Saint John's Magazine Summer/Fall 2020

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Identical Inspiration


Lies brothers share family, faith and educational roots


Dryers provide Cristo Rey Jesuit’s shining stars a hand up


Johnnies respond to COVID-19 with hope and service



Features An Investment in Students’ Lives P. 12

Dan ’80 and Janet ’83 Dryer have reached out to lift up another generation of Johnnies and Bennies by creating a scholarship for Cristo Rey Jesuit High School graduates. The Dryer Scholarship will fund an SJU/CSB education for four outstanding Cristo Rey Jesuit students each year. The first four Dryer Scholars start classes this fall.

SJU responds to COVID-19 P. 18

Doctors serving on the front lines in New York City. A physician formulating strategy for the Mayo Clinic. A local doctor making worldwide online house calls. Entrepreneurs transitioning from distillery and drone consulting to hand sanitizer and face shields. Educators moving from the classroom to online learning. However it can, the Saint John’s community is battling the pandemic.

One is a Johnnie. One is a Tommie. P. 26

But identical twins Fr. Bill Lies ’82 and Fr. Jim Lies share virtually everything else – their Central Minnesota roots, their exceptional story of family and faith, and their profound appreciation for their undergraduate educational experiences that launched remarkable careers of service to the church and to humanity.

Departments My Perspective View from Collegeville Service to the Church In Sight Alumni Connection Johnnie Sports Transforming Lives Class Notes Inspiring Lives


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is the alumni magazine of Saint John’s University. It is published twice a year, in the spring and fall, by the SJU Office of Institutional Advancement.

EDITOR Dave DeLand 320-363-3013


CONTRIBUTORS Jessie Bazan SOT/Sem ’17 Rob Culligan ’82 Dana Drazenovich Ryan Klinkner ’04 David Moe ’94 Frank Rajkowski

PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY Dan Borgeson Matt Cashore Steve Fines Denise Gagner Paul Middlestaedt Thomas O’Laughlin ’13 Steve Woit

UNIVERSITY ARCHIVIST Peggy Landwehr Roske ’77



† Lee A. Hanley ’58

ADDRESS CHANGES Ruth Athmann Saint John’s University P.O. Box 7222 Collegeville, MN 56321

SJU ALUMNI ARE SOCIAL Like us on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter at Follow us on Instagram at Subscribe to blogs at

Find Saint John’s Magazine online at ©2020 Saint John’s University


EDITOR’S NOTE: This edition of Saint John’s Magazine was sent to the printer Aug. 26 and reflects the status of academic, athletic and safety planning at that time.


blended learning and hybrid learning have all become part of our vernacular. Saint John’s University is a robust place. Our students often learn by doing, whether that be in the classrooms and labs, on stage, in performance halls or on the playing fields. The virus has also caused us to look inward – to move to the interior life, forming the mind, heart and conscience. This moment in time and our unique campus environment offer a wealth of opportunities for introspection and conscience. We are particularly mindful of the national

Benedictine reflections on our pandemic journey By Dr. Eugene McAllister, interim president

As we grapple with the implications of a global health pandemic, one thing remains abundantly clear: Our plans and our response continue to change, hour by hour, day by day, week by week. This is an evolving process … an ongoing discernment … a learning experience … a journey. Perhaps the best approach is to step back and take the long view. What are the most important objectives for the long term? What are the accomplishments that will give us pride five or 10 years from now? Our notions of success or failure should not be tied to short-term measures that in many ways are out of our control. We need to identify goals that will help us progress, to be stronger in the future. Reflecting on our journey thus far, three life lessons come to mind.



First, we are committed to keeping everyone healthy and together. Pretty simple. We have instituted comprehensive safety protocols in the dorms, in the classrooms and across campus. We have revamped our course schedule and outfitted our classrooms with remote learning technology. We are focused not only on the safety of our students, but on the health and well-being of our faculty and staff, from our professors to our custodians to our food servers. We are not only concerned about the physical health of our community members, but also about their spiritual well-being. Second, this is a teaching moment and a learning opportunity. The coronavirus and the response to it are causing us to think and act differently. We continue to pursue new and innovative teaching delivery methods. Online learning,

and global conversation on race. Saint John’s and Saint Benedict are intent on promoting anti-racism and racial understanding. Our Student Senate has prepared an Official Call to Action, which sets the stage for some remarkable conversation. Our new curriculum stresses the convergence of disparate ideas under major themes, including the call for justice. Third, as a Benedictine university, we know that community matters. It is the heart of Benedictine life. The word community is used so widely it sometimes lacks the punch we expect. If there’s one thing for certain in these turbulent times, we need community. We need each other. Building community begins with the art of listening – listening with the ear of the heart. Listening helps us learn, it helps keep us healthy and together, and it is absolutely necessary to counter all the noise we are encountering in daily life. During this pandemic, it’s hard to know what is going to happen next week let alone six months from now. We do know, however, the road and pathway to success. We need to journey together.


Kura Messenger Sculpture honors Hassler and Saint John’s heritage and stewardship

the Learning Commons. Its two vertical black granite pillars were the base of the steps to the old Abbey Church and date back to 1873.

As he recuperated from emergency quintuple-bypass heart surgery three years ago, a recurring dream came to Richard Bresnahan.

“Everything has to have some sort of reuse or repurposing,” Bresnahan said. “It embraces all the people who walked on those stones and made those surfaces so beautiful.”

“When I got back from open-heart surgery and you get all that extra blood flow going into your brain, I had the wildest dreams,” said Bresnahan ’76, Saint John’s University’s Artist-inResidence and founder and director of The Saint John’s Pottery.

At the center of the round, stainless steel Kura suspended at the sculpture’s center is a handmade scroll of the Rule of Saint Benedict, painstakingly assembled by local letterpress artist Mary Bruno with a reclaimed redwood scroll and display stand crafted by local artisan Jeff Thompson.

“I started having these visions of the sculpture. I was seeing this.”

Surrounding the scroll are 12 large pottery containers filled with 178 smaller jars containing species of rare, endangered heirloom seeds – corn, beans, squash and pumpkin – some with genetics over 1,500 years old, from around the world.

This. Bresnahan’s dream became a reality in mid-August with the completion of the Kura Prophetic Messenger Sculpture, the first installation in the Jon Hassler Sculpture Garden located in the outdoor space between SJU’s Alcuin Library and the Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons. The sculpture is a connection between the two buildings, but it’s also much more – a dedication to natural beauty and stewardship, a testimonial to faith and community, a link between the Marcel Breuer-designed library and the Gregory Friesen-designed Learning Commons, a tribute to American Indian heritage and Midwestern roots and to an author who chronicled them vividly. “It’s looking at culture from an environmental artist’s perspective,” Bresnahan said. “It harkens to our family roots. It harkens to the Benedictine roots here at Saint John’s, and the agrarian roots. It’s pulling all these parts together to create a really beautiful piece.” The space is dedicated to Hassler, a 1955 SJU graduate and renowned author who

The Kura was filled Aug. 10, and the ceramic cap that sealed it was part of the finishing touches applied Aug. 11. “That’s a pretty emotional moment for me,” Bresnahan said, “to be able to bring all those ideas together.” They’re together now, as a lasting tribute to all those elements.

served as Saint John’s Regents Professor Emeritus and Writer-in-Residence before his death in 2008. Five major pieces weighing a combined 14,000 pounds compose the foundation of the sculpture, some of which is repurposed from other iconic Saint John’s campus structures. Its base is a 4,800-pound granite slab removed from a wall at Alcuin Library to connect with

“A number of people asked me is this my legacy, and am I going to drop over dead soon?” Bresnahan said with a wry smile that showed he had no intention of doing so. “The legacy would be he was true to his word and he worked in the most responsible way of an environmental artist possible … to repurpose things … to work with the natural materials … and to have a philosophy that would be embracing of all people.” That legacy is very much alive, for Saint John’s and for the ages.





the priority with new block schedule, hybrid learning COVID-19 has been a little like baseball’s most elusive pitch, the knuckleball. Not even the pitcher knows if a knuckleball is moving up or down, left or right or straight down the center of the plate. Likewise, when Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict started to plan for the 2020-21 school year with the ongoing pandemic still impacting day-to-day life, there were some variables to consider. But there was no variable for one element of that plan: bringing students, faculty and staff back to campus safely and reestablishing the community SJU and CSB are known for, according to members of the Scenario Planning Committee composed of representatives from both institutions. To help safeguard the community, SJU and CSB announced June 8 that they will institute a block schedule with hybrid learning for the 2020-21 academic year. “Our priority in addressing the fall (schedule) was to identify a plan that would allow the community to return to campus in the safest way possible,” said Barb May, academic dean at SJU and CSB and a member of the



planning committee chaired by Provost Richard Ice. “We are still meeting to address other needs as we prepare for fall and will continue to meet into the academic year to allow the institutions to adapt as we learn what COVID-19 is doing and how the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines change,” May added.

BLOCK SCHEDULE TO MEET SAFETY DEMANDS In the block schedule, each semester is divided into four-week blocks. During each block, students will take one four-credit class for a three-hour period four days a week. One- and two-credit classes will be offered on Wednesdays. Faculty will mostly teach one course during each block. There will be some exceptions. Students may have a one- or two-credit class or take a lab in addition to the fourcredit course, and some faculty will be teaching a lab during this same time. This structure supports the safety components that COVID-19 demands. Students and faculty will move across each campus less frequently, which creates safer situations in dining areas and busing by reducing the number of trips people will make on The Link.

Two SJU/CSB faculty members who know the ins and outs of the block schedule are history Professor Gregory Schroeder and political science Professor Claire Haeg. Both are members of the Scenario Planning Committee and the four-member Academic Schedule group (with Dean of the Faculty Pam Bacon and May) that drafted the proposal for the block plan with hybrid learning. The Academic Schedule group was a sub-group of the larger planning committee. Schroeder said that faculty will “have to rethink our courses fundamentally” with the new schedule. “Faculty have generally responded by asking for information to prepare for success in the fall: How many class periods per block? When will two-credit courses be offered? How will we teach capstones? When can I practice with the new classroom technology? Faculty are eager to redesign their courses, and spaces in faculty development workshops have filled quickly,” Schroeder said. “This will be a different way of teaching, and for me it really involves thinking through how I cover the same learning goals in an intense and focused way,” said Haeg, who also served on the

Scenario Planning Committee. “We know that it works best for projects and less well for a survey sort of course.” Both the Saint John’s and Saint Benedict Student Senates had a Zoom session to further discuss the plan with May and the Academic Schedule team. “I think that the block schedule gives SJU/CSB an interesting opportunity to continue our education in person,” said Joseph Schwamm ’21, who is the incoming president of the SJU Senate. “It allows us the chance to return to campus, while also maximizing our safety in spite of the continuing pandemic. “Of course our schedules may look a bit different, but we get to be back on campus and interact face-toface in a classroom setting. That’s a win to me,” said Schwamm, an economics major. In addition to having classes on-campus, incoming CSB Senate President Sade Larson ’21 pointed out three other benefits of the block schedule. “It allows for a better focus on one subject and class at a time; it eliminates finals week; and if we need to go back online, it eliminates the stress of having to focus on too many subjects,” said Larson, a psychology from St. Joseph, Minnesota. “The block schedule is the most flexible and safest approach we could identify to address the uncertainties of COVID-19,” May said. “Not only are students and faculty moving less frequently across campus, it also means classrooms are used by less courses, and thus less students and faculty in these classrooms. It will also give us time to disinfect classrooms.

“Most importantly, the block schedule will maintain the educational experience you expect at SJU/CSB,” May said. “Research demonstrates that this intensive learning model has no significant difference in meeting student learning outcomes as compared to a traditional semester model. While it will feel different, we will sustain the excellent education our students deserve.”

HYBRID LEARNING ALLOWS FLEXIBILITY IN TEACHING, LEARNING Hybrid learning will allow faculty and students the flexibility to attend class virtually, even as others attend class in person. It includes new technology purchased by both schools and allows for innovation in classrooms and maximum flexibility as health and safety guidelines change. “The new classroom technology will include cameras and microphones to allow the simultaneous participation of students both virtually and in class,” Schroeder said. “We expect to practice social distancing – fewer people present at one time – so the new technology will permit us to conduct classes by rotating groups from day to day if necessary. The technology gives us the best chance of maintaining academic focus and community under difficult circumstances.” “The technology looks really interesting and will be another thing to get used to, but it will be great because it means I can be in the classroom with students, and that’s the most important thing for me,” Haeg said. “I will have all the technology I need to explain difficult concepts to students who are in the classroom that day and the group who

are attending class online, and to have great small and large group discussions so we all get to know each other,” Haeg added. “This is another adjustment we are making to create flexibility as we adjust to COVID-19 uncertainties and learning needs into the future. For example, this will allow students who might be in quarantine or who are unable to get to campus because they cannot leave their home to participate virtually,” May said. Administration officials are confident the changes will create a learning environment that not only sustains but enhances the interactive and in-person academic experiences with the safety and flexibility that SJU and CSB are known for.

Congratulations to the following faculty members at Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict who retired following the 2019-20 school year: Retirements: S. Patricia Kennedy, OSB, theology Lisa Lindgren, global business leadership Professor Emeritus and retirements: Joe DesJardins, philosophy J. Andrew Whitford Holey, computer science Henry Jakubowski, chemistry James Makepeace, sociology Professor Emerita and retirements: Meg Lewis, economics Janet Neuwirth, nursing Wendy Sterba, languages and cultures




Nakasone sends virtual inspiration to Fighting Saints Gen. Paul Nakasone was prepared for a reunion May 8 with Saint John’s University and the Fighting Saints Battalion ROTC program that provided the springboard for his exceptional career in the United States Army. Thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic, however, that reunion turned into something virtually without precedent. “I expected to stand among you in one of my favorite places – my alma mater. But instead we find ourselves at a distance,” said Nakasone, a 1986 SJU graduate who now serves as Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and Director, National Security Agency/ Chief, Central Security Service. As a socially distanced alternative, Nakasone provided the keynote address for the Fighting Saints 2020 commissioning program via Zoom, the online platform that graduates and their families also used for the gathering. “Welcome to the first-ever Fighting Saints Battalion virtual commissioning ceremony,” said Joe Peterson, Fighting Saints Enrollment & Scholarship officer and the master of ceremonies for the unique program. “If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can conduct a draft from his basement, why can’t we conduct this commissioning virtually, from the headquarters of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command?” Nakasone said with a smile. “It’s an honor to be here, however far apart.” Twenty-one senior cadets were commissioned as U.S. Army Second



Lieutenants in the online ceremony that bore little resemblance to Nakasone’s commissioning 34 years ago. “The world looked a little different then,” said Nakasone, who spoke after Fr. Don Talafous, OSB, delivered the invocation. “Yet the one constant, something that provides us balance, is that Fr. Don was also present at my commissioning – a fact that should give us all great comfort.” That comfort accompanied a sense of pride in the Fighting Saints’ collective accomplishments. “We are gathered virtually to recognize an exceptional group of cadets whose hard work and dedication has resulted in the Fighting Saints Battalion being recognized as one of the nation’s top ROTC programs,” said Lt. Col. Steven Beard, professor of military science. The circumstances of the virtual commissioning became a focal point in Nakasone’s 10-minute address. “This is not the speech I thought I would give,” he said. “I pictured spending a few days walking the campus with my family, telling them stories about my life as a student. I looked forward to seeing you gathered in the Humphrey Auditorium, thanking your families and loved ones

for supporting you on the journey that led you here. “But as every good officer knows, you have to be prepared for the unexpected.” His Saint John’s student experience is something that has helped Nakasone – a four-star general – do exactly that. “I loved Saint John’s as a student and as a cadet, and I grew to love it more over the years. Whenever I faced a hard problem in my career, whether it’s been professionally or personally, I often return to the lessons I learned at my alma mater and within this program,” Nakasone said.

