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INSIDE 20 Jackson Erdmann Faith, football and inspiration 10 40 years with Richard Bresnahan and The Saint John’s Pottery 28 Dennis Carlson driven to succeed by his Benedictine SJU experience




Features Bresnahan inspired by Pottery’s future while relishing its past P. 10 Four decades of history and beauty greet Saint John’s Artist-In-Residence Richard Bresnahan ’76 every day when he walks through the doors of The Saint John’s Pottery. The voices of the people who helped build that vibrant history still resonate as Bresnahan and the studio look toward what lies ahead.

Service to others makes Erdmann a champion, on and off the field P. 16 Saint John’s record-breaking, All-America quarterback is far more than just an outstanding football player. Jackson Erdmann ’19 is also a champion for social justice and service around the world, with a faith that fuels his passion for helping others. His story at SJU and elsewhere is all about those Benedictine values.

Entrepreneurial spirit guided Carlson on the road to success P. 28 Dennis Carlson ’86 blended Benedictine-influenced sustainability with Silicon Valley savvy to create WeDriveU, an enormously successful company that’s a testimony to not only Carlson’s perseverance but also the humility, honesty and focus on community that he honed at Saint John’s.



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 Margaret Arnold Jessie Bazan SOT/Sem ’17 Dana Drazenovich Sean Flannery ’01 Michael Hemmesch ’97 Joseph Housmann ’04 Mike Killeen Ryan Klinkner ’04 Frank Rajkowski John Taylor ’58 † Fr. Hilary Thimmesh ’50, OSB

PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY Libby Auger Sean Donohue ’16 Nick Campbell Jennifer McNelly ’20 Thomas O’Laughlin ’13 Frank Rajkowski Ethan Wittrock SJU photo archives

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

2 3 24 26 32 36 38 39 48

UNIVERSITY ARCHIVIST Peggy Landwehr Roske ’77

EDITOR EMERITUS † Lee A. Hanley ’58

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



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Find Saint John’s Magazine online at ©2019 Saint John’s University


Following giant footsteps toward Saint John’s bright future By Dan McKeown ’85, SJU Board of Trustees chair and Isabel ’18 CSB). There’s a thread of commonality in experiences and lessons learned that I see through my father, myself and my son and daughter. These commonalties of the SJU/CSB experience, such as the Benedictine Values, residential life, strong athletics and liberal arts education, are shared and will continue to be shared through generations. At the same time, there is a need for the university to stay current and relevant, and to keep evolving as its students evolve. I see the need for this as a parent, as an alumnus and as a board member. At this juncture of change for the university, I am extremely grateful to Dr. Michael Hemesath ’81 for his leadership and accomplishments as President of Saint John’s for the past seven years. Dr. Hemesath established the role as the first lay president in the history of the university. That was quite an undertaking and he took it on and did an admirable job. We wish him and his family all the best in his next endeavor.

Tom (left) and Dan McKeown are the first father/son combination to serve as chair of the Saint John’s Board of Regents/Trustees. My father, Tom McKeown ’52, just celebrated his 90th birthday. He is a man of great character and simple wisdoms who continues to demonstrate to his children and grandchildren the importance of helping and serving others. He also taught us the power of listening, collaborating, the love of learning and the importance of an education. My father was chair of the SJU Board of Regents from 198792, and we are very grateful to be the first father/son pair to serve in this role. I’m reminded of the high bar he set when I meet alumni and I say, “Hi, I’m Dan McKeown” and they respond with “Yeah, Tom’s son – high bar.” We are both very honored and grateful to be of service to such an outstanding institution. I look forward to working diligently with the faculty, students and board members to address challenges and to celebrate the triumphs that make Saint John’s such a world-class institution. Thank you to my father for paving the way. I’ve recently become more deeply involved in the institution by serving on the board for the past six years and by coming back to campus frequently with my kids (Desmond ’15 SJU



The interim replacement has been selected and we are pleased to welcome Dr. Eugene McAllister, who was named to the position July 29 by the SJU Board of Trustees and started August 1. He will serve through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. Dr. McAllister appreciates and respects the Benedictine, Catholic tradition and is also deeply committed to the value of a liberal arts education. He brings a diverse résumé of experience that can help us think about the future of Saint John’s, and he has a demonstrated track record of growing enrollment. Saint John’s will continue to evolve and build upon what the Abbey, prior presidents, boards of trustees, faculty, staff and students have built. We have distinct strengths that we will uphold for future generations. As I think about the future of Saint John’s, I believe we need to be agile, nimble and forward-thinking while remaining true to our mission. We have great opportunities to keep our university relevant and dynamic in today’s changing educational realm. I look forward to exploring them and serving as board chair and working with the community at Saint John’s to maximize our potential. Dan McKeown ’85 was elected chair of the SJU Board of Trustees May 13. He graduated from Saint John’s with a degree in economics and is president and CEO of Specialty Manufacturing Company. He lives in Stillwater with his wife Heidi, and their children Desmond ’15 and Isabel ’18 are SJU/CSB graduates.


McAllister named interim president of Saint John’s Dr. Eugene McAllister was named interim president of Saint John’s University July 29 by the university’s Board of Trustees. The announcement was made to the campus community by Dan McKeown ’85, chair of the Board of Trustees. “We’re delighted to have Dr. McAllister join us for the coming year as interim president,” McKeown said. “He appreciates and respects the Benedictine, Catholic tradition. He is also deeply committed to the value of a liberal arts education.” McAllister follows Michael Hemesath ’81, president emeritus of Saint John’s University, who announced May 21 he was stepping down Aug. 1 after seven years as president.

He began his career in higher education as Jacksonville (Florida) University’s vice president for financial affairs (1997-2001) before becoming president at the University of Great Falls, where he led the school’s transformation from a local university serving mostly non-traditional students to a residential, liberal arts university. McAllister also served the public in government positions that included stints as White House Special Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the Economic Policy Council (August 1985-March 1988) and U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs (April 1988-January 1993). “He brings a diverse résumé of experience that can help us think about the future for Saint John’s. He’s got a demonstrated track record of growing enrollment,” McKeown said.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Saint John’s University community,” said McAllister, who served as president of the University of Great Falls (Montana) from 2003-16. “I knew of Saint John’s extraordinary success educating students to succeed in life.”

“My visit (to Saint John’s) just confirmed the strong sense of community and caring and dedication to the university,” said McAllister, who started Aug. 1 and will serve as interim president through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. “I think Saint John’s is a gem in American Catholic higher education, and I would love to help more people realize that and see that.”

McAllister earned his doctorate in economics from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The Board of Trustees will continue to lead the search for a permanent replacement as the 14th president of SJU.

Dr. Eugene McAllister (right) takes a campus tour with Michael Connolly, interim vice president for student development. CSBSJU.EDU/NEWS



Vande Hei’s inspiring words usher SJU graduates into a new world Any number of university commencement speakers have told an audience of graduating seniors that the sky is the limit. Mark Vande Hei is one of a select few who took that limit even higher. “Don’t just seize the day today – seize the century, your century. Humanity is counting on you. Make it count, and have a blast doing it,” said the 1989 Saint John’s University graduate and NASA astronaut during his Commencement address May 12 to SJU’s Class of 2019. “Today is absolutely time to celebrate for each of you,” Saint John’s President Michael Hemesath ’81 said during the ceremony at Saint John’s Abbey and University Church. “You’re a graduate now of Saint John’s University. And that means something.” A total of 412 graduates received diplomas during Saint John’s 162nd year of conferring degrees. “Johnnies, I have every confidence that as you walk across this stage today, you are walking into greatness,” said College of Saint Benedict President Mary Hinton, whose school conferred degrees May 11 on its Class of 2019. “This marks the day,” Vande Hei added, “when you begin a new life.” Three decades after graduating from Saint John’s ROTC program with a physics degree, Vande Hei returned to share the inspirational message of a career that has taken him around the world and into orbit. “On May 28, 1989, I was sitting where you are now, having no idea that 30 years later I’d be standing on the other side of the podium,” he said. “You never know what’s in store for you.” What was in store for Vande Hei was a distinguished U.S. Army career … a master’s degree from Stanford and a physics professorship at the U.S. Military Academy … selection as a NASA astronaut in 2009, one of nine chosen out of a pool of 3,500 applicants … and 168 days in space aboard the International Space Station in 2017-18 on a mission that included scientific research and four space walks. For all those reasons and more, Vande Hei was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree before his Commencement address.



Saint John’s to launch Volunteer Service Honor Roll Community service is at the heart of our Benedictine values and tradition. Saint John’s University is deeply proud of our students and graduates who embrace a life of service. Toward that end, SJU is creating a Volunteer Service Honor Roll to recognize alumni who participated in a post-graduate full-time national or international volunteer or mission program for at least one year. Examples include the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and Teach for America as well as faith-based programs such as the Benedictine Volunteer Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Lasallian Volunteer Program, Dominican Volunteer Corps, Maryknoll Missionaries, FOCUS, ACE, Vida Volunteers. The Volunteer Service Honor Roll will be a touchscreen display in the Saint John’s Gallery of Honor. Alumni names, class years and photos will be displayed along with the name of the volunteer organization and the years of their service. If you have served in a post-graduate service program or mission program and would like to be included in the Volunteer Service Honor Roll, please email Cathy Wieme ( with your name, class year and photo and the name of the volunteer program and years of service.

Gagliardi’s presence still resonates with SJU football – and in his office

Another Saint John’s football season is underway, and while John Gagliardi is no longer here physically, the legendary football coach’s spirit is still very much present in Collegeville – perhaps nowhere more than in his office inside Warner Palaestra. There, for season after season and decade after decade, the winningest coach in college football history drew up triumphant game plans while spinning yarns and serving up wisecracks to any and all visitors who dropped by. “It’s when I’m sitting at his desk that the memories really

come flooding back,” said his son Jim Gagliardi ’89, himself a former player and longtime member of his father’s coaching staff. “I’ve always considered that office kind of sacred,” added Gary Fasching ’81, who played for Gagliardi and took over as head coach in 2013. “You walk in and it’s almost a museum to his career and all he accomplished here,” Fasching said. “We still have people coming by – parents, recruits, former players – who want to see it. It’s an important part of the legacy of our program.”

Take a tour of John Gagliardi’s office in Warner Palaestra and hear more about the ways his impact on SJU football is still being felt. Story and video at

Phi Beta Kappa inducts 57 Saint John’s/Saint Benedict students Fifty-seven students from Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict were inducted into the Theta of Minnesota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa April 24 at Alumnae Hall, Haehn Campus Center, CSB. A total of 47 seniors and 10 juniors were selected by faculty members at SJU and CSB who are members of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society. Students are chosen based on their grade-point average (3.85 for

juniors, 3.65 for seniors) and must be a liberal arts and/or sciences major. The selection committee also looked at the breadth and depth of the student’s program and other achievements, such as a thesis or other research; interest in other cultures or languages; extracurricular activities; and academic performance. CSBSJU.EDU/NEWS



Fr. Hilary reflects on 7 decades of residence hall life at SJU By Fr. Hilary Thimmesh ’50, OSB Editor’s note: Fr. Hilary Thimmesh, 91, former English professor and Saint John’s University president from 1982-91, died Aug. 11. He loved literature and nature and considered teaching an eminently monastic work.

(I mean “cut the current”) at 10:30 p.m.

Just three months earlier, Fr. Hilary stepped down at the end of spring semester from the faculty resident position he held almost continuously since 1954 and shared these reflections on 73 years of service to SJU.

Advance 10 years and it’s me in the same room, newly ordained as a Benedictine monk, doing the same things except that all the rooms are now overcrowded doubles thanks to the GI influx after World War II.

In September 1945 I started college at Saint John’s, living in Benet 425. My prefect (the faculty resident role then) was Fr. Alfred Deutsch ’36, OSB, nephew of then-Abbot Alcuin Deutsch, fresh from gaining a doctorate in English.

We were not turning off lights at 10:30 p.m., but we were still knocking on doors at 6:30 a.m. to assure that students get to 7 a.m. Mass.

The prefect’s role, in addition to his main job as a professor, is to keep tabs on students living in single rooms on his floor. Turn on the lights at 6:30 a.m. Make sure everybody gets to Mass at 7. Sit with students in the Refectory. Make sure the student is in his room by 7 p.m. studying. Turn off the lights



Residents check out with him if they want to leave campus, check in when they return.

I was a part-time prof the next few years as student life changed. Saint Thomas Aquinas Hall had been rushed to completion in 1959 to house 400 students, but we were still requiring students to check out and in. Those relics of parental supervision went out of style and became impossible during the changing climate of the

Fr. Columba Stewart selected to deliver Jefferson Lecture Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University, has been selected to deliver the 2019 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities Oct. 7 at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. The lecture is the highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.

