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INSPIRING LIVES

Sorenson’s legacy continues to resonate at SJU By Sean Flannery ’01 Mason Sorenson ’96 held close the value of connections, a hallmark of the Saint John’s and Saint Benedict community. Coming from an institution known for making strong connections between people, Mason stood out for his vast capacity to maintain close relationships. He gathered people around him, and he built community for which he was responsible wherever he went. What a gift. He was a mentor, a colleague and a dear friend for more than 10 years. He died suddenly of cardiac arrest in May 2018 at age 44. We met several years after we each had graduated from Saint John’s and were both working in renewable energy. From 2016-18 I had the privilege of working alongside Mason at Renewable Energy Systems, and we spent many long evenings discussing our shared passion for wind energy. In the year since Mason died, I have reflected on just how much he meant to me and so many others from the SJU/CSB community.

Family and friends gathered May 18 for the dedication of a bench honoring Mason Sorenson ’96. The bench is located on the bank of Lake Sagatagan.

He was smart and intuitive and had an incredible ability to connect. He gave generously of his time to me and countless others who wanted to speak with him about his work, entrepreneurship, or to seek his wisdom for personal or professional advice. He spread optimism. Mason was always solutions-focused, even in tough conversations. He would often end those conversations with his signature line – “Is there anything I can do to help you?” He meant it.

He taught me the power in that question. Through Mason, I’ve learned to ask the people around me how I can help them. Often, just the act of asking can be enough to help. Everyone remembers his laugh. You could hear it in neighboring counties. What I loved most was how quick he was to use it. He would laugh at bad jokes just to let people know he was listening to them. He did it to build them up, to show that what they had to say was important and poignant and witty enough to deserve a Mason roar. It was a kindness. The Mason V. Sorenson Memorial Fund has been established to honor his legacy. The fund will provide need-based scholarships for incoming students to participate in College Bound, and support leadership and training opportunities for the Peer Resource Program. Mason invested a lot of himself in connecting people to the outdoors and mentoring individuals. It is a great comfort to me and Mason’s family and friends that through the Fund, Mason will continue creating those connections to foster environmental leaders long into the future. He remains painfully missed but warmly remembered. Everyone should be so lucky to have a mentor, a friend and a colleague such as Mason. Sean Flannery ’01 is director of permitting at Renewable Energy Systems in Minneapolis. He lives in Northfield with his wife Michelle CSB ’01 and their three children.

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

48 SUMMER/FALL 2019

Profile for CSB & SJU

Saint John's Magazine Summer/Fall 2019  

Saint John's Magazine is published in the fall and winter for alumni, parents, friends and the Saint John's University campus community.

Saint John's Magazine Summer/Fall 2019  

Saint John's Magazine is published in the fall and winter for alumni, parents, friends and the Saint John's University campus community.

Profile for csbsju
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