“We lived the Army values at Saint John’s – loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and courage. It’s these values that provide a beacon to guide my actions. “You’re headed into a changed world. Pay attention,” Nakasone added. “We’re not returning to an old normal – we’re headed to a new one. I hope it will be a future where challenges give you the chance to find strength you did not know you had.”

SJU, CSB again rank Nos. 1-2 in state for jobs Here’s a bit of good news for graduates of both Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict: Zippia, a career website, found that SJU was again the best college for employment placement in Minnesota in its 2020 analysis, with a 95.16% job placement rate. It was the third time in four years that SJU earned the top spot in Minnesota. For the second year in a row, CSB was second in the state with a 94.88% placement rate. Both the SJU and CSB placement rates remain unchanged from 2019.

Modeas, Smith, Marshall recognized with Man of Extraordinary Service Award Even while members of the Saint John’s community were scattered across the nation and globe as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that closed campus and forced classes online for the remainder of spring semester, the common values of community, service to others and justice that hold it together remained strong. Those traits are exemplified by the three members of the class of 2020 who were elected as this year’s Man of Extraordinary Service Award winners. The distinguished students bestowed with the award were Alex Modeas, a political science and peace studies major from Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Andrew Smith, a biology major from Amery, Wisconsin; and Quinlen Marshall, a chemistry major from St. Cloud, Minnesota.

“If you can get into a role that is going to force you to push the critical thinking foundation you get at a place like Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s – and it doesn’t matter if that role is in sales or account management, technology, finance or whatever – it’s going to give you a diversity of experiences that help build your career,” said Karl Ulfers ’02, CEO of Minneapolis-based Rally Health.

The award annually recognizes the work of SJU students who are characterized by their personal commitment to service, and whose efforts promote community, justice, working with others to accomplish a greater good and thoughtful reflection through the lens of Benedictine values and/or Catholic social teaching.

Among state leaders, SJU ranked 10th overall. CSB’s rate was higher than 37 state leaders.

To that end, last October, he played a key role in launching SJU/CSB World Mental Health Week. As a senior and vice president of the SJU Senate, he also helped organize the Flynntown Village Festival and the Senate’s Hurricane Dorian relief fundraiser.

Nationally, SJU ranked 15th overall and CSB was 19th overall. Quinnipiac University in Connecticut had the nation’s highest employment placement rate for the second year in a row, at 96.10%.

Alex Modeas said his goal has been to “strengthen the sense of belonging and support every student deserves to feel.”

Over the course of his four years, he co-directed a mentorship program, organized bystander training sessions

and co-facilitated a Becoming Community discussion group. He has also worked with young students at two schools in the St. Cloud area, as well as at the Ben Sinuka Primary School in Port Elizabeth, South Africa while studying abroad. Andrew Smith said “coming to SJU/ CSB only enhanced the significance of relationships that my family, hometown of Amery, Wisconsin, and Catholic faith have been growing inside of me.” A member of the Johnnies wrestling team, he served as president of the SJU Student Athletic Advisory Council and helped organize fundraisers for cancer research – a cause personal to him after he was diagnosed with bladder cancer when he was 11 months old. Smith also has given of his time and effort on multiple mission trips, as a student emergency medical technician and through other community efforts. Quinlen Marshall said an important facet of Catholic social teaching has been the “call to family, community and participation – which strives for participation in society and increasing the capacity of individuals to grow in community.” He embodied that mission through his work as a student coordinator at the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement, a position he has held since 2017. He has also been a teaching assistant in the chemistry department, senior lead in the Student Health Assistant program, co-leader of an Alternative Break Experience, co-leader of a medical work trip to Honduras and cofacilitator for a Becoming Community dialogue group.




Theisen Award marks Bartch’s ascent from Saint John’s reserve to NFL draftee

When Ben Bartch ’20 was named as the recipient of the 2020 Fr. Wilfred Theisen Student-Athlete of the Year Award in late May, it capped an extraordinary 2019-20 school year for the offensive lineman from Dayton, Oregon. Bartch, who arrived at Saint John’s as a 230-pound tight end, moved to offensive tackle following the 2018 season, putting in long hours in the weight room and consuming his nowfamous protein shakes – ingredients of which included seven scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, quick grits, peanut butter, bananas and Gatorade – to gain 75 pounds. He started for two seasons, earning All-American honors while helping lead the Johnnies to a berth in the NCAA Division III semifinals last fall – the deepest the program had advanced since winning a national title in 2003.



His efforts earned him the distinction of being the lone Division III player selected to take part in the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl held in Mobile, Alabama last January, and his performance in the workouts caused his name to rocket up NFL draft boards. Meanwhile, his colorful personality – and unique protein shakes – earned him a wide range of national media coverage. In April he was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round (116th overall) of the NFL Draft. He was the 10th Johnnie to be drafted, and the first since defensive lineman Kurt Wachtler was selected in the 15th round by the Minnesota Vikings in 1974. He is scheduled to return to Minnesota when the Jaguars take on the Vikings Dec. 6 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Bartch has excelled off the field as well. He was honored Jan. 1 as a member of the 22-player Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good

Works Team, and he was named to the 2020 National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Hampshire Honor Society (minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA) in April. Bartch studied abroad in South Africa during spring 2019, serving as a computer lab tutor for children ages kindergarten-seventh grade at Seyisi Primary School. Previously, he volunteered with Catholic Charities' Meals on Wheels in St. Joseph, Minnesota and served as an after-school tutor for sixth-grade students at All Saints Academy. “I’m incredibly grateful for all the support I’ve gotten from my teammates, my coaches and all the Saint John’s fans,” he said in April as his pre-draft acclaim reached its zenith. “But my mindset is that I’m not any better than any of my fellow Bennies and Johnnies. I’m just doing something a little different.”

Berres pioneered Johnnies’ Rat Pack

of his Elks Lodge, earning Michigan’s Elk of the Year award in 2002-03. His love for the local teams extended to Escanaba High School, where he became a regular presence at athletic events. He was named the Escanaba Fan Club’s Fan of the Year and to the Escanaba Quarterback Club’s Wall of Fame.

A list of the most fervent fans of Saint John’s University athletics over the years would take up a lot of space. But near the top would have to be the name of Frank Berres ’57, who died June 5 at age 85. The Escanaba, Michigan resident was a 1953 graduate of Le Sueur (Minnesota) High School who went on to enroll at SJU that fall.

But his original love was the Johnnies, and he returned to watch SJU play numerous times over the years. That included being on hand to see John Gagliardi set the all-time collegiate victory record at Clemens Stadium in 2003, and a trip to Roanoke, Virginia to see the Johnnies beat Mount Union (Ohio) for the Division III national title that same year.

During his time on campus, Berres founded a cheering section that would go on to become a legendary and colorful part of Johnnie lore and is still going strong today: The Rat Pack. “The fact that the Rat has survived 50 years at Saint John’s is really exciting to me,” Berres said in an article in the autumn 2004 edition of Saint John’s Magazine. “It appears to have enough momentum to survive the test of time. “The Johnnie Rat began with me and I am proud of it.” Berres picked up the nickname “The Rat” because his room in Benet Hall was so messy it resembled a rat’s nest. He was a regular attendee at SJU athletic events and a vocal supporter of the Johnnies – especially during basketball games in the Old Gym (Guild Hall). The section where Berres and his friends sat – on the north end of the gym closest to the door – soon became known as the “Rat Section.” And Berres laid claim to being the original Rat. Among the first to experience the Rats’ needling of the opposition was Evelyn Young, wife of Gustavus coach Gus Young. She was known for cheering on her husband’s team loudly and waving her fur coat, sometimes even throwing it to the floor.

Berres began mimicking her actions with a coat of his own and a long tradition of trying to get under the skin of the opposing team and its followers was born.

The reputation of the Rats eventually began to spread, even beyond the MIAC. By the mid1990s, Sports Illustrated named the group the zaniest cheering section in all of college sports. “I think every student that has attended a game and cheered for Saint John’s has been proud to be a member of the Rat Pack,” said SJU athletic director Bob Alpers ’82. “I wish I had the chance to meet Frank and thank him for founding one of the greatest fan traditions in all of college sports.” Berres and his wife Jean moved from Minnesota to Escanaba in the 1960s and raised five children there. He was also active in the community, starting a local softball league that grew as large as 50 teams. He was a prominent member

“It’s just a thrill to be here and it’s a thrill to be a Johnnie fan,” he told the St. Cloud Times that day. “It’s awesome to be here, especially being married to the original Rat,” added Jean Berres. “Forty-four years I’ve been following them around, and it’s been great. This is unbelievable.” Berres was also on hand for Homecoming in 2007 – the 50th anniversary of his graduation. It was on that afternoon that he visited that year’s Rat Pack in the north end zone and helped them cheer on the Johnnies to a 30-29 comeback win over St. Olaf. “On the campus, the football game and seeing the Rat Pack members made it seem like it was just yesterday,” he wrote in a letter to The Record recounting his experience. “The Old Rat in me felt it was time to go to the North End Zone to help the Rat Pack. “At age 72, leading cheers for 20-yearolds is not easy!”




shipments of generosity By Jessie Bazan, SOT/Sem ’17

In his monastic rule, Saint Benedict declares: “The Lord waits for us daily to translate into action, as we should, his holy teachings.” The wise monk knew Christian practices like “community” and “solidarity” cannot be confined to a book or bulletin board. Responsibility rests on the monastic – and on each of us – to embody these values in our daily lives. S. Mary Mao, SOT ’11, took up her share of action in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. From her convent in Ningbo, China, S. Mary prayed daily for the health of her friends and professors in Collegeville. She recalled the confidence instilled


in her by the School of Theology and Seminary community and wondered how she could be of service from 7,000 miles away. As COVID-19 started to spread more rapidly across the United States, S. Mary decided to translate what she

learned about Benedictine community into action — specifically, into face masks. “Mary sent me a message asking if I wanted masks,” said Dr. Barbara Sutton, director of formation and field education at the School of Theology

“My goal is to accompany people who are fearful or anxious in the face of this situation,” S. Mary explained. “I see myself as a bridge that helps build relationships between people, God and their family members.” and Seminary. “I called one of our alumna, Geralyn Nathe-Evans, SOT ’04, who serves as a nurse at the St. Cloud Hospital to see if there was a need. “She responded immediately: ‘Yes, CentraCare will know how to use them.’ Mary’s donation was pure generosity.”

Soon, 280 masks arrived in Central Minnesota. A second shipment brought 1,000 more masks a few weeks later – and S. Mary was not done yet. A third shipment followed with another 500 N95 masks. In total, S. Mary mailed

1,780 masks to her beloved “second home” across the world. “The SOT community showed me I am a gift for others,” S. Mary said. “I try my best to integrate my prayer life and service. I was so happy to be able to do something for them.” How did a religious sister gain access to so many face masks? S. Mary said her community, the Sisters of the Saver of Souls, asked friends and even their local bishop for donations. They gathered enough masks for three separate shipments in no time. Leave it to religious women to be succinct and savvy. When S. Mary is not procuring medical equipment, she works in a church

counseling center doing marriage and family therapy. The pandemic forced her to think creatively about how to keep doing her ministry from a distance. She transitioned to online counseling sessions and parenting classes. “My goal is to accompany people who are fearful or anxious in the face of this situation,” S. Mary explained. “I see myself as a bridge that helps build relationships between people, God and their family members.” Great needs abound during the pandemic, putting counselors like S. Mary at risk for burnout. But she believes the School of Theology and Seminary prepared her to take on the challenges of today. “Self-care was one of the most important lessons I learned at the SOT,” S. Mary said. “The more I take care of myself, the more I can be a joyful gift to others. I strongly believe that God is calling me to serve those in need in this changing world.” S. Mary lived her calling 1,780 times over last spring as COVID-19 changed the world. The St. Cloud community thanks her for translating Benedict’s teaching on community into action. Jessie Bazan, M.Div., SOT ’17, helps Christians explore vocation and calling in her work with the Collegeville Institute. She is editor and co-author of Dear Joan Chittister: Conversations with Women in the Church (Twenty-Third Publications, 2019).


INVESTING Alum couple’s gifts open doors for


worked 30 hours a week at the Richfield Target to help her family stay afloat after her dad was deported in 2018. She pulled some all-nighters doing homework for her classes at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis because she wanted to turn in nothing but her best work. “It was really hard, but I always kept that mindset where, ‘I can’t give up, I can’t give up, I can’t give up.’” Now, she is looking forward to continuing her Spanish studies and exploring business-related courses at Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict. “I feel like it fits my idea of a perfect college.”



took on added responsibilities when his mom started working back-to-back jobs after his dad died in 2016. He looked after his two younger brothers and excelled in his demanding AP courses at Cristo Rey Jesuit and in his internship in U.S. Bank’s global corporate trust department through the school’s Corporate Work Study Program. “It’s been very difficult, but I’ve been able to get through it to overcome some challenges, to keep my grades up.” Ignacio’s internship has already given him plenty of business experience, and he intends to build on that at SJU/CSB.


Cristo Rey Jesuit’s shining stars

JENNIFER AGUSTIN AMBROCIO performed so impressively in her Corporate Work Study Program internship at Ameriprise Financial that she won the Ryan Family Corporate Workplace Excellence Award. She immersed herself in a variety of other school and family activities and earned National Honor Society-caliber grades. “I’ve always challenged myself with different class work and classes, so overall I’ve taken five AP classes because I’m a pretty serious student.” She’s interested in a communication major with the possibility of going to law school.