Fr. Hilary Thimmesh moved out of Tommie Hall 237 in May after living and serving as a faculty resident there since 2002. He started in the Saint John’s dormitories as a student in 1945. Vietnam years. By the time the Beatles had done their famous appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, the notion of obligating college kids to go to daily Mass seemed prehistoric. In the turmoil of the late ’60s, prefects became faculty residents – almost all of them Benedictine, usually ordained. My role as an FR was interrupted by occasional administrative functions, but I owe my brief athletic career to a period when I was prefect for the Anselm Hall pre-divinity students. On one occasion I acquired an authentic hematoma on my left leg during a rough-and-tumble pickup basketball game where the other players were younger and much faster than me. I proudly displayed the athletic injury by sitting at my desk with my left leg supported on a chair. Social media is a new world that students move in naturally and FRs have to learn. Oddly enough, the atmosphere on a dorm floor can be quiet because everybody is focused on the omnipresent hand-held connection with the rest of the world. It’s a world where email is old-fashioned. The student-FR connection changes from first year to senior year. The FR role with upperclassmen is advisory: looking to the future, the world of employment or specialized education. The FR will have had a part in Johnnies’ college years, usually a happy part after four good years at Saint John’s/Saint Ben’s.

“It is an extraordinary moment in our nation’s intellectual life, and one in which a keener sense of the wisdom and experience of the past, critically interpreted, has much to offer,” said Fr. Columba, who was “deeply humbled” by his selection. This is the first time the award has been given to a Minnesotan, a member of the clergy or a Benedictine monk. Previous Jefferson Lecturers include John Hope Franklin, Toni Morrison, David McCullough, Donald Kagan, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Ken Burns. The National Endowment for the Humanities selects the lecturer through a review process that includes nominations from the general public. The Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities is the agency’s signature annual public event. Fr. Columba’s lecture – Cultural Heritage Present and Future: A Benedictine Monk’s Long View – will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7. The lecture is free and open to the public and will stream online at A scholar of early Christian monasticism, Fr. Columba holds a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard University, a master’s in religious studies from Yale University and a doctorate in theology from Oxford University. He has spent 15 years working with international religious leaders, government authorities and archivists to photograph and digitize ancient to earlymodern religious manuscripts, especially those at risk due to war, strife or economic uncertainty.




Tim Marx receives Colman J. Barry Award Tim Marx ’79 received the Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society from Saint John’s University April 26. The award was presented during a private dinner as part of Saint John’s Day activities. “I accept the award on behalf of so many people who were my friends and mentors,” Marx said. “And I include in them Fr. Colman Barry – I was a student in his Church History class.” Marx is president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, where his leadership and dedication have been crucial in establishing the strategic direction of Catholic Charities and overseeing its implementation.

Marx became president and CEO of Catholic Charities in 2011. He oversaw the funding and construction of Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground Saint Paul, which opened in January 2017 as part of St. Paul’s new Dorothy Day Place homeless shelter, housing and social services campus. He has previous experience as an attorney, public official, nonprofit leader and other civic involvement. “The Benedictine values of worship, the dignity of work and service were a guide to a personal life, a spiritual life and a professional life. And I saw those values every day at Saint John’s and also in the life of Colman Barry,” Marx said.

He works extensively with faith, civic and public policy leaders, community partners, donors and volunteers to

The award was established by Saint John’s in memory of Fr. Colman, a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey, professor of history and eighth president of SJU (1964-71). His life was distinguished by initiatives designed to enrich the cultural and religious life of society.

SJU celebrates Homecoming anniversaries, rich tradition

Alumni Meet,” said a story in the Oct. 8, 1925 issue of The Record.

“Today is Homecoming. From far and wide Johnnies have come back home. The football game, and the dance, memories of old times relived once again. Yes, for the alumni it’s good to be home, and for Saint John’s faculty and students, it is not only ’Welcome’ but ’Glad to see you again.’ ”

“(Homecoming) will be a great event in the history of Saint John’s, in the life of every visiting alumnus, and in the experience of every student now attending.”

That greeting to Saint John’s fans was published in the Johnnies’ Homecoming game program in 1946. By that point, Homecoming already had a long history at SJU – a history that didn’t always involve football. The concept of Homecoming was entirely different when it began in 1882 with the first Alumni Meet. Back then, alumni returned to campus in the summers rather than in the fall for a football game-centered event. Panoramic photos of some of those gatherings are on display in the SJU Archives in Alcuin Library’s basement. But by 1925, those alumni were ready for something different. “Alumni of Saint John’s, for more than forty years have returned to the Old School on the occasion of a June or July


advance the vision of a community where there is poverty for no one and opportunity for everyone.


This fall marks the 95th anniversary of what is considered Saint John’s first Homecoming football game, a 14-7 loss to Hamline Oct. 17, 1925. Homecoming wasn’t considered an annual event in its early days. There were no Homecoming games in 1926 or 1930, and also no games in 1943 and 1944 during the height of World War II. This fall also marks the 75th anniversary of SJU’s continuous string of Homecoming games, which began in 1945 with a 21-6 loss to St. Olaf. Results since then have been far more favorable. Starting with

Ken Roering receives Fr. Walter Reger Award Ken Roering ’64 received the 2019 Fr. Walter Reger Distinguished Alumnus Award – the highest honor bestowed by the Saint John’s Alumni Association for service to the SJU community – June 22 at Stephen B. Humphrey Auditorium during the Reunion kickoff program. “I’m so indebted to Saint John’s that I don’t feel like I need to be recognized in any fashion,” Roering said. “I owe a great debt for what they’ve done for me.” Roering graduated from SJU with a degree in English. He went on to earn a doctorate in business administration and had a highly successful career in academia. Roering is professor emeritus at the Carlson School of Management of the University of Minnesota. Roering’s professional achievements include numerous honors

as a consultant and board member for prominent national companies, non-profit and charitable organizations. He served on SJU’s Alumni Board in 2004, Board of Regents/Trustees from 2006-13 and as a volunteer for his graduating class. His Saint John’s awards include the Alumni Achievement Award in 2009 and the Bob Basten Excellence in Leadership Award in 2012. Roering distinguished himself on the gridiron at Saint John’s as a two-time All-American football player and key member of the 1963 NAIA national championship team. “John Gagliardi was immensely significant in my life,” Roering said. “I made a lot of good friends who I still stay in touch with. “It reinforced some of the fundamental lessons of life – try hard, do your best, get up when you get knocked down, do good and play by the rules. That really served me well in my academic career.”

a 27-0 win over Macalester in 1946, Saint John’s has compiled a 60-13 Homecoming record. It’s all part of the legacy lauded in that 1946 Homecoming program: “Win or lose, whichever eleven men are on the field, the name ’Fighting Johnnies’ will continue to be a tradition.”



Forty Yea Beauty and inspiration surround Richard Bresnahan every time he unlocks the basement door at Saint Joseph Hall and walks into The Saint John’s Pottery studio, which resonates with voices from its living history and potential for the future. Forty years. Fifteen Johanna Kiln firings. Countless lives enriched. They’ve all blended together over four formative decades in which Saint John’s University’s artist-in-residence built something special from the ground up, literally from the clay


of Central Minnesota. “People will offer you a window,” Bresnahan said. “Br. Dietrich (Reinhart) opened up a very big window for me to walk through. Fr. Michael Blecker opened up a window of the vision for me to walk through and actualize my dreams. “And to actualize your dreams is something that’s incredible for you to do.” Those dreams have brought international renown to Bresnahan, to the studio and to Saint John’s.

Oct. 18 will mark the 15th firing of Saint John’s Johanna Kiln,

with upward of 50 volunteers working in shifts over a 10-day span to help produce roughly 12,000 works of pottery and sculpture. It’s a process that embodies the integration of aesthetic, scientific, humanistic and moral approaches to sustainable living in relation to nature.

ars On Bresnahan carries rich legacy of The Saint John’s Pottery into the future

It’s the personification of the Benedictine values of community, hospitality, environmental stewardship, self-sufficiency and tradition. It’s an integration of art and life, of work and worship, and a celebration of cultural diversity and how liberal arts can help save the planet. “The impact of the studio has been really outside that narrow-siloed mainstream of art. It’s the dedication of a community for the better whole of society and the better whole of the future of education,” Bresnahan said. “The way he lives that as almost a kind of ministry is something he and only he could have started,” said Steven Lemke ’08, a former studio program manager now studying in Slovakia on a Fulbright Fellowship. “He embodies that so thoroughly, so genuinely.” And yet, over those four decades, other pivotal people and indelible voices have helped define the trajectory of The Saint John’s Pottery.

Foundation of a dream By Dave DeLand “As both an artist and an ambassador for the natural environment, Bresnahan takes his place as one of the preeminent potters in contemporary American ceramics,” wrote Gerry Williams, editor of Studio Potter magazine. “By his own example, Bresnahan provides his students with alternatives, showing them how to be financially independent, maintain a sense of personal integrity and create art true to themselves,” Minneapolis Institute of Art deputy director and chief curator Matthew Welch stated in his landmark 2001 book Body of Clay, Soul of Fire that serves as the seminal chronicle of Bresnahan and The Saint John’s Pottery.

Richard John Bresnahan II was born in Casselton, North Dakota, went to high school at Saint John’s Prep and graduated from Saint John’s University in 1976. Saint John’s/Saint Ben’s art instructor Sister Johanna Becker, OSB, helped arrange for Bresnahan to apprentice in Japan for threeand-one-half years with master potter Takashi Nakazato, whose family has crafted pottery on Kyushu Island for 15 generations. Bresnahan lived, worked and learned in an environment that mirrored Benedictine monasticism, rich in tradition, technique and Japanese culture.


(Left) Richard Bresnahan and Saint John’s President Br. Dietrich Reinhart share a celebratory moment at the 2008 Johanna Kiln firing; (right) S. Johanna Becker was a regular presence at firings of the kiln that bears her name.

“Richard, we’re going to do great things together.” – Br. Dietrich Reinhart He brought those concepts back with him to Collegeville, where in February 1979 Fr. Michael – then Saint John’s president – agreed to help Bresnahan set up an indigenous pottery studio that would shape the future of creative education at SJU.

Bresnahan’s initiative advanced with the help of a litany of supporters.

“He looks at me and says, ‘What can Saint John’s do for you?’ That was this incredible moment,” said Bresnahan, channeling Fr. Michael’s voice.

“My cemetery heroes? We’ll start out with Fr. Michael Blecker. Sister Johanna Becker. Sister Colman O’Connell. Br. Hubert (Dahlheimer). Br. Dietrich Reinhart. Al Heckman.”

“I said, ‘I’d like to build a program that’s never been done in the United States.’ ”

They also include Br. Mark Kelly, John Pellegrene and others who contributed to laying The Saint John’s Pottery’s unique foundation.

Bresnahan became Saint John’s artist-in-residence. On June 11, 1979, The Saint John’s Pottery opened its doors.

“There are a lot of people who are in the cemetery that went to bat for me. They didn’t have to,” he said.

“There were only two other wood-burning kilns in the United States in 1979. Now? Thousands,” Bresnahan said.

“I wanted to build a program based on environmentalism – that we dig only our own clay, we work only out of the recycled system, we make all our own glazes,” said Bresnahan, who modeled everything after his Japanese experience.

A moving evolution

“This was a different way of educating completely. It was taking a Pacific Rim concept and introducing that into an academic, pedagogical system. Nobody was doing this.”

Bresnahan worked tirelessly to grow the studio during its formative years, attacking his 18-hour work days with a creative passion.


“It’s been a cultural transformation. (Saint John’s) was at the forefront of it.”

Upward of 50 volunteers work in shifts during the 10-day span of a Johanna Kiln firing to help produce roughly 12,000 works of pottery and sculpture. The Saint John’s Pottery was featured in producer/director John Whitehead’s 1997 documentary film Clay, Wood, Fire, Spirit: The Pottery of Richard Bresnahan, which won Emmy Awards for Best Cultural Documentary and Best Documentary Editing. A pivotal period was 1991-92, when The Saint John’s Pottery gained an important ally and literally moved forward.

the pottery studio of Saint John’s is part of the identity of the place – for the university and the monastery.”

Br. Dietrich was installed as Saint John’s 11th president July 1, 1991. Bresnahan still recalls their conversation as they shook hands in the reception line at the Old Gym.

The vote was overwhelmingly supportive. And in 1992, 780ton Joe Hall (bottom left) was placed on 216 wheels made for Boeing 747 airliners, wheeled out onto the Tundra, turned 180 degrees and deposited in its current location 500 yards away.

“He said, ‘Richard, we’re going to do great things together,’ ” Bresnahan said. “That moment was when I realized there was going to be a major turn.” Br. Dietrich saw the studio as an essential element of 21st century learning at Saint John’s. He also saw the necessity of preserving its historic home: Saint Joseph Hall was facing demolition to make way for the construction of Sexton Commons. “I was faced with tearing down Joe Hall and the choice of either getting rid of Richard or finding money to put him in a new space,” Br. Dietrich said in Body of Clay, Soul of Fire.

The price tag for moving the building, rebuilding the studio and constructing the Johanna Kiln was formidable. To make that happen, Bresnahan went back to his family roots. Frank Ladner ’48 was 17 when he arrived at Saint John’s in 1944. He was befriended by another Fargo native – Richard Bresnahan I ’49, just home from serving in World War II. Ladner went on to make a fortune in the insurance business and serve on Saint John’s Board of Regents. He never forgot his roots, or Bresnahan’s father.

