September 22, 2010 // Local

Marian High School: Apostolate of hope

Charles Creighton and Christopher Coulter in Mrs. Gunty’s Introduction to Two Dimensional Art class.

By Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC

MISHAWAKA — Father Edward Sorin, founder of the University of Notre Dame once said that education is a “sacred task to make the new-comer (student) a Christian and a scholar.” This is at the root of the mission of Marian High School.

Carl Loesch, who is principal at Marian, considers teaching a vocation, not just a job. Addressing the faculty and staff he said, “As we embark upon this school year let us remember that our sacred task is an apostolate of hope … through prayer and community we can strengthen and sustain each other so that we will be conduits of God’s grace for our students.”

There is a vibrant spirit of community at Marian. Students develop a great bond with the school and its teachers. They are very involved in learning, serving and leading. During summer break, Tim Trippel went to an international science fair in Switzerland and Michael Hunckler and Samuel Leung did research at the University of Notre Dame.

A group of students, Maddy Ladue, Kelly Powell, Mary Voelker, Julian Leticia, Alex Probst, Laura Herron, Liz Naquin, and Colleen and Kaitlyn Dalton, volunteered this past summer in Honduras. They served at Via Catalina, a place where people living in “a dump” are relocated. “We dug trenches for a water supply,” said Maddy LaDue. “They don’t have running water,” offered Julian Letizia.

During the summer Father Jacob Runyon and Carol Miller facilitated a retreat for 36 student members of the Campus Ministry Leadership Team. Also, 50 of the upper classmen helped with the orientation of incoming students.

Marian offers many opportunities for their students. One example is the Learning Strategies Department. Faculty members, Teri Pairity and Annie Ganser help both the gifted and challenged students in their studies. “We have open enrollment, not just