questions or to express interest. Current members include Cindy Donahue @ 402-972-1114, Kevin Duffy @ 402-553-7010 and Suzy Godwin @ 402-616-9815.
Alumna, Paige Holbrook Had a Great Year!
Alumna, Paige Holbrook, Class of 2015 has had a wonderful junior year at Bellevue East High School.
She was voted by her class to represent them as their Senior class Vice President next year. Paige was also selected by a committee of teachers to be the Co-President of the National Honor Society for her senior year. After being nominated her sophomore year to attend the HOBY (Hugh O’Brian) Youth Leadership Conference, this year Paige applied to become a junior counselor and was selected as a 2018 Nebraska HOBY Leadership Seminar Volunteer. Paige was also selected by the Lincoln Journal Star All-Academic State team for swimming.
Some Highlights from Catholic Schools Week
Third through fifth graders baked goodies and sold them after the Catholic Schools Week Kick off Mass to help support the Columban Fathers Mission Project. The $327 raised through parishioner’s support will go toward buying crayons and other school supplies for children in Peru and Pakistan. At school the week started with a Prayer Service prepared by student council members. Prayer partners were chosen by taking a colored strip of paper out of a basket which was then made into a prayer chain that hangs in the main hallway. Students also baked cookies to donate for an evening meal at the Stephen Center. Aqua Africa came to speak to students about helping global communities with a water project. One of speakers was Mabior Acouth, the older sibling of one of our students. Students are busy thinking how they can help and serve the people of God in a continent far away from Nebraska after seeing how hard it is for them to get water. Students participated in Spelling Bees and the winners for grades 1-4 are: first grader Molly Orloski 3rd place, first grader Allison Schmitz 2nd place and third grader Anna Mlnarik took first place. The winners for 5-8th grade are: 8th grader Lindsey Wessling took 3rd place, 7th grader Megan Schneider 2nd place and 6th grader Katie Orloski took first place. She will now participate in the Archdiocese Spelling Bee. Buddy classes got together to read and enjoy snacks and we capped off the week celebrating our students many talents at the 5th Annual Talent Show. Many thanks to Alumna, Christina (Hascall) Legner, Class of ‘91 for bringing the Talent Show back to St. Mary’s and for coordinating it for the last five years. Please click here to look at photos from the week. Lots of great memories of fun and fellowship.
Showcasing Our Many Talents While Helping a Great Cause
On Friday, February 2nd, St. Mary's Home and School Association hosted the 5th Annual Catholic Schools Week Talent Show as the culmination of our Catholic Schools Week celebrations. There were 22 amazing acts and the emcees and stage crew were our very own middle school students. Each year a charity is chosen to recognize. This year the charity was the Nebraska Humane Society. Our free will offering that night raised over $450 for this worthy cause. Thank you all for your tremendous support.
Featured in these photos are two of the acts:
Olivia, a Kindergartener, and Angelo Zieno, her dad, a ’95 Alumnus, singing and playing the piano to “Lost Boy” by Ruth B
Joseph Brown, a 6th grader playing “Magic Man” by Willard A. Palmer on the piano.
Caroling with Alumni
On Saturday, December 2nd, our alumni visited Hillcrest Shadow Lake for some Christmas caroling. It was a great event that brought some Christmas magic and good fellowship to our community. Many residents were singing along, and really enjoyed the traditional Christmas music.
2017-2018 School Year
Nebraska State Winner
Rene Hasiak, a St. Mary’s Class of ’14 alumna has a real winner with her acrylic painting titled “Latte on my Mind.” She took First place at District and also took First place in the Nebraska State competition. The name of the awards in acrylic painting Rene won are as follows:
First Place – G.F.W.C./N.F.W.C – District II Fine Arts Show
First Place – GFWC/NFWC – State
Rene entered at least one piece in the Omaha Junior Art Show this summer.
*Alumni Shirt Order Form*
Interested in showing your school pride? Alumni shirts are ready to order! See order form here.
Julie Targy Named Scholar Athlete
Briar Cliff women's basketball player Julie Targy has been named one of 286 2016-17 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes in Division II women's basketball. To be nominated by an institution's head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status. Targy, a native of Bellevue, Nebraska, and ’10 alumna of St. Mary’s played in all 31 games for the Chargers this season, making 22 starts as a junior. Targy averaged 2.9 ppg with 90 points on the season and paced the team in steals with 63. She also grabbed 2.8 rebounds per game and dished out 57 assists, ranking second on the squad. Targy scored a season-high 11 points against Pfeiffer on December 18th. Last year Targy appeared in all 33 games for the Cliff, making one start. She was named academic all-conference.
Success in Academics and Cheering
What do you get when you combine academic success with a desire to cheer? You get St. Mary’s class of 2015 graduate Katie Goetz. Katie attends Gross Catholic High school and has been on their cheer squad since her Freshman year. Katie has received her Cheer letter and Academic All-Star award for having a 3.5 or higher while cheering both JV and Varsity. This year she joined the Gross Varsity High cheer squad with their 6th straight Nebraska state win. The squad hopes to make it to Nationals next year. In her spare time, Katie bowls on the Papillion South High varsity bowling team and is headed to Scottsbluff Nebraska to compete in the Nebraska State Pepsi tournament as well as acting as manager for the Gross High bowling team. Congratulations Katie!
Catholic High School Scholarships for St. Mary’s Alumnae
Three of our 8th graders were awarded Catholic High School Scholarships to attend Catholic High Schools. The scholarships were awarded on outstanding academic achievement:
Baylin Davis- Mercy High School ($6,000 over 4 years)
Lucia Mansisidor Gross High School ($2,500 over 4 years)
Isabella Medrano Roncalli High School ($4,000 over 4 years)
Congratulations on your academic success!
More Second Quarter Academic Honors
St. Mary’s alumni were well represented on high school Honor Rolls for the 2nd quarter this 2016-2017 school year. At Duchesne, Cate Lillion received High Honors and Mary DuGuay received Honors. At Creighton Prep Diego Cox and Ethan Yale both received 2nd Honors. Congratulations for your academic honors.
Let’s Band Together to Battle Cancer-Benefit Dinner for An Alum
Please help support one of our own, St. Mary’s alumnus, Alfred Balanay class of ’12 and a current senior at Bellevue West is fighting cancer. Come join us, Saturday, February 25th at Bellevue West High School from 5-7:30 PM for a Spaghetti Dinner. There will also be a Silent Auction, Bounce House and Prizes. The dinner is $10 for adults, $5 for 11-18 year olds and under 10 eat for free. Funds raised will help pay for cancer treatments and medical costs. You can also go to GoFundMe and search for: Band Together to Battle Cancer.
Back on the Courts at St. Mary’s
Jacob Connealy and Rebekah Menzel, class ‘07 are back on the court, this time coaching the 6th grade girls team. This is their first-year. Theirs is a long history that started at St. Mary’s as told by Rebekah.
Jake and I hold each other’s award for ‘Oldest and Longest Classmate’ (we went Pre-K-8th grade together at St. Mary’s and then went on to our respective high schools of Mercy and Mt. Michael and then both went down to Benedictine in Atchison, KS for college) so needless to say, we’re St. Mary’s Bellevue friends, born and raised.
Although neither of us ended up in the NBA or WNBA (which, I really think they missed out on my height advantage) we were both pretty feisty ball players back at St. Mary’s. My basketball coaches at St. Mary’s were a huge influence on my love of the game.
Carol Lowe and Sam were tough on us, with constant shooting, dribbling, and running drills. But they taught us how to use our scrappiness to our advantage and to think. They led our combined team of 6th 7th and 8thgraders to the top, with our victory against Sacred Heart in the final game of the March Madness Tournament at Gross Catholic. (Which we still talk about, as if they were the glory days of winning Olympic Gold. They’re comparable.) But most importantly, they taught us how to be competitive but good sports, work together as a team, and to play basketball. And that’s what (or rather who) inspired me to coach at St. Mary’s. Jake and I had been talking about how it’d be fun to coach a team, and with his sister Maria in 6th grade, an opportunity arose. (It was a no brainer, as we both grew up with this huge, positive, St. Mary’s family that taught us the importance of using our gifts to serve others, so of course we’d love to coach a team!) We’ve been working with the girls for about 2 months now, and I’m impressed with their improvement. Basketball is a tough game; it takes quick thinking and constant determination. They had great coaches before us, and so we’re trying to build off that this year by practicing fundamentals, learning how to see the court, and having intensity. The girls have been shining in our most recent games. With a victory against Christ the King, and a nail biting loss against St. Thomas More (21 to 22) they’re getting more comfortable and confident on the court, and we can’t wait to see how the season continues.
St. Mary’s Athletic Director, Jennifer Kreps says, “They are doing a great job teaching the girls not only how to play but what good Christian sportsmanship is about on and off the court.”
Blazing His Own Trail in Spirituality, Academics and Service
Tommy Walther, class of ’10 at St. Mary’s, is on the Dean’s list for the fifth semester in a row and holds a 3.68 GPA at Creighton University. He is a junior in the Heider College of Business pursuing a double major in marketing and economics with a specialization in strategic communications. He is a member of the Anna Tyler Waite Leadership Program, a starter on the University’s rugby team and is their social chair responsible for planning their social and fundraising events. Tommy is the founding father of the Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) Theda Lambda colony which they hope to charter as an official chapter by May of 2017. As a member of the fraternity, he participates in a lot of philanthropy events that raise money for numerous non-profit organizations. He is currently employed by First National Bank of Omaha as the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) Marketing intern. His duties include; conducting market research, creating data analysis reports, consulting on brand outreach and social media efforts, and managing some of our scholarship promotions. After he graduates Tommy hopes to work in the Advertising industry as an account planner while earning his MBA.
(Shameless plug as a marketing intern) Remind your parents that saving for college is imperative to a bright future beyond the halls of St. Mary’s. Follow your dreams, and utilize the tools God gave you! To learn more about college savings click here.
My personal advice to current St. Mary’s students is always challenge yourselves. Never settle for being average. Know your strengths and weaknesses and capitalize on every opportunity that comes your way. Challenge yourself, enroll in advanced classes, join athletic/academic groups, and find opportunities to volunteer and give back to the community. Just trust that hard work will be rewarded. Explore your horizons and see where you have the best chance to excel.
Second Quarter Academic Honors
St. Mary’s parishioners were well represented on high school Honor Rolls for the 2nd quarter this 2016-2017 school year. At Gross Catholic High School 10 students earned a 3.25 GPA or greater for this period. They include: Jaycee Billings, Jack Nam, Callie Billings, Adeline Connealy, Kathryn Goetz, Maggie Heltzel, Jamie Legner, Kellee Halliburton, Maya Lewis and Jacob Schaffart. At Mercy High School: Maureen Goetz, Therese Ruff and Lauren Traggiai received First Honors and Sena Djidjoho, Macey McGargill, and Lia Rose Reckmeyer received Second Honors. Congratulations on your academic success!