“One, we’re going to lift up and move Joe Hall,” said Bresnahan, channeling Br. Dietrich’s words. “We don’t tear down our history.

“I said, ‘Frank, can you help us out so that we can build a whole new program?’ He got out his checkbook, and he writes out a check for $400,000,” said Bresnahan, his voice lowering to a crackling whisper and his eyes welling with tears.

“And two, we’re going to have a (monastery) chapter vote that

“He hands it to me and says, ‘This is for your dad.’ ”

He chose the latter.


“Your goal in life is that your apprentices become better than you. If I can do that, then that’s the legacy.”

Serving the community The Saint John’s Pottery has continued to evolve since then, attracting visitors from around the world while enhancing artistic innovation, supporting apprenticeships and community outreach, fostering religious and academic environment and promoting natural and environmentally friendly artistry. “Saint John’s is a community of highly diverse groups. They’re coming to learn about the culture of the clay world from this perspective. It’s a much more organic perspective,” Bresnahan said. “The Saint John’s Pottery never has been simply about pottery,” Welch wrote. “It stimulates thinking, prompts psychic investment, even moves one to positive action.” In a nationwide academic climate where many cash-strapped universities are shuttering art departments, Bresnahan has been careful to cultivate a financially self-sufficient program with a vibrantly creative legacy. “We’re the only university in America that’s got a designated endowment for environmental artists,” said Bresnahan, ever mindful of the program’s generational survival. “The studio becomes an identity for all creativity within the university. “Historically, what’s going to be the biggest thing 20 or 30 years out? It’s going to be environmental artists communicating about the nature of what’s happened to the planet.” Some of those artists will be on hand for the latest firing of the Johanna Kiln, which was inaugurated in 1995. At 87 feet long with a 37-foot backpressure tunnel, it’s the largest woodfired kiln of its kind in North America.


It’s being loaded with everything from fine art to dinner plates, which in itself makes a statement about the mission of The Saint John’s Pottery. “If your neighbors are not eating out of your dishes,” Bresnahan said, “you have defeated the purpose of building culture. “That’s been a main focus of the studio – it’s been more of a direction of community than it has Richard Bresnahan becoming famous.”

Looking ahead So, what’s next? “I wake up in the morning and I’m absolutely, totally consumed by that thought process,” said Bresnahan, who in addition to preparing for the kiln firing has been commissioned to craft the centerpiece for the Jon Hassler Sculpture Garden outside the Reinhart Learning Commons. “The feeling is you cannot wait to get to the next step of your work.” Bresnahan recovered from major back surgery in 1988-90, and from quintuple bypass heart surgery in 2017, and has balky knees. He couldn’t wait to get back to work, but he won’t be making art forever. “There can be only one Richard Bresnahan. The man himself is irreplaceable,” Lemke said. “You’ve got to think about legacy, Richard,” Bresnahan said, basically to himself. “Who’s going to take this over when you’re done? “You don’t spend 40 years building something just to have

the moment you drop over face-down into the pizza for someone to say, ’OK, now we’re going to change everything.’ ” At age 66, Bresnahan looks forward to that future with optimism and renewed perspective. “Change is good in the sense that you bring in someone who has the same respect for the materials, for the creativity, for learning, for the hospitality of guests,” he said. “That will become part of the identity of the place. “You want it to change. You have to create a certain kind of vibrancy that the next generation believes in. But the foundation will stay solid.” Bresnahan glanced around the studio he spent 40 years building, his eyes bright. “Your goal in life is that your apprentices become better than you,” he said. “If I can do that, then that’s the legacy.” None of it would have happened without all those benefactors, all those pivotal moments, all those voices. Richard Bresnahan still sees them, still feels them, still hears them. They’re waiting for him every day when he walks through those doors. Dave DeLand, executive director of marketing and communication at Saint John’s University, is an award-winning writer, guest lecturer at SJU and former columnist for the St. Cloud Times.

Lemke’s stellar achievements have Saint John’s roots Incredible artistic accomplishments have become the norm this year for sculptor and visual artist Steven Lemke, and all of them trace their roots to Saint John’s. “He’s had a lot of firsts,” said Saint John’s artist-in-residence Richard Bresnahan. “Nobody’s done it like he has. This is exceptional.” A 2008 SJU graduate and former program manager at The Saint John’s Pottery, Lemke received his Master of Fine Arts degree in May from the University of Notre Dame, which accepts only one sculptor a year in its MFA program. He also received the Riley Prize in Art History and Criticism, Notre Dame’s highest award for arts writing. In addition, Lemke served as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame, and his teaching acumen was recognized with the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools’ Graduate Student Teacher of the Year award – a first for a Notre Dame art student. “I tried to model myself in the spirit of teaching that I experienced as a student at Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s,” said Lemke, who cites Bresnahan ’76 and Br. David Paul Lange, OSB – his advisor and former art professor at SJU – as primary influences. As he was installing his MFA show, Lemke received word that he was the 2019-20 recipient of a Fulbright Open Study/Research Fellowship to Bratislava in the Slovak Republic, beginning in September. Lemke is the first art student at Notre Dame to receive the award. And at the opening of the MFA show, Lemke received one more honor. “Richard and Br. David Paul (along with Bresnahan’s wife Colette, daughters Margaret and Sarah and Sr. Eva Hooker, CSC) surprised me at my MFA celebration in Indiana,” Lemke said.

Richard Bresnahan’s family (from left): daughter Sarah, wife Colette, son Richard III, Bresnahan and daughter Margaret.

“After all these awards I got, the very best thing – what meant the most to me – was to have two of my mentors and Richard’s family fly in to surprise me at the opening.”


The star quarterback sometimes shows up for class in a battered Gryffindor jacket and tattered sneakers. The record-breaking football player laughs heartily at his nickname – “The Baby Giraffe” – and at playful banter from his teammates.

Champion Erdmann’s inspiring story focuses

Meet Jackson Erdmann Countless people have, and they’ve all been enriched by the exceptional football player and tireless crusader for social justice whose unique trajectory unfolded and flourished at Saint John’s University. “This is a passion – I want to do what I can to help. I feel like that defines me. That’s what I strive for more than being known as the quarterback,” Erdmann ’19 said. “He’s so much more than a football player. He does things for the right reasons,” said Johnnie teammate and close friend Ryan LaCasse ’19. “It’s been amazing how many people I’ve met along the way that come up and say, ‘I read about your quarterback. What an incredible kid,’ ” added SJU football head coach Gary Fasching ’81.

quarterback who has his sights set on an NCAA Division III national championship for Saint John’s. There’s faith. There’s family. There’s his academic focus, his quest for social justice, his passion for service. Erdmann’s development has been molded by the Benedictine experience at Saint John’s, which in turn has helped him enrich the lives of others. “I have Jackson Erdmann’s brain front and center, not Jackson Erdmann’s arm,” said Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman (better known on campus as “KSDZ”), Saint John’s/Saint Benedict associate theology professor and Erdmann’s de facto spiritual adviser. “I know somebody far beyond the football field. I know the intellectual, academic side of Jackson,” she said. “He’s like the little brother I never had.”

“When they say ‘What an incredible kid,’ they don’t talk much about the football player.”

Erdmann epitomizes Benedictine values, embodying everything Saint John’s instills in young men.

There’s more to Erdmann than just an All-America

“I find it hard to think that at a different school he would


The global business leadership major is also a theology minor whose spiritual nature illuminates everything he does. The “Big Man on Campus” is passionately focused on helping others in his array of humanitarian volunteer endeavors.

for Justice on faith, football, helping others By Dave DeLand

have been able to fully explore what he wanted to explore,” said teammate Will Gillach ’19. “At other schools he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore his faith as much as he has, his service as much as he has. “Saint John’s is basically a platform that he’s been able to utilize to find and follow exactly what he wants.” “I believe 100 percent I’m meant to be here,” Erdmann said. “Just see everything that’s happened – who I am now, what I’ve been through both on the football field and as a person. I’ve learned and grown so much.

“Coming to Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s was the best decision of my life.” He has made lots of good ones.

The road to Saint John ’s Erdmann’s Rosemount High School football coach is also his father, and Jeff Erdmann encouraged his son to consider Saint John’s when he graduated in 2015.

“He said, ‘There’s something special there. You really should reach out to them and schedule a visit,’ ” Erdmann said. The visit went well, but Erdmann also had opportunities at NCAA Division I schools Iowa State and Penn State and chose the latter. After a semester, he reconsidered. “Gary was the only coach I felt bad saying no to,” Erdmann said. “I just fell in love with (the SJU coaches’) personalities and who they are – they’re so genuine. That’s what brought me back.” His new Saint John’s teammates, however, weren’t expecting “genuine” – not from a quarterback who had transferred from a Big Ten Conference power. “We kinda figured he’d be a hotshot,” Gillach said. “He had all the accolades. We had this preconceived notion of who this guy was going to be, and he absolutely shattered it.” The incoming “Big Man on Campus” turned out to be anything but.


“It was exactly the opposite. That just shows you the kind of person he is,” LaCasse said. “I was a little nervous about how the guys were going to perceive me,” said Erdmann, who became SJU’s starting quarterback in the fall of 2016 as a redshirt freshman. “It’s so important to build relationships with everybody – teammates, coaches, students.” And so, Erdmann went to work – making himself better, making everybody around him better, on the field and in the classroom and in the community. “He was allowed to flourish here. This whole other side of him was allowed to flourish,” Zimmerman said.

“We talk about three things with them – be great in the classroom, be great in the community and be great on the football field,” Fasching said. “And that’s the order I want that to happen. “When you get a kid like Jackson, he’s a perfect example of that. He’s what we would put up as the poster boy of what we want our guys to be.”

Inspired service When Davis Zimmerman looks at Erdmann, she doesn’t see a football player. “I see a kid with red Converse sneakers where his foot’s coming half out of his shoe,” she said. “I see his Gryffindor jacket that’s falling apart. “I know what’s behind the face. I know what’s behind the uniform.” Or, rather, what’s in front of it. Erdmann’s contributions to humanitarian and social justice causes are inspiring: • While in high school, he volunteered with his family at Feed My Starving Children in the Twin Cities, packing meals for needy kids around the world. • He has volunteered at Breaking Free in St. Paul, working to help women who have been victims of sex trafficking or prostitution. “He didn’t do it because of the recognition he was hoping to get for it,” LaCasse said. “He wants to get out there and help in the community.” (From left) Teammates and friends Ryan LaCasse and Jackson Erdmann share a laugh with Saint John’s head football coach Gary Fasching in his Warner Palaestra office.


• Erdmann has done extensive tutoring for English language learners at All Saints Academy in St. Joseph. “We’d have practice and he’d tell me, ‘Coach, I’ve got to

His January 2018 service trip to Thailand with the Courageous Love organization was a life-changing experience for Erdmann, who renewed his focus on helping others. leave by 6 to get to tutoring,’ ” Fasching said. “It seems like he’s always running.” • Perhaps most notably, Erdmann spent 18 days in northern Thailand in January 2018, working with an organization called Courageous Love to build safe houses and facilities for children who are at risk or have been sex trafficked. “He does it because he loves it,” Gillach said. “When he went over to Thailand, he fell in love with serving marginalized groups. “It inspires others, and this is something that runs to the core of Saint John’s. It’s beautiful. It’s awesome.” It was all that and more for Erdmann, who during his Thailand trip was overwhelmed by the children’s immediate response. “They just flocked toward me, to all of us,” Erdmann said. “They wanted me to pick them up, lift them up. I had no idea what they’d been through, and here they are showing so much love and trust.

“It was so special – just building connections and relationships with those little kids.” Volunteering in Thailand made Erdmann two weeks late getting back to Saint John’s for the Spring 2018 semester, but his Upper Division Theology professor couldn’t have cared less. “What kid says, ’Can I miss the first two weeks of class to go volunteer in Thailand?’ Miss the whole semester if you want. What I’m teaching is so small compared to what you’re gaining in Thailand,” Davis Zimmerman said. “Some profs would be mad, but she said, ’You can’t not do this,’ ” Erdmann said. “My Thailand trip would never have happened (elsewhere). Volunteering, doing the ESL class and other opportunities I’ve done that Saint John’s offers would have been a lot tougher.” That same dedication and leadership is also apparent at Clemens Stadium.