By Dana Drazenovich


volunteered in the office plus taught Sunday School at Holy Rosary Church in Minneapolis every weekend and spent much of his week doing the extra studying his AP math and science classes required. “I really had to push myself and stay on track and stay motivated to really try to improve myself and educate myself.” He has his sights on a nursing major on his way to a career as a nurse anesthetist, and he’s excited to join SJU/CSB’s close community. “It’s almost like its own town. I really like that.”


Emily, Ignacio, Jennifer and Fredi were shining stars at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, where their leadership and achievements set their course for becoming the first in their families to go to college. Getting accepted to Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict put their goal within reach. Dan Dryer ’80 and Janet Dryer ’83 helped them tighten their grip on their future with a full scholarship to SJU/CSB’s top-notch Catholic and Benedictine liberal arts education.

Emily, Ignacio, Jennifer and Fredi are the first recipients of the Dryer Scholarship, which will fund an SJU/ CSB education for four Cristo Rey Jesuit graduates each year, two Johnnies and two Bennies, with the hope of sending over 100 students to college. Dryer Scholars will receive $20,000 annually, enough to finance the gap other sources like the Pell Grant and Minnesota State Grant don’t cover. “It’s expensive to go to a private school, and many people can’t afford it,” Janet said. “We would like to give these students the same opportunity for the great education and college experience that we had.” It’s the kind of scholarship almost every college-bound student dreams of. “It’s something I never imagined, to be

honest. It gives me the chills,” Jennifer said. “I started crying because it’s something that I had always heard about, and I was like ‘Oh my God, a full-ride scholarship.’ That’s so hard to get, I feel like,” Emily recalled. “To this day I still don’t know how to put my feelings into words. I was just very excited, happy, proud that I was able to get this,” Ignacio said. “(My parents) did everything for me, and that’s why I’m doing everything for them. Even though it’s just my mom now, I’m still doing it for my pops because he’s looking down on me and I want him to be proud of me. “And I know he’s proud of me and he would want to hug me when I got the full ride.”

Dan ’80 and Janet ’83 Dryer are sharing their success with a new generation of Johnnies and Bennies by starting a scholarship for standout students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis. Another alum, Jeb Myers ’97, is Cristo Rey Jesuit’s president.


SETTING THE STAGE Fredi’s mom was driving to work when he called to tell her about the Dryer Scholarship. “She had to pull over, and she started crying.” Emily’s father was still in Mexico fighting a two-year legal battle to return to the U.S., which he eventually won. “I didn’t want to put any more pressure on my mom,” she said. “So if it wasn’t for that scholarship, I would probably have never ended up going to Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s even though it was my top school.” Cristo Rey Jesuit’s average annual family income is just under $45,000, said its president, Jeb Myers ’97. The Dryer Scholarship prevents financial concerns from coming between outstanding students and an SJU/CSB education. “Then on the other side, it helps them and their parents to go beyond the dreams they ever thought possible. I mean, they’re going to Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s, a prestigious institution that will help prepare them for a successful career.” More than half of Cristo Rey Jesuit’s 124-member class of 2020 were the first in their families to graduate from high school, Myers said. “Just by crossing the stage and getting their high school diploma, our students are reaching their parents’ dreams, and to go beyond that …” Funds like the Dryer Scholarship do more than pay for college. They recognize talent, reward excellence and set the stage for what Myers calls “lifesustaining, family-sustaining careers.” “Personally, for families, they are feeling accepted into society,” Myers said. “They are feeling that they have a shot

at success, right? And that’s what our families look for. “They aren’t looking for a handout. They’re looking for a hand up.” The Dryers have a deep history of education-based philanthropy and have been involved with Cristo Rey Jesuit for much of its 13-year history, and they are elated they can offer that hand. “We know the students are excited, but it gives Dan and I such joy to be able to offer this at our own colleges. We both had a wonderful college experience and this is really the reason we were able to launch into our careers,” Janet said. Funds like the Dryer Scholarship illustrate one of the tangible values of SJU/CSB’s famous network as alumni share their success with a new generation of Johnnies and Bennies.

“As a person of faith, going to a school built on faith and that is steeped in Benedictine values really builds the foundation for wanting to give back.” “I think it’s amazing when they choose to give it back to Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s, particularly when they can give it directly to a student and they know exactly who that student is and they can see the real financial impact of those dollars for that individual student,” said Matt Beirne ’94, SJU/CSB director of admission. “I always say it’s real alums helping real students with real money.” The Dryer Scholarship also supports the personal development only SJU/CSB’s unique partnership and education can offer.

“We get to do what a co-ed institution won’t do and a true single-sex institution can’t do, which is educate women in the presence of men and men in the presence of women,” said Heather Pieper-Olson, CSB associate vice president of Institutional Advancement. “You get both, and we believe there is value in the opportunities for leadership development and personal growth as men and women, as well as the coeducational academic experience.”

MARRYING PRIORITIES It was summer 1985, a couple of years after Janet then-Setter had graduated from CSB, and she was going to her classmate Kitty Dryer’s shower — dateless, at the request of Kitty, who thought Janet might be a good match for her brother Dan. “So, she basically set us up,” Janet said with a laugh. Thirty-three years of marriage and three grown children later, the Dryers are still a great match, with a shared dedication to Cristo Rey Jesuit and a mutual love for SJU and CSB, which the Dryer Scholarship unites into one focused program. “It was very exciting for us to be able to involve all three of these great institutions,” Dan said. SJU/CSB helped launch the nowretired Dryers into highly successful careers, Dan as the owner of a financial firm, Janet as the CEO who led two Minneapolis tech companies to tremendous growth. The benefits of being a Johnnie or Bennie, they found, transcend the exceptional academics. “I just felt like so many doors were open to me as a result of my Saint Ben’s education and in turn, we are blessed to be able to pay it forward. As a person of faith, going to a school built on faith and that is steeped in Benedictine values


really builds the foundation for wanting to give back,” Janet said. “It’s the community,” Dan added. “That’s the secret sauce. The education’s great, the setting’s great, but it really is the community.” The Dryers wanted to make it possible for more Cristo Rey Jesuit students to taste that secret sauce.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School is one of 37 schools in the Cristo Rey Network. They serve 13,000 students in 24 states, making them the “largest network of high schools in the country that exclusively serve low-income students,” according to

“And we got to thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be great to create an opportunity that supports both our colleges and an organization like Cristo Rey?” Dan said. “And so it was the perfect fit.”


Ninety-eight percent of Cristo Rey students nationally are students of color.

Jennifer’s parents sent her to CSB with one priority:

The Cristo Rey Network was founded with the mission of providing a Catholic college preparatory education and four years of professional experience to students in urban areas with few educational options.

“We just want you to show your true colors, the way a person of color can do it as well as a white person,” she said.

The first Cristo Rey school opened in 1996 in Chicago. Cristo Rey Jesuit opened in 2007 in south Minneapolis. The schools operate on a model that includes standards-based academics, individual goal setting and a one-daya-week Corporate Work Study Program. Cristo Rey Jesuit has 120 corporate partners. Cristo Rey Jesuit has had a 100% college acceptance rate since its first graduating class in 2011. Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict are Cristo Rey Network charter partners and have enrolled Cristo Rey graduates from across the nation for more than 20 years.


When she and the other three Dryer Scholars started classes Aug. 31, they joined a community of 60 more Cristo Rey students currently at SJU and CSB and many more alumni. The Dryer Scholarship builds on an already strong relationship that traces back to the Cristo Rey Network’s origins in the 1990s. SJU and CSB are among the founding members of the Cristo Rey Network’s national university partners program. “Almost from the beginning, Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s have been official partners with Cristo Rey, which is why we have Cristo Rey students from across the country,” said Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB, Saint John’s deputy to the president for advancement. In addition to the Dryer Scholarship, both schools have other funds dedicated to scholarships for Cristo

Rey students, and in 2019 Dan ’90 and Angie Bastian not only made their own gift to SJU’s Cristo Rey endowed scholarship fund but also matched gifts from other donors.

“It’s everything they worked so hard for, but they never expected it would play out this way for them.” That money helps students “continue the thread,” as Janet put it. “Even though you graduated from high school, you need the next step, and we both had a great experience with Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s.” The average student enters ninth grade at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School reading and doing math at a sixth- and seventh-grade level, Myers explained. Cristo Rey’s extraordinary educational model ensures students graduate on time and get into college. “It’s really an incredible organization. In my opinion it’s the best thing going in Minneapolis education,” Dan said. Cristo Rey has its own secret sauce in the Corporate Work Study Program. “These kids don’t just work in the mail room. They actually go in offices in downtown Minneapolis — sometimes it’s the 50th floor of the Wells Fargo Building — and they are actually working and making a difference for these companies. “And through that, they’re not only earning money (which goes toward their tuition), but they’re learning that they can do it, that this world out there really is open to them, and at the end of the day that is what really makes this work for them.”

of Doman’s year. “When I was telling the students about this scholarship they were going to receive, I was crying,” she said. “I think having this opportunity for students, it’s a dream for them. It’s everything they worked so hard for, but they never expected it would play out this way for them.”


A cold prevented Jennifer Agustin Ambrocio’s mom from going to Giordano’s Feb. 26, but she could sense the relationship that had started to take hold. She told Jennifer, “Look at the Dryers like another set of godparents, guiding you into college as well as supporting you throughout your college career. So never give up on your dreams. I know you can do this, mija.” That and more make Cristo Rey and SJU/CSB ideal partners, Fr. Eric said.

EXTENDING A HAND Ignacio and Jennifer were a little nervous, Emily and Fredi downright worried. It was Jan. 29, and Raquel Gudiel ’09, their college counselor at Cristo Rey Jesuit, had told them that SJU/ CSB admissions representative Annie Doman wanted to meet with them that afternoon. “So I started freaking out. I was like ‘What if they take my acceptance away?’” Emily said. “I was thinking the worst things possible,” Fredi said. “I had already gotten my acceptance letter and I thought ‘OK, they don’t want me anymore.’ ’’ That reaction, unfortunately, wasn’t unusual, Myers said. “A lot of times our students will say ‘I feel like I won the lottery,’ and it’s like, ‘No, you’ve earned it. This is not based

on chance. This is the waking up in the morning, going to school, getting your homework done at Cristo Rey, going to work at your corporate job, interacting with people.’ ” Instead, Doman told them they had been awarded the Dryer Scholarship.

“They want to be part of this journey with us, and they told us that if we needed anything, we could definitely reach out to them.” “And at the moment, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. I kind of teared up a moment. I thought ‘All my hard work has paid off,’ ” Ignacio said. “I was completely in shock. I didn’t really believe it. I thought I was dreaming a little bit,” Fredi recalled. Delivering the news was the highlight

Their first in-person meeting ended in a full embrace when the Dryers, the scholars and their families got together over dinner Feb. 26 at Giordano’s in Minneapolis. “It just really secured the fact that this is where we wanted to give our money, and that we had chosen the right cause and that these were just great kids who were driven, and all four of them will be first-generation college students, which made it even more special,” Janet said. “It was really fun,” Fredi said. “I expected that all of us would be really quiet, but we were all laughing and having fun.” The Dryers made it clear they would support the scholars as they transitioned from high school to college and beyond, Emily said. “It wasn’t just ‘Oh, here, take the money. No, they want to be part of this journey with us, and they told us that if we needed anything, we could definitely reach out to them, which I loved.” As they hugged and said goodbye at the end of the night, everybody felt the impact of one generation of Johnnies and Bennies reaching out to lift up another. “They were in tears. We were in tears,” Dan said. “It was really emotional.” Dana Drazenovich is a former journalist and public relations practitioner who teaches Communication at SJU/CSB.


Others have occupied lessgenerosity, of bravery and Dealing with the COVID-19 visible positions on the very solidarity, and of the call to pandemic and its impact on humanity’s better angels being front lines at tremendous risk day-to-day life – around the to their personal health and answered. country and around the world safety, while still others have – has posed a challenge for Since the spread of coronavirus used their skills and tools to virtually everyone, and the Saint John’s University/College began to reach Minnesota and manufacture equipment and products providing protection. of Saint Benedict community is the nation in March, we have spotlighted some of the ways no exception. Johnnies have joined the battle And then there are those laboring to keep critical against the virus’s spread. Health risks. Economic systems like government, impacts. Masks and staySome have been in high-profile education and healthcare at-home orders. Distance up and running, even while learning and social distancing. positions like Joe Kelly ’83, the emergency management oftentimes working from their They’ve all become part of our director for the state of own homes. everyday lexicon and reality. Minnesota. In his position, Here is a look at a few of those he has worked closely with But through the pain and stories. These and others can Gov. Tim Walz and others to difficulty, the fear and be found in more depth and formulate Minnesota’s efforts uncertainty, and the sense of greater detail at to stop the spread of the heartbreak and despair, there covid-19/csb/sju-responds. virus and slow its impact on also have been countless intensive-care units and other stories of inspiration and hope – stories of sacrifice and facilities.

On the front lines Canh Tran, Garrison Pease and Tom Kaster share a bond and friendship formed during their time at Saint John’s, where they were members of the Class of 2009. This spring, they were reunited when they found themselves among the many medical professionals working on the frontline of the pandemic in New York – an early hotspot that placed a severe strain on the area’s healthcare system.

• Tran is a travel internal medicine

physician who resides in Manhattan


but travels outside New York City for two weeks each month. His job is to alleviate physician shortages in underserved hospitals to allow them to function safely until permanent physicians can be found. That role that became more vital as cases of COVID-19 grew steadily. In April, he was rotating among several different hospitals in both primary care and inpatient settings.

• Pease is a pathologist at a major

hospital in the Bronx. In large hospital systems like the one in which he works, pathologists serve in either

an anatomic or a clinical capacity. Anatomic pathologists support surgical and oncologic subspecialties, diagnosing, grading and staging cancers and working for patients dealing with anything from a thyroid or prostate biopsy to a lung or kidney resection, he said. Clinical pathologists support all medical and surgical subspecialties from the clinic to the emergency room and inpatient intensive care units, serving patients having samples drawn for a wide variety of conditions – a list that includes COVID-19.

Johnnies’ response to filled with

hope and inspiration By Frank Rajkowski

• Kaster is a perioperative (OR) nurse

in the Navy stationed in Portsmouth, Virginia. He was deployed to New York City aboard the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship that took anchor in New York Harbor in an effort to relieve pressure on the city’s overburdened medical facilities. His deployment meant leaving behind his wife and two young children, but he said his family was supportive as he fulfilled his duty. It marked the third deployment for Kaster, who has been on active duty in the Navy for 10 years. “While I feel guilty for not being home

to help with day-to-day things, I would feel worse for not being able to answer the nation’s call,” Kaster said via email. “I was/am very eager to help with this unique mission.” Tran said the toughest part of his experience was seeing loved ones separated from patients because of restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. “Witnessing the pain that family members experience when told they cannot be with their loved ones is probably one of the hardest parts of my job,” he wrote, “something

I hope to never have to experience again in my professional career once the world we knew returns to normal.”