Angel Tree 2016 Goes on Because of Angels Among Us
St. Mary’s Angel Tree is a rich tradition that has been done for many years through the watchful and loving eyes of the Liturgy Committee. This year two Angels responded to God’s call to keep the tradition alive and the “Angel Tree” went up the first weekend of Advent as it always has. Becky Feagan, a former St. Mary’s teacher and Lindsey Cork a St. Mary’s alumna, class of ’08, took on co-chairing the project. With the help of many others, 580 angels were hung on the “Angel Tree” and Christmas dreams fulfilled thanks to St. Mary’s parishioners opening their wallets and hearts to strangers who would be overjoyed by the gifts and the generosity. To watch a young father, who had just worked his first day on a new job—his first job in two years, place his hands on his face in disbelief as he goes to the pew assigned to his family and to gasp, “I don’t think I have room in my car.” - that’s what makes the Angel Tree job so fulfilling. To hear young parents, say the Angel Tree is a family tradition; that each child in their family can choose an angel and as a family they go out shopping for someone they’ll never meet—they’ll never see the joy and excitement on their Christmas morning, but can only imagine it – that’s the best gift families can give to their family- placing the needs of others before their own! The Angel Tree tradition lives on!
Attention St. Mary's School Alumni - Establishing Alumni Board - We want YOU!
An Eagle Soars Among Us
On December 3rd Bryan Joseph Prewitt, St. Mary’s class ’12, joined an elite class of Boy Scouts by becoming an Eagle Scout. The trail to Eagle began seven years ago as a new Scout and continued with Bryan earning more than 30 merit badges, recognition awards, holding several leadership positions within troop 305, numerous camping trips, including High Adventure trips to Wyoming and the Philmont Scout ranch in New Mexico. Bryan’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held at St. Mark’s Hall eleven years after starting his journey from being a cub to becoming an Eagle. His commitment, dedication and perseverance paid off thanks to the help of his parents and friends who helped along the way.
Letting Our Creative Juices Flow
This Fall, teachers and staff from St. Mary’s enjoyed good fellowship, good food and some art instruction from one of our gifted Alums and daughter of Mrs. Embury, our third grade teacher. Kaitlyn Embury, a professional artist, provided instruction laced with inspirational stories and tidbits on how to hold the brush to get that harvest scene just right. Each person painted her own 16 X 20 stretched canvas using acrylic paints. The scene was a blue sky, birch trees and two pumpkins. In less than 2 hours, each of us had our masterpiece, each with its own flare...some with darker skies, more trees, bigger pumpkins. It's always good to enjoy some time with coworkers...the fun rolls over to our professional cohesiveness, just one more example of the St. Mary’s school community growing closer.
The Decisions That Led to Serving Our Country
It was about junior year of high school when I starting trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life. The obvious choice was to go to college. I wanted to look further though. I wanted to know what I would do for my career after college so I would know where to go for school and what to study there rather than just blindly getting a degree. My dad had served in the army long before I was born but I liked hearing his stories. I think the military had always been in the back of my mind not only because of how my parents had raised me but because of my proximity growing up to Offutt, AFB. I had seen countless air shows growing up and was always fascinated with flying. A combination of factors made it very easy to make my decision.
1. I wanted to go to college.
2. I also wanted to be in the military at some point (I would have joined eventually no matter where I went to school)
3. I wanted to fly!
4. I thought the idea of free education/scholarships sounded pretty good. I had worked hard enough in high school that many opportunities were within reach and scholarships would help set me up for the future.
These four factors pointed directly at the United States Air Force Academy. It was the best way I could find to achieve them all. Four years later I was commissioned as an officer in the world's greatest Air Force, debt free, with a materials chemistry degree, on my way to pilot training. I've since completed pilot training and haven't regretted anything since deciding to join the military. There are so many other jobs besides being a pilot. Being in the Air Force has opened my eyes to just how much all branches of our military do behind the scenes to serve and protect the people of the United States from threats that the average citizen isn't even aware exist. I get satisfaction every day that I can be a small cog in the internal workings of such a powerful and selfless profession. I would encourage anyone who feels the calling for armed service to look into not only the Air Force but what all the services have to offer as well. No matter how you serve, from working contracting, logistics, and finance, to being a foot soldier on the front lines or analyzing endless streams of intelligence information, each and every career choice can be rewarding in it's own way. I have friends from the Academy in every career field out there and nearly all of them are very satisfied that they joined the military and wouldn't trade their time in the service for anything. I have no idea where my time in the Air Force will take me, but I'm sure wherever it is I will enjoy it.
- 1st Lt. Sean Cork, USAF, Air Force Academy Graduate 2014, St. Mary’s Graduate 2006. (reflections for Veteran’s Day)
First Quarter Academic Honors
St. Mary’s parishioners were well represented on high school Honor Rolls for the 1st quarter this 2016-2017 school year. At Gross Catholic High School 11 students earned a 3.25 GPA or greater for this period. They include: Jaycee Billings, Jack Nam, Callie Billings, Adeline Connealy, Kathryn Goetz, Maggie Heltzel, Jamie Legner, Kellee Halliburton, Rebecca Schaffart, Maya Lewis and Jacob Schaffart. At Mercy High School, Maureen Goetz, Macey McGargill, Therese Ruff and Lauren Traggiai received First Honors and Sena Djidjoho and Lia Rose Reckmeyer received Second Honors. At Duchesne Academy Cate Lillion received Highest Honors and Mary DuGuay received High Honors. Congratulations on your academic success!
Two Alumnae On Stage
St. Mary’s alumnae, Hannah Clark (Menzel) ’02 and Rebekah Menzel ‘07 are performing in the Broadway musical “The Music Man” through October 2nd at the Bellevue Little Theatre on Mission Street. Don't’ miss the opportunity to see them this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sunday 2 PM Matinee. Rebekah is a featured dancer and Hannah is in the ensemble.
The Memories Flood Back
Mrs. Susan Gold a former teacher at St. Mary’s School got a wonderful surprise at Sunday’s 9:30 Mass. A young boy she taught in 2nd grade was now celebrating Mass. Mrs. Gold said, “Oh my gosh, the memories of these little kids who’d practice Mass and then here he is.” She’s talking about Fr. Matt Rolling whom she taught back in 1989-90. She was teaching him and getting him ready for his First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Now he’s standing on the altar wearing a priest’s vestments. Mrs. Gold says, “You never know do you?” She was so happy to see him again while he is on break from studying in Rome. He’s been there two years and has three to go. After Fr. Matt completes his studies and receives a Doctorate in Philosophy he will come back to Nebraska to teach philosophy at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward.
Archdiocese ACT Scores Set a New Record – Start Your Children on the Path Early
Seventeen Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha have once again beaten their previous ACT composite high score setting a new archdiocesan record, of 24. 9, up from 24.6 while the state average dropped a tenth of a point to 21.4! Our students outperform the state averages in every ethnic category. Take a look for yourself. For 25 years our Archdiocesan composite score has been on an aggressive path upwards with our students outperforming other Nebraska school districts in English, mathematics, reading and science. We significantly beat the National average ACT score of 20.8. Patrick Slattery, Superintendent of Archdiocese of Omaha Catholic schools says, “ The majority of our graduates are products of our 53 grade schools. Their success in high school is a result of the solid teaching and learning occurring in our grade schools.” At St. Mary’s over the last three years about 50 percent of our graduates have gone on to Catholic high schools. Higher ACT scores mean a greater likelihood for college scholarships. Start your children early on their path to success by starting that Catholic education in elementary school. Take another look at St. Mary’s.
No Place Like Home
Fr. Matt Rolling a St. Mary’s alumnus, class of ‘96 helped Fr. Del by con-celebrating our all school Mass August 24th. Fr. Matt is back home in Bellevue for a few weeks of summer break. He will be working with Fr. Del for a while before going back to continue his studies in Rome in September. (Photo of Fr. Matt with 3 of his teachers while at St. Mary’s, Mrs. Sobilo, Ms. Gaspers and Mrs. Embury)
A Personal Pilgrimage to World Youth Day
St. Mary’s Youth Ministry Director and St. Mary’s graduate Will Targy class of ’00 was blessed with a wonderful pilgrimage opportunity this past summer where he went to Europe for World Youth Day and then to Rome. A $1,000 grant from Home and School helped fund this trip of a lifetime that left Targy filled with hope. Please take a walk with him on the pilgrimage through his words and photos.
Our group from Omaha was 46 strong and very diverse. We had 4 priests, 3 consecrated lay women from the Apostolic Oblates plus a mixture of seminarians, college students, current FOCUS missionaries and young professionals. Our first destination was Krakow, Poland, which would be the host site of the 14th International World Youth Day. WYD is a celebration where the youth continue to answer the invitation of the Holy Father in staggering numbers and carry home the message received there to be Christ’s light to the world. We were blessed to be in the home of many great modern saints like St. John Paul II, St. Faustina and St. Maximilian Kolbe. Our group was put up in an elementary school in Wodowice, the childhood home of St. John Paul. We were about 30 km outside of Krakow, the capital city of Poland. We spent the week touring many sites including Auschwitz, the Divine Mercy Shrine and St. Faustina’s convent along with local churches and museums. World Youth Day provided various activities like catechesis, concerts, and a closing overnight vigil that ended with holy mass on Sunday morning with Pope Francis. One of the many graces I personally received from World Youth Day was an incredible amount of hope. In his Sunday homily, Pope Francis said, “[At] times in our lives, we aim lower rather than higher. At those times, it is good to realize that God remains faithful, even obstinate, in His love for us. The fact is He loves us even more than we love ourselves. He believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves. He is always “cheering us on”; he is our biggest fan.” This struck me not only personally but also as a message of hope to our world and our culture where despair and indifference are so widespread. And just seeing the nearly 2 million young people coming together to celebrate their Catholic faith was really awe-inspiring.
From Krakow, we took a flight to Rome to begin the second and final leg of our pilgrimage. I’m sure the ‘Eternal City’ needs no introduction and we just hit the ground running. Our days in Rome were just as incredible as Poland. Day One had us visiting the ancient catacombs, St. Sebastian’s tomb/church, and St. Paul’s tomb/basilica with an incredible lunch in between. The next day we were extremely blessed to see Pope Francis again at his papal audience in the Vatican. A few from our group even got to shake his hand! From there, we took a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, which included the ancient Scavi, the necropolis underneath St. Peter’s where he is buried. St. Peter’s Basilica itself is absolutely unimaginable, like no other church I’ve ever seen. That was a great day. Moving on, we toured St. John Lateran (another of the major basilicas), which included the baptismal font of Emperor Constantine. Across the street from St. John’s was the Church of the Holy Stairs. This church housed the marble staircase Christ was believed to have walked on during his passion interrogations with Pontius Pilate. The stairs are now covered with wood and pilgrims are invited to travel up them on their knees. I took the opportunity to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary as I climbed and it was an incredibly humbling and powerful prayer experience. Our last few days in Rome included visits to St. Mary Major, one of the oldest churches dedicated to Our Lady. We also visited St. Cecilia’s tomb/church and the Gesu, the mother church of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which contains the tomb of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the hand/forearm of St. Francis Xavier. In between church visits, we visited the Coliseum and Roman Forum and sampled all of the finest Italian cuisine (including daily gelato outings). Rome was an incredible look into the history of our church and an opportunity to pray with and discover the great men and women who have given their lives for Jesus Christ. Many of them had humble beginnings but said “yes” to God’s will in their lives every single day. I hope to continue praying with those moments and encounters for as long as I can.
In conclusion, this was truly the trip of a lifetime and I am hopeful that many graces will continue to flow from this experience. (For more photos and descriptions of each click here)
Thank you and God bless,
St. Mary's Alumnus is the New Judge in Town!