Award-winning excellence Nobody will mistake the lanky 6-foot-4 Erdmann for a gazelle on the football field, hence his wildlife nickname. “The Baby Giraffe? Dumo (SJU assistant coach Damien Dumonceaux ’05) coined that immediately,” Erdmann said with a laugh. “Everyone says he runs like a baby giraffe,” LaCasse said. “When he runs with the ball, you can literally feel people gasping – ‘Go down! Slide! Go out of bounds! Why are you running the football?’ ” It doesn’t look awkward when he passes. In three seasons as the Johnnies’ starting quarterback, Erdmann has thrown for 6,599 yards and 92 touchdowns. He passed for 3,450 yards and a single-season school record 47 TDs in 2018 and needs just nine more touchdown passes in his

Erdmann (center) received the Gagliardi Trophy from Josten’s representative Marcus Carpenter (left) and J-Club President Vic Moore ’72 (right) during the Johnnie Stand-Up Feb. 25 in Golden Valley.


final season to surpass Alex Kofoed ’07 as the Johnnies’ and the MIAC’s all-time leader. “Since I’ve been here, my confidence, knowledge of the game and decision-making have improved. I’ve just grown so much,” said Erdmann, who was a consensus firstteam All-American, the MIAC’s Most Valuable Player and the West Region Offensive Player of the Year. “The improvement he’s made from when he stepped on this campus to where he is now is incredible,” Fasching said.

“He’s one of the best we’ve ever had here, and he’s worked really hard to get to that point.” Erdmann was selected to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, won the Bobby Bell Award as the Minnesota player who made the greatest impact in his respective division, and earned the 2018 Gagliardi Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding NCAA Division III player. “It meant so much for Saint John’s to be able to bring that back with John’s passing,” said Erdmann, who set another Saint John’s record by throwing for 470 yards in the Johnnies’ 40-20 victory over St. Thomas six days after the death of SJU’s Hall of Fame coach, who died Oct. 7, 2018. “The top of his career thus far,” Gillach said, “was that game.” It was preceded by an emotional Erdmann speech to his teammates – “This is our time! Our house!” – that was captured on video:

Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman (right) has connected with Erdmann as his theology professor, spiritual adviser and friend.

“I felt like I had to say something to fire the guys up,” Erdmann said. “That was a coming-out game for all of us, and a statement game as a team.”

that matters is that national championship.”

Starting with the St. Thomas contest, Erdmann threw 33 touchdown passes in the final eight games as the Johnnies cruised to the MIAC championship and advanced to the NCAA Division III national quarterfinals.

Faith and values

“We made a mark on the national level that screams ‘We’re back,’ in the sense that we’re going to compete for the national championship legitimately every year,” Gillach said.

He also has grown in his faith.

Erdmann played much of the second half with a separated left shoulder in the 21-18 loss to eventual national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor that ended the Johnnies’ season. “We were so close, and that team was so special,” LaCasse said. “To be so close to the team that won it all – that was a tough pill to swallow.” And yet, it also serves as inspiration for the quarterback who enters his final collegiate season with unfinished business. “I’m so excited. I never want it to end,” Erdmann said. “All

That’s one of his goals. Others are even more important.

Erdmann has grown as a quarterback, as a leader and as a student. “Just like his focus on service, his focus on faith has been something that’s he’s always had, yet it has come to the forefront. He’s projected it out to others over the course of his time here, which is really inspirational,” Gillach said. “He is a deeply spiritual person,” Davis Zimmerman said, “and I would never try to peg his faith into a box. It’s so much larger than that. “It grounds him. He’s not afraid to say he believes in something.” Some of that came from Erdmann’s family. Some came from Saint John’s.


“I’m a different person than I was in high school with my faith side,” said Erdmann, adjusting his ‘Godfidence’ sweatshirt. “It was pretty cool to see Saint John’s offer so much.

Open vistas

“It’s a community here. It fosters involvement. My faith aspect was broadened so much.”

“A lot of my focus is preparing myself for the season and trying to get the national championship,” Erdmann said. “But that also goes for maybe playing after college and for preparing for the future.”

Erdmann credits his connection with Davis Zimmerman, whose classroom insights and “mama bear personality” have inspired his development.

There is still so much more to do, and Erdmann’s future is wide open.

Erdmann has earned a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award to teach in Malaysia starting in January.

“She’s always encouraged me to be the best version of myself. We never talk about football. It’s all the non-football side, which I appreciate,” Erdmann said.

“He’s passionate about traveling and helping,” LaCasse said. “He wants to help out all over the world – that’s where I see him going in his near future.”

“You must find your moral compass while you’re here and decide what your boundaries are, decide what your values are,” Davis Zimmerman said. “That’s all I preach to the kids.”

He also might have postgraduate opportunities in professional football. Not many Division III quarterbacks reach the NFL – but not many throw 47 touchdown passes in a season, either.

Erdmann has found his values, refined them and dispensed them wherever he can. “I just want to be known as a good guy that loves everyone, who’s always there for people,” he said. “This is almost in my blood. I like helping others.”


“I can see him abroad in Thailand,” Gillach said. “I can see him playing CFL, NFL. I can see him doing so many different things.” But right now, Erdmann sees only his final semester of college.

“I love this place so much,” he said. “I just want to soak it all in.

“I’m so fortunate to go to Saint John’s, to play football and to have the teammates and community and coaches we have here. It’s so special.” And after that? Teaching? Football? A life spent championing humanitarian causes and social justice? “I’m still trying to figure that out,” Erdmann said. “I love what I did in Thailand. I can see myself doing work like that in the future. I love kids. I love teaching.” But wherever he goes, whatever he does, Jackson Erdmann will always take Saint John’s with him. “At the end of the day, he was almost in a sense born a Johnnie and has developed into the quintessential Johnnie,” Gillach said. “I love that.” “It’s a journey,” Erdmann said. “I’m just excited to see what the future holds.”

Contribute to the Student Fund Students like Jackson Erdmann benefit from the Saint John’s Student Fund, which provides need- or merit-based scholarship support to 98 percent of SJU students. To contribute, visit Call 800-635-7303 Or reply by mail to P.O. Box 7222 Collegeville, MN 56321

Dave DeLand, executive director of marketing and communication at Saint John’s University, is an award-winning writer, guest lecturer at SJU and former columnist for the St. Cloud Times.




Stepping out on Abbey Road Photo by Nick Campbell

On Sept. 26, 1969, the Beatles released their iconic Abbey Road album. Fifty years later, Saint John’s University’s own Abbey Road – the main thoroughfare into campus – became the site of an updated image. Reprising the original photo that featured George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon are Saint John’s own “Fab Four” (from left): Abbot John Klassen ’71, OSB Fr. Lew Grobe ’06, OSB Br. Paul Richards ’78, OSB Br. Paul-Vincent Niebauer, OSB (Vintage Volkswagen Bug courtesy of Matt DesJardins ’12, Linda Eich DesJardins and Eich Volkswagen in St. Cloud.) To see a video of the Abbey Road photo shoot go to



Power to Heal By Jessie Bazan, SOT/Sem ’17

Amie Schumacher sat down in a church pew and began to cry – not tears of hurt, but tears of healing. Being abused and bullied as a child left Amie wounded and angry with God. How could this happen? Why me? Alcohol became her coping medicine. Feeling numb became the norm. After years away from church, Schumacher attended a parish retreat. Two lay women invited her forward for a blessing. Their gentle touch and accepting gaze communicated a truth that has guided her ever since: Lay people have the power to heal. Now in her chaplain ministry and research, Schumacher SOT/Sem ’15 is an instrument of healing for people like her who suffer from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs refer to the traumatic experiences inflicted upon people under age 18. Some examples include abuse, neglect and


having a member of the household who struggles with mental illness or substance abuse. Traumatic experiences early in life can have devastating, lifelong consequences. “The higher your ACE score, the greater the risk for developing medical diseases, mental health or social problems,” explained Schumacher, who recently was awarded a 2019 Bush Fellowship to further her ACE studies. Someone with a high ACE score who experienced physical abuse and emotional neglect as a child will not automatically become depressed or alcohol-dependent as an adult. But childhood trauma impacts brain formation. “Our brain adapts to what’s happening in the environment to

help us withstand and survive,” Schumacher explained. “Trauma shapes our brain architecture in ways that best ensure our survival if we’re growing up in a chaotic, abusive environment.” The parts of the brain having to do with learning, memory and concentration are the same parts that also help a person regulate emotions, pick up on social cues and respond with fight, flight or freeze when in a high-stress situation. It is the part of the brain vital for healthy relationships. People with ACEs may struggle with hypervigilance, anxiety and relational skills, and may quickly react to a situation versus thinking through options and consequences. This can cause problems in all aspects of life if a person is not aware of the connection between what happened to them and the difficulties they currently experience. “They’ve never been taught the skills that someone growing up in a healthy environment can pick up,” Schumacher said. “They don’t know the communication and coping skills that enable success. “Our goal is to help people understand how their childhood impacted their development and teach them the skills needed to live a healthy life.” In her work at the St. Cloud Hospital, Schumacher meets hospital patients weighed down by tremendous shame who believe something is inherently wrong with them. “They believe they are worthless and are extremely ashamed of things they’ve done to try to survive,” she said. “As a chaplain, I create a safe space for them to tell their story. “I’ll ask: ‘What do you think God is calling you to now?’ Their eyes get big: ‘You mean God would still call me?’ ” Schumacher began exploring the pastoral implications of childhood trauma as a student at the School of Theology and Seminary in 2011. Now she presents on ACEs to communities all over the state. With her $100,000 Bush Fellowship, Schumacher will pursue a Doctor of Ministry degree with the goal of “helping faith groups, chaplain training and seminary education programs build new practices that recognize trauma.” Schumacher knows the church at its best can be a conduit for healing, like the women on retreat were to her years ago. Her guiding question is of utmost importance: “What are we as a church called to do to help our sisters and brothers who are weighed down with shame in their scramble to survive?” Jessie Bazan, M.Div., SOT/Sem ’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).


Dennis Carlson’s vision and Benedictine focus on community propelled WeDriveU into the fast lane By Dana Drazenovich He paid his own way through Saint John’s University. He chauffeured executive clients himself so he could get to know them before he hired a driver for them. He and his team landed a piece of Google’s employee shuttle business, outperformed two other vendors to become Google’s lead shuttle provider and then went on to win accounts with major corporations like Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and Nike, and more recently university campuses.

sustainability with Silicon Valley savvy. WeDriveU’s website notes that its fleet includes electric and fuel-efficient vehicles, results in more than 13,000 fewer cars on the road each day and eliminates more than 52 million vehicle miles annually. Carlson admits he initially was monetarily driven as a Saint John’s accounting major.

“Coming from a small town with no money, money meant a lot to me,” he said. I personally kind of paid my own bills, once I started working at the grocery store at 13 years old. My He revised his business model again, and again, and again. parents weren’t able to help with any college. However, they Dennis Carlson ’86 certainly can attribute some of the insisted all of their children get an undergraduate degree. I success of his transportation paid for my own college with loans management company “I wanted to do something that was and grants, and I bought my own WeDriveU to perseverance, that good for society as well, so it was clothes in high school, had my all-important entrepreneurial own spending money.” quality. killing two birds with one stone,”

Carlson said. “I thought ‘Wow, I can But WeDriveU reflects the values San Francisco Bay Area-based WeDriveU is now a countrywide do something good and make money.’ ” Carlson gleaned from his smallforce in the private shuttle town, big-family upbringing and industry thanks to a recent SJU education. strategic partnership with global transport leader National “The company I run today (is based on) transparency with Express Group. my customers. A lot of it is focused on the employees, making WeDriveU already was working with companies in the sure they’re taken care of, and the business models themselves pharmaceutical, manufacturing, technology and health care were about trying to do good,” he said. industries in markets across the country. The new partnership Carlson has been building WeDriveU for 30 years – shifting expands its presence. gears several times, slowly picking up speed the first 15 years “It’s giving us first of all the footprint to provide services and then hitting the accelerator once he hired his current throughout the U.S. It’s given us the ability to provide team, including president and COO Erick Van Wagenen, services internationally,” said Carlson, WeDriveU’s chairman with whom Carlson is quick to share credit for WeDriveU’s and CEO. success. Together, they transport 30 million passengers a year, and As Van Wagenen likes to joke with him, “I dug a lot of WeDriveU is handling National Express’s new shuttle division. Although National Express’s investment gives it a 60 ditches or I built a foundation that took many years before we percent share, WeDriveU continues to operate independently actually got to build the house.” with Carlson at the wheel. Even the characteristically humble Carlson has to admit, “Yeah, it’s a pretty nice house right now.” He has successfully blended Benedictine-influenced 28 SUMMER/FALL 2019

Starting humbly Dennis and Julie, his unflagging supporter and wife of nearly 21 years, paid their dues in the early days, doing everything themselves while raising their sons Daniel and Patrick. “I drove. I did scheduling. I did sales calls. I created the marketing. I created all the HR forms. I wasn’t a capitalized company,” Carlson said. “It was all internally funded, so I had to do everything myself.”

Those pieces of Carlson’s story start in Collegeville and Bowdle, South Dakota, population about 500, where he grew up in a family of seven. Humility. Honesty. A focus on community.

WeDriveU/Misti Layne Photography

But perseverance only tells part of Carlson’s story. It took more than perseverance to develop trusting relationships with his clients … to surround himself with talented people

like Van Wagenen … to create a culture strong on respect, communication, expectations and accountability … to build a company that has 1,300 employees and a current run rate of $185 million in annual revenue, travels 20 million miles annually for 9 million passengers, and earns its corporate clients industry recognition for their employee commuter programs’ exceptional service and sustainability.