“We are all serving and fulfilling our duty to the patients,” Pease wrote. “It is certainly what we signed up for – our calling – and we love our jobs!” 19

Formulating Mayo’s battle plans As a standout running back at SJU in the mid-1990s, D.J. Kor ’96 saw firsthand the importance of a welldesigned game plan. The physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester is now using those skills in the battle against COVID-19. Kor – an Academic All-America selection during his time with the Johnnies – is a doctor in the anesthesiology and perioperative medicine department and serves as medical director of the department of

“It’s all about the team. Everybody has their role. Everybody takes pride in that role and everybody does everything they can to fulfill that role. “It’s really been tapping into the collective minds of a lot of smart and talented people who are able to sit around a table working together to look at the most current and accurate data we’re able to get our hands on,” Kor continued. “We want to look at what’s actually happened, not what people are speculating about or think might happen, but what we know has happened. And once we get that, we’re better able to project where we might be tomorrow or in the next few weeks.”

would really be challenged. This was before you started hearing in the news about the jump in cases in places like Arizona, Texas and Florida. Then, all of a sudden, the cases almost doubled in Arizona. “The efforts of D.J. and his team helped us to be prepared for that.”

Making online house calls Kurt Schwieters ’88, a Melrose, Minnesota resident and family medical doctor with CentraCare, saw early on the potential of social media as a tool to cut through some of the speculation and anxiety the virus brought and spread timely and factual information – both to his patients and a wider audience. That’s why he began a Facebook group titled Dr. Kurt: A Reliable COVID-19 Update. In just six weeks from its start in March, it had grown to nearly 1,900 members and featured posts with updated information, advice for coping with stress the pandemic created and links to helpful tips, contact information and resources.

data and analytics for the Mayo Clinic, which includes hospitals and clinics in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona. In that role, he plays a key part in helping develop and refine the internal models Mayo continues to utilize in dealing with the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Our whole effort at Mayo, as we attempt to better understand COVID – what its impacts are and how to live with them – reminds me in many ways of my SJU football experience,” Kor said.


Those projections look different for different places. For example, in July Mayo’s campuses in Arizona and Florida were dealing with a major surge in cases, whereas the impact of COVID in Minnesota was much less dramatic. “He’s really been at the forefront of our efforts to understand how impacted our different locations will be,” said fellow SJU graduate Mike Morrey ’90, a regional chair of administration at Mayo. “We have unique geographical situations, so those efforts are so important. Several weeks ago, we got the signal from his group that Arizona

It has also featured an ongoing series of Facebook Live chats in which Schwieters and others, including his wife Mary, also a physician and a 1988 College of Saint Benedict graduate, present information and answer viewers’ questions. “In early March, while my daughter was studying in Spain, I began learning about the coronavirus and its trending effects in China, South Korea and Europe,” he said. “As I learned, I started paying attention to how this virus and disease was being portrayed in the media, and how the mitigation was being perceived in Europe. It became obvious to me that this disease and the effects of mitigation

would cause much uncertainty, anxiety and fear.

hand sanitizer, of which alcohol is a primary ingredient.

“What I saw was a set-up for fear and decisions and reactions based on fear,” he continued.

With the need for that product more critical than ever during the pandemic, the former three-time All-American swimmer and his company switched their focus.

“I felt that helping people deal with this in a calm, informed and nonjudgmental way, while creating options for self-care and growth, would be a way for all of us to be able to face these uncertainties.” Transitioning to meet the challenge At the Brother Justus Whiskey Company, Phil Steger ’97 and his crew normally focus on handcrafting microbatches of single-malt whiskeys. But as distillers, they also possess the resources and expertise needed to make

“We started off like a lot of people, just wanting to do whatever we could to help out,” said Steger, who won three conference titles and earned AllMIAC honors seven times during his swimming career at SJU from 1993-97.

The result was a joint effort titled All Hands MN, and the three companies began producing hand sanitizer by the tankerful. Working with epidemiologists and other health experts, they prioritized requests from places on the front line of the pandemic like hospitals and nursing homes, where having enough hand sanitizer could directly help prevent deaths. Next came places where people are in close quarters like homeless shelters and other high-density

“Hand sanitizer is alcohol. And that’s an area where we have expertise. So that’s the area on which we decided to focus.” Brother Justus – a 6-year-old craft distillery founded by Steger and located in Northeast Minneapolis – originally planned to produce sanitizer on its own. After seeing how great the need was, the company began reaching out to others in the business. When it discovered Tattersall Distilling and Du Nord Craft Spirits, two other Minneapolis distillers, had similar operations going, the companies decided to pool their resources.


residences, as well as for essential service providers like health and sanitation workers and grocery store clerks. “Those are places where we can do the most to help try and slow the spread,” Steger said.

Shields against the pandemic A conversation with a friend in New York helped spur Nick Blee ’11 and his fellow co-founders of Sky People Consulting to direct their business toward providing protection to those fighting the pandemic.

and the Saint John’s Abbey Retirement Center. “Sometime in early March, we were talking to a friend of ours in New York who had finished medical school out there,” Blee said. “He had some pretty intense stories to share about the situation they were facing, including about the shortage of equipment. He said they’d been using garbage bags as masks because they didn’t have enough. “We wanted to help, so we went to work on creating a design to produce shields ourselves. We figured anything we could come up with would be better

of the face shields to health care and mental health professionals in that state – including a delivery of 2,000 face shields to Rockland Psychiatric Center.

Keeping classes running For educators, the pandemic has brought on its own set of challenges. From kindergarten through college, inperson classes were canceled across the country in March and the remainder of the school year was conducted online. That includes classes at SJU and CSB, where spring semester courses were transferred entirely into the online realm – a technological and logistical feat that, had it been attempted under normal circumstances, would likely have entailed years of planning.

But these were not normal circumstances. And in just a few weeks a whole new educational reality was up and running.

The Minneapolis-based company was started by Blee and three of his friends from Red Wing, Minnesota in 2017 as a drone consulting firm. When the virus began impacting the U.S., Sky People shifted its focus toward the production of badly needed face shields, which it then donated to organizations across the U.S. That included a donation of around 500 masks to the SJU/CSB community to be used by the nursing department


than having to use garbage bags.” The foursome came up with a design using foam, rubber bands, double-sided electrical tape and laminating plastic that they were able to produce on machines at a shop in Red Wing. As word of their efforts spread, Blee said requests began pouring in from across the U.S. In May, Sky People partnered with New York State Sen. David Carlucci to deliver nearly 3,000

“Flexibility really has been the key,” said Mary Stenson, an associate professor of exercise science and sports studies at SJU/CSB, as online classes continued last April. “Everybody has pitched in to make this work. It was such a quick turnaround. But our students have handled it great. And I think our faculty members have done such a good job adapting to a whole new situation.” It meant trying new approaches to replace old ways of doing things that just weren’t possible in a digital format. SJU/CSB communication instructor Dana Drazenovich tried to inject some levity and personality into her First Year

to Zoom and what the whole thing would look like. “But I’ve been really amazed at how students have adjusted. More than anything, I think we’ve seen so much resilience. Our students have really been stepping up, and that’s made a huge difference.” Frank Rajkowski is a writer and video producer for SJU Institutional Advancement. He covered Saint John’s athletics for 19 years at the St. Cloud Times and worked as a web reporter for three years at KSTP-TV in St. Paul.

SJU/CSB senior thesis exhibition: Forging a Presence Seminar class by letting students submit photos and video of their weekend, which she compiled into a PowerPoint presentation to show on Tuesdays. “I think it’s important to find ways to have some fun right now,” she said. “This is a really stressful time for all of us, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be college-aged and trying to deal with all this. So if you can find ways to make the process more fun, it helps get everyone talking to each other in this new format like they would before class when we were on campus." Steve Schwarz, a visiting assistant professor of global business leadership at SJU/CSB, said figuring out how to make things run most smoothly online meant doing some experimentation. “I use Zoom, Canvas and make screen recordings in PowerPoint,” he said.

“I like to ask a lot of questions, but it is a bit awkward when you have 20-plus students in an online class. The first day no one wanted to speak up. Everyone had muted their audio/ video and students seemed reluctant to participate. The next class, I used the breakout room feature in Zoom, which moved students to smaller groups of three to four. “This worked much better, and students enjoyed reconnecting in smaller groups. When we returned to the large group, videos were on and students were much more engaged in the large group discussion. “Also, we’ve had a few pets join our class,” he added with a smile. “Coming into all this, I had no idea what to expect as far as student engagement,” Drazenovich said. “I didn’t know how students would take

The Saint John’s University and College of Saint Benedict Art Department is pleased to present Forging a Presence, a display of senior art majors’ thesis work. Over the course of last school year senior art majors were working and planning their senior thesis exhibition to take place in the Alice R. Rogers and Target Galleries on the Saint John’s campus. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the campus closure, the exhibition has moved online. Students responded creatively to these changes. We invite you to see their work. The exhibition includes a range of media, including game cards, sculpture, installation, drawings, digital images, ceramics and letterpress prints. Visit



Collegeville’s Early Autumn Panorama Photo by Steve Fines

The greens of summer at Saint John’s are beginning their transition to the blazing colors of fall as the calendar turns to September.





Johnnie/Tommie experience helps bind Fr. Bill & Fr. Jim Lies and their exceptional story of family & faith By Dave DeLand home and family, the value of faith and education.

Twins were born on the Fourth of July 1962 in a Central Minnesota hospital, and they couldn’t possibly have been much more identical. They shared their bucolic, small-town Minnesota upbringing on the banks of the Mississippi River, surrounded by family and faith and nature. They were part of a tightly knit household that included 10 kids, raised primarily by a widowed mother. They attended the same parochial schools all the way through 12th grade, and both went on to become Catholic priests and to occupy prominent positions at the University of Notre Dame. They look alike, walk alike, laugh alike. They have so much in common – with one major exception: Fr. Bill Lies is a Johnnie. Fr. Jim Lies is a Tommie. “Saint John’s proved the perfect fit for me. Like many Johnnie/Tommie


It’s a story about loyalty to your roots, and to your alma mater.

Bill, age 8

Jim, age 8

families, so many of our high school classmates and friends were often choosing between the two,” said Fr. Bill, a 1984 Saint John’s University graduate. “We’re so much alike, and we couldn’t both love these institutions without them being somehow similar,” said Fr. Jim, a 1984 University of Saint Thomas grad. “For many, it will be really hard to imagine a Minnesota fall without the Johnnie/Tommie game.” On one hand, Johnnie/Tommie is a major differentiation in their respective fabrics. On the other, it’s an element that binds them and their remarkable narratives together. Theirs is a story about the importance of

It’s a story about being Johnnies and Tommies, which in an athletic sense is a spirited rivalry but in a bigger sense shares the common themes of respect, purpose, Catholic faith and education that Fr. Bill and Fr. Jim took from their undergraduate experiences. “Jim and I both have such devotion to our alma maters. Saint John’s becomes part of my notion of home when I think of coming home,” Fr. Bill said. “Our homes are Saint John’s and Saint Thomas. They’re our roots and our hearts’ home. Our appreciation for higher education really started there,” Fr. Jim said. “We both have a great love for our undergraduate institutions, and a great love for Minnesota.” Their love for those roots is a big part of what makes them who they are today.

IDENTICAL, BUT NOT For both brothers, their undergraduate education served as a springboard to multifaceted careers of noteworthy service to humanity and to the church. A complete chronicle of their accomplishments would require multiple pages, but here’s the abridged version: Rev. William Lies, C.S.C., is Provincial Superior of the U.S. Province of Priests and Brothers of Holy Cross, and former Director of the Center for Social Concerns and Vice President for Mission Engagement and Church Affairs at Notre Dame. He earned his theology degree from Notre Dame, a doctorate in Latin American politics from the University of Pittsburgh, and ministered across the U.S. and in Chile before returning to Notre Dame.

Rev. James Lies, C.S.C., is Academic Director for Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway, and former Director for the Center for Catholic Intellectual Life at the University of Portland and Vice President for Mission at Stonehill College. He earned a master’s from Notre Dame and a doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota. He has held faculty positions and provided scholarly and spiritual service across the U.S. and the U.K.

Fr. Bill (left) and Fr. Jim Lies stand in front of the Word of Life Mural – also known as Touchdown Jesus – at Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.


“Jim was born first, eight minutes before me,” said Fr. Bill, setting up his own punchline. “He’s fond of saying they were the happiest eight minutes of his life. “But they were the happiest eight minutes of mine, too. I finally had a womb of my own!” The three-bedroom, one-bathroom house was filled with kids – Mary, Tom, Pat, Mark, Steve, Laurie, Mike, Jim, Bill and Sue. “We used to joke that Mom seemingly was trying to make up for all the lack of grandkids for her parents,” said Fr. Bill, whose mother’s three older siblings were a Franciscan sister, a Pallottine priest and an Irish Christian brother. Fr. Bill exchanges greetings with Pope Francis in Rome in 2017. Fr. Jim met the Pope at a different event. “When we were ordained, someone said there were six sets of twin Catholic priests in this country,” Fr. Bill said. “If you had told me that we would end up in the same religious community, I would have doubted it, but by the grace of God we have.” After more than three decades of working and living in different parts of the world, they’re now just a few miles apart in South Bend, Indiana, since the COVID-19 pandemic brought Fr. Jim back this spring from London.

anywhere on his turf, the same thing would happen – if I’d go to Stonehill when he was the vice president there, they’d be like ‘Hey, Fr. Jim,’ ” Fr. Bill said with the exact same smile. “Sometimes you can’t convince them that it’s not you. I used to correct people, but now I often let it slide.” Those distinctly different career trajectories and identical smiles are products of incredibly deep and intertwined Central Minnesota roots.

Their renewed proximity has rekindled the mistaken identity element that has been a source of befuddled amusement throughout their 58 years.


“I think we’re both just jocular enough for them to think we’re kidding – ‘No, really, I’m not who you think I am,’ ” Fr. Jim said with a smile.

Jim and Bill were the eighth and ninth children of Tom and Laurie (Hueller) Lies, who bought a small farmhouse on a 50-acre parcel of land bordering the Mississippi River just south of Little Falls and began the process of raising 40,000 Norway pine trees and 10 kids.