St. Mary’s is so proud of George A. Thompson, 45, who took over the judgeship at the Sarpy County District Court June 14, 2016. Judge Thompson was in the first kindergarten class at St. Mary’s School and graduated from there in 1984. Now, Judge Thompson is taking over a position his father, George Thompson once held. His dad even swore him in and gave him his robes. The territory must seem very familiar for the new judge, especially since he has the same office and bailiff that his father had. One of the judges dear friends since kindergarten, Robb Huck another St. Mary’s alumni, was the master of ceremonies at his swearing in. Judge Thompson’s whole family was also at the swearing in. Congratulations Judge Thompson. (For more of the story click here.) (For more photos click here.)
2016-2017 School Year
Julie Targy – A Young Woman on a Mission
Julie Targy was selected as one of four student summer interns for the Sioux City Explorer Baseball Team. Her job is "Promotions Intern". Julie is the face of the Sioux City Explorers in the crowd and takes care of anything to do with the public; team publicity, game promotions and interacting with the fans. During home games she walks around the bleachers with a microphone, and her sparkling personality, and interviews people, cracks jokes and keeps the home crowd laughing and enjoying the game. Although she doesn't travel with the team, she really enjoys the home games. Julie's major right now is Education with a minor in Spanish. She made the Dean's list both freshman and sophomore years, and holds a 3.9 grade point average and went as one of the leading players with her basketball team to the NAIA Championship playoffs. Julie had a lot of success commentating the Briar Cliff baseball games, and girl’s softball games this year. She has already been offered the job again next year by the Briar Cliff Athletic Director and he, the marketing team and the local radio stations are encouraging her to consider changing her major to Sports Marketing. Julie really loves this new adventure with public speaking and commentating, but also loves teaching in the classroom, so she hasn't made a decision yet.
The last week of May, Julie returned home from her Mission trip to Mexico City with a group from FOCUS. They traveled there to minister to the street children and host a sports camp for local kids. They also spent time with the nuns who live near the shrine for "Our Lady of Guadalupe" built at the location where she appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531. It was a very moving experience and Julie hopes to go again next spring as a junior. She has already rallied several of her teammates to go with her.
Scholarship Awarded to St. Mary’s Graduate: Destination Medical School
Marlene Djidjoho receives the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Scholarship for African American women. Marlene class of ‘11 is entering her Sophomore year at the College of St. Mary in Omaha. She graduated from Mercy last year. Marlene is majoring in biology and minoring in psychology and holds a 3.95 average on a 4.00 scale. Her goal is to become a physician. She will use the $1,000 scholarship to help pay her current tuition. Congratulations Marlene! We’re proud of you.
Flying High as We Say Good-Bye
This years’ 2016 graduating class from St. Mary’s gave two class gifts to the school. The first a St. Mary’s school flag which will proudly wave each day in front of the school with the school logo. The second gift was a $50 donation to the Adopt A Student Endowment fund. That way the class of 2016 will help provide funding in perpetuity for students in need. The students raised the money for their gifts through selling t-shirts. This is the second year the graduating class has given gifts to the school.
Scholarships for 2016 Alumni
Congratulations to St. Mary’s graduating 8th grade class who received $7,000 in scholarships to continue their Catholic education. Eight of the seventeen students in the class will be attending Catholic High Schools, each received scholarships.
Jack Nam – Daniel J Gross and Middle School Scholarship - Daniel J Gross High School
Jaycee Billings - Dr. Charles and Mrs. Amy Longo Memorial Scholarship - Daniel J Gross High School
Anthony (Tony) Traggiai – Home and School Alumni Scholarship – Mount Michael
John Donahue – Knights of Columbus – Creighton Prep
Ben Goetz – Knights of Columbus – Mount Michael
Fernando Cox – Catholic Daughters of America – Creighton Prep
Aziz Gafurov – Catholic Daughters of America – Creighton Prep
Jaqueline Van Huffel - Catholic Daughters of America – Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart
Hard Work Pays Off
Bryan Prewitt a St. Mary’s alumnus, class of ‘12, received two scholarships that could pay his way through college. He received the David Distinguished scholarship worth up to $14,000 at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Prewitt graduated from Bellevue East, 18th in his class of 343 students, got a 30 on his ACT and had a 5.28 GPA out of a 5.0 scale. He also received the Collegebound scholarship, which will cover up to 15 credit hours per semester. Bryan plans to major in mechanical engineering at UNL. He is also going to try and walk on for track. This year Bryan was the anchor for his team in the 400-meter relay. His team went to state where they placed 9th.
The Educational Journey Continues
Matt Delaney, is going back to school for his Masters degree in Educational Leadership. Classes begin this June at Doane College. Matt, class of '06 who graduated from Briar Cliff in 2014 and has completed two years, as a Social Studies teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs will continue his studies in order to pursue his goal.
Columban Martyrs Memorial Garden
The Missionary Society of St. Columban invited Archbishop George Lucas to preside over the Mass and dedication of the Columban Martyrs Memorial Garden May 26th. Two of St. Mary's students, served as altar servers for the Mass and fourteen of our students participated in the choir for the special event. The Memorial Garden memorializes the legacy of 24 Columban missionaries who gave their lives for our faith. This special place of reflection honors their sacrifice. The garden is located on the grounds at the Columban House in Bellevue at 1902 Calhoun Street. You are more than welcome to come visit the Garden and the Columban Fathers to learn more about the martyrs and the Columban mission.
Alumni Volunteer at Columban Martyrs Memorial Garden Dedication
More than 250 people attended the Columban Martyrs Memorial Garden dedication and Mass on May 26th. Some St. Mary's alumni volunteered in the all day affair. They were a big help with the guests. They acted as guides and the guests who attended the event really enjoyed visiting with them and finding out what church they were from.
Recipient of Alumni Scholarship
Matt Lampe, '12 just graduated from Bellevue East and was this year's recipient of the Bellevue East Class of 1959 Scholarship. Matt will be going to college at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, UNO where he will be studying Business and Marketing.
Announcing St. Mary's School Alumni Scholarship 2016 Winners
For the third straight year, the St. Mary's Home and School Association offered scholarships to St. Mary's School alumni. The winners are: (1) Alumni Attending Catholic High School (freshman year) - $1,000 awarded to Tony Traggiai ('16) who will be attending Mount Michael Benedictine High School; (2) Alumni Attending Catholic College/University (freshman year) - $1,000 awarded to Mirjana (Missy) Walther ('12) who will be attending Creighton University; and (3) Alumni Working for Service/Non-Profit Organization/Catholic School (any age) - $1,000 awarded to Elizabeth Connealy ('05) who works for Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at Wayne State College. Submission deadline was Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The High School scholarship winner was announced at the 8th Grade Banquet on May 20th. Letters for the other two scholarships were mailed out in mid-May. Look for information regarding the 2017 scholarship opportunities in January 2017.
St. Mary's Alumnae Have a Winning Year in Soccer
Jamie Legner and Callie Billings, class of '15, were both freshman at Gross Catholic (2015-2016), and both stood out on the soccer field. Jamie started Varsity soccer all year. She played defense and her speed made her a real factor in every game. Callie started JV soccer all season and was asked to come play for Varsity in the River Cities Conference (RCC) Tournament, Districts, Sub-State, and State. She played her heart out. Gross Catholic had its best year in sixteen years and set a record for most wins in a season. Their defense, of which Jamie and Callie were a part, was mentioned in numerous news articles. They had 11 shutouts and only allowed 15 goals all season. Gross was third in the RCC. Gross lost to Mercy in the District final, but got a Wild Card for State because of their record. Jamie says: "Getting to State was difficult, but our team deserved it. It was so exciting. I love my team!" They won Sub-State against Waverly in a shootout. They faced Columbus Scotus in the first round at State and won 1-0. Gross then faced Skutt, the eventual Class B Girls State Champions, in the semi finals and lost 0-3. Jamie and Callie were part of a team who also won the Class B Girls Sportsmanship Award for the state tournament, finished 14-5 for the season, and ended up being ranked 4th for Class B Girls. All are looking forward to GCHS Girls Soccer 2017...and there will be another St. Mary's alumna on the roster...Callie's sister Jaycee ('16)!
Spring Volleyball Clinic – Adds to Its Appeal
This year's volleyball clinic (2016) held by Coach Doug Feagan had 12 kids ranging from 3rd to 7th grade participate. It even drew two alumnae, Lia Rose Reckmeyer and Maureen Goetz, who assisted Coach Feagan and helped mentor the young girls. Lia Rose was really excited to help Mr. Feagan at his volleyball clinic. She and Maureen Goetz both made the freshman volleyball team at Mercy High School this past year. The girls covered the basics like passing and serving. They had lots of fun in their two-hour camp and look forward to the possibility of a few more clinics in July prior to the start of school.
In fact, a number of girls from St. Mary's class of 2015 played volleyball at their respective high schools this past year: Ellie Foral at Bellevue East, Maggie Heltzel at Gross High, and, Annika Sjostedt at Bellevue West. Mary Ellen Reckmeyer says, "Mr. Feagan can be very proud of how he prepared all of these girls for high school volleyball."
Outstanding Honors and Scholarship
Missy Walther is graduating from Bellevue East and taking with her some outstanding honors and a scholarship. Missy received the "Brenda Sunclades - Outstanding Girl's Soccer Player of the Year" award in fond remembrance of Chieftain soccer player Brenda Sunclades who lost her heroic battle to cancer. Her dad, Randy Walther, '76, says she shares this honor with some familiar names including Christina Legner (Hascall), '91 and Erin Inselman (Oholendt), she is friends with their daughters; Jamie Legner, '15 and Bre Inselman. Missy also received the Army ROTC Creighton Scholarship, which covers full tuition, room and board, books and fees, starting in her sophomore year. Missy, '12 is headed to Creighton University in the fall to pursue a degree in Nursing. She hopes to be commissioned as an ARMY officer and embark on a career in the US ARMY in 2020. Missy commented, "I am convinced that my wonderful years with the teachers, staff and faith community at St. Mary's-Bellevue Catholic Church and School, and my intense faith, love and trust in Jesus Christ have prepared me well for a bright future." Thank You!
The Greatest Day of His Life
For Matt Delaney, class of '06 March 25, 2016 is a day he'll never forget. It's the day he asked for Jessi Waker's, class of '05 hand in marriage.
The day I proposed to Jessi, we boarded a charter bus at 5:00 A.M. for a Grand Canyon tour. She had no idea that I was hiding the engagement ring in my backpack. We made a stop at the Hoover Dam and snapped some photos and then finally reached our destination at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. We spent a few hours walking around taking in the beauty of this day. (Until I finally found the perfect spot)! Then I got down on one knee and asked her to spend the rest of her life with me! She said yes, of course! A kind onlooker actually asked us if she could take our photo! Her being unaware of the gravity of the moment made it all the more amazing and surprising. We tried our best to call all of our family after the proposal, but we were in the desert! By the end of the day we went out to dinner to celebrate. Our entire family was finally in the loop and we could begin making plans for our wedding and future together!
Congratulations Matt and Jessi. Your St. Mary's family wishes you both a lifetime of happiness.
Graduation Send Off
The St. Mary's Arise Youth Ministry teens and parents would like to invite all parishioners to Mass this Sunday, May 15th at 5:00 P.M. to send off our graduating seniors. Fr. Roger will celebrate Mass and we will have special musical guests Danny Leger and Tom Theis. We would love to have you there! Please feel free to forward this on to others so they too may join in our end of year Mass and Graduation Blessing!
