Moves Mountains . . . In Our Catholic Schools
By Greg Vranicar
Special to the Catholic Key
October 23, 2009
Fr. Tom Holder of St. John Francis Regis Parish and Fr. Shawn Ratigan
of St. Patrick Parish are very proud and pleased to be part of the
education of the hundreds of young people at the grade schools and
high schools that they serve. Both priests expressed pleasure at
serving parishes whose families make such great sacrifices to ensure
their children’s success and at a parish community where they
can take part in the multi-faceted task of forming the minds, bodies
and spirits of so many youth.
|Students engaged in Art Projects
to commemorate the canonization of St. Jeanne Jugan for a Mass
to be celebrated at St. Regis, October 25.
At St. Regis, where the early childhood education center takes
on children as young as six weeks and where the Parish and Schools
also serve the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the elderly,
Fr. Holder proudly proclaimed that his community literally serves
those “from the cradle to the grave.” Fr. Holder has
the task of heightening the appreciation of all of the students
at St. Regis and at Archbishop O’Hara High School where he
serves as Chaplain. He orchestrates the activities of the grade
school and high school for the special role they play in the larger
A major project at St. Regis Grade School and O’Hara High
School in the recent past has been preparation for the special Mass
on October 25 to commemorate the canonization of Saint Jeanne Jugan,
the founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor Congregation. St.
Regis School and O’Hara High School have focused on the history
of Jeanne Jugan, special art projects and increasing the service
hours at the Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Center. The
Center, which is very near the Regis and O’Hara School campuses,
allows students from all grades to become more involved with the
residents at the Center - singing, reading stories, making greeting
cards, and just being present through visits at the Center.
Fr. Holder was careful to point out the great support that St.
Regis Parish provides financially to ensure that Regis Grade School
has up-to-date technology and facility improvements. This year the
Parish had to step up its support as a number of families whose
children had previously attended Our Lady of Peace School enrolled
at St. Regis. Only through careful stewardship and greater generosity
has the school been able to absorb the additional students.
Father Holder is a graduate of O’Hara High School. He previously
served as an Associate Pastor at Christ the King and St. John LaLande
and as Pastor at Holy Cross Parishes, all with grade schools. About
20 to 25% of the students at O’Hara High School are Regis
graduates, so Fr. Holder knows many of the families from his own
Fr. Shawn Ratigan assumed the pastorate at St. Patrick Parish in
the past six months. He too relishes that fact that he serves both
St. Patrick Grade School and St. Pius X High School. He really tries
to be both a role model and mentor to students with whom he works.
He previously served at St. Thomas More Parish as Associate Pastor
and as Pastor at St. Mary Parish in St. Joseph while also serving
as Chaplain at Bishop LeBlond High School. At Bishop LeBlond High
School, Fr. Ratigan knew families from all St. Joseph parishes.
Fr. Ratigan related that he did not follow a “straight line”
into the seminary, but instead spent about ten years between his
completion as a student at St. John’s High School Seminary
and his enrollment at Conception Abbey and later at Mundelein Seminary
for his priestly education. In the meantime, he spent a good deal
of time working for his father helping to restore churches all across
America, a time during which he “found his vocation.”
Father Ratigan believes that his sharing of his story helps open
up lines of communication that allows him to be a better mentor/counselor
to students at St. Patrick and St. Pius X whose family life also
is not always “in a straight line.”
Fr. Ratigan especially enjoys attending sports events for both
St. Patrick and St. Pius X teams as it enables him to see his students
and families in a different role. He pays close attention to the
extracurricular activities at both St. Patrick and St. Pius X so
that he can keep up with the lives of his families. Earlier this
fall, Father Ratigan created quite a stir when St. Pius X High School
was featured as a Channel 5 Morning News “Cool School”
for its students’ special efforts at academic, sports and
extracurricular activities. Father rode into St. Pius X’s
gym on his Harley Davidson motorcycle, his trademark.
Both Fathers Holder and Ratigan celebrate Mass weekly for each
of their respective grade schools and also celebrate periodic Mass
for their high schools. Both also teach a class on the Sacraments
at their respective high schools. Integrating the messages of their
sermons and classes into the lives of their students is especially
pleasing for each of them.
Stepping back from the details of their specific roles as Pastor
and Chaplain, Fathers Holder and Ratigan exemplify the busy lives
of the parish priest serving in large part to educate our Catholic
youth through fine example. Though each has his own distinctive
style, the life of the Church depends on men of high character on
which to model behavior and from which to draw inspiration.
Each of our grade schools receives daily support from the Catholic
Schools Office which is supported by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal
and each high school receives a direct allocation from your BAA
gifts. When you consider your gifts to the Bishop’s Annual
Appeal, please remember the wonderful work of Fathers Holder and
Ratigan for our Catholic Schools.
Greg Vranicar is Associate Director of the Stewardship and
Development Office for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.