WeDriveU chairman and CEO Dennis Carlson ’86 built his thriving company on the principles of honesty, transparency and doing something good for his community.


“If you have persistence and diligence and integrity, it will translate into success over time, and Dennis embodies all of those characteristics.” — Mark Flynn Mark Flynn ’78, always happy to help a fellow Johnnie, has been a professional sounding board for Carlson since Fr. Don Talafous, OSB connected them 15 years ago. Flynn specializes in advising entrepreneurs and growth-stage businesses and worked with Carlson to navigate the deal with National Express. “He plays to win, and winning manifests itself in different areas,” Flynn said. “Winning includes developing a work culture that values integrity, transparency and responsibility, and I am fairly certain these are values he cultivated at Saint John’s.”

Contributing to society Carlson’s career trajectory can be traced to a word he learned as an upperclassman in one of then-Associate Professor Paula King’s management classes at SJU: Entrepreneur. He hadn’t come across that term at his high school in Bowdle, where his graduating class had nine students. “When I learned what it meant, I thought it was pretty cool.” He worked two years at accounting firm Arthur Andersen’s San Francisco office after he graduated, became a CPA and then started paving his own path. “The reason I wanted to be an entrepreneur is because I wanted to franchise a business that didn’t exist so that I could have financial wealth. It’s really that simple. Not very Benedictine,” he said with a laugh. But his values naturally surfaced when Carlson started WeDriveU in 1988 aimed at preventing drinking and driving by giving people a ride home, in their own car, after a night out. He quickly realized it wasn’t going to be profitable and transitioned, or “pivoted,” to providing chauffeurs for seniors and executives who wanted to be driven in their own cars, finding success locally but struggling to franchise. Carlson pivoted the company again with Avis Chauffeur Drive by WeDriveU, employing 1,000 part-time chauffeurs to drive Avis customers in their rental cars from 2007 to 2014. He hoped to expand it into the top 50 U.S. cities.


Carlson and Fr. Don Talafous ’48, ’52 SOT, OSB, who was his first-year symposium professor, got together in July for their annual dinner in the San Francisco Bay Area. “But it was only mildly successful. We got in the top 20 cities,” he said. The model of individual drivers and reservations, he said, “wasn’t very scalable.” However, working with Avis poised WeDriveU for its next pivot, into corporate shuttles. The idea to cold-call Google came from another potential client WeDriveU was pitching who knew Google used two vendors to drive its buses and was looking for a third. “They let us bid. We won the RFP, and then we went and outperformed the other two suppliers,” Carlson said. “And that launched us into the tech business.”

Providing transparency Carlson credits Bowdle and SJU for his uniquely open, and successful, approach with clients. “Transparency was a big one for me when I started the business, and it was really because of who I was, where I grew up, where I went to school — Saint John’s Benedictine values,” Carlson said. When WeDriveU started providing full-time drivers to Bay Area venture capitalists, Carlson would request a brief meeting with each client.

“And I would sit down with these guys, and you’re talking guys who are on the top 50 most wealthy people in the world, and I would tell them my story — what I’m doing, why I’m doing it — and at that point, they would just turn it over to me and I would find the right driver for them and they would have that driver for years and years and years,” Carlson said. He told his clients what his costs and gross margin were and gave them decision-making control, an approach he brought to his corporate shuttle clients. “We were the first company to provide pricing templates that outlined all of our expenses, so these corporations knew what we were incurring and what our margin was. “We set up the model of transparency so that everyone could work together to get the best solution, and it’s because that’s the way I would want it if I was the buyer.”

She eventually attended Capital Commercial College at Bismarck, North Dakota and worked well into her 60s. “Nobody knew she didn’t finish high school until probably about 15 years ago, and because of that she made absolutely sure that all seven of her children graduated from college,” Carlson said. “She pushed us hard.”

Modeling integrity Carlson is a long way from Bowdle, but he still projects the values his upbringing instilled in him and Saint John’s solidified.

“Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your mom proud.”

Succeeding through tenacity SJU also helped Carlson hone the perseverance that has served him so well. He needed it when he followed his brothers Bernie ’66 and Steve ’82 to Collegeville. Carlson’s family set the bar for working hard and getting an education. Tiny Bowdle provided the basis for his college success, but it couldn’t offer the advanced classes many metro-area high schools could. “I had to work really hard at Saint John’s so I could get a good job and move on.” Fr. Don, his first-year symposium professor, still has dinner with Carlson on his annual trips to San Francisco. He remembers an eager young man who wanted to do well. “I was impressed that he was serious about his writing. He would say ’What can I do to make this better?’ ” Carlson’s father, Bernie, modeled his own sort of entrepreneurship. He had aspirations of running a Charolais cattle ranch and had started a herd on the family farm in North Dakota, but World War II intervened, and when he returned, the farm had been lost.

He has helped future Johnnie and Bennie entrepreneurs by meeting with students in the Entrepreneur Scholars program on their annual trip to Silicon Valley.

“For a guy who is at the top of a company that has grown and that continues to grow, for him not once but two years in a row to take what is essentially a full day to meet with 12 students and a couple of faculty members, there are the (Benedictine) values,” said Paul Marsnik ’81, E-Scholars faculty director. The partnership with National Express, a U.K.-based, publicly held company that operates in Europe, North America, North Africa and the Middle East, opens new roads for WeDriveU. Carlson could easily hit cruise control, but instead he is working harder than ever to make sure National Express benefits from its investment in his company. “I don’t want to just tag out because I got paid,” he said. A framed poster of “21 Suggestions for Success” hangs in Carlson’s office, highlighting values like loyalty, honesty, persistence and having a grateful heart. The final point: “Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your mom proud.” Margaret, no doubt, is proud of the way her son is handling WeDriveU’s next big step forward.

He bought Bowdle’s hardware store, plus served as the community’s plumber, electrician and basement digger.

“I’m trying to make it really good for them,” Carlson said of National Express.

“That was kind of how they made money to survive and raise their children,” Carlson said.

“They made a good bet on me and I’m trying to prove it.”

Carlson learned plenty about perseverance from his mother, Margaret, who turned 99 in August. Her formal education stopped at eighth grade, not unusual for girls at that time.

Dana Drazenovich is a former journalist and public relations practitioner who teaches Communication and First Year Seminar at SJU/CSB.


The Brotherhood, or “What is it about you Johnnies?” By Michael Hemesath ’81 It happens to most Johnnies at some point — perhaps at work, at church or in a social setting: Two Johnnies meet and immediately start sharing stories. Then an observer says, with a mix of wonder and incredulity: “What is it about you Johnnies? “I went to X (often naming a good residential, liberal arts college) and I had a great experience, but I just don’t have the intense connection to my classmates or my alma mater as you guys do. Is there something in the water up there?” Over the past seven years I have been in the privileged position to try to answer this timeless Collegeville Question. My rare opportunity to hear the stories of hundreds of Johnnies has led me to conclude that there are three things that are part of that secret sauce that build deep, authentic and lifelong friendships at Saint John’s. THE PLACE We often talk about a Sense of Place at Saint John’s, and our location is central to building relationships. We are literally in the woods and prairies of Central Minnesota, with few of the distractions offered by a metropolitan area. The setting lends itself to reflection and intimacy and to getting to know other community members unusually well over four years. THE MEN While much of the Saint John’s experience has been significantly and happily coed for more than 50 years, there are still times when we live a single-sex experience. When the Bennies return to St. Joseph on the last bus, Johnnies return to single-sex dorms and apartments where doors are open and emotional guards come down.


Hemesath’s legacy:

A PROFOUND IMPACT Michael Hemesath ’81 stepped down as president of Saint John’s University Aug. 1, leaving behind a rich legacy of accomplishments as the university’s first lay president. Those noteworthy achievements include:

A Orchestration of the development of the joint summer Reunion B Expansion and improvements of Saint John’s athletic facilities C The construction of the Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons D Renovation of the Alcuin Library E Construction of a new gallery for The Saint John’s Bible Hemesath has been named President Emeritus of Saint John’s in recognition of his outstanding service and leadership over the past seven years.

“I would have behaved differently, and not always better, if there were women I was trying to impress living in the dorms,” said one alum. “I could comfortably reveal my true self in that all-male environment. It was a Johnnie fraternity.” THE MONKS The community was founded by men committed to something bigger than themselves and to each other. The monks of Saint John’s have chosen a deeply countercultural, religious path, but they have also committed to monastic confreres for a lifetime. Every Johnnie gets to witness in some way the friendships, familial dramas and love the monks have for each other. Deep male friendships are on open display in ways that are exceptionally rare in modern life. Every Johnnie has role models for deep male friendships in their monastic mentors, teachers and friends.



This fortuitous and arguably singular blend creates the conditions for young men to build and commit to deep and lifelong authentic friendships that become a brotherhood. This experience makes Saint John’s distinctive and transformational for the young men who come here and builds committed friendships for a lifetime. It has been a privilege, an honor and a blessing to have served as President of this Saint John’s brotherhood for the past seven years. Though my role will be different in the years ahead, I will continue to be blessed by my relationship with this rare place and the incredible Johnnies who make it so special. Once a Johnnie, always a Johnnie.


Alumni reflections on Michael Hemesath’s presidency Thank you, Michael, for your amazing service to our alma mater. We will miss you. – Raj Chaphalkar ’08 Thank you for your exceptional leadership President Hemesath. – Joe Halloran ’89 Thank you, Michael, for your good and generous service to Saint John’s for the last seven years as president. – Michael Hemmesch ’97


Thank you, Michael, for doing such a great job for SJU. I’m always very proud to be an alum of the university. Your stewardship of the place was very impressive and much appreciated. – Tony Zahorik ’66 Thank you, Michael. I admire and respect the leadership you have provided to Saint John’s. I wish you all the best in the years ahead. Congratulations on a job well done. – Jeff Korsmo ’80 Thank you, President Hemesath, for your selfless service to our university. I wish you the very best as you enter the next chapter of your life and career. God bless. – Steve Raich ’87 Michael has been a great leader of our alma mater. We are well-positioned going forward. Thank you, Michael. – Adam Herbst ’99 Well done good and faithful servant! Way to represent the Class of ’81, the principles of SJU, and Benedictine values. – Mark Schwietz ’81 Thank you Michael for all you have done for Saint John’s and the J-Club. – Vic Moore ’72




Thank you, Michael, for your generous service to our beloved Saint John’s. God bless you now and always. – Anthony Ruff ’86, ’93 SOT/Sem President Hemesath, thank you for your great leadership, words of wisdom, and your service to Saint John’s – always there when needed and I’ll always appreciate that. – Rashid Locario ’17


Being a college president these days is extremely hard work. Thank you President Hemesath for your years of service to Saint John’s. – Peter Gathje ’21 Thank you for leaving the school in a better place than when you found it. – Steven Fink ’83 Someone will have big shoes to fill. – Richard Spicer ’85 SOT/Sem Thank you for all you have done. I learned so much as a parent on the President’s Council and really enjoyed getting to know you, Michael. Thank you. – Karen Durbin ’90 CSB Michael, thank you so much for your leadership, vision and stewardship of Saint John’s University! So grateful to have spent time with you over these past seven years and for all you have done for our university. – Jon Schwingler ’81 Thank you for charging a path of growth throughout your tenure. You will be missed. Thank you for your time. – Kristen Clausen Edds ’97 CSB Tremendous job at the helm. You will be missed sir. – Mark Dockery ’89