Our Future Business Leaders
Congratulations go to Missy and Joey Walther, two St. Mary's alumni and their teammate Karissa Jacobson for their Nebraska State Leadership Conference 1st Place winning Public Service Announcement. Bellevue East team's winning Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) 2016 PSA is titled "Positives of Sports." Watch it now.
Joey also took 2nd place in American Enterprise with his partner Colton Patrick! Both projects qualified for National FBLA competition in Atlanta in June! Good luck at Nationals.
Home and School School Alumni Scholarship Applications Due
Time is running out to get your application in for the 2016 St. Mary's School Alumni Scholarships. Applications are due Wednesday, April 20, 2016. This is the third year the St. Mary's Home and School Association has been offering scholarships to alumni. Currently there are 3 categories for the scholarships:
(1) Alumni Attending Catholic High School (for Freshman Year) - $1,000
(2) Alumni Attending Catholic College/University (for Freshman Year) - $1,000
(3) Alumni Working for Service/Non-Profit Organization/Catholic School (any age) - $1,000
To make applying for the scholarship even easier, the scholarship form for the 2016-2017 awards is available online. The High School scholarship winner will be announced at the 8th Grade Banquet. Letters regarding the College/University and Service/Non-Profit scholarships will be mailed out by May 13, 2016. Direct questions/comments/feedback to St. Mary's Alumni Relations Coordinator Christina Legner (alumni(at)stmarysbellevue.com) with questions.
Ryan and Christina Legner ('91) to Receive St. Mary's School Special Recognition Award
St. Mary's School in Bellevue is proud to announce Ryan & Christina (Hascall) Legner as recipients of its 2016 Heart of Mary Award which is presented to an outstanding individual or couple who have made significant contributions to St. Mary's School. The award will be presented at St. Mary's annual benefit auction scheduled Saturday, April 9 at the Livestock Exchange Building in south Omaha.
The Legner's have given tirelessly to both the school and parish. The duo co-chaired the annual "Spring for the Children" benefit auction in 2012 and 2013 when the event achieved a heightened level of fundraising. Both are still active with the fundraiser as committee chairs. The Legner's also co-chaired the Ignite the Faith Capital Campaign at St. Mary's in 2013.
Christina has been involved with the Catholic Daughters of America and MOMS group through the parish. At the school she served as secretary of the Home and School Association (2013-14) chairing that group's school Talent Show (2014-16), Spirit Wear program (2013-14) and Alumni Scholarship program (2014-2016). She has served as a school room parent (2011-2016) and coordinated games at Youth Ministry's August Rush (2015). As a member of the School Development Committee since 2010 Christina has served on the Grants Committee (2010-2014), Adopt- A-Student Committee and Alumni Relations Committee (2014-2016) which she currently chairs.
Ryan is a member of the Knights of Columbus Columban Council #6192, and has been active in St. Mary's That Man is You program for the last five years. He's been a head basketball coach at St. Mary's since 2013 and served the local Cub Scouts program as Assistant Cub Master and Den Leader.
Christina was born and raised in the St. Mary's community. Her paternal grandparents became parishioners in the 1960's. Her father, his siblings, Christina (1991), her siblings, and several cousins attended St. Mary's School. Christina and Ryan were married at St. Mary's in 2001 before moving to Illinois. They returned in 2006 and became parishioners of St. Mary's in 2009 at which time they enrolled their four children there. Daughter Jamie graduated in 2015 and is a freshman at Gross Catholic. They have three sons at St. Mary's including Owen (6th grade), Jacob (5th grade) and Logan (2nd grade).
"We are both humbled and honored to be recognized in this way. We do our best to understand our strengths and weaknesses, what the needs of the community are and how we can help, and when to lead and when to get out of the way. We have been blessed and with open hearts, deep passion, and tireless motivation we are honored to share our blessings with St. Mary's," said the Legner's.
St. Mary's Alumnus Going to Teach Abroad
Aaron Menzel, class of '05 at St. Mary's will be moving to Cheongna, South Korea this fall, 2016 to teach at one of South Korea's premier schools: Cheongna Dalton School. He and his wife Rachel who married July 4, 2015 just signed a two year contract, he as a 5th and 7th grade literature teacher, she as a writer. After graduating from St. Mary's School and then Mount Michael Benedictine High School Aaron traveled to Minnesota to attend Saint John's University. While there he earned a degree in English and Secondary Education. He spent his first year out of college working as an editor, and with Artist Relations for Minnesota Public Radio. Since then he's been teaching English, Environmental Science, and Creative Writing at a new charter school in Saint Paul: Upper Mississippi Academy. Aaron says, "Saint Mary's truly set me up for success. By offering me such a personalized education, I always felt at home in the classroom. Each and every teacher knew my strengths and weaknesses, and challenged me daily to improve. Additionally, Saint Mary's taught me to be tolerant of all beliefs--religious or otherwise--a skill which I value above all else."
Our School Nurse a Real Blessing
St. Mary's School is one of the few Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese to have a school nurse. Every Tuesday, Bridgette Laney our school nurse is at school taking care of our children. One week she was in the 1st grade giving eye exams. The next week she was back in the 1st grade classroom for a dental health presentation. Mrs. Laney employed by CHI Health/Midlands Hospital says: "They have generously donated the school nursing services to all Sarpy County Parochial schools for over 20 years now. I am truly blessed to have such a great employer and wonderful schools to visit!" We are blessed to have Mrs. Laney an alumna, class of '81 back at St. Mary's. She has been with us for 12 years.
In the Zone On and Off the Court
Callie Billings has had an exciting freshman year at Gross Catholic. She started the winter off playing JV and reserve basketball and was asked to come suit up for varsity. She impressed her coaches with her speed, steals and determination on the court. Callie was so excited to get the opportunity to play with varsity at districts. Probably her best game was a JV game against Duchesne where she scored 14 points had 8 steals and 4 rebounds. On top of her athletic accomplishments she has kept a 3.6 GPA and has really excelled in Spanish and her Speech class this semester all this due to the great preparation she gained from St. Mary's and all the great teachers there. She has even had students ask her to tutor them, both in Honors English and Spanish. (Photos courtesy of Gross Catholic High School.)
Alumni Stewardship Fills a Need
The Uniform Assistance Program at St. Mary's is one area where our school excels. It has become a huge success over the years. Some may say, too successful, as many donations continue to add to our current inventory. Donations as well as uniform needs can be met at any time thanks to the many contributions from our school families.
Moving these donations had become a huge challenge. This is where Ken Wessling a '53 graduate of St. Mary's came into the picture. Along with his son Willie Wessling, St. Mary's graduate, class of '84, they constructed a large, sturdy clothing rack to accommodate the many skirts and skorts in our inventory.
After our latest registration day, the rack proved to be an incredible addition to our program. Moving the clothing from its storage room to the gym was much easier. Parents were easily able to access sizes needed from the rack. Community is what makes St. Mary's such a wonderful place and members like Ken and Willie Wessling are true examples of how rich our community truly is. Thank you Ken and Willie!
Alumna Academic Honors
Cate Lillion has achieved High Honors for the second semester at Duchesne Academy. Congratulations on your academic success.
Alumni Academic Honors
Eight alumnae at Mercy High School received academic honors for the 2nd quarter of the 2015-2016 school year. Allayna Bash, Maureen Goetz, Lia Rose Reckmeyer, Therese Ruff and Lauren Traggiai received First Honors and Sena Djidjoho, Madison Kimsey and Macey McGargill received Second Honors. At Gross Catholic High School 10 alumni were on the Honor Roll. These students earned a 3.25 GPA or greater for this period. They include: Callie Billings, Adeline Connealy, Kathryn Goetz, Maggie Heltzel, Jamie Legner, Kellee Halliburton, Maya Lewis, Danielle Cork, Jason Kreps, and Michaela Schmitz. Congratulations on your academic success!
Rebekah Menzel Reflects on Her Beginnings
Hi there! I was talking with my mom the other day about the importance of community in my life. We discussed the different milestones in my life over the last 20 years; most recently graduating from Benedictine College this past Spring 2015, before that from Mercy High School in 2011, and the start of it all: St. Mary's School in 2007. Since then, I've been reflecting on how St. Mary's School helped to form the woman I am today. It is as if St. Mary's set the standard for how I view learning communities. Now, as a first year teacher at Christ the King (K-8 Art) I can't tell you how many times I think to myself, "Okay, how would Mrs. Schutt have solved this problem?" As I enter into my career as an Educator, I look to all of my Pre-K-8th grade teachers as role models. Their camaraderie, dedication, and passion for education has stuck with me through the years, and now inspires me to become a teacher my own St. Mary's School teachers would be proud of.
Prepared For and Loving High School
What parent wouldn't want to hear this story from the parent of a recent St. Mary's graduate? (2015)
Callie is having a great year! She was the starting first baseman for the JV softball team, is starting on the JV basketball team and also playing some varsity! She is loving it at Gross Catholic High School and is academically doing well too! She is already in Geometry. She is so far ahead of some of the kids especially in Spanish (112%). Wish we had put her in a higher class. Also should have put her in a higher biology class! She says she is doing some of the things she did in 7th and 8th grade at St. Mary's! So glad to know we at St. Mary's are really preparing our students for high school! She recently made the comment that going to Gross was the best decision she could make.
The St. Mary's Family is Growing
Hannah (Menzel) Clark, class of '02 and her husband John just welcomed their 3rd child November 17, 2015. His name is Elijah. They have two other children, Gabriel the big brother, 3 years old and big sister Caroline (Carlie) is 22 months old. Hannah attended St. Mary's School from Pre-K through 8th grade, and graduated in 2002. She went on to attend Mercy High School in Omaha, and Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. There, she majored in Special Education and Elementary Education, and attributes her love of learning to several teachers from St. Mary's. She's taught in 8th grade and 4th grade at Catholic Schools in Missouri, and Special Education for Bellevue Public Schools. Hannah says, "The faith community of St. Mary's Church and School have been such an integral part of my life. Now, I am raising my own family in the Parish, and am so excited to send my children to St. Mary's School!"
St. Mary's School Alumni and Former School Faculty and Staff
"Home for the Holidays: Advent with Alumni" Event - December 20, 2015 12:30P.M. - 4P.M.
St. Mary’s Alumnus Earns All American Award
Jacob Connealy closed out an amazing Track & Field career with the Benedictine Ravens, placing 6th in the Decathlon at the NAIA National Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama May 21-23, 2015. His 6th place earned him the title All-American. Placing 2nd in Javelin and 3rd in the High Jump boosted his final overall score to 6,317. Other events included in the Decathlon are: 100m run, Long Jump, Shot Put, 400m run, 110m Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, and the 1500m run. Long Jump and Hurdles were also higher scoring events for Jacob. Jacob is a 7-semester scholar athlete on the Dean's List for Benedictine College. As team captain for 2 years Jacob brought the team together in competition, friendship and faith by having the team attend Mass before their meets. He also led two bible studies as a Student Leader for FOCUS. Jacob spent the summer interning with KPMG, one of the top four accounting firms in the world and will start working there in January 2016 after he finishes his last semester at Benedictine College.