“Jim would come to visit through the last 20 years and almost invariably people would say ‘Hey, Fr. Bill.’ If I was


“We spent most of our time outside, needless to say. That’s no correlation to the one bathroom – we were a very outdoorsy family. It was a beautiful, idyllic spot, Saint John’s-esque in its way.” Dad supported them with a summertime dry cleaning business at Camp Ripley and with his salary at several teaching jobs, eventually settling in as a trailblazer at Saint Mary’s Catholic Grade School in Little Falls. “He was one of the first members of the staff who wasn’t wearing a full Benedictine sister’s habit,” Fr. Jim said. Oldest sibling Mary was 14, Bill and Jim were 4 and Mom was 3 months pregnant with Sue – child No. 10 – when Dad died of a heart attack in September 1966. He was 42. “It’s hard to imagine how she got through it,” said Fr. Bill, whose mother subsequently returned to nursing at Saint Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls. Mom worked the night shift (11 p.m.-7 a.m.), returned home in time to feed the kids and get them off to

faith was too. It sort of marked her.” In turn, Mom’s faithful perseverance marked her kids – along with anyone else who heard her incredible story. “I remember a classmate (saying) ‘She WHAT? You WHAT?’ That was the first time I realized what a remarkable story it was,” said Fr. Jim, whose mother died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease in 2008. school, did the shopping and then caught some sleep before her brood returned. “The youngest of us would get home and run into her bedroom to jump on her bed to wake her upon our arrival. She never acted stressed. She never shared her concern or upset. It was amazing,” Fr. Jim recalled. “She treated us all equally, loved us all infinitely,” Fr. Bill said. “That’s how she was. It reminds you a little bit of God’s love for us, just selfless love.” Laurie Lies supplemented her nursing salary by selling part of the family property to Little Falls Country Club (it’s now fairways 4, 5 and 6) and by developing riverfront property. The road along the Mississippi is called Thomas Drive, in honor of her late husband.

“When you’re living it, you just don’t have any appreciation for the lengths to which she must have gone and the incredible strain on her that it must have been.”

unspoken agreement that we would not go to the same college,” Fr. Bill said. “We wanted to figure out what life might be like if we weren’t in the same circles all the time.”

‘HE AIN’T ME … ’ Fr. Bill’s glasses are about the only way to tell the twins apart visually these days. “I’m blind as a bat,” he said. “Jim wears contacts.”

For Bill and Jim, this was all part of their uniquely mutual path – until college.

Jim arrived at Saint Thomas in the fall of 1980. Bill stayed at Crosier for a twoyear associate program and then came to Saint John’s in the fall of 1982.

“As we were coming to the end of high school, we just sort of had this

Almost immediately, their mirror imagery became … well, confusing.

Above: Jim (left) and Bill share an identically happy moment with their mother Laurie after Bill took his final vows in 1993. Below: Mom holds Bill and Dad holds Jim as the Lies family – which at that point included nine children – gathered for a family photo in April 1963.

She also instilled in her children the importance of learning and faith. “She certainly put a high value on education, and the kids pursued it,” said Fr. Bill, who with Fr. Jim became the fourth and fifth Lies brothers to attend high school at Crosier Seminary Prep in Onamia. “It was always important, and the Catholic piece wasn’t unimportant either,” Fr. Jim said. “As much as education was important to Mom, her


They love the Saint John’s/Saint Thomas athletic rivalry, but they also love the schools’ historic likenesses and what they got out of their liberal arts educations. “It was prompted from a place of our appreciating the similarities and just loving each institution,” Fr. Jim said. “I’m not sure, and actually doubt, if the heat of the rivalry was any less (then). But we were glad to have had a bit to say about our love for our respective institutions and our shared experience of community in each.” That storied athletic rivalry is apparently coming to an end after the 2020-21 school year. • “I remember an occasion when I was a senior and an RA on Fourth Tommie Long,” Fr. Bill recalled. “A resident came into my room, saw a photo of Jim and proclaimed, ‘Man, you’ve got quite an ego with a picture of yourself on the shelf.’ To spare my humility, I quickly explained that it was my twin brother, which prompted the reply ‘Yeah, right!’ ” • “In the fall of 1983, I submitted an unsolicited guest editorial which Bill and I had written together to the Saint Thomas student newspaper on the eve of the Johnnie/Tommie game,” Fr. Jim said. “Bill had simultaneously submitted it to The Record, the Saint John’s student newspaper, where it found its way to publication and was fittingly titled He Ain’t Me, He’s My Brother.” • “I remember the Saturday evening after the Johnnie/Tommie game my senior year when I got considerable grief from friends in the Reef as they insisted that they saw me cheering for Saint Thomas,” Fr. Bill said. “Of course, it was Jim.”


“Personally, I – as the Tommie in this twinship – was grateful that Saint John’s supported Saint Thomas’s remaining in the conference. As a

simple matter of Saint John’s and Saint Thomas not having their annual football game in the fall, that’s a surprise and a disappointment,” Fr. Jim said. “You think about any other school that we play – what would rise to that level? There’s nothing like it. And it’s partly because these institutions were so similar for so long,” Fr. Bill said. “It’s just hard to imagine what could supplant this particular rivalry. It’s a terrific loss in that sense. “I’m feeling a little nostalgic, but I’m also fairly confident that these two institutions will forever be intertwined in many ways.” In that same sense, these brothers – in many respects identical, in a few not – will forever be intertwined with Minnesota and their educational experiences at Saint John’s and Saint Thomas. “Those days and my experience since have taught me a lot,” Fr. Jim said. “It’s where you’ll come to know who you are, ponder and commit to your own beliefs and convictions in the midst of the learning that’s happening, and where you’ll meet the people who will sustain you in friendship for the rest of your life. “That’s what happened for Bill and me.”

COMING HOME Apart from Jim and Bill, the rest of the nine surviving Lies siblings still live in Central Minnesota, and their annual gatherings have extended a tradition. “The first is on the Fourth of July, when the whole gang gathers at a family cabin that Mom and Dad built in the late ’50s near Camp Ripley,” Fr. Jim said. “The annual patriotic gathering must predate our birth, since I don’t ever remember not having it.”

“The second mandatory return to Minnesota takes place in early August for the annual Lies/Hueller family reunion, which we call ‘Farm Fest,’ ” Fr. Jim said. “It’s hosted by my sister Laurie at the old homestead where we grew up.”

Whatever the season, whatever the reason, those trips mean one thing – a homecoming. “I’ve been away from Minnesota since ’84, when I graduated (from Saint John’s),” Fr. Bill said. “And even now when I’m talking with my housemates, they’ll say ‘Where are you going?’ and I’ll say ‘I’m going home.’ “That’s crazy, because my home is obviously the Provincial House in South Bend. But they know it means Minnesota.” It means returning to their roots, and to their heritage.

It means reconnecting with the universities and friends that helped shape their lives of purpose. It means Saint John’s and Saint Thomas. The Johnnie/Tommie athletic rivalry may be about to end, but for identical reasons this is still their home. “Bill and I have always taken great pride in being associated with Saint John’s and Saint Thomas, and in the fact that they’ve long been associated with each other,” Fr. Jim said. “All this sort of happened slowly. You live into the life,” Fr. Bill said. “Jim and I had a particular insight into it.” Home, family, roots, education, faith – they’re all elements of their common experience, all things they gratefully share.

Fr. Bill is a Johnnie. Fr. Jim is a Tommie. That will always be a big part of what binds otherwise identical twins together, now and forever. Dave DeLand is Saint John’s executive director of marketing & communication and an award-winning writer.

Opposite top: (from left) Jim, mother Laurie, Bill and sister Sue celebrated Bill’s graduation from Saint John’s in May 1984 Opposite bottom: Jim on retreat at Monastery of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico Above: The Record, Saint John’s student newspaper, published Bill and Jim’s co-written treatise in February 1984.



IS COMING NEXT JUNE No Reunion in 2020? That just means bigger, better, busier possibilities for 2021. CSB/SJU alums from class years ending in 0, 1, 5 and 6, mark your calendar now for

June 25-27, 2021.



More information coming soon.

The 2020 enshrinement ceremony, which was to take place during Homecoming Sept. 26, has been postponed.


The now-Class of 2021, like its predecessor in 2019, includes a wide range of national champions, All-Americans and other leading lights – each of whom played huge roles in establishing the successful athletic tradition that exists at SJU today. “We’re really lucky to have so many decades of Johnnie athletes waiting to be enshrined in the Hall of Honor,” said current J-Club President Tom Freeman ’08. The latest inductees are as follows:

athletics in the decades since his graduation, including serving on the SJU Alumni Association board and as J-Club President the past five years. GARY SVENDSEN ’72, a multiple-time MIAC and National Catholic Invitational champion wrestler who also won the 1972 NAIA national title at 134 pounds.

As a result of concerns and restrictions still in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what had been intended to be the Hall of Honor’s 2020 class of inductees will now become the Class of 2021.

GEORGE DURENBERGER ’28, a three-time All-MIAC football selection and four-time letterwinner in basketball who went on to a long tenure as a coach and administrator at SJU. He served as athletic director from 1931-72 and presided over the addition of a number of new sports and the construction of several new facilities.

VEDIE HIMSL ’38, who led the SJU baseball team to back-to-back MIAC titles in 1936 and ’37, once striking out 20 batters in a single game (still a school record). He went on to a long professional career as a player, coach and scout for the Chicago Cubs. JIM LEHMAN ’56, a star on John Gagliardi’s early teams who earned AllAmerica honors twice as a halfback. CHUCK FROEHLE ’57, SJU’s first four-time All-MIAC and three-time All-American who was another key component in Gagliardi’s early teams at SJU.

THE 1965 SJU FOOTBALL TEAM, which won the second of the program’s four national titles, defeating Linfield (Oregon) 33-0 in that year’s NAIA national championship game. The Johnnies allowed a total of 20 points in nine regular-season games, including six shutouts, and surrendered 112.1 yards per game. JOE MUCHA ’66, a standout center on the SJU basketball team who earned National Catholic All-American honors during the 1965-66 season and was also a member of the 1963 and ’65 NAIA national champion football teams. He currently serves as a member of the SJU Board of Trustees. VIC MOORE ’72 (J-Club Distinguished Service Award), a three-sport SJU athlete (football, basketball, baseball) who has remained deeply involved with Johnnie

JEFF NORMAN ’78, an AllAmerican who started three years at quarterback and handled kicking duties for the Johnnies. He helped his team to the 1976 NCAA Division III national championship, kicking the game-winning field goal as time expired, while also earning All-MIAC honors in baseball.

TERRY LEIENDECKER ’84, an All-American keeper who allowed only 28 goals in nearly 6,000 minutes of play during his standout career with the Johnnie soccer team. He went on to represent the U.S. in the World University Games in 1984 and play with the Minnesota Strikers of the North American Soccer League. JIM GATHJE ’86, who earned AllAmerican honors seven times in cross country and track and field and won back-to-back NCAA Division III titles in the steeplechase in 1985 and ’86. He still holds the Division III and Division III national meet record in the event. JOHN DETERS ’92, a seven-time AllAmerican diver who won the 1991 NCAA Division III national championship in the 1-meter event. JOE SCHOOLMEESTERS ’09, a two-time All-American golfer and three-time MIAC player of the year who helped lead the Johnnies to back-to-back NCAA Division III national titles in 2007 and ’08.




fall sports schedule This is the time of year when Henry Trost ’22 and his teammates on the Saint John’s University football team should be deep in preparation for their next game. But the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has assured that this will not be a normal fall. That become apparent in late July when the MIAC joined the vast majority of other conferences across the nation at all levels of college athletics in announcing it was moving competition in four sports – football, cross country, soccer and volleyball – from the fall to next spring. “It definitely feels weird,” said Trost, who scored 17 touchdowns as the Johnnies advanced to the NCAA Division III national semifinals in 2019. “Ever since last season ended, we’ve been itching to get back out there. Now we have to wait awhile longer.” Golf and tennis were the only sports allowed to proceed with a fall schedule (against conference opponents only), though at Saint John’s the decision was made to leave tennis as a spring sport. The plan for golf was still being decided when Saint John’s Magazine went to press.


The decision to postpone the rest of the fall sports was made after the NCAA Division III Management Council approved a proposal July 21 that allowed schools and conferences to move or extend fall sports practices and competition into the spring. Under the proposal, playing seasons are defined by the number of days, not weeks, and those days do not have to be consecutive. The waiver allows for 114 days of practice and a competitive season this academic year. In football, that spring schedule will consist of five games – all against conference competition. The schedule has not been finalized, but Johnnies head coach Gary Fasching ’81 expects it will still include a matchup with St. Thomas. The 2020 Johnnies/Tommies game had been scheduled Nov. 7 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. This is the Tommies’ final football season in the MIAC before they make the jump to Division I-AA in the fall of 2021. “Like everyone, we have had to adjust this fall due to COVID-19,” Fasching said. “Not playing games this fall will make it very different for our players, coaches and fans. But our plan is to

give our players a very meaningful experience this fall. We will find players who can step on the field and play at a high level. “Our spring practices will start in late February or early March, with our five-game season to follow. Our players are excited to get back on the field, and we look forward to building another championship team.” Johnnies athletic director and golf coach Bob Alpers ’82 said a five-game schedule in football and a 10-game schedule in soccer was arrived at after the Division III Administrative Committee approved a blanket waiver July 9. The waiver means studentathletes will not be charged a year of eligibility during the 2020-21 academic year if his or her team completes half or less of the sport's maximum contests/ dates of competition. “I’d just ask people for patience, and I’d ask them to know that every single decision is being made with the health and safety of our athletes, of our coaches and of our fans in mind,” Alpers said. “There are no self-serving decisions that have been made here. “And let’s face facts: The virus is the one making these decisions. Not us.”


BASKETBALL Saint John’s (27-2, 19-1 MIAC) tied the program record for single-season wins set in 1978-79, won its ninth MIAC regular-season title and seventh MIAC Playoff championship, and made its third consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament appearance. The Johnnies advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament before the season abruptly ended due to COVID-19. Wing Jubie Alade ’20 was named to both the and NABC All-West Region first teams. The 2019-20 MIAC Co-Player of the Year ended his career sixth in school history with 1,418 points. BASEBALL The Johnnies jumped out to a 7-1 record before COVID-19 ended the 2020 season. Shortstop Michael Gruber ’20 became the 32nd Johnnie to reach 100 career hits and batted .714 (20-for-28). Outfielder Wyatt Ulrich ’20 broke the program record of former teammate Max Jackson ’19 for runs scored (134) and designated hitter/pitcher Joey Stock ’20 was a Preseason All-American. GOLF David Schneider ’20 was named GCAA All-Region and Division III PING All-America honorable mention for the second consecutive season. Matt Wahl ’20 picked up his second straight All-MIAC distinction as an at-large honoree, and Preston

Kopel ’21 was named to the CoSIDA Academic At-Large District VI team. Kopel, Schneider and Max LaBine ’21 achieved GCAA AllAmerica Scholar distinction. HOCKEY The Johnnies went 8-2 over the final 10 conference games (6-0 on the road) to win their ninth MIAC regularseason championship with a 9-3-4 record (12-9-5 overall) in 2019-20. Defenseman Jake Dittel ’21, forward Brady Heppner ’20, forward Jack Johnson ’23, goaltender Andrew Lindgren ’20, forward Auggie Moore ’23 and forward Kyle Wagner ’20 were named to the AllMIAC first team and Doug Schueller was named the MIAC Coach of the Year for the second time. Johnson and Moore joined defenseman Peter Tabor ’23 on the six-man MIAC AllRookie team. SWIMMING AND DIVING The Johnnies finished third out of eight teams at the 2020 MIAC Championships. Jack Grabinski ’23 won the conference title in the 3-meter dive and took second on the 1-meter board en route to MIAC Co-Diver of the Year honors. He earned a trip to the NCAA Championships with his fourthplace finish in the 3-meter dive, and seventh-place mark on the 1-meter board, at the NCAA Central Regional in Ohio. Grabinski was named a CSCAA All-American.