Scorecard BASKETBALL Saint John’s (23-5, 17-3 MIAC) finished second in the regular season, then won the sixth MIAC Playoff championship in program history and the first since 2001 to earn its second consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament appearance. The Johnnies led Division III in shooting percentage (.536), were second in rebound margin (+12.6 rpg) and third in scoring margin (+18.0 ppg). Guard David Stokman ’19 earned his third consecutive CoSIDA Academic All-America honor and second All-West Region third-team award. He ended his career as the program’s all-time leader in three-pointers (266), second in threepoint percentage (.457) and fourth in scoring (1,492 points) and free-throw percentage (.864). BASEBALL SJU went 32-14 and tied for second in the MIAC with a 13-7 mark. The Johnnies made their 10th consecutive appearance in the MIAC Tournament, won their fourth playoff title in the past eight seasons and advanced to the NCAA Concordia Chicago Regional. Pitcher Jake Dickmeyer ’19


and designated hitter Joey Stock ’20 earned AllRegion honors and were joined by center fielder Max Jackson ’19 and pitcher Danny Kuhn ’19 on the AllMIAC team. Dickmeyer ended his career as SJU’s all-time leader in innings pitched (227.1) and second in wins (20-5 record). Jackson became SJU’s all-time leader in hits (209), runs (132), RBI (110) and steals (52). GOLF Saint John’s tied for 21st at the NCAA Division III Championship. David Schneider ’20 qualified for the NCAA’s final two rounds and finished 21st out of 216 golfers with a four-round total of 297 (+9). Schneider and Matt Wahl ’20 earned Golf Coaches’ Association of America All-Central Region honors, while Schneider and Jack Koehler ’19 achieved GCAA AllAmerica Scholar distinction. HOCKEY The Johnnies finished second in the MIAC for the second consecutive season (9-4-3 MIAC, 12-10-5 overall). SJU made its sixth trip to the MIAC Playoffs in the past eight years and fell to Augsburg in the championship game, 2-1 in four overtimes. Defenseman Jake Dittel ’21, forward Brady Heppner ’20, forward Kyle Wagner ’20 and goaltender Andrew Lindgren ’20 were named to the All-MIAC first team. SWIMMING AND DIVING The Johnnies finished fifth out of eight teams at the 2019 MIAC Championships. TENNIS SJU tied for third in the MIAC with a 6-3 record (9-9 overall) to earn its fourth consecutive trip to the MIAC Playoffs. Ryan Meger ’19 earned his

third straight All-MIAC honor in singles and first in doubles. Thomas Gillach ’21 achieved his second consecutive All-MIAC distinction in singles, while Gillach, Nate Jordre ’21 and Jonah Punnoose ’19 made it two in a row in doubles. Jack Bowe completed his 22nd season at SJU as the MIAC’s Coach of the Year. INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD Saint John’s finished third at the 2019 MIAC Indoor Championships. Drew Schoenbauer ’19 won the 200-meter dash with a school-record time of 22.19 seconds, while SJU’s 4x200 relay also broke a school record to take first. Schoenbauer (60 and 200), Omavi Collison ’22 (200), Ryan Miller ’21 (60), Collin Trout ’20 (triple jump) and Michael Wallace ’22 (triple jump) earned U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Central Region honors. Kai Barber ’19 qualified for the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships in the shot put and set a personal record mark of 16.29 meters. OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD The Johnnies finished second at the 2019 MIAC Outdoor Championships and won four events: Miller in the 100, Schoenbauer in the 200, Brady Labine ’21 in the 400 hurdles and SJU’s 4x100 relay. The 4x100 relay team (Nick Gannon ’21, Schoenbauer, Labine, Miller) won the national title (40.92) two weeks later at the NCAA Division III Outdoor

Championships. Miller earned his second All-America distinction with a secondplace finish, and school-record time of 10.22, in the 100. Barber finished ninth in the shot put, while Schoenbauer placed 14th in the 100. Eight Johnnies earned a total of 13 USTFCCCA All-Central Region honors: Barber (shot put); Gannon (4x100 relay); Labine (400 and 4x100 relay); Martin (110 hurdles); Miller (100, 200 and 4x100 relay); Schoenbauer (100, 200 and 4x100 relay); Wallace (triple jump); and Shawn Schindler ’22 (pole vault). WRESTLING Luke Dodd ’19 (197 pounds) advanced to the NCAA national tournament in March after a 3-1 showing at the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional. Jarod Novak ’20 (157) went 3-3 and Noah Becker ’20 (133) and Jacob Scherber ’22 (174) both finished 2-2 at regionals. Scherber led the Johnnies with 27 wins, while Becker posted a team-best 26-4 record. Becker, Dodd and Novak were named National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar AllAmericans, while the Johnnies earned All-Academic team honors.

13 inductees joining Saint John’s Hall of Honor

H Football stars Blake Elliott ’03, John McDowell ’64 and John ‘Blood’ McNally ’24 H Basketball stars Bill Sexton ’55 and Frank Wachlarowicz ’79 H Hockey star Adam Hanna ’07 H Track and cross country star John Cragg ’71 H Golf star Sammy Schmitz ’03 H Swimming star Matt Zelen ’99 H Former soccer and swimming coach Pat Haws ’72 H Longtime Johnnies athletics supporters Tom Arth ’66 and Fr. Wilfred Theisen ’52 will be recognized with the J-Club Distinguished Service Award H The 1963 NAIA national champion football team The Saint John’s Hall of Honor became a reality in 2018 when legendary head coaches John Gagliardi and Jim Smith were named the first two inductees. Athletics at SJU date back to the late 19th century, leaving almost a century-anda-half of Johnnies’ sports excellence from which to draw. That made narrowing the list of this year’s class of honorees a challenging task. In the end, voters on the J-Club Board of Directors settled on a class of 13 inductees – 12 individuals and one team. The honorees will take their places in a ceremony scheduled for the evening of Oct. 5 in Guild Hall as part of Homecoming Weekend festivities. “It’s a pretty impressive group,” said Vic Moore ’72, Saint John’s J-Club president. “And to add to that, everyone except Johnny Blood (who died in 1985) is going to be there in person. “It’s really going to be a special evening.” Tickets to the ceremony can be purchased online at the J-Club link at




Reunion 2019: Celebrating coming home Nearly 1,600 graduates of Saint John’s and Saint Benedict classes ending in 4 and 9 returned home for Reunion 2019, a joint celebration of the two schools held June 21-23. Reunion has something for every attendee, including a widely shared bond – a love of a place and community like no other. Mark your calendars to come home for Reunion 2020, Friday, June 19 to Sunday, June 21 for classes ending in 5 and 0. Visit for many more memorable scenes from Reunion 2019.

SJU launching Alumni Referral Scholarship program Saint John’s and the Alumni Board are focused on recruiting students in an increasingly competitive higher education environment. We need your help! Those of you who have sent a child or grandchild to Saint John’s know about our $4,000 Legacy Scholarship. In 2020 we will launch our new Alumni Referral Scholarship that invites all alumni to extend that same $4,000 scholarship offer ($1,000 per year for up to four years) to your niece, neighbor or any other new student who is referred by a SJU/CSB alum. Our Student Recruitment Committee also is looking to broaden its personal outreach to high school students considering SJU/CSB. Are you willing to be a resource for prospective Johnnies and Bennies as they make their decision? This may include sharing your SJU/CSB experience or writing a few letters to students at your local high school who have been accepted at SJU and are still weighing their options. If you are interested in hearing how you can help with recruitment efforts or learning more about the Saint John’s Alumni Board and how you can get more involved, contact Joe Housman ’04, alumni board president, at 612-758-8555, or Adam Herbst ’99, executive director of alumni relations, at 320-363-3819.



Alumni Achievement Awards

The Saint John’s University Alumni Achievement Award is given to outstanding alumni in seven Reunion classes annually and presented at their Reunion dinners. Recipients are nominated by classmates, with final selection made by the Alumni Association Board of Directors. Congratulations to the 2019 award recipients! On the following pages read about their many contributions.

Milestones … in the spotlight 1986

Jim Gathje was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) NCAA Division III Athlete Hall of Fame May 22. He is the first Johnnie to enter the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame. Gathje was a two-time NCAA Division III champion in the steeplechase in 1985 (8:46.71) and 1986 (8:43.93), setting the Division III record both years. Gathje was a four-time All-American and won three MIAC titles. He is the fourth of five Gathje brothers who enjoyed excellent running careers and graduated from Saint John’s: Steve ’77, Pete ’79, John ’85 and Mike ’88.


Denis McDonough has been elected among five new NCAA Board of Governors members. Senior principal of the Markle Foundation and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, McDonough is a seasoned government and public policy official. McDonough teaches a global policy seminar as an executive fellow at Notre Dame’s Keough

School of Global Affairs. He is a senior advisor for technology and global policy for Macro Advisory Partners, a strategic advisory firm that helps navigate the intersection of global markets, geopolitics and policy.


Grant Litfin, Tustin Unified School District assistant superintendent, administrative services, has been named 2019 California Career Technical Education Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). Litfin represented the Tustin School Management Association in the ACSA Administrators of the Year program and was recognized for his efforts in expanding STEM and Career Technical Education opportunities for all students. In February, he also was named as Orange County CTE Administrator of the Year.

2008 Steven Lemke, a former apprentice of Richard Bresnahan in The Saint John’s Pottery, has earned an MFA degree in sculpture from the University of Notre Dame and been awarded a 2019-20 U.S. Fulbright Open Study/ Research Fellowship to the Slovak Republic. Lemke has been featured in several national exhibitions and exhibition tours, including most recently “Moving Margins,” Juried Exhibition, Center for Social Concerns, University of Notre Dame. A recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, he received the Allan and Radwan Riley Prize in Art History and Criticism from the Department of Art, Art History, & Design at the University of Notre Dame. 2015

Dan Nelson, an Edina Realty agent in Plymouth, Minnesota, was named to the National Association of Realtors’ Realtor




Alumni Achievement Awards Paul Bernabei ’69 is working to transform the way America teaches and learns. Bernabei followed his 40year career as a Twin Cities teacher and coach by founding Top 20 Training with the ambitious mission of revolutionizing American education. He travels the country presenting Top 20 seminars to help students, teachers and parents learn how to benefit from what he calls “thinking, rebalanced.” Top 20’s goal is to help people reach their potential and improve their lives by becoming more aware of their thinking and harnessing positivity. Bernabei has written five books focused on Top 20’s philosophy, and he and his team have trained more than 1 million teachers in the U.S., Canada and Africa. Bernabei is equally committed to the church and has volunteered for several parishes and programs, including serving 17 years as director of Nativity Church’s Share-a-Life program for pregnant women in crisis.

Magazine “30 Under 30” list for 2019. Nelson is the only Minnesota-based agent to earn this recognition this year.

… in the news 1964

Bob Karn was profiled in the St. Cloud Times for his 50 years of teaching and coaching at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Karn, a lifelong resident of Central Minnesota, graduated from Cathedral in 1959 and is the winningest coach in Minnesota high school baseball history. He has been named Minnesota Coach of the Year five times. In 2018, he was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

1984 John Wiehoff, CEO and chairman of C.H. Robinson Worldwide, was featured in an article in the March 8 edition of Investors’ Business Daily. In a profile that focuses on his “work hard, play hard” motto, Wiehoff reflects on his career as an athlete and business leader and the traits that helped him succeed as the long-time top executive of the Fortune 500 company.


1999 Jeff Muntifering, the Minnesota Zoo’s Namibia- based conservation biologist,

was featured in the Star Tribune May 24 about an effort funded by the Minnesota Zoo to save endangered black rhinos in southern Africa. In nearly two years, there has not been one poaching incident and 17 rhino calves have been born.

… on the move 1979 Mark Kennedy, former president of the University of North Dakota, has been

named president of the University of Colorado. Prior to being named president of UND in July 2016, he led the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. Kennedy served in the United States House of Representatives from Minnesota from 2001-07.

1990 Michael Morrey has been named to Mayo Clinic’s top administrative post in southwest Wisconsin. Morrey previously held leadership positions at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and served as vice president of operations for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. 1991 Kerem Durdag, COO of GWI, has been promoted to assume the additional duties

as president. GWI is a highspeed internet provider based in Biddeford, Maine.

Jim Scheibel ’69 has blended his distinguished career in politics and public service with a commitment to social justice that resonates at the local, state and national levels and reflects his deep Catholic faith. Scheibel served as St. Paul’s mayor from 1990 to 1994 after eight years on the St. Paul City Council, focusing attention on homelessness, initiating one of the country’s first municipal food policies and bringing together community leaders to address poverty in Minnesota. As President Bill Clinton’s director of AmeriCorps VISTA and the Senior Corps, he developed and administered national community service volunteer programs and created a senior volunteer program. His dedication to community is evidenced by his service on more than 50 nonprofit boards. Scheibel is helping prepare a new generation of civic leaders in his current role as a professor in Hamline University’s Nonprofit Management and Public Administration programs.

1995 Tim Lease has been named CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the Northern Plains based in Brookings, South Dakota. Lease served as principal of Camelot Intermediate School in Brookings for the past three years. 1997

Ryan Vandewiele took over leadership of the legal department at Hubbard Broadcasting in St. Paul July 1. His promotion to the position of vice president, general counsel comes after over seven years with the family-owned Minnesota company.


Brian Sinotte has joined the University of Chicago Medicine as president of its Community Health and Hospital Division (CHHD) and of Ingalls Memorial Hospital. He had been part of Duke LifePoint Healthcare since 2015, working his way up from CEO of Maria Parham Health in North Carolina to Market President at UP Health System. Sinotte served as CEO of MetroSouth Medical Center in Chicago from 2013-15.

2015 Zane Heinselman has been promoted to director of sales for

the St. Paul Saints. He will oversee training, mentoring and guidance of the Saints’ sales staff while being responsible for his own group ticket and corporate partnership sales budget.

… next chapter

Christian Life, is described as a collection that offers hope and encouragement in the face of darkness in the world. It can be purchased online at


Virgil Meyer, MD, retired July 1 after 36 years of serving the orthopedic needs of the people of greater Morrison County, Minnesota. Dr. Meyer founded Little Falls Orthopedics as a sole provider in 1982 and was the first to bring mid-level providers to the community in 1984. He has performed more than 10,000 orthopedic procedures during his career and established countless relationships.