10 Time NAIA National Qualifier
*3x Indoor Heptathlon, 4x Outdoor Decathlon, 2x Indoor High Jump, 1x Javelin Throw
HAAC (Heartland of America Athletic Conference) Champion
*Heptathlon 3 years, High Jump 2 years, Decathlon 4 years
HAAC Field Player of the Week, 4 Times
NAIA Indoor Field Athlete of the Week: Feb. 2013
HAAC Indoor Track & Field Most Valuable Athlete 2013 (MVP Award)
7 Semester Scholar Athlete
Highest Decathlon Score: 6,376 @ HAAC Championship in May 2014
Dean's List for Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas
High School: Mount Michael Benedictine Class of 2011
Grade School: St. Mary's Bellevue Class of 2007
A Naval Career Begins
St. Mary's Alumnus, Sailor Matt Lewis graduated from Navy Boot Camp at Great Lakes Naval Station September 4, 2015.For more photos click here. "Thank you to St. Mary's School and Parish for the education and support that helped guide Matt to become a Sailor in the U. S. Navy!" Mark and Marion Lewis
St. Mary’s Alumnae Cheer on the Cougars
Katie Goetz and Addey Connealy, both freshmen at Gross Catholic, are JV Cheerleaders. They cheered for the first time last Thursday. They will be cheering at home games for JV football and volleyball and both boys and girls JV basketball.
Anchors Aweigh on a Navy Career
St. Mary's Alumna, Sailor Annie Norman graduated from Navy Boot Camp at Great Lakes Naval Station August 21, 2015.
Two Classmates Meet Again
I was going through some old pictures and found a photo of my son Matt Lewis and his classmate Annie Norman (daughter of Mike and Lisa Norman of St. Mary's) when they were in 2nd grade at St. Mary’s School. It looks like they were making Valentines because Annie is holding a heart that says, "I love you!" They ended up going to different high schools; Annie went to Bellevue West, Matt went to Gross. But as fate would have it they ended up on the same "ship" in Great Lakes, Illinois going through basic training for the Navy! She left a week ahead of him, but Matt says sometimes they see each other in the halls and it's nice to see a familiar face when you are so far from home!! For more photos click here.
-Marion Lewis, St. Mary’s Kindergarten Teacher
Visiting National Parks Becomes a Family Tradition
Imagine how one class can change a child's life. In this case it changed a whole family's. "We have incorporated national parks, memorials, and monuments in every summer vacation we've taken since Lia's 4th grade year with Mrs. Feagan" says Mary Ellen Reckmeyer. Lia graduated from St. Mary's in 2015. The first three years of our national park trips, Lia participated in the Junior Ranger programs, earning badges that represented the parks we visited. Their adventures have taken them from coast to coast. Oh the wonders of America they have seen.
2011: Mount Rushmore National Park, Devil's Tower National Monument, Custer State Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Badlands National Park
2012: Yellowstone National Park, Fort Robinson State Park, Chimney Rock National Historic Site
2013: Many Washington D.C. Memorials & Monuments, Shenandoah National Park, Gettysburg National Military Park
2014: Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Torrey Pines State Park, Muir Woods National Park
2015: Grand Canyon National Park
Lia Rose and her Dad went on a special "Daughter/Dad" vacation in 2013 based on her 4th grade Mesa Verde national park presentation. They travelled to Mesa Verde National Park, Arches National Park, and Sand Dunes National Park.
Mrs. Reckmeyer says, "We have been truly blessed to share the beauty of nature with our children throughout the years." For more photos click here.
2015-2016 School Year
Three Generations of Service to St. Mary's
Rose and Ed Wessling were very early members of St. Mary's. Their legacy includes 5 children, all of whom graduated from St. Mary's school. Their oldest son, Floyd Wessling became a priest and served the Omaha and Eastern Nebraska Diocese. Rose Wessling built quite a legacy, starting Perpetual Adoration at the church and serving in countless ways. Rose was instrumental in starting our school at St. Mary's. Her legacy was not lost on her son, Ken who was active in various church organizations including Prayer Group, Eucharistic Minister, Usher and Lector at the church. He has been an adorer for over 50 years. Ken's wife of over 50 years, Carol was also active in the school and church community. Her amazing voice and guitar were regulars leading the 11:00am mass every Sunday. She was active in Steven's Ministry, a Eucharistic Minister and a regular volunteer at school. Their legacy continued with their 7 children, all graduates of St. Mary's school. Rick, Steve, Tim, Cindy, Susie, Wendy and Willie all lead active lives in the school and at church. Now we can see service budding in the next generation, with Johnny Donahue (8th grade), Lindsay Wessling (6th grade), Daniel Wessling (3rd grade), and Matthew Wessling(1st grade) all currently attending St. Mary's school. We look forward to what contributions can be made from future Wesslings to the St. Mary's community. Grandma Rose would be proud.
Alumni Academic Honors
Four alumnae at Mercy High School received academic honors for the 4th quarter of the 2014-2015 school year. Allayna Bash, Marlene Djidjoho, Lauren Traggiai, and Veronica Traggiai received First Honors. At Gross Catholic High School 7 alumni were on the Honor Roll. These students earned a 3.25 GPA or greater for this period. They include: Maxwell Leroy, Kellee Halliburton, Maya Lewis, Danielle Cork, Jason Kreps, Sarah Janda, and Patrick Mruz. Congratulations on your academic success. From Creighton Prep Ben Reckmeyer received First Honors and Diego Cox received Second Honors.
Teaching the Teachers
Can you believe it? St. Mary’s teachers wanted an end of the year fun get together! Well, they got it and you’ll never guess with whom. One of their former students, Kaitlyn Embury, daughter of one of them, does party's and they all decided it was time to come and PARTY with KT Artistry!!! Kaitlyn says:
“It was such a blast! They brought food and we just painted the night away :) It was so funny to think about afterwards because I was teaching my teachers! Crazy huh? Lol I missed them, so this was a fun way to reconnect and see them get excited about something I am so passionate about. It's been a year now that I've been teaching art classes and now I can understand why my mom loves teaching so much. I'm just blessed I get to do what I love everyday :) If people are interested they just contact me and we can come up with a painting that will fit their style and house. Next step, time to party!!!”
Kaitlyn does painting party's for ANY AGE!!
For more photos click here.
Adopt A Student –Answering the Call
The Adopt A Student Program helps fund students tuition to go to St. Mary's School. Twenty percent of the students who went to school here this last year needed that financial assistance. After a recent alumni newsletter two alumni responded by sending in their donations to help these families. This year we have raised $12,175 to the Annual program and $597 to the Adopt A Student Endowment fund. If you would like to make a donation you can do so through June 30th. Let us know whether you would like to make a donation to this year or put funds in the endowment that makes much smaller perpetual donations.
Stopping by at the Omaha Summer Arts Festival to buy a print from Kaitlyn Embury. Had my daughter snap a picture of me buying a print from my former student. She is so talented. Mrs. Schutt, St. Mary's Art Teacher
Giving of Yourself
Many people offer donations of time, talent and treasure to many organizations or people. Some people check the box on their driver's license to be an organ and tissue donor. Some people make the simple donation of blood to the Red Cross during their blood drives. But have you ever considered donating your hair?
On May 30th, recent St. Mary's School graduate, Katie Goetz did just that. She donated 10 inches of her hair to the Children with Hair Loss organization which is a non-profit organization that provides wigs at no cost to children struggling with Cancer, Alopecia and other diseases that cause hair loss.
Through encouragement from her mother, Kelly, who is an oncology nurse and has seen the devastating effects of baldness to Cancer patients, Katie felt the need to help these people by donating her hair.
"My parents told me stories about other people donating hair in memory of their family members and friends that have died from Cancer," according to Katie. "I have considered doing this over the last few months. My mother encouraged me to get a haircut after the school year finished, so I decided to try something new for high school. When we got to the salon, they asked if I was going to donate. They showed me a list of places we could send my hair to, and I thought it was an easy way to give back."
Katie encourages others to do this to help kids that cannot grow their own. For more photos click here.
2015 Graduates of St. Mary's
Twenty-three students received their 8th Grade diplomas from St. Mary's School. Many of the students have been students here since Pre-K, that's 10 years. Both Therese Ruff and Cate Lillion who gave their commencement speeches said this class was like family. Now they will go their separate ways for high school. Fourteen of the 23 students will go on to Catholic High Schools. One to Creighton Prep, two girls to Duschene, five girls to Gross Catholic and six girls to Mercy High School. Congratulations and Good Luck as you begin your next chapter in life. For photos from graduation and confirmation click here.
Fun and Farewell
The 8th grade banquet is something special. It's the last time the 8th graders meet as a class before graduation. Tradition has it the class dresses up, is treated to a banquet that the 7th graders have prepared and they reminisce about their time at St. Mary's and look forward to their future. Christina Legner, the Alumni chair gives each student an alumni t-shirt as she welcomes the schools newest alumni. The 8th graders also receive scholarships. This year scholarships were awarded to:
Catholic Daughters –
Therese Ruff, Lia Rose Reckmeyer, Sena Djidjoho, Mary Jane DuGuay
Knights of Columbus –
Ethan Yale, Addey Connealy, Cate Lillion
Dr. Charles and Amy Longo Memorial Scholarship-
Maureen Goetz, Macey McGargill, Katie Goetz, Jamie Legner, Callie Billings,
Maggie Hetzel, and Madison Kimsey
The $1,000 Home and School Scholarship went to Ethan Yale who will be attending Creighton Prep in the fall.
For more photos click here.
Scholarships to Catholic High Schools for 2015-2016 !
Three of our 8th grade girls were awarded scholarships from the Catholic High Schools they will be attending next year 2015-2016: Cate Lillion and Ellie Foral were awarded scholarships to Duchesne Academy and Katie Goetz to Daniel J. Gross High School. Katie was awarded the Cougar Family Leadership Scholarship. The value of Katie's award is $1,000 and renewable for $500 per year for a total amount of $2,500. The awarding of this scholarship is based on grades and entrance exam results. For more photos click here.
Gym Mural Dedication
St. Mary's School turned out to say Thank You to two of it's alumnae for the new school Gym Murals March 28th. Dr. Charmaine Ortega who funded the Gym Mural project and Kaitlyn Embury who painted the murals received thank you cards from all of the students and St. Mary's t-shirts. Father Hanneman, Mrs. Castle, Dr. Ortega and Miss Embury all spoke about the project and it's impact, and Father made the dedication. Then everyone was treated to delicious desserts. For more photos click here.
Alumni Academic Honors at Gross Catholic
At Gross Catholic High School 5 alumni were on the Honor Roll for the third quarter 2014-2015. These students earned a 3.25 GPA or greater. Kellee Haliburton, Maya Lewis, Danielle Cork, Jason Kreps, and Patrick Mruz.
Academic Honors for Our Alumnae at Mercy
Five St. Mary's alumnae attained Honor Roll status at Mercy High School for the third quarter 2014-2015. Congratulations to Allayna Bash, Marlene Djidjoho, Lauren Traggiai and Veronica Traggiai for First Honors and Sarah Ruff for Second Honors.
Meet the Artist
Kaitlyn Embury, our gym artist and a '04 alumna of St. Mary's, is an accomplished fine artist who works in oil, charcoal, pencil and watercolors. She works with landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, still life and posters. Her gym murals were a variation from her more traditional fine art mediums. Kaitlyn graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a degree in advertising and a minor in fine arts in 2012. She started her career at the Omaha World Herald doing ad layouts. She began doing fine art, portraits, still life, posters and landscapes for friends and family. Soon she was so busy she began charging for her work. Finally, she realized she was spending all of her nights and weekends working on commissioned art. With nearly a year in backlogs, she decided to resign from her ad layout job and get a studio at the Hot Shops next to other artists and begin working full time on her commissions and her own art. She is now expanding to sports and would like to work with Universities to offer prints at their bookstores and fan clothing outlets. She is enjoying the life of an artist and is very proud of her work to bring our gym to life. Kaitlyn is the daughter of Mrs. Embury our 3rd Grade teacher. Join Kaitlyn and the gym mural benefactor Dr. Charmaine Ortega, a '71 St. Mary's alumna, at the Gym Dedication Friday, March 27th at 2:30 in the school gym. Everyone is welcome and refreshments will be served.
Scholarship Opportunities for Alumni
Julie Targy's Team "The Cliff" In the Final Four
What a year for Freshman Julie Targy! Tonight, 19th ranked Briar Cliff plays in its fifth Fab Four in the programs history against 3rd ranked Concordia. Leading up to tonight, 5th seed Briar Cliff beat 4th seeded Menlo, California 80-61 in the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship. The Cliff was relentless and very physical breaking open a 10-point lead at halftime with Julie scoring eight straight points. Targy, had only played in five varsity games during the regular season. Her coach Mike Power says, "You can see she is a ball of fire and she brings a lot of energy. She is just young and plays hard and you can't coach that." The Cliffs win over Tabor (KS) in the quarterfinal on Saturday 62-53 along with their 26-9 record punched their ticket to the Fab Four. Go Chargers and St. Mary's Julie Targy! (photo courtesy Sioux City Journal.com)
St. Mary's Alumna Goes to the GPAC Tournament Her Freshman Year
The Briar Cliff Chargers ranked 19th in the nation, NAIA Division II, had a great night against Northwestern at the quarter-finals beating them for the third time this season 70- 54. With the win, Julie Targy and her team were off to the semifinals against number one ranked Morningside. The Chargers fell to the Mustangs 77-62. Briar Cliff, now 23-9, must await the release of the national tournament at-large berths to see if its season will be extended. What a way to start your college basketball career. Congratulations Julie and your team!
Succeeding On and Off the Court
Julie Targy, a St. Mary's alumna and a freshman at Briar Cliff University is at the top of her game both academically and on the court. She is on an academic and basketball scholarship. Julie an Education major with a minor in Special Ed and Spanish made the Dean's List after her first semester. She would also like to coach. Julie who stands at only 5 foot 3, loves playing guard on both the Varsity and JV teams. She leads her JV team in steals and rebounds and has been in double digit scoring her final 5 JV games. The 2015 Great Plains Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament begins tomorrow night. The top eight teams in the conference qualified for the tournament. Briar Cliff is the fourth seed and will host fifth seed Northwestern at 6:00 P.M. at the Newman Flanagan Center in Sioux City, Iowa. For more photos click here.
Rachel Norris a Senior at Roncalli Catholic High School earned High Honors for the first semester honor roll 2014-2015. Students earning high honors had a 3.75 or above GPA. Congratulations Rachel on your academic success!
Alumni Academic Honors
Thomas Walther, a college freshman at Creighton University qualified last semester for the Dean's Honor Roll for the Heider College of Business. Four alumnae at Mercy High School received academic honors for the 2nd quarter of the 2014-2015 school year. Allayna Bash, Lauren Traggiai, and Veronica Traggiai received First Honors and Marlene Djidjoho received Second Honors. At Gross Catholic High School 6 alumni were on the Honor Roll. These students earned a 3.25 GPA or greater for this period. They include: Maxwell Leroy, Kellee Halliburton, Maya Lewis, Danielle Cork, Sarah Janda, and Patrick Mruz. Ben Reckmeyer received First Honors at Creighton Prep. Congratulations everyone on your academic success!
St. Mary's Alumna, One of Time Magazines People of the Year
Each year Time magazine recognizes a "Person of the Year." This year Time chose Ebola fighters as the "People of the Year 2014." Bridget Boeckman, a St. Mary's alumna was one of those fighters.
For a couple of months Nebraska Medical Center nurse, Bridget Boeckman worked exclusively in the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit (NBU) caring for Nebraska's first Ebola patients. She says, "This assignment has been a challenge for her team, but immensely rewarding."
Bridget started her nursing career at The Nebraska Medical Center in 2011 and is currently working as a nurse in the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit as well as in the (NBU). She started working with the (NBU) about 2 years ago and has been participating in monthly meetings and drills to prepare for the care of highly infectious patients.
Her interest in the sciences started back at St. Mary's School in Bellevue. Mr. Eckerman, her 7th and 8th grade science teacher inspired her. His enthusiasm for teaching and putting the scientific method into practice through experimentation was pivotal for Bridget. She remembers thinking "how awesome that we can wear lab coats and dissect sharks like 'real' scientists!" His lessons on cellular biology, anatomy, and physiology cemented her interest in medicine and were of great help to her in high school.
Bridget graduated from St. Mary's in 2001 and Gross Catholic High School in 2005. She studied Psychology and English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. After graduating from UNL in 2009, Bridget pursued a B.S. in Nursing at Creighton University. She will complete her Master's of Science in the Nursing Family Practitioner Program at Clarkson College in May 2015. She will then pursue her Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Clarkson College.
Alum Missionary Home for the Holidays
Fr. Chris Saenz, a member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban and a St. Mary's graduate '82 came back to school to visit with 2nd, 4th and 5th grade classes just before their Christmas vacation. What a blessing since he comes home every 3 years. He brought out the globe so he could show the students where he lives in Chile as a missionary, told them what it's like living there, how they celebrate Christmas and about his mission of bringing people to Christ. The children were very interested in learning all about another culture, what the people eat, what they do, what they are like and what's the climate like. Father Chris told them Christmas in Chile is different than Nebraska, down there it's 90 degrees and summertime. There are Christmas fairs in the streets where people may buy gifts, most people go to Christmas Eve Mass where there is a live manger, and they act out the Nativity with a real baby portraying Jesus. Families share a big meal and maybe some presents after Mass and picnic on Christmas Day. The students asked, "What is a missionary?" He told them John Paul II says a missionary is where you are. We don't have to leave home to serve others. Father Chris is back in Chile serving the people there. For more photos click here.
Love For Art Started at St. Mary's!
Rebekah Menzel will graduate from Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education. For her Senior Composition, she was required to put a body of work together for a senior art show. Her exhibition was entitled "Simplicity." Rebekah presented her artist statement and work to friends and family October 3, 2014 in the O'Malley McAllister Auditorium at Benedictine College. She spoke about her inspirations; family, nature, and the beauty of imperfections in God's creation. Then she invited her guests to view her work in the Gallery of Art. Her exhibition consisted of acrylic painting on canvas and wood, mixed media photo transfers on wood, and ceramics. Rebekah considers St. Mary's art teacher Mrs. Stacey Schutt and her parents as her role models. She says growing up with their creativity and positivity, gave her a solid foundation to let her own creativity thrive. Their support encouraged her to develop her artistic skills. For photos of her art click here.
St. Mary's Alumni - Let's Get Together!
Though there have been a few informal get-togethers here and there and the Class of 1988 had a reunion in 2013, there has not been a formal St. Mary's School Alumni Event since the 60th Anniversary Celebration in March 2009...so it's time!! We welcome any and all former students, teachers, alumni parents or grandparents, and their families to join us Sunday, December 21, 2014 for 12:30pm Mass at St. Mary's Church (Fr. Denny will preside), followed by a reception in the school gym and tours of the school! Please pass this information along to former students, teachers, and their families! PLEASE NOTE: We will be taking 2 group photos ~1:55pm - one of alumni whose children and grandchildren are current students (photo will be of adults & kids) and another of all those alumni in attendance. Let's get together and make this a regular event.
A Special Gift of Love This Advent Season
Josef Lang '06 Alumnus
My Dad & Making Things New
What do you want? What do you need? Almost twenty years ago I held in my hands a small wooden flute in the form of an elephant. It was my favorite toy that week, and it was broken. Lucky for me, we had something special in our house. This thing fascinated me. This thing was a magic drawer. It was magic because anytime my twin brother or I would break one of our toys, we would put that toy in The Magic Drawer. That's what David and I called it. It was a drawer that was magic - magic drawer. It wasn't a very creative name, but we were four. I could care less what it was called; to that kid with the broken flute it was everything. I would put my flute, my Hotwheels car, my squirt gun (whatever it was I'd messed up this time) gingerly into this wooden drawer in my dad's workshop and shut it slowly before hurrying back out of the dark basement where the drawer lived. The next morning, without fail, my twin brother and I would race downstairs and open the drawer...and the toy wouldn't be broken anymore. It took us a few years to figure out it was my dad. It was my dad fixing the toys; he would wait till we'd gone to bed and the sneak downstairs into his shop and take time out of his night when he could have been sleeping to make a sacrifice for us as a father. This was a unique way for him to show us that he loved us! What do you need? What do you want? Growing up I needed someone to fix my mistakes. My father wanted to be the one to do that for me, and for all of his kids. What I desperately needed, he relentlessly provided. He did this for years! Even after we figured out it was him, he would still fix our toys. You've got to believe that that gift of his time - of himself - was fulfilling for him. It was just written into him as a man - that love is sacrificial.
We all want to be happy and to love. What we need is for someone to show us how, and for someone to give us the means to get there. St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote this in a letter to a fellow priest, "Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving...Without sacrifice there is no love...I wish for you and for myself the best appreciation of sacrifice which is the unconditional willingness to sacrifice." He states that appreciation for sacrifice (that without which love cannot exist) is synonymous, or begets, an unconditional willingness to sacrifice. How can we - who desire happiness and love - succeed? Where can we get and how do we foster this appreciation for sacrifice - this unconditional willingness to serve "without [which] there is no love"? Only from looking to Christ. Why? Because he is the unconditional willingness to sacrifice incarnate. Be inspired before you try to be inspiring. God doesn't just ask us to love one another by saying, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.." and leave it at that. He says, "...even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." Be inspired before you try to be inspiring.
God gives us the perfect role model in Himself - in Jesus, and in the life of the Trinity. C.S. Lewis remarks in his writings on the God's "continual standing outside of himself" in the person of Jesus Christ. This Eternal exchange of love between father and son. This is what St. Maximilian Kolbe understood - from a life of prayer to his heroic act of volunteering for execution in place of another man at Auschwitz! How did he love like this?? He was inspired by Christ's sacrificial love! Not only do we as human beings have the opportunity to take in the example of God, and let it motivate us, but we also have available the grace of God to help us to do as he did. Jesus wants us to be happy more than we do. He says in John 10:10 "I came that they might have life, and have it to the full." And he doesn't stop there. He sacrifices his very life to give us the opportunity to be just that - fulfilled. "By his wounds we are healed." By his resurrection and gift of the Holy Spirit we can also have His grace to help us to achieve love through gift of ourselves to others.