TENNIS SJU started the 2020 tennis season with seven consecutive wins and finished with a 7-3 (2-0 MIAC) record. INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD The Johnnies hosted the 2020 MIAC Indoor Track & Field Championships and finished fourth. Ryan Miller ’21 defended his conference title in the 60-meter dash and Drew Dockendorf ’21 won the pole vault. Both posted school records in their events, as well as Maguire Petersen ’23 in the high jump. SJU qualified a program-record five student-athletes for the NCAA Indoor Championships before the meet was canceled. The five Johnnies (Dockendorf, Miller, Petersen, Collin Trout ’20 and Michael Wallace ’22) were named USTFCCCA Indoor AllAmericans. COVID-19 also canceled the outdoor season, which barred SJU from defending its NCAA Division III title in the 4x100-meter relay. WRESTLING Noah Becker ’20 was set to make his second national tournament appearance as the No. 3 seed at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships in March before the COVID-19 pandemic ended his career. He posted a 22-2 record in 2019-20 and a career mark of 93-27. He was named to the NWCA All-America first team. Becker and Jerod Novak ’20 achieved their third NWCA Scholar All-America honor.




OUR HOUR OF NEED Johnnies Rise to the Challenge

In early March, Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict had to think about the unthinkable. To help reduce the risk and spread of the COVID-19 virus, SJU and CSB announced the suspension of in-person classes and students were informed that they needed to return home. “As we face a global health pandemic, we are reminded of the fragility of our world; of the need to balance thoughtful decision-making with an ever-evolving situation; of the need to proceed factually while never losing sight of the humanity of those impacted,” wrote the CSB and SJU presidents. “Our goals are first and foremost to


keep our students, faculty and staff safe, including those most vulnerable in this situation, while supporting course completion and graduation.” Within hours, the Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s communities sprung to action to address the pressing needs of students. The following day, an emergency appeal was sent to alumni, parents and friends.

THE EMERGENCY FUND Not surprisingly, charitable gifts began flowing in, immediately and steadily. “Within an hour we had over 100 gifts to the Student Emergency Fund,” said Rob Culligan ’82, vice president for Institutional Advancement at SJU. “We didn’t have a specific goal in mind for this fund, which was probably all for the best, because by the second day we had surpassed all expectations.”

“Some of our Bennies and Johnnies will have limited or no financial resources to travel home and to cover other expenses related to our response to the pandemic. We know that many of you may want to help these students. CSB and SJU have established funds to immediately help our most vulnerable students.

Alumni and friends donated $93,000 to Saint John’s students, and Saint Ben’s received similar support for Bennies.

“These funds will provide immediate assistance – from flights to food and other unforeseen expenses. To that end, we invite your support.”

“This is a great idea for Johnnies and Bennies to help one another,” wrote Denny Bracco ’75. Another alumnus wrote: “My friend is a Tommie, and he

mentioned he had sent money to SJU in response to an email for travel funds for students.” The funds were primarily used to send students home – shipping costs, transportation expenses, food and the like. Funds also were used to help cover the cost associated with returning Study Abroad students from overseas. Additionally, funds were awarded to students and their families who were struggling to pay their educational expenses due to job loss, income reduction and other financial hardships caused by the pandemic.

THE IMPERATIVE FUND As the pandemic wore on and it became evident that the shutdown would have serious implications for students and for colleges and universities across the land, it was clear that additional measures would be necessary to shore up enrollment for the coming school year. In response to the ongoing challenges of COVID, Saint John’s launched a bold initiative: the Student Imperative Fund. “If the purpose of the Emergency Fund was to send students home,” Culligan said, “the purpose of the Imperative Fund was to bring them back. “Even before the pandemic, higher education was facing strong headwinds,” observed Culligan, “including seismic demographic shifts, escalating price and rising student debt. Then along comes COVID. Looking across the landscape of higher education, it was readily apparent that not all colleges and universities were going to be able weather this pandemic storm. The key to survival would be financial stability and steady enrollment.” Saint John’s decided that a significant capital infusion was needed to shore up enrollment. The key to strong enrollment in the fall was twofold:

in-person classes in a safe and secure environment, and additional financial aid that would ensure that existing students and incoming students facing economic challenges could afford to come or return to Saint John’s. The fundraising goal for the Student Imperative Fund was ambitious – $5 million. The timetable to raise it was even more so – one month. “We nicknamed it the Imperative Fund because this wasn’t ‘nice-to-have’ money – it was ‘must-have’ money,” Culligan said. “It was the difference between thriving and struggling.” When people were approached to support this fund, they responded generously. “This is about Johnnies helping Johnnies,” said one donor. Another commented, “I get it. My son (who is also an alumnus) described this to me as a Dunkirk moment. This is Saint John’s hour of need.”

In short order Saint John’s achieved this ambitious goal, raising $5 million from a handful of donors. $3 million was earmarked for the retention of current students and $2 million was used for the recruitment of new students.

THE TUOHY MATCH Everyone loves a comeback story. Football tales are particularly legendary. Down by six with two minutes to go, the Johnnies rally for the victory. And so it was with this year’s Saint John’s Student Fund. With a week to go in the fiscal year, the goal seemed insurmountable. “We had $285,000 to raise and a week to do so,” said Ted Kain, Student Fund director. Undeterred, Saint John’s sent out the final appeal for the year. “It’s not often that Saint John’s issues an urgent plea for

support,” the letter read. “We typically send a genteel annual request or reminder for the Student Fund. But this year is different. These are not ordinary times.” The letter continued: “This spring, to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff due to the COVID–19 outbreak, Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s moved all classes online. Students returned to their homes, and like most other colleges and universities, Saint John’s did the right thing: We issued prorated refunds for room and board and academic fees. The total price tag was more than $3 million each at both Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s. “Despite Saint John’s fiscal strength and stability, this revenue shortfall, coupled with an enrollment challenge for the coming year which requires a substantial increase in scholarship and financial aid to meet the rising need of students and their families who are facing economic hardship, presents an immediate and unprecedented financial challenge. Simply put, the future of Saint John’s depends on a generous outpouring of charitable support from our alumni and friends.” Once again, the response was impressive. Gifts of all sizes came pouring in. One, in particular, stood out. Bernie Tuohy ’72 and his brother Jim ’66 issued a last-minute challenge: They would match all gifts to the Student Fund, dollar for dollar, in the last five days of the fiscal year. The result was amazing. “We not only met the match, we exceeded it,” Kain said, “resulting in the highest Student Fund total in history.” Thanks to Bernie and Jim, and to the throngs of alumni who responded to our various appeals during our hour of need, we were able to meet the scholarship needs of our students. This became our finest hour.



ANSWERING THE CALL Student Emergency Fund Fills a Void

The last thing Vassey Konneh ’21, a biophysics major, wanted was to have to leave campus in the middle of a busy semester. But that’s just what he and his fellow Saint John’s University students were forced to do when in-person classes on campus were canceled last March as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, Konneh had to figure out a way to get home to New Jersey – one of the early U.S. hotspots in the spread of the virus – and resume his studies online. “Once we got the letter saying all students had to evacuate campus right away, I


needed to find a flight at the last minute,” he said. “That wasn’t something I’ d budgeted or planned for.”

about was how I was going to get home. And that was thanks to everyone who donated to the Student Emergency Fund.”

Fortunately, Konneh was able to get assistance from the Student Emergency Fund to help pay for his flight home.

Konneh also found himself without an internship as a result of COVID-19. But once again, the SJU community stepped up to help.

“Without the generosity of donors, I’m not sure what I would have done,” he said. “It was so amazing to see the way the Saint John’s community rallied to help out. “The whole situation was really stressful,” he said. “There were so many questions swirling around. But the question I had to spend the least amount of time worrying

“The McCarthy Center was able to help me and many other students find amazing internship opportunities through the alumni network,” he said. “This really shows me the adaptability and generosity of the Saint John’s community.”

COPING WITH PRESSURE When Simeon Farquharson ’21 heard in-person classes had been canceled, a tidal wave of questions immediately

washed over him. Like many of his fellow students, he wondered how he would get home, what to do with his possessions on campus and how completing his studies online would work. “Some people were nonchalant about the news and others were in a hysterical frenzy. What I do know, however, is that pressure was tall!” said the accounting major from Nassau, Bahamas. “My parents were calling every 10 minutes to see if there were any institutional updates and to ask what my game plan was. A mountain of class assignments was stacked on my desk awaiting completion. Friends and floormates were in and out of my room seeking some sort of conciliation, and I felt like a dingy boat in the open ocean while a hurricane was passing. “I was slowly sinking. This was a definite rough patch for my college experience.” Farquharson had friends who were able to take his belongings that could not be stored on campus. But he still needed a plane ticket home. That’s where the Student Emergency Fund was able to lend a hand. “I received the assistance with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and gratefulness,” he said. “To the individuals who gave to the Student Emergency Fund, I say a heartfelt ‘Thank you!’ Thank you for showing up for us when our stomachs were filled with knots of uncertainty and eyes fighting back tears of disappointment.”


we were switching online. I didn't know how my friends I've known for years now were doing and if I' d see them again, and I didn't know if college was an option anymore. “I felt like I was being tested mentally, spiritually and in all those aspects. I felt pressure to make my next move – my best move.” Those moves had to be made while weighing financial costs. “I had to invest personal money into food, boxes, bleach and bags,” he recalls. “I was living on campus for a couple of weeks with my roommates and we spent, collectively, at least $700 in just emergency food and toiletries.” But Taylor said the Student Emergency Fund provided valuable assistance – especially when it came to purchasing a plane ticket home to California. “The Student Emergency Fund was definitely beneficial for students like me,” he said. “The fund made my experience with this pandemic a lot smoother.”

THE JOURNEY HOME Jack Scheck ’21, meanwhile, was a long way from Collegeville when the full impact of COVID-19 began to hit the U.S. He was in Ireland as part of a group of nine students from SJU and the College of Saint Benedict studying abroad spring semester at University College Cork when Jessica Dickau, manager of global programs at SJU/ CSB’s Center for Global Education, informed them via Zoom that they had a week to get home.

Geonn Taylor ’22 also felt a great deal of uncertainty when he got the news that classes on campus had been canceled and he would have to return home.

“We were all heartbroken,” he said. “We knew it was coming. But those two months we’ d spent there were some of the best times I’ve had in college. So it was hard to have it end so soon.”

“As a student, I didn't know what was next for me,” he said. “I didn't know if I would have to transfer schools because

Fortunately, Dickau was able to inform Scheck’s group that there would be financial assistance available from the

Student Emergency Fund to help pay for their plane tickets. “Even though we were kind of on our own, it was so cool to see that people back at CSB and SJU were looking out for us,” he said. “They wanted to make sure we were safe.”

“I would just say thank you to everyone who donated to the fund. You helped make sure we got home safely and saved us a lot of potential headaches and worry.”

MAKING THE TRANSITION Elijah Henderson ’21 was studying abroad in South Africa last March when he got word that he would have to return home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “(It) was one of the most difficult periods of my collegiate life,” he recalls. “I had put so much money and effort (into going to) South Africa and expected my experience to be life-changing. “I remember that when transitioning to online classes I was very stressed, and even fell into a depression not knowing how to properly handle my course load.” But during that dark time, he remembers the Student Emergency Fund providing a ray of light and hope. The assistance helped him cover the cost of his plane ticket back to the U.S. “I had to borrow money from family friends because I was unable to afford the ticket at the time,” the political science major said. “This assistance relieved a lot of anxiety.” And for that, Henderson wants to thank all those who made donations. “Whomever you are, you are a changemaker,” he said. “You have relieved me of so much stress and now I can focus on my professional development through my summer internships.”


Achievements CLASS NOTES

Alumni Achievement Awards

The Saint John’s University Alumni Achievement Award is given to outstanding alumni in seven Reunion classes annually. Recipients are nominated by classmates, with final selection made by the Alumni Association Board of Directors. Congratulations to the 2020 award recipients!

Marcus Ahmed ’70 lived his life dedicated to the purpose of educating and impacting others. As a student at Saint John’s, Ahmed – who died in 2019 – served as chairman of the Organization for Afro-Associated Students. At a time when only 25 Black students attended SJU, the club played a key role in educating fellow students on the unique experiences they faced. His leadership helped lay the foundation for future students of diverse backgrounds to thrive in Collegeville. Upon graduating, he returned to his old high school, Hales Franciscan on the South Side of Chicago, to teach, again impacting the lives of many students. He went on to work at several other schools, including serving as principal at Whistler Elementary School from 1984-96. He received his master’s of education degree in educational administration from Loyola University in 1976, and went on to receive his doctorate in educational administration and supervision. Transitioning to higher education, he taught at Southern Illinois University, then at Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, where he served as English chair.


Steve Lepinski ’70 has spent his life trying to better the lives of children, assuring the college students of tomorrow remain mentally healthy and able to thrive today. Lepinski served as executive director of Storefront/Youth Action from 1974-87, and as CEO of the Washburn Center for Children from 1987-2017. For the past two years, he has run Steve Lepinski Consulting. He recently led a capital campaign that raised $27 million to build a children’s mental health center and create a child clinical training institute in Minneapolis, and he has been active on numerous committees and task forces dedicated to children’s mental health issues at the local and state level. He has received numerous awards for his efforts, including recently the Visionary Leader Award from the National Council for Behavior Health (February 2017), the Outstanding Service Award from the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (November 2016), the Heroes for Children Award from the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota (March 2015) and the Transformational Leadership Award from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (June 2012).