1985 Michael Crouser has published a book of archival photographs titled Saint

… on the bookshelf 1948 Fr. Don Talafous, ’52 SOT, OSB has finally given into persistent requests from his readership after years of inspiring many around the world online and has published selections from his Daily Reflections with Fr. Don Talafous in book form. The book, A Benedictine on

John’s Through the Years. The book is made up entirely of images drawn from the SJU and Saint John’s Abbey archives and tells the story of Saint John’s from its founding in the 1800s through the 1960s. Peggy Landwehr Roske ’77, archivist for SJU and the College of




Alumni Achievement Awards Steve Felton ’74 has dedicated his life to contributing to the common good by teaching students with special needs as a professional educator. Felton worked for the Rochester Public Schools for 40 years, first as a special education teacher and then as a special education administrator and instructional coach with a commitment to ensuring all students received an education despite their unique challenges. He now shares his expertise by mentoring special education student teachers and teaching a class at Augsburg University’s Rochester Center. He and his wife, Ann, provided marriage preparation to couples in Rochester-area parishes for 25 years in addition to other service to the church. As one nominator wrote, Felton is committed “to helping others reach their full potential and build fulfilling lives in the world and in their faith.”

St. Benedict, wrote the introduction. Crouser had previously published the book Saint John’s in Pictures in 1994. His new book can be purchased online at

1992 Patrick Hicks recently published his 11th book, Library of the Mind: New & Selected

Poems with Ireland’s famed press, Salmon Poetry. He was recently a finalist for an Emmy (Writer-Short Form) and is currently host and curator of the weekly NPR-affiliated radio show Poetry from Studio 47. Hicks is writer-in-residence and was awarded the Frederick C. Kohlmeyer Distinguished Teaching Professorship at Augustana University. 2005 Joe Sacksteder has a story collection, Make/Shift, which won the 2017 Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky


Literature Award from Sarabande Books. He is director of creative writing, Interlochen Center for the Arts; and instructor of creative writing, Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, Michigan.

… doing cool stuff 2000

Colin Shaughnessy, of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, appeared on stage with Katy Perry as one of two #FinalFourSharks during her Jam Fest Concert at the Minneapolis Armory during the Final Four basketball weekend in April. When he’s not dressed as a shark at large sporting events, Shaughnessy is a certified financial planner with Skipping Stone Wealth, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

Marriages 1991 Karolee to Tim Krause, June ’19 2004 Emily to Karl Antolak, Sept. ’18 2006 Becka (Gross ’12) to Jeff Clobes,

July ’19

2008 Kate to Jonathan Mosier, Dec. ’18 2009 Dana (Joseph ’09) to Ted Fagrelius,

May ’19 2010 Kelley Hemken to Nicholas Hansen, Dec. ’18

2010 Sayuri to John Stanton, Mar. ’19 2011 Anna (Conzemius ’11) to Joe Connelly,

Oct. ’18 Weli (Waters ’11) to Aaron Doyle, May ’19 Kelsey Wauters to Charlie Swanson, Nov. ’18 2013 Megan (Breyer ’13) to Drew Breyer, May ’19 Michelle (Pokorny ’13) to Isaak Jones, Oct. ’18 Tyler to Tucker Mithuen, June ’19 2014 Megan Dobberstein ’17 to Adam Gooley, July ’19 Gena to Andy Hovel, Oct. ’18 Amanda (Dvorak ’14) to Alex Nicholas, Oct. ’18 2015 Alyssa Reinholz to Shane Fennell, July ’18 Breanna (Richey ’14) to Tyler Magedanz, Aug. ’18 Natalia (Gall ’15) to Tanner Wright, Dec. ’18 2016 Molly (Downes ’16) to Michael Bins, Sept. ’18 Jordan (Doetkott ’15) to Austin Van Beck, Aug. ’18 2017 Kasey (Kane ’17) to Alex Charbonneau, Aug. ’18 Hallee (Curtis ’17) to Kyle Olson, July ’18 Kristen (Whitaker ’19) to Kyle Wojciechowski, June ’19

Births 2000 Lucie & Phillip Barry, boy, Gage, July ’19 2001 Jolynn & Peter Corkrean, girl, Hazel,

Apr. ’19

John Phelps ’79 epitomizes a life of intellectual inquiry and work toward the common good. Phelps’s extraordinary career in public service includes positions as chief of staff for the United States General Services Administration under President George W. Bush, chief operating officer for the American Red Cross in Phoenix and Homeland Security deputy director for the Office of the Governor of Arizona. He culminated his 25 years in the military as chief operating officer and chief of staff for the United States Army Legal Services Agency, the Defense Department’s largest legal organization, and retired a colonel. Phelps does consulting for nonprofits and government organizations after his recent retirement as CEO of the State Bar of Arizona. He also contributes to his community by fundraising for his parish, working with the Wills for Heroes program and providing pro bono legal counsel to veterans and people with low income.

2001 Shannon (Hogan ’01) & Tony Grazzini,

2009 Nicole (Hjelmgren ’09) & Peter Banick,

girl, Sienna, Oct. ’18 Amy (Bowen ’00) & Michael Halverson, boy, William, Jan. ’19 2003 Kim (Shackleton ’07) & Brian Kuhl, girl, Sloane, June ’19 2005 Katie (Silus ’05) & Ben Brinkman, girl, Hazel, May ’18 2006 Kristy (Kingsley ’09) & Webster Ford, boy, Isaac, Apr. ’19 Alex & Christopher Gregory, girl, Ana, Feb. ’19 Andrea (Meuleners ’06) & Steve Henle, boy, Benjamin, Jan. ’19 Kelsey & Matthew Milbert, girl, Elise, Feb. ’19 Ashley & Dado Tokic, girl, Naomi, Aug. ’18 2007 Sara (Schneeberg ’07) & Ben Ivory, girl, Carmen, July ’18 Susan & Julian Luetmer, girl, Lena, Apr. ’19 2008 Kenna (Belcher ’09) & Joe Brandt, boy, Everett, July ’19 Samantha (Schadow ’09) & Brett Johnson, boy, Anders, July ’19 Melissa (Ulrich ’08) & Robert Murtaugh, girl, Eleanor, Oct. ’18 Amy & Westley Olmschenk, girl, Celia, Mar. ’19 Laura & James Shockman, boy, August, Mar. ’19 Gina & Kyle Vanselow, boy, Hayes, Sept. ’17 Sarah (Roth ’08) & Anthony Von Ruden, girl, Charlotte “Lottie,” Sept. ’18 Paula & Bob Walsh, girl, Evelyn, July ’19 Jessica & Anthony Wieland, boy, Maximus, Feb. ’19

boy, Isaiah, June ’19 Beth (Haagenson ’09) & Trent Dirkes, boy, Soren, May ’19 Ali & Russell Gliadon, girl, Stella, June ’19 Kathryn (McMurray ’09) & Dan Haller, boy, Joseph, June ’19 Jessica (Scherer ’07) & Peter Lund, girl, Joy, July ’19 Amanda & Joseph Polingo, girl, Hannah, May ’19 2010 Anna-Lisa (Rustad ’10) & Brady DeVaan, girl, Ella, Dec. ’18 Laura (Kinowski ’10) & Joe Eiden, girl, Harriet (Hattie), May ’19 Amy & Nick Novak, girl, Brooklyn, Mar. ’19 Lauren & Derek Schnobrich, girl, Emery, Feb. ’19 Elizabeth & Kyle Schroeder, boy, Sawyer, Apr. ’19 2011 Katie (Windschitl ’11) & Matt Brolsma, boy, Frederick, Feb. ’19 Samantha (Novitsky ’11) & John Vaith, girl, Marley, Feb. ’19 Cortney & Bradley Wiehoff, boy, Blake, June ’19 2012 Ashley & Derik Gertken, girl, Everly, Mar. ’19 Sara & Tyler Gerads, boy, Rian, Apr. ’19 2013 Carolyn (Chock ’13) & Tommy O’Laughlin, boy, Charlie, Mar. ’19 2017 Makenna & Isaak Blitvich, girl, Nyla, May ’19 2018 Cassandra & Jesse Zajac, girl, Mya, Feb. ’19

Deaths 1938 Valeria Blenker, spouse of deceased, Bill and mother of deceased son, David ’69, May ’19 1939 Rembert “Bert” Stock, Feb. ’19 1942 Anna McCann, spouse of deceased, Paul, sister of deceased, Charles Zwisler ’44, July ’10 1943 Annette Paul, spouse of Harold, Apr. ’19 1944 Ethel Euteneuer, spouse of deceased, Don, Mar. ’19 Eugene Raeker, Apr. ’19 John Spencer, Mar. ’18 Charles F. Zwisler, Jr. , father of Steven ’70, Feb. ’19 1945 Marie Krebsbach, spouse of John and mother of Mark ’81, May ’19 Doris Landwehr, spouse of Roger, Nov. ’18 1947 Rev. Sylvester Kleinschmidt, SOT/Sem ’50, July ’19 1948 Margaret Hick, spouse of deceased Robert, Feb. ’19 Geraldine Koshiol, spouse of deceased, Frederic, mother of Christopher ’96, sister of Raymond Hackert ’49, sister of deceased, Ralph Hackert ’49, July ’19 Mark McDonnell, June ’19 Edward McGuire, father of Dan ’73, Jan. ’19 Mabel McMahon, spouse of deceased, Ernest, Jr, Aug. ’19 John Salvator, Dec. ’17 1949 André Chaveton, June ’19 George Hinger, May ’19




Alumni Achievement Awards Paul Williams ’84 is recognized for outstanding leadership and community building with a dedication to supporting underserved populations. Since 2014, Williams has served as president and CEO of Twin Cities nonprofit Project for Pride in Living. He oversaw the City of St. Paul’s daily operations as deputy mayor from 2011 to 2014 and led the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in the Twin Cities and nationally. His philanthropic experience includes creating the Diversity Endowment Fund at the Saint Paul Foundation and designing the Building Better Futures Initiative at the Minneapolis Foundation to help reduce child poverty. He has served on a variety of community boards and in 2018 was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to the Destination Medical Center Corporation Board. The University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where Williams earned his master’s degree, honored him with its 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award.


In memoriam: Alrae Ramsey ’11, Blair John ’13 “Mediocrity is not an option.” That quote was dear to the heart of Alrae Ramsey ’11 (right), and it personified both the Bahamian diplomat and fellow Saint John’s graduate and friend Blair John ’13 (left).

He received an In-Service Award in 2018, enabling him to participate in a year-long Postgraduate Diploma Program in Diplomacy/International Relations and Languages at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. He is survived by his parents Alfred and Anita and his sister Aliah.

Their lives were tragically cut short when both were found dead in Italy in early June. Ramsey was 29. John was 28.

John was a psychology major at SJU. At the time of his death, he was working on a doctorate in psychology at Nova Scotia’s Saint Mary’s University. He was in Italy to make a presentation at a conference and Ramsey had come to show support.

At a funeral service in the Bahamas, SJU Vice President for Institutional Advancement Rob Culligan ’82 paid tribute, saying each embodied the words of the school’s fight song composed in 1933 by fellow Bahamian alumnus Eugene Dupuch ’34.

After graduating from SJU, John earned his master’s degree in psychology from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, compiling a 3.9 GPA.

“In their brief but full and memorable lives, they ’showed the world what SJU can do,’ ” Culligan said. “Their remarkable lives of compassion, concern for others and public service clearly show that the Johnnie spirit does win through.” Ramsey earned a communication degree from SJU. After leaving Collegeville, he was employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Bahamas, where his abilities soon earned him a posting at the country’s embassy in Haiti. There, he served as third secretary/vice consul.

Then it was on to Saint Mary’s, where he became known as a campus leader, serving as the school’s representative to the Canadian Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and taking part in other activities. He is survived by his parents, Cathleen and Bennett Rahming and Randolph and Tamekia John, his sister Brittany and brother Tyler.



Bryan Olson ’89 embodies the dedication to work, worship and service central to a Benedictine-influenced life. He is admired for his willingness to listen to friends and support them in personal, professional and spiritual conversation. Olson has been described as the glue that holds the Class of ’89 together. His career achievements are impressive – he became one of American Express’ top-ranked healthcare salespersons after just two years and is now developing new business at Global Healthcare Exchange – and his focus is fixed on faith and family. He and his wife Jodi (Fogelman) Olson CSB ’89 made the commitment to provide their children a first-rate Catholic education. Bryan volunteers for everything, sings in the church choir, serves on boards and is continuously fundraising for worthy causes. As one nominator put it, “He is someone that you can be confident will always do the right thing, even when no one is looking.”