My dad was the man behind the magic drawer. He never resented me for putting my toys in that drawer, but instead repeatedly gave of himself to mend what I had messed up. We're human, and we won't always be perfect in living a love built on serving others. In fact, sometimes we can be pretty good and acting out of selfishness and contempt for people. Thank God there is mercy and healing for the times we live that way. Our Father in heaven has given us in his Church the magic drawer sacraments of Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and the Eucharist. HE WANTS TO HEAL US WHEN OUR HUMANITY NEEDS MENDING. When we've messed up what we can't fix on our own. His perfect and sacrificial love invites us in, and asks us to share with others what we've been given. He is the perfect model for happiness - for joy that comes from sacrifice "without [which] there is no love. Christ in his mercy is everything. God, in his perfect example, and gift of grace, is everything. He is everything we need. What do we want?
Josef Lang grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. He spent four years at Kansas State University, and abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, working towards a Master's of Interior Architecture and Product Design. A craftsman and artist, he specializes in the designing and building of contemporary furniture. His educational background has shaped his understanding of culture: just as a complex object is made up of many parts, so too is the culture made up of and influenced by a myriad of factors. He sees the value of an analytical as well as compassionate approach to restoring and rebuilding our relationships and societal values. In the work of The Culture Project, Josef appreciates the incredible opportunity to bring authentic witnesses of joy into the lives of young adults. Through this work, he hopes our culture will come to a profound understanding of the immeasurable worth of the human person.
First Showing at the Hot Shops
Kaitlyn Embury, a 2004 St. Mary's alumna, and our Gym artist will take part in her first Open House at the Hot Shops December 6th and 7th, 2014. Kaitlyn opened her studio, KT Artistry at the Hot Shops at 1301 Nicholas Street #220 in September, and has been busy creating art pieces for the Annual Winter Open House, one of the biggest events of the year. There will be art demonstrations; goodies, live music and artists will have their studios open. Kaitlyn will have a raffle on three of her art pieces. Be sure to stop on by, this is your chance to get an original for Christmas from a budding young artist. The Hot Shops are located just north of downtown Omaha at 13th and Nicholas. To find out more click here to check out their website. Come on out and see what taking art classes at St. Mary's could do for your child. For more photos of Kaitlyn and her art click here.
Alumni Academic Honors
Four alumnae at Mercy High School received academic honors for the 1st quarter of the 2014-2015 school year. Allayna Bash, Lauren Traggiai, and Veronica Traggiai received First Honors and Marlene Djidjoho received Second Honors. At Gross Catholic High School 9 alumni were on the Honor Roll. These students earned a 3.25 GPA or greater for this period. They include: Maxwell Leroy, Kellee Halliburton, Maya Lewis, Danielle Cork, Jason Kreps, Mikaela Schmitz, Louis Foral, Sarah Janda, and Patrick Mruz. Congratulations on your academic success.
2014-2015 School Year
The Culture Project
Ben Petr, a 2006 St. Mary's alumni graduated from Marquette University a semester early, with two majors, Economics and Supply Chain Management, and a minor in Political Science. Ben joined Blain's Farm and Fleet as a management trainee with sights on going into corporate within two years. Ben says, "I am still living in Milwaukee and am active in my new job, and rising quickly. I always thank my time at St Mary's for giving me the drive and determination to be as successful as I have been. I still also keep in touch with many of my St. Mary's friends and created bonds that have lasted a lifetime."
A Graduation Present
Two hours before his Baccalaureate ceremony Matt Delaney received the best graduation present a college graduate could ask for...a job offer. Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs offered Delaney a job as a Social Studies teacher. Matt said, "I accepted and am very excited to get started." What makes the job even more special at Thomas Jefferson is that's where his Mom, Sheryl Witkowsky graduated. (Photo of Matt and his Mom at his Graduation) The next day, Matt gave the commencement speech at Briar Cliff University's 83rd Commencement ceremony where he received a Bachelor's in Secondary Education and a Bachelor's in History with Endorsement in American History, World History and American Government.
The Hat Toss
Sean Cork graduated from the United States Air Force Academy May 28th with a degree in Chemistry and was one of the celebrants to take part in the annual graduation hat toss. Sean says, "as far as the hat toss, it was just exciting knowing that four years of hard work had finally paid off and I would finally be going to fly as an officer in the United States Air Force. Seeing the Thunderbirds fly over with hats in the air was a fantastic visualization of my dream becoming a reality." Cork, no longer a cadet, is now a 2nd Lieutenant and will begin flight training in December at Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma. In his senior year at the Academy Sean won the bronze medal at the NCAA boxing championships and was named an All American in boxing. Sean is a 2006 graduate of St. Mary's School. Thanks Lt. Cork for accepting the call to duty. (Photo courtesy of the USAF Academy)
Alumni St. Mary's Class of 2010 - Graduating Seniors at Bellevue East - Honors
President's Award for Educational Excellence:
Students chosen for this award have earned a cumulative grade point average of 4.5 or higher and backed that up with a score at or above the 85th percentile on the Math or Reading sections of the ACT or SAT.
Kaitlin M. Kozusko
James A. Schnitzer
Scott A. Walker
Academic Certificate Winners:
Students at BPS who were in the top 10% of the senior class for Fall 2013 (using weighted semester GPA) and were the recipient of three previous Academic Letters.
Thomas R. Walther
Honor Society Cord Recipients:
Congratulations and Good Luck as you move forward in your academic pursuits. St. Mary's is so proud of you.
2014 University Commencement Speaker – A St. Mary's Alum
Matt Delaney will take to the podium May 17th to give the commencement speech at Briar Cliff University's 83rd Commencement ceremony. He will represent the Class of 2014. Matt, a history and secondary education major will talk about the diverse social and spiritual experiences he has had while at Briar Cliff, a Roman Catholic University. What a great representative for BCU (Class of 2014) and St. Mary's (Class of 2006). Matt, has been on the Dean's list all 4 years. He was the Fall 2013 Varsity Football Team Captain, and received the GPAC (Great Plains Athletic Conference) Scholar Athlete 2011-13 and the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) National Scholar Athlete 2012-2013. The GPAC Scholar Athlete is considered Academic All-Conference, while the NAIA Scholar Athlete is considered Academic All-American. In his chosen career field Matt was selected as Briar Cliff University Education Department's Most Outstanding Secondary Education Graduate for 2014. These are just a few of his honors at Briar Cliff while also committing time to Community Service. Matt mentored our future leaders, helped feed the hungry, and build a home for those in need, helped teach football to our youth, and helped children with cancer. For a complete review of Matt's accomplishments, honors, and community service click here. Upon graduation Matt plans to teach at a high school in the Omaha metro area.
In Memory and Support
Funeral services will be held for Poth Acouth a St. Mary's 2007 graduate later this week. The 22-year-old Iowa Western Community College student pursuing a criminal justice degree was working on achieving a 4.0 this semester. The St. Mary's School Community offers prayer support to 3rd grader Acouth Acouth and the family as they grieve the loss of their brother and son, Poth. Our school community would also like to help support the Acouth family financially. If you feel the call to donate, please make your check out to Helena and Wantok Acouth. The family will receive friends Friday May 2nd at the Bellevue Memorial Chapel from 5:00 - 7:00 P.M. with a Vigil at 7:00 P.M. The funeral will be Saturday May 3rd, 2014 at 10:30 A.M. at St. Mary's Church.
Claims a Wing Open Title
February 20, 2014 wasn't just any night for Sean Cork. Sean claimed his first Wing Open title. He competed in the 2014 Wing Open Boxing Championships under the lights at Clune Arena at the Air Force Academy. In the 147-pound bout, Sean a senior quickly took control of the ring. He forced a standing-eight count in the opening round with freshman Pedro Barrientes. Barrientes responded with several jabs. The second round was low scoring and both contenders came out strong in the third. Sean, a 2013 finalist, won his first Wing Open title, as he earned the judges' decision. Congratulations Sean, a 2006 St. Mary's Alum.Photos Courtesy of the Air Force Academy.
St. Mary's Alumnae March for Life
Nothing could keep Sarah Ruff and Laura Sjostedt, both from St. Mary's from taking part in the largest prolife event in the world. Not even the snow, ice or temperatures in the teens. Today, January 22nd, they along with two of their classmates from Mercy High School will march in the 40th March for Life in Washington, D.C. The rally will begin at the National Mall and the March will take them up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill. Mercy didn't sponsor a trip this year so the girls joined the Archdiocese's group of young people making the trek by bus. Each girl also raised the $400 needed for the trip. The busses left at 7PM Saturday and will return Thursday at 3PM. A long, but necessary journey, in their fight for life.
Photo: Elizabeth Nussrala and Laura Sjostedt (seniors) top row, Sarah Ruff and Maddie Nebel (juniors), all from Mercy High School.
Alumni Reach Out With Their Newsletter
Julie Targy A St. Mary's Alumnae Will Play Ball
Julie Targy is living her dream, she will play basketball for the Briar Cliff Chargers this fall. Here is the story from Briar Cliff:
"Briar Cliff Inks Targy for 2014
Women's Basketball - Thu, Nov. 21, 2013
Julie Targy has signed a letter of intent to play basketball for the Chargers of Briar Cliff University in 2014. The 5-2 Bellevue, Nebraska native has racked up 10 varsity letters for the Thunderbirds of Bellevue West, so far in her career. She has earned three letters in basketball, two in volleyball, four in track, and one in forensics.
"Julie is a high energy athlete that gives great effort at all times while on the court. She will be a great addition to the Briar Cliff Women's Basketball program", says head coach Mike Power. "Julie is also a great student and will fit in well on our campus. She is a high character student athlete."
In her junior basketball campaign she averaged 8.9 ppg and 2.7 rpg. She also contributed 3.2 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Off the court, Targy is actively involved in National Honor Society, PTSA, DECA, St. Mary's Youth Group, Student Council, and Dance.
The daughter of Stephen and Tina Targy is an honor roll student, who is looking to possibly major in public relations at the Cliff."
Briar Cliff University is a private, Franciscan, Roman Catholic University in Sioux City, Iowa.
It All Started at St. Mary's
Natalie (Targy) Kamtz , a 1999 St. Mary's alumnae, is currently the Clinical Study Coordinator for Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her job includes a variety of things from finding studies, recruiting patients, tracking all study activities, budgets, and contracts, as well as helping write up the results. Natalie says, "We had such wonderful teachers like Mrs. Schutt, Mrs. Nedemeyer, Mr. Eckerman, Mrs. Langhorst, Mrs. Gold, Mrs. Sobillo, and many more at St. Mary's. I had so much fun dissecting all kinds of cool animals. It was so wonderful to be able to explore the sciences and it certainly became a passion of mine that feeds what I do currently. Although, I didn't appreciate it, as I should have then, I now very much appreciate a Catholic environment and curriculum in school. It's so important for kids to be surrounded with the church's teachings and to understand the importance of Christ's love in every aspect of our lives, including our education." Natalie received an academic scholarship to Rockhurst, a Jesuit college in Kansas City where she received her Biology degree in 2007. She also received a science scholarship while at Rockhurst. Natalie was involved in sports, on the dean's list and founded "Run for a Reason" to support breast cancer awareness and research.
2013-2014 School Year
Focused on Her Faith
Liz Connealy will be leading Bible studies and a mentorship program for young women at Wayne State College this year. She, along with 4 others, is working with FOCUS, the Fellowship Of Catholic University Students, to help others find Christ. Liz went to a non-FOCUS college and wasn't very involved with her faith but a FOCUS national conference changed her life forever. As an adult she made Christ an intimate part of her life and wants to share her testimony with others. Liz, a 2005 St. Mary's graduate, and 2013 graduate of Northwest Missouri State, needs your support in her mission.
If you would like to make a donation click here.
Or call Liz at 402-658-4943.
Military Survivor Instructor for a Summer
Sean Cork, St. Mary's alumni 2006', spent his summer working as a military survival instructor at the Air Force Academy teaching land survival as well as POW training that included resistance, escape and evasion. Sean is a senior and will be graduating next spring as a second Lieutenant. He is a varsity boxer and coaches boxing during the school year. The photo is of him boxing an Army boxer from West Point, the Army's military academy. This year, he was named to the Athletic Director's list for his outstanding physical test scores, his boxing and his grades in physical education. He is also majoring in Chemistry and was really challenged last year by his two semesters of physical chemistry. Even with the challenges of a very tough major, he is on the Dean's list for being in the top 1/3 of his class academically. Sean wants to fly after he graduates and is considering his opportunities as graduation approaches.
St. Mary's Alumnae Ready for High School
Christina Sullivan will be going to Bellevue East. She has prepared well, having been on the honor roll the last two years and making straight A's in 8th grade. She is a member of the Junior National Honor Society. Christina has been involved in volleyball, basketball and swimming. During school she also volunteered with Circle of Friends helping other kids with physical or emotional difficulties once a week.This summer she is volunteering at Camp Munroe to work with children who have developmental disabilities and will also help out at the Transplant Reunion at UNMC in July.
St. Mary's Alumnus Going Strong
Joe Sullivan, will be a Junior at Bellevue East this fall. As a Sophomore, Joe was on the Honor Roll and lettered in football. He also participated in power-lifting, swimming and track. He has participated in the Youth Learning Academy at UNMC for 4 years and is applying to be on the Advisory Council. This summer he is working at Camp Munroe to work with children who have developmental disabilities and will volunteer at the Transplant Reunion at UNMC in July.
St. Mary's Alumnus Aims High
Tommy Walther is ranked in the top 1% of his class out of 364 students at Bellevue East with a 3.83 GPA on a 4.0 scale. In August he starts his senior year. Tommy has lettered in swimming, football, baseball and academics. Tommy also power lifts. He has already earned college credit in world history, Psychology, and English at Bellevue East. This year he was inducted into the National Honor Society.
St. Mary's Alumnae is on Her Way
Michaela Sullivan graduated as Salutatorian (in a three way tie for first) from Bellevue East in 2013 and will be going to the University of Nebraska Lincoln with 20 college credits in hand. She will be starting out as a Sophomore to pursue Speech Pathology with a minor in Spanish. Michaela received a full ride through her Regents Scholarship, Buffet Scholarship and $4,000 Scholarship from the Department of Education, which will pay for all of her books, tuition and room and board. Michaela lettered in track, cross-country and swimming. She was one of eight 12- sport athletes to graduate in her 385 person class. That means she participated in 3 sports each of her 4 years in high school. She also, took 1st place in the state of Nebraska her Junior year in powerlifting in her weight class, as a Senior she took 2nd. Michaela was inducted into the National Honor Society her Sophomore year and remained there for 3 years. For community work, Michaela took part and was on the Advisory Board of the Youth Learning Academy at UNMC for four years. That's where students are exposed to many fields in medicine and they volunteer to help others.
St. Mary's Alumnae Aims High
Missy Walther finished her freshman year ranked in the top 1% of her class of 398 students at Bellevue East with a 4.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale all the while playing on the JV softball team, freshmen Basketball team, power-lifting club, and Varsity Soccer team. She was awarded the "3 Sport Athlete Award" her freshmen year and also lettered in soccer. In her spare time Missy also volunteered at Mable Rose with former St. Mary's classmates.
St. Mary's alumni and students from our parish achieved 4th quarter high school academic honors: at Roncalli, Rachel Norris made the Honor Roll; at Duchesne, Kathryn Zieno received Highest Honors; at Mercy, Allayna Bash, Marlene Djidjoho, Julia Leister, Laura Sjostedt, Jill Sobczyk, and Veronica Traggiai received First Honors, and Hannah Kimsey received Second Honors; at Gross, Danielle Cork, Sarah Janda, Patrick Mruz, and Chelsea Schmitz earned a 3.25 GPA or greater, and at Creighton Prep, Matthew Cervantes, Riley Hanson, Jonathan Henderson, and Benjamin Reckmeyer received First Honors, and Hayden Hanson & Michael Martin received Second Honors. Congratulations!
Congratulations 2013 Graduates and Scholarship Winners!
The following students celebrated graduation from St. Mary's School at Mass on May 19th; Alfred Balanay, Juan Chavez, Jr., Shayanne Cornett, Jean-Marie Djidjoho, Marcel Dugas, James Goetz, Michael James, Joseph Keenan, Nowa Keita, Sara Kepford, Maya Lewis, Danny McMaster, Mikayla Sage, Nick Schnitzer, Lauren Traggiai, and Cole Wellman. Also, congratulations to James Goetz, Jean-Marie Djidjoho, Maya Lewis, Shayanne Cornett and Lauren Traggiai, recipients of the Dr. Charles and Amy Longo Scholarship. James and Maya will attend Daniel J. Gross High School, Jean-Marie will attend Mt. Michael High School, and Lauren will attend Mercy High School. Shayanne will attend Mercy or Daniel J. Gross High School. Maya and Lauren also received $300 scholarships from the St. Mary's - Bellevue Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court#2036. Congratulations to all the scholarship winners!
Rachel Norris has earned a place on the Principal's List for the 3rd quarter at Roncalli High School. Rachel maintained A's & B's for the quarter.
Helping Others Reach for the Gold
Nathan Feldmann, a St. Mary's alumni was invited to speak at the Congressional award kick off activities in Elkhorn, Nebraska Saturday with Congressman Lee Terry and Johnny Rogers. Johnny Rogers was a 1972 Heisman Trophy winner from UNL (seen here with Nathan in the Heisman Trophy stance).
Nathan spoke about his experiences in earning his Congressional gold-medal award. He told them the Congressional award is more than a checklist and recounted working with his buddy at Munroe Meyer. By volunteering at Monroe he learned the value in serving and connecting with others, and helping the community.
Nathan said he is continuing to set goals as a sophomore at UNL and grow even though he's no longer working for a medal. He talked about his involvement at the People's City Mission in Lincoln as well as being a member of the Cornhusker Marching Band and the medical student-shadowing program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Then he left the new Congressional Award recipients with a challenge: find a way to serve that's meaningful to you, so that your Congressional award experience becomes a part of who you are and that you continue to live that lifestyle long after you reach the gold.
St. Mary's alumnae at Mercy High School are bringing in Academic Honors. For the 3rd quarter First Honors go to: Allayna Bash, Marlene Djidjoho, Julia Leister and Jill Sobczyk. Second Honors go to Laura Sjostedt and Veronica Traggiai. Congratulations!
A Rare Honor
Chelsea Schmitz, a junior at Gross High School, was inducted into the Archbishop Gerald T. Bergan Chapter of the National Honor Society on February 27th. In order to be selected, she had to maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher and demonstrate outstanding character, leadership, and service within the school and community. Chelsea is the daughter of Randy and Trixy Schmitz.
Scout Sunday Recognizes Its Own at St. Mary's
Fifteen scouts from the St. Mary's parish were honored for their diligent efforts in religious programs for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Four Cub Scouts received the Light of Christ award where they learned about Jesus' love through Reconciliation and First Communion. Eleven Scouts received the Parvuli Dei (Children of God) award as they learned about God's presence in people around them and their contributions to help others in their community. Adult leader, Kolene Krysal received the Bronze Pelican award for her contributions to the spiritual growth of Boy Scouts. St. Mary's has been sponsoring the Scout program for more than 60 years. One of the lectors was Eagle Scout, Larry Ortega, St. Mary's graduating class of 69'.
Erika Bennett Wins an iPad!
Erika Bennett, a St. Mary's alumna, wins the ultimate prize for her extraordinary skill. Last October she went to Defy Gravity to celebrate her sisters, Anna and Julia's birthday. While they enjoyed the indoor trampoline, Erika tested her skills through a timed course, maneuvering her body through the trampoline laser maze. She had the fastest time for the month and won a $25 gift card. Erika was invited back to compete in the end of year competition and won again! This time, she took home an iPad which she plans to use for her schoolwork at Mercy High School.
Did you get the 1st St. Mary's Alumni Newsletter we sent out this week by email? If not, now is the time to update your contact information by sending an email to alumni(at)stmarysbellevue.com That way you won't miss any future mailings. We'd also like to know what is going on in the lives of St. Mary's Alumni. If you have information you'd like to share about: weddings, births, honors, etc. send it to alumni(at)stmarysbellevue.com
First Shot at Big Game
"I turned 21 this year and was able to celebrate by shooting my first elk, which was about the best present ever." Sean Cork, a 2006 St. Mary's alumni took aim with his new hunting rifle designed for larger game such as elk and shot his target. Cork says his dad actually sited his new rifle and brought it from Nebraska along with one of his buddies. It was Sean's aim that brought down the elk. Sean went hunting northwest of Steamboat Springs with his hunting club from the Air Force Academy, some of his friends from school, his dad and a buddy from back home. Sean says, "My dad took most of the meat home, (except for some steaks which I already ate!) and has already made jerky, salami and other yummy things."
Sean, is a second classman (Junior) at the Air Force Academy majoring in Chemistry. He is also an intramural boxing coach as well as a member of the Air Force Academy Varsity boxing team.
2012-2013 School Year
St. Mary's Alumni Brings Home the Gold
One of St. Mary's own, Nathan Feldmann received the Congressional Award Gold Medal at our Nations Capitol June 20, 2012. Nathan was one of 277 exceptional young Americans, 7 of them Nebraskans, who challenged themselves and made lasting contributions to their community, country and themselves. The United States Congress recognizes young people who set and achieve goals in Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness and Expedition/Exploration.
To earn his Gold Medal, Nathan mentored the mentally and physically disabled at the Munroe Meyer Institute. He gave more than 400 hours to help them learn to swim, play, cook and interact with one another. Nathan was an active leader and member of his high school marching band (Papillion- La Vista South) involved in 5 competitions per year. He ran a half marathon, and he planned a five night snowboarding trip to Winter Park, Colorado. Not only did he learn the fundamentals of snowboarding, he learned how to effectively plan a large-scale trip that included all aspects of lodging, food, travel and budget.
Nathan says, "The Congressional Award experience has instilled in me the importance of goal setting and work ethic, which I will be able to use for the rest of my life. I have just completed my freshman year of college at UNL. I will continue to develop in these four core areas even though I am no longer pursuing an award. I will continue to apply these skills toward my academic and career goal to become a physician. I feel that the Congressional Award has prepared me for the challenges and obstacles that lie ahead. And that's the head fake. This award is not about the magnitude of accomplishments, developing a resume, or simply completing a checklist, but rather, how the Congressional Award has molded and shaped us into people of service, responsibility, and integrity. We must now go into each of our communities and apply what we've learned using our time, talent, and treasure that God has given us to make this world a better place."
Timothy Lewis, a St. Mary's alum, and his wife Caitlin welcomed their first child Tyler Robert Lewis June 9, 2011, weighing 5 lbs. 1 oz. Tyler is the grandson of two St. Mary's teachers, Marion Lewis and Stacey Schutt.