Achievements Bill O’Connell ’70 spent his life in the service of others. A member of the board of directors for the Autistic Treatment Center of Dallas and Heartlight Ministries in Hallsville, Texas, he also made many mission trips over the years to Uganda, the Ukraine, Mexico and New York City as part of the HERO Makers Organization, a group dedicated to serving children at risk and the people who care for them. The St. Cloud Cathedral High School graduate, who died in 2018, found time for his collegiate alma mater, serving on the Saint John’s University Board of Regents. He also led the grassroots effort to start the Thomas J. Murray Accounting Endowment Fund. After leaving Saint John’s, O’Connell worked as a CPA with Deloitte until his retirement in 2009, though he returned periodically in the years after to “stay active.” The man remembered as generous and outgoing by family and friends was an avid follower of the Johnnies and the Vikings and took great joy in calling “Bingo.”

Dr. Eduardo Colón Navarro ’75 frequently speaks on mental health issues, and his words carry great weight with his peers in the field in the Twin Cities metro area and beyond.

Tim Kosiek ’80 has had a successful career in accounting and has made a tremendous impact in his community, particularly with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis.

In early 2016, he was named chief of the HCMC/Hennepin Health System Department of Psychiatry. The department’s mission is to provide “a full spectrum of services for those with major behavioral and emotional difficulties, especially the serious and persistently mentally ill population in the metro and beyond.”

He began his accounting career with an international firm where he spent 21 years and went on to serve as the chief financial officer, vice chairman and president of a mid-sized financial services company. In 2009 he joined Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP as a partner. He currently serves as the firm’s national leader for the depository and lending practice.

Colón Navarro, who started at HCMC as an intern in 1979, had served as vice chair of the department since 1998. He is also a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, and is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the Minnesota Psychiatric Association, the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine and the American College of Psychiatry. In addition, he is a board member with Humans of Minneapolis, an organization devoted to connecting “hearts and minds through storytelling to encourage empathy and build community,” and a volunteer member of the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Disparities Action Council.

In 2007 Kosiek served as director of business operations for Cristo Rey Jesuit during its first year of operation and went on to serve on the board for nine years, including three years as board chair. He received the MNPCA’s Public Service Award in 2016 and has been an advisory board member for the Marquette University Commercial Banking Program. Kosiek recently rejoined Cristo Rey Jesuit as its volunteer chief operations officer, a position that is expected to become permanent upon his planned retirement from the accounting profession in 2021.



Achievements CLASS NOTES

Bennett Morgan ’85 has earned his reputation as a leader in the world of business. In the 29 years he spent with Polaris Industries – including serving as president from 2005-16 – he helped grow the company into a leader in the powersports industry. In 2009, Morgan was named Executive of the Year by Powersports Business magazine, and the publication named him one of its Industry Leaders in 2005. Prior to serving as president, Morgan, who first joined Polaris in 1987, was vice president and general manager of the company’s ATV division from 200105 and general manager of the parts, garments and accessories division from 1997-2001. He retired as president in 2016 but still serves as the lead director of General Holdings, Inc. and is a board member of the Minnesota Wild Foundation and the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management Board of Overseers. He is also a member of the Saint John’s University Board of Trustees. After graduating from SJU, Morgan earned his master’s degree in business administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota in 1987 with an emphasis in marketing.


Mike Magnuson ’90 was awfully good as an athlete at Saint John’s. As a coach passing along his knowledge to the next generations of players, he’s proving to be even better. Magnuson was a three-year starter on the offensive line for the SJU football team, earned All-MIAC honors and was part of two NCAA Division III playoff teams. He went on to coach the offensive line at Cretin-Derham Hall High School from 2010-15 and has been an assistant coach at Saint John’s the past five seasons. During his tenure on the staff at SJU, Johnnies offensive linemen have earned All-MIAC first- or secondteam honors 12 times. Offensive tackle Ben Bartch was named conference lineman of the year last season and now plays for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. After graduation from SJU, Magnuson was a longtime employee of Piper Jaffray and U.S. Bank. In 2003 he started his own financial service firm and sold it in 2010. Today, he and his family own Tommy’s Chicago Pizzeria in Mendota Heights, where he has been an active member of the community’s athletic association. He and his wife Kate have four kids: Michael 21, Daniel 19, Patrick 17 and Molly 13.

Boz Bostrom ’95 has been a faculty member since 2004 in SJU/CSB’s accounting and finance department and was recently promoted to professor. His research focus has come in the area of ethical leadership, a topic on which he speaks nationally. It’s a focus that translated well to the subject he chose for his first book – his former football coach John Gagliardi. Bostrom’s book, A Legacy Unrivaled: The Story of John Gagliardi, was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2016. Bostrom earned his master’s degree in business taxation from the University of Minnesota and spent nine years working for Big Four accounting firms. On campus, he partners extensively with admissions, athletics and alumni relations and has served as chair of the Academic Planning and Budgeting Committee. He also leads his department’s efforts in finding internships and jobs for students. He remains an avid supporter of athletics at SJU and the College of Saint Benedict, attending many events and engaging alumni on social media.

Achievements Alumni Association is here to help

Matt Logelin ’00 faced personal tragedy, but he turned his experience into a source of inspiration for others. His wife Liz died after suffering a pulmonary embolism in 2008, just one day after giving birth to the couple’s first child seven weeks prematurely. Logelin made the difficult adjustment to life as a single parent and began blogging about his experiences. That blog – Matt, Liz and Madeline: Life and Death, All in a 27-Hour Period – drew wide attention and led to his appearance on programs like The Oprah Winfrey Show. He went on to write the tender and inspirational book Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Lost Love, which spent seven weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list and has been translated into nine languages. Sony Pictures has adapted the book into a movie called Fatherhood, which stars Kevin Hart and Alfre Woodard and is scheduled to arrive in theaters Oct. 23. Logelin’s efforts have gone beyond writing. In 2009, he established the Liz Logelin Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has provided financial grants, resources and support to over 400 families with children who have lost a parent.

John Saunders ’00 is often called upon to offer his advice, and when he does, businesses and other licensed professionals listen. As an attorney with Avisen Legal in Minneapolis, he advises clients on real estate, succession planning and medical practice transitions as well as other general corporate matters. His expertise in the field of business and real estate law is highly regarded and has earned the respect of his peers. That is evidenced by the fact that he has served as chair of the Hennepin County Bar Association’s Real Property Section, as well as serving on the Minnesota Retailers Association board of directors from 2013-15 and being a founding member of the Minnesota Dental Entrepreneurs. In his spare time, he is a nine-time Birkie finisher, a founder of the youth ski club Hiawatha Skiklubb, a coach for Southeast Minneapolis Soccer Club and a hobbyist woodturner.

We are Johnnies, each benefitting from the rich liberal arts, Catholic and Benedictine education we received in the special place we call home: Saint John’s. We are active in our communities, crafting efforts across businesses, governments and non-profits to ensure the values of community benefit the daily life of all. While the physical, emotional and economic strain now is high, so too is our resolve and dedication. The need for caring and sound judgment in the world has never been more clear, and our obligation to ensure that an SJU education continues to be a foundation for future generations has never been more important. The Alumni Association strives to meet each member where they are and yet still calls each of us to action. This can be as an individual, class, geographic area (chapters) or common interest. There are small, yet impactful ways to help. What can you do to assist with recruiting the next generations of Johnnies? Seek out and refer one student. What can you do to support Johnnies who are presently enrolled? Update your profile and sign up for InterAction. What can you do to help one another? Wear your SJU gear with pride and attend a Day of Service event in your area. And finally, whatever the amount, please support the Student Fund. No amount is too small. We will come through this with a bond stronger than ever. We are Johnnies. Johnnies for Life. David E. Moe ’94 Saint John’s University Alumni Association President




Milestones 1985 Thom Kieffer has been promoted to vice president and senior trust administrator with Prairie Trust in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Kieffer earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting at Saint John’s and has over 30 years of trust, financial advisory and tax planning experience. 1986 John Rosengren has written a novel, A Clean Heart, that

was published and released May 19 by Mango Press. It is the first novel and the ninth book by Rosengren. 1987 Dan Forstner was highlighted in a story in the April 30 edition of the Washington Post. The story – For lockeddown high-schoolers, reading

‘The Plague’ is daunting, and then comforting – chronicles the efforts of Forstner, an English teacher at Minneapolis Washburn High School, to support and teach his students in distance learning sessions during the COVID-19 shutdown.


1988 Patrick Shannon has been named president of Volvo Financial Services and Mack Financial Services, North American region. He took over the role July 1 and will oversee financial services for the United States, Canada and Mexico. Shannon brings more than 30 years of experience in business operations and financial services to the position. 1989 Mark Vande Hei was featured in a recent episode of The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a television program distributed by The Disney Channel. Vande Hei, the first Johnnie astronaut, served a 5½-month mission aboard the International Space Station in 2017-18. He led Goldblum on a visit of the NASA Virtual Buoyancy Lab in the episode. 1993 Lt. Col. Kevin Schooler graduated from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania July 24 with a master’s degree in strategic studies. He has been assigned

at Fort Gillem, Georgia as political team chief. The War College’s two-year distance education curriculum educates and develops senior military officers to serve in strategiclevel command and staff positions worldwide.

1994 Dean Holt was featured in a May 11 story in the Star Tribune that highlighted his 25th anniversary as an actor with the Children’s Theater

Company in Minneapolis. Holt, a theater major at Saint John’s, has won Ivey Awards for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Reeling. 1995 Boz Bostrom has been elected to serve on the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants board of directors. The board sets policy for the 8,500-member organization. Bostrom is a professor of accounting and finance at Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict. Tom Flaig is serving as vice chancellor for research at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, where he oversees $600 million in funded research. His position has been critical in helping the research enterprise navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. 1998 Noah Whiteman was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship April 8 in the field of biology. Whiteman, an associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, was cited for his work Most Delicious Poison: How

with a bachelor of arts in philosophy and completed his doctorate in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis in May.

Plant Toxins Changed the World. He is one of 175 writers, scholars, artists and scientists cited in 2020. Guggenheim Fellows are appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise and are chosen through a peer-review process from almost 3,000 applicants. Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $375 million in fellowships to over 18,000 individuals. 2003 Dr. Darren Dookeeram has been appointed president of the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association. Dookeeram, who in 2018 became managing editor of the Caribbean Medical Journal, is also a consultant at a regional hospital and part-time lecturer at the University of the West Indies. In his new position, he is responsible for oversight of all medical operations in Trinidad and Tobago and for reporting to the World Medical Association. 2004 Eric Crawford was recognized as one of Ten Outstanding Young Omahans by the Omaha Jaycees. TOYO honors individuals who show exemplary commitment to improving the

community through selfless acts of kindness while excelling in their professional careers. Crawford is chief executive officer of the Heart Ministry Center, an organization that assists individuals affected b poverty in the Omaha area. Dr. Kamil Tokarski is owner and instructor at a piano studio on Taiwan, where he teaches advanced students of all ages. After graduating from Saint John’s, where he was a student of Fr. Bob Koopmann, Tokarski earned a master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a doctor of music arts degree at Ball State University. He has performed as soloist and in ensemble across Poland, two tours of Japan, the Czech Republic, Spain, Switzerland and many American cities, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall. 2010 Nick Schuster has been appointed as a Research Fellow at The Australian National University, working on a Templeton grant called Moral Skill and Artificial Intelligence for three years beginning whenever Australia’s borders open to international travel (likely early 2021). Schuster graduated from Saint John’s

2011 John Lano, a professional voice actor, is now the official U.S. male voice of Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant (their version of Apple’s Siri) on all Samsung phones around the world.

Lano does voice-over work through his website, 2015 Josh Russell was promoted to manager at the Mahoney Ulbrich Christiansen Russ P.A. accounting firm. Russell, a certified public accountant, joined the firm in 2016

and provides audit and accounting services to clients in real estate and nonprofit industries. “Josh’s hard work and dedication have a big impact on the firm, his colleagues and our clients,” said Roz Allyson, managing partner.





2007 Lindy (Watanaskul ’07) &

2000 Kayla to Mike Anderson, Sept. ’19

2011 Michelle (Brunik ’11) to 2012 2013



2017 2018


Stuart Pease, July ’19 Erin (Rosario ) to Will Newkirk, May ’20 Delaney (Lundeen ’11) to Joe Long, March ’20 Megan to JD Wells, Aug. ’19 Shannon (Jessen ’13) to Kevin Wenner, July ’20 Kellie (SiembiedaBachmeier ’14) to Adam Bachmeier, Feb. ’20 Courtney (Kimball ’13) to Devin Roll, Oct. ’19 Alyssa (Hoffman ’16) to Jonathon Litchy, Oct. ’19 Ashley (Bukowski ’15) to Mike Sowada, Feb. ’20 Melissa (Koop ’17) to Kevin Curwick, July ’20 Miranca (Kremers ’18) to Jake Brand, May ’20 Jamie Perreault to Zach Eichten, July ’20 Alli (Schiffler ’19) to Mitchell Thelen, July ’20




Births 1988 Philip Cronce, twin boys, 2001


2004 2005 2006

Kaedan and Kaelen, March ’20 Shannon & Makcario Johnson, girl, Makira, May ’20 Katie & Brian Traxler, girl, Emily, July ’20 Brittanie & Mark Koch, girl, Whitney, May ’20 Jessica & Luke Meyer, girl, Margo, May ’20 Anne (Radabaugh ’03) & Matt Darling, girl, Hayden, April ’20 Grace & Adrian Wijasa, girl, Owyn, March ’20 Megan (Haines ’06) & Tony Berendes, boy, Ryan, Aug. ’19




Zachary Bikus, girl, Corinne, June ’20 Brooke & Aaron Kleinschmidt, boy, Kyler, March ’20 Kayla & Shawn Schoenberg, boy, Max, July ’20 Kyrsten & Justin Theodotou, boy, Andrew, Feb. ’20 Nicole (Johnson ’08) & Aaron Blackmore, boy, Logan, April ’20 Michelle (Peltz ’12) & Jason Hoffmann, boy, Caleb, July ’20 Natalie (Ulrich ’08) & Dan Petersen, boy, Levi, April ’20 Sara (Engelbrekt ’10) & Tim Thompson, boy, Jordy, Oct. ’19 Jen (Tong ’10) & Chase Kroll, boy, Tristan, July ’20 Anna (Roach ’09) & Mike Orts, girl, Aubrey, April ’20 Julia (Bedford ’13) & Shawn Buermann, girl, Lydia, Jan. ’20 Jenna & Michael Carr, girl, Joleigh, March ’20 Amanda & Marcus Conway, girl, Becca, Nov. ’19 Ashlyn & Corey Friend, boy, Theodore, March ’20 Marya & Bryan Huntington, girl, Elise, Aug. ’19 Laura (Andersen ’11) & Nick Alonzi, girl, Rey, Jan. ’20 Sydney (Solberg ’11) & Jim Condon, boy, Charles, March ’19 Marissa (Gillespie ’13) & Aaron Haakonson, girl, Cedar, June ’20 Megan & Scott Herold, boy, Braylon, July ’20 Danielle (Karp ’11) & Andrew Lilly, girl, Elouise, March ’20 Jena (Wiehoff ’13) & Philip Orzechowski, girl, Cecilia, March ’20 Kelsie and Charlie Swanson, girl, Tessa, July 21 Alyssa (Sinner ’12) & Josh Meuwissen, girl, Lydia, July ’20