1950 Ellery Bresnahan, father of

1952 Rev. James Vennix, SOT/Sem ’56,

Mike ’75, Patrick ’88, brother of deceased Richard, Sr. ’59, Feb. ’19 Bernice Endres, spouse of deceased Richard, May ’19 Ambrose Fischer, Dec. ’18 Dr. Alonzo Gimenez, brother of Ted ’49 and John ’59, Mar. ’18 Louis Hudoba, Mar. ’19 Pauline Krenik, spouse of deceased, Donald, Feb. ’19 Tom Leimer, Jan. ’19 Jean Lorge, spouse of deceased, Richard, Mar. ’19 Jerry Michaletz, July ’18 Col. Pius F. Senger, USAF (Ret.), July ’18 W. Gene Theroux, Jan. ’19 Rev. Hilary Thimmesh, OSB, SOT/Sem ’54, Aug. ’19 John Wagner, father of Scott ’82 July ’18 Donald Waldbillig, Mar. ’19 1951 Phyllis Arnold, spouse of deceased, Arthur, Feb. ’19 Peter Askin, Aug ’18 Larry Chouinard, Apr. ’19 Richard Kramer, father of Stephen ’84 and Daniel ’89, June ’17 Gerald Landherr, Jun ’19 Larry McNamee, Feb. ’19 William Morin, Dec. ’16 Rev. G. Robert Pyror, brother of Paul ’58, Mar. ’19 James Traxler, Feb. ’19 1952 Rev. Knute Anderson, OSB, SOT/Sem ’56, July ’19 Dr. John LaLonde, father of John ’93 and brother of Dick ’53, Jun ’19 Howard Smith, June ’19

June ’19 1953 Frank Coffey, Jan. ’16 Rev. Corwin Collins, OSB, SOT/Sem ’17, July ’ 19 Robert Dixon, Aug. ’19 Dr. James Schirber, Apr. ’19 1954 Rev. Meinrad Dindorf, OSB, SOT/Sem ’58, June, ’19 John “Jack” Fischer, Apr. ’19 Frank Giesen, Dec. ’18 1955 Eugene Casey, May ’18 Philip Heymans, father of Steve ’70 SOT/Sem ’87, Greg ’84, Tim ’86 and Mark ’87, May ’19 Al Houle, father of Denis ’82 and Tom ’92, Mar. ’19 Ethel St. Michel, spouse of Loren, mother of John ’74, Mark ’79, Scott ’82 and deceased son, Paul ’85, Mar. ’19 LaVerne Torborg, spouse of deceased, Ralph, mother of Thomas ’82 and Daniel ’86, July ’19 1956 Donald Clark, Apr. ’19 Rev. Jerome Coller, OSB, SOT/Sem ’59, June, ’19 Robert “Bob” Kuebelbeck, June ’19 Tom McGurren, Nov. ’18 Jim Muchlinski, brother of Tom ’72 and deceased brother, John ’58, Feb. ’19 John Schlumpberger, Feb. ’19 1957 Bob Claesgens, Apr. ’19 Suzanne Dachel, spouse of Rod, Aug. ’13 Gene Happe, father of Gregg ’83, brother of Jack ’49, Glenn ’51 and Dale ’54, May ’17 Bill Huber, brother of Paul ’55 and David ’64, April ’19

1957 Michael W. Murray, Feb. ’19 1958 James Eddy, July ’19

David Pidcock, Apr. ’19

1959 Gordy Chalmers, father of Eric ’92, Aug. ’19 Jim Chmielewski, Sept. ’18 Daniel Conlon, May ’19 Dolores Edelbrock, spouse of deceased, Bill, Mar. ’19 Rev. Terrence Kardong, brother of David ’63, Mar. ’19 Stewart Laird, father of Michael ’85, Christopher ’90 and Tom ’91, June ’19 John Lischke, May ’19 Katherine Welter, spouse of Philip, mother of Jason ’91 and Tony ’95, Feb. ’19 1960 Richard Liffrig, Mar. ’19 John Meehan, June ’19 Carlyle Richter, June ’19 Rev. James Thoennes, SOT/Sem ’64, Apr. ’19 1961 Monsignor Preston Moss, SOT/Sem ’65, Mar. ’19 1962 James Fenlon, Mar. ’19 Donna Schneider, spouse of Bill, July ’19 1963 S. Joan King, OSB, SOT/Sem, May, ’19 Paul Mueller, June ’19 Dr. Michael Spilane, May ’19 1964 Charles Altstatt, July ’19 Thomas Carroll, July ’19 S. Mildred Gelis, SOT/Sem, July, ’19 Hon. James W. Hoolihan, father of Mark ’92, brother of Dan ’66, son of deceased, James S. ’39, June ’19 Bill Roering, brother of Ken ’64, May ’19




Alumni Achievement Awards Bill Vance ’94 is a name synonymous with success in Minnesota high school soccer, and for good reason. The Totino-Grace High School religion teacher and coach was inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame in 2018 in addition to being named the Minnesota soccer Coach of the Year in 2002, 2004, 2009 and 2017, coaching teams to three state championships. He is known for his competitive yet compassionate leadership, instilling discipline and respect in his players and fostering positive parent-coach relationships. Vance’s dedication to young people extends well beyond the soccer pitch. In addition to teaching and mentoring his religion students, he participates in numerous local and national service experiences and is involved with his South Minneapolis church, St. Thomas the Apostle.

1965 Nila Cahill, spouse of deceased Bernie,

1976 Rev. John Bostwick, SOT/Sem, Oct. ’19

1986 Natalie Spengler, spouse of Pete,

Maria Bruck SOT/Sem, Mar. ’19 Wallace Hitchcock, Apr. ’19 1977 James “Steve” Elm, father of Elliott ’11, Apr. ’19 Stephen Filipczak, brother of Bob ’84, Mar. ’19 1977 Dr. Bernard Williams, father of David ’05, brother of Mark ’78 and Daniel ’80, deceased brother Michael ’67, Mar. ’19 1979 Aldean Cummings, mother of Michael and Steve ’83, Apr. ’19 Mark Meixensperger, May, ’19 Marcy Rinowski, mother of Joe, July ’19 1980 Sally Haik, mother of Mark ’80 and Louis ’86, Feb. ’19 Lai Mui Big Lueng, mother of Allan Lai, July ’19 John Musech, father of Cary, Apr. ’19 1981 David Clark, Apr. ’19 Rita Fasching, sister of Gary, July ’19 Candyce Hegstrom, spouse of Paul Kath, Feb. ’19 Jeanne Mevissen, spouse of Greg, Aug. ’19 Steven Morrison, Feb. ’19 1982 Dennis Boyd, Apr. ’19 Geoffrey Brunkhorst, brother of Jim ’86, Apr. ’19 1983 Charlie Ross, Apr. ’19 1984 Bill Kollar, Aug. ’14 1986 Chris Decker, brother of Todd ’88, July ’19 Randall Martin, Mar ’19 Larry Peterson, May ’18 Paul Royer, May ’19

Feb. ’19 Daryl Zimmer, Apr. ’19 1966 Mary Baumhover, spouse of Roger, sister of Jerry O’Rourke ’62, June ’19 Dennis Williams, July ’19 1967 Alice Pearson, spouse of Harry, mother of Chris ’92, sister of deceased, Robert Peifer, Jr. ’64, Oct. ’18 Robert P. Russell, Jr., June ’19. John Verschoor, Mar. ’19 Jerry Weier, Oct. ’17 1968 Rev. Lawrence Barnett, OSB, SOT/Sem ’75, brother of Francis ’58 and Dennis SOT/Sem ’78, Jan. ’19 S. Justina Franxman, OSB, SOT/Sem, Mar. ’19 1969 Bill Caldwell, Jan. ’18 John Hemmer, Feb. ’19 Michael Huppert, Aug. ’17 James McGreevy, Jan. ’19 Jim Thomes, Jan. ’19 1969 Matthew Wixon, son of Bernie, Mar. ’19 1970 Carol Ryczek, spouse of Jim, July ’19 1972 Robert Soukup, father of Greg, May ’19 James Taddei, Mar. ’19. 1973 Prudence Johnson, mother of Craig, Nov. ’16 Leslie Keane, spouse of Tom, mother of Neil ’02, Mar. ’19 1974 Dan Beutel, May ’19 Theresa Cahoy, mother of Bill, Feb. ’19 Nancy Evans, spouse of Bernie, July ’19 Carol Ann Kittok, spouse of Gerry, mother of Stephen ’08, July ’19 James LaBore, Mar. ’19 1975 Paul Bresnahan, father of Steve, Apr. ’19


June ’18

1988 Timothy Reichenbach, July ’19 1991 Carolyn Fletcher, mother of Tom,

Apr. ’19 1993 Michael Leuthner, Oct. ’18 1994 Judy Bell, mother of Bob, July ’19 1994 Mary Botz, spouse of Jeff, June ’19 Mark Evans, son of Jim, Aug. 18 2000 Linda Dinndorf, SOT/Sem, Apr. ’19 Jake Froehle, son of Rich ’65, brother of Luke ’96, Mar. ’19 2008 Brett Wieber, June ’19 2009 Gregory Cooke, March ’19 2011 Alrae Ramsey, June ’19 2013 Blair John, June ’19 2016 Shelah Fought, mother of Eric SOT/Sem, July ’19

Eric LeCompte ’99 has built his influential career around addressing inequality and injustice by working with organizations that fight poverty and promote human rights. LeCompte is the executive director of Jubilee USA, a network of more than 650 religious groups and U.S. organizations working to reduce global poverty. A respected commentator on finance, religion and politics, he regularly contributes his views to national media outlets and provided influential Congressional testimony regarding Puerto Rico’s financial crisis. LeCompte is a member of the executive board of the Financial Accountability & Corporate Transparency Coalition and serves on expert working groups to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and Human Rights Office. As one nomination read, LeCompte “truly cares about what he does and brings these serious issues to light in the hopes that the rest of the world will follow his lead.”

Neil Berg’s 100 Years of Broadway Saturday, Sept. 14 @ 7:30 p.m. Escher Auditorium, CSB

Scrap Arts Music: City of Metropolis Saturday, Nov. 16 @ 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU

Trinity Irish Dance Company Saturday, Jan. 26 @ 7:30 p.m. Escher Auditorium, CSB

Black Violin Saturday, Sept. 21 @ 7:30 p.m. Escher Auditorium, CSB

Kevin Kling & Friends: Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log Saturday, Nov. 23 @ 7:30 p.m. Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU

Pastiche Friday, Feb. 8 @ 7:30 p.m. Escher Auditorium, CSB

Pastiche Friday, Oct. 4 @ 8 p.m. Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU Ballet Hispanico Saturday, Oct. 12 @ 7:30 p.m. Escher Auditorium, CSB Stefon Harris & Blackout Friday, Oct. 25 @ 7:30 p.m. Gorecki Family Theater, CSB Theatre Re presents: The Nature of Forgetting Friday, Nov. 8 @ 7:30 p.m. Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU

Cherish the Ladies: A Celtic Christmas Thursday, Dec. 5 @ 7:30 p.m. Escher Auditorium, CSB

Ragamala Dance Company – Written in Water Saturday, Feb. 8 @ 7:30 p.m. Gorecki Family Theater, CSB

An Evening with Chris Thile Jan. 28, 2020 @ 7:30 p.m. Escher Auditorium, CSB

ETHEL + Robert Mirabal: The River Saturday, Feb. 15 @ 7:30 p.m. Gorecki Family Theater, CSB

Pastiche Friday, Feb. 7 @ 8 p.m. Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU

Golden Dragon Acrobats Saturday, Feb. 22 @ 10:30 a.m. & 7:30 p.m. Escher Auditorium, CSB

Sons of Serendip Christmas Friday, Dec. 7 @ 7:30 p.m. Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU

Fine Arts Series

College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University

To order tickets call 320-363-5777 or visit SJUALUM.COM/CLASSNOTES



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



Family ties, future planning When it came time to decide on a college, the choice was made simple for Gene Weber ’64 and his two brothers.“My dad (Mathias ’20) went to Saint John’s, and our mother said if Saint John’s was good enough for our father, it was good enough for us,” he said. “That took care of that.” But Weber said his mother’s instinct has been proven correct. “Saint John’s values become part of you by osmosis,” he said. “And you want to give back.” Weber – who went on to a successful career in the business world – has been doing just that for a long time now. Following the death of his father in 1969, he and his brothers – Robert ’61 and Everett ’68 – set up the Mathias M. and Isabelle Weber Family Memorial Scholarship Fund, and he has contributed annually ever since. The idea originally came from his wife Judy as a way to honor Mathias, who had been active in the school’s alumni association. Gene with grandson, Lucas.

The scholarship goes to someone pursuing a degree in business with a GPA in the B-or-C range. The latter requirement is meant to extend opportunities to those with fewer financial options. “For students with A averages, there are a lot of scholarships available,” said Weber, who has also worked with his classmates on the Class of ’64 Scholarship Fund. “But we wanted to reach students who may not have as many academic scholarships open to them.” Recently, Weber has also set up an estate plan to make sure his contributions to Saint John’s continue. “I believe in Saint John’s and I believe in its future,” he said. “And with the cost of tuition going up and up, it’s going to be difficult for more and more students to come there. “I wanted to do my part. I owe that to Saint John’s for all the place has done for me.”

For more information on ways to LEAVE


contact the Planned Giving team at 320-363-2116 or visit Read more inspiring donor stories at

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Saint John’s University

INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT P.O. Box 7222 Collegeville, MN 56321







2019 Join us for a fun-packed event!

Come home October 5

• Johnnie football vs. Augsburg • Halftime Bob Basten Award recipient Lou Raiola ’82 • Celebration on the Tundra with refreshments and bouncy inflatables • Hall of Honor inductees’ dinner and ceremony

For more details go to

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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