2012 Grace & Mike Perillo, boy,




2016 2017

Thomas, March ’20 Karli & Luke Riordan, girl, Everly, July ’20 Alli (Kunkel ’12) & Jacob Sand, boy, Milo, April ’20 Karli & John Sloan, girl, Sadie, June ’20 Morgan (Girard ’12) & Andy Wolfe, boy, Rocklyn, April ’20 Samantha (Lloyd ’13) & Nate King, boy, Asher, May ’20 Kaitlyn (Nelson ’15) & Joe Rydeen, boy, Emmett, Jan. ’20 Kelly (Davenport ’15) & Ethan Hellier, girl, Reagan, May ’20 Kayla (Parker ’14) & Kevin Jennissen, boy, Stephen, June ’20 Rachel & Joshua Ackerman, girl, Sky, May ’20 Alyson (Pulvermacher ’16) & Adam Happ, girl, Rylee, July ’20 Rosy (’17 SOT/Sem) & David Wesson, girl, Junia, March ’20 Mariya & Jared Beumer, boy, Beckett, May ’20 James & Elizabeth Pike, (SOT/Sem), boy, Benedict, Jan. ’20


1948 Ruth Wander, spouse of






1939 Muriel Henry, spouse of

1941 1944 1945


deceased, John, mother of John, Jr. ’72, Joe ’89, April ’20 Virginia Welle, spouse of deceased, Richard July ’20 Howard “Bud” Prairie, Jr., June ’20 Roman Schneider, DDS, brother of Leon ’51 and deceased brother, Ardwin ’48, March ’20 Margaret Pattock, spouse of Wally, mother of Tom ’73, sister of deceased, Roman Truszinski ’37, Jerome Truszinski ’40 and Peter Truszinski ’42, Feb. ’20



deceased, Wayne, mother of Roger, ’74, John ’75, Bill ’80 and Ted ’83, Feb. ’20 Fr. Don LeMay, OSB, SOT/Sem ’57, brother of Ed ’65 and deceased brother, Lester ’50, March ’20 Arnold Schwankl, brother of deceased, Arthur and Joseph, March ’20 Walter Welsch, May ’20 Margaret Kremer, spouse of deceased, Arthur, May ’20 James Michels, brother of deceased, Roger ’38, Jan. ’20 Richard Thill, March ’20 Claire Stary, spouse of deceased, John, Nov. ’19 Bob DeGree, Dec. ’19 John Moriarty, April ’20 Gene Daugherty, May ’20 Joe Fleming, father of Tom ’78, brother of deceased, Paul ’40, Robert ’45 and Richard ’47, March ’20 Tom Hanson, Dec. ’19 Fr. Robert Hegenbarth, SOT/Sem ’56 June ’20 Fr. Gerald LaPatka, April ’20 Dr. John Lindlan, DDS, May ’20 Frank Stastny, March ’20 Mark Holiday, April ’20 Mary Jean Schneider, spouse of deceased, John, May ’20 Fr. Arthur Vogel, SOT/Sem ’57, May ’20 Patricia Forster, spouse of deceased, Robert, mother of David ’83, April ’20 Daniel Nicolai, June ’20 Fr. William Munshower, brother of John ’66 and deceased, Frank ’55, April ’20 Nancy Coleman, spouse of deceased, Thomas, April ’20

1955 Paul Iten, May ’20

1956 1957




Clarence Scherping, father of Roger ’80, March ’20 Jim Ramsay, May ’20 Don Stepniak, May ’20 Frank Berres, brother of deceased, Patrick ’61, June ’20 Norma Brey, spouse of deceased, Gerald, May ’20 Fr. Nicholas Landsberger, brother of deceased Fr. Robert SOT/Sem and Jerome ’43, brother of Gerald ’50, May ’20 Paul Pearson, April ’20 Paul Pirkl, July ’20 Kate Weyrens, spouse of deceased, John, Feb. ’20 Lester Blaser, Jr., Oct. ’19 Ed Casey, July ’20 Michael A. Cummings, July ’19 George Gottfried, father of Michael ’88, Andrew ’96 and Nathan ’02, July ’20 Fr. Simeon Thole, OSB, SOT/Sem ’62, brother of deceased Fr. Tom, OSB ’54 SOT/Sem ’58, July ’20 Dick Trudell, father of Mike ’87 and Steve ’89, July ’20 Joseph Gillen, Nov. ’19 Fr. Lawrence Haas, Dec. ’19 Dixie Labat, spouse of Bob, mother of David ’91 and deceased son Paul ’85, April ’20 Stanley Reigert, June ’20 John Schmitt, April ’20 Carol Tillman, spouse of deceased Don and mother of Mike ’81, June ’20 Mike Frohrip, July ’20 Rudy Gapko, June ’20 Ed Grundmayer, May ’20 Jerrold Rausch, brother of Jim ’63, Feb. ’20 Terry Schubert, brother of Bill ’62, John ’65 and Jim ’67, April ’20

1961 Joseph “Dan” Leach,




1965 1966


III, father of Joseph “Dan”, IV ’83, March ’20 Fr. Joel Kelly, OSB, SOT/Sem ’66, June ’20 Allan Schaefer, Jan. ’20 Carleen Tiefenthaler, spouse of deceased Milo, July ’20 Mike Hinkemeyer, brother of David and Richard ’71, Dec. ’19 Dr. James Meyer, May ’20 Denis Mongeon, March ’20 Monica Randall, spouse of Jim and mother of Tony ’88, July ’17 Rich Chalmers, father of Chris ’88, April ’20 Bob Hart, father of Jim ’91 and brother of Tom ’65, April ’20 Eugene Sullivan, brother of Joe ’60, Mike ’65, Terence ’69 and Pat ’75, Dec. ’19 Arthur DeCabooter, Oct. ’19 Rick Donnay, father of David ’93, March ’20 Ann Ruehling, spouse of Gary Emmers, Jan. ’20 Thomas Farrell, July ’14 Judy Heimer, spouse of Ted and mother of Luke ’93, April ’20 Mark Mulhall, twin brother of deceased John ’64, Feb. ’20 Phillip Radford, June ’20 LaDes Klassen, spouse of Duke, July ’19 Bernie Carlson, father of Eric ’95, brother of Steve ’82 and Dennis ’86, May ’20 Glenn Reinardy, brother of Ted ’72, April ’20 Paul Nelson, Feb. ’20 Keith Friendshuh, father of Todd ’91, Feb. ’20 Steve Haskins, father of Scott ’93, April ’20

1969 Marjory Stael, spouse of 1970 1971 1972






1978 1979

David, Feb. ’20 Stephen Pavkovich, brother of deceased, Joseph ’77, May ’20 Gerald Rockers, brother of Peter ’81, April ’20 Cliff Simons, May ’20 Todd Clark, March ’20 Taylor David, Feb. ’20 Dennis Doherty, brother of Patrick ’68, Feb. ’20 Carol Stumme, spouse of Fr. Wayne, SOT/Sem, July ’20 Bob Welle, brother of Paul ’71, John ’74, Patrick ’78, Peter ’84 and son of deceased Bob ’48, Feb. ’20 Earl Bedard, father of Jim ’87, Bill ’74 and Tom ’78, Feb. ’20 Jerome Koll, father of Tom, May ’20 Kevin Walsh, Sept. ’19 Ellen Flynn, mother of Bernard and Mark ’78, Feb. ’20 Lenora Hollas, mother of Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB, SOT/Sem, May ’20 John Asmusen, father of Jess ’01, Feb. ’20 Tom Bromen, father of Cameron ’06, May ’20 Gregory Bechtold, son of LeMay, SOT/Sem ’73, brother of Stephen ’77, Mark ’80 and Roger ’83, April ’20 Mike Brand, June ’20 John Corpus, Jr., May ’20 Jean Davis, mother of Michael, David ’86 and deceased son Patrick ’78, Oct. ’19 Mark Gerlach, April ’20 Harold Roske, father of Mike and Bill ’84, April ’20 Allan Beckel, brother of Larry ’73, May ’20 Chuck Green, father of Greg ’73, July ’20 Tom Hoffman, May ’20

1979 Dr. Joseph Wethington, father of Michael, April ’20

1980 Patricia Ann Povlak, SOT/Sem, June ’20

1981 Susan Eickhoff, spouse

1982 1983

1983 1984

1988 1990 1993 1997 2000 2002 2004 2006

of Tom, mother of Matthew ’07, daughter of deceased father Robert Ruether ’56, sister of Tom Ruether ’83, Feb. ’20 S. Shawn Carruth, OSB, SOT/Sem, March ’20 Cornelius Lawyer, father of David, Peter and Paul ’90, March ’20 Michael Mancuso, brother of Fr. Luke, OSB, SOT/Sem ’83, April ’20 Fr. Jerome Nordick, SOT/Sem, March ’20 Dee Bartek, mother of John ’83, Dan ’96 and Tom ’96, May ’20 James Goetz, father of Roger, April ’20 Daniel “Riley” Burns, brother of Mike, Jan. ’20 Kathlen Kovacs, spouse of Andy, May ’20 Patrick Miner, twin brother, Paul ’86 brother of John ’83, Bob ’84, and Mike ’92, May ’20 Joe Pequignot, April ’19 Rick Pihl, Jan. ’20 Deacon Gregory Steele, SOT/Sem, father of Peter ’07, March ’20 Julie Abdo, mother of Nick, Feb. ’20 Amy Maxine, spouse of Paul, March ’20 Connie Aligada, mother of Reggie ’98 and Jonathan ’02, June ’20 Ryan Duffy, brother of Chris, May ’20 Nick Briese, brother of Joe ’07, July ’20




Hilgers saving lives, families in poverty-stricken Haiti By Dave DeLand How many women’s lives has he saved in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country? Dr. Bob Hilgers honestly doesn’t know. How many families in earthquakeravaged Haiti still have a mother because of Hilgers’ tireless efforts to prevent cervical cancer? That’s difficult to calculate. But this much is clear: Hilgers, a 1958 Saint John’s University graduate, wasn’t ready to retire from a life of medical purpose and instead shifted his focus to the country that perhaps needs it the most. “I was looking for something to retire to,” said Hilgers, 84, who founded the nonprofit Women’s Global Cancer Alliance in 2008. “I’m a person that is highly motivated, high energy, so I could not see myself on the couch.” Instead, Hilgers has devoted himself to combatting a deadly disease in a desperately poor Caribbean nation with little infrastructure or educational emphasis on preventive medicine. “The eye-opener is cancer of the cervix is a disease of poverty,” said Hilgers, rattling off grim statistics. Haiti has the world’s highest incidence of cervical cancer, 12 times that of the United States. Women die at a rate 30 times higher than in the U.S. Compounding the problem was a Magnitude 7 earthquake in 2010 that left 250,000 Haitians dead, 300,000 injured and 5 million displaced in a country where 70 percent live below the poverty line. Financial and transportation limitations often prevent women from seeking treatment. “Cancer of the cervix in the pre-invasive form is a silent disease,” said Hilgers,

who opened his clinic in Gonaives, Haiti’s third-largest city. “My résumé shows that I’ve cared for over 1,000 women with cancer of the cervix, so I thought, ‘Here’s my ticket. Here’s what I can do the rest of my life.’ ” Hilgers normally spends up to four months each year in Haiti, overseeing a staff that includes a volunteer physician/ surgeon and two nurses. They often screen for and remove precancerous lesions in the same visit. The Fairmont, Minnesota native’s medical journey began in 1954 in Collegeville. “I just absolutely fell in love with Saint John’s,” he said. “For me, it was such a wonderful experience. “When I came to Saint John’s, I wanted to enter the monastery. I can remember very well kneeling at the old chapel. Something came to me and said that I had to be in medicine. That’s how I got directed.” Hilgers went on to the University of Minnesota medical school, Mayo Clinic and Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City. In addition to his career as a gynecological oncologist, he also serves as professor emeritus in gynecological oncology at the University of Louisville

Medical School. He is an Honored Member of the Haitian OBGYN Society. “I’m a constant learner. I’m still reading a lot of the literature that relates to cancer of the cervix,” he said. “We now are at about 2,800 women that we have examined (in Haiti).” Still, more needs to be done. Political unrest and COVID-19 have presented challenges in 2020, and locating a financial sponsor is a priority. “We want to expand what we’re doing,” Hilgers said. “We want to regionalize the screening of these women, so it’s not only in the city of Gonaives. We want to be able to get into the more rural areas. “You learn by what you experience. I’ve learned a lot from those people. The Haitians are wonderful people. Not only are they courageous, but they’re super human beings.” In that sense, Dr. Bob Hilgers and Haiti are a perfect fit. For information or to contribute to the Women’s Global Cancer Alliance, go to or contact Hilgers at

Inspiring Lives is reserved for reflective pieces with a Benedictine theme. Please submit essays, poetry or other reflections for consideration to Dave DeLand at



Broadened horizons lead to giving back Bill Cunningham ’70 grew up on a small farm near Albert Lea in Southern Minnesota, part of a family of 12. He attended a one-room country schoolhouse in the first and second grades. The school was located on his family’s farm. In 1955, the rural school was closed and Cunningham attended Catholic schools in Albert Lea before going to high school at Austin Pacelli, about 35 miles away – living apart from his family during the week and working for a family that took him in for the school year. “There were times during high school that I thought I might not even attend college,” he recalled. “I thought the military might be an option for me. I applied to three colleges – St. Cloud State, Mankato State and Saint John’s.” “I got accepted at Saint John’s but, to be honest, I think I barely squeaked inside the door.” He admits he found college a challenge at first. But being at Saint John’s broadened his horizons and introduced him to things he had not been exposed to before. “Growing up, I didn’t have access to things that students in urban areas may have had,” he said.

“I didn’t have large libraries, symphonies, museums and athletic facilities. “At Saint John’s, I was introduced to classical music, public radio and the stunning architecture of Marcel Breuer – especially the Abbey Church and Alcuin Library, which are monumental works of art. These things had a lasting influence on me.” After graduating, Cunningham explored several paths. He studied Spanish and Latin American culture in Cuernavaca, Mexico, earned a master’s degree in Latin American history at the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in library science and archives administration at the University of Wisconsin, which led to a career as the city archivist in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “I came here on a one-year grant to establish an archives and records management program for the city and ended up working as city archivist for 32 years until my retirement in 2013,” he said. His appreciation for his alma mater has remained strong through the years, which is why he has set up an estate plan that includes Saint John’s – hoping to help make the experience he valued possible for other students well into the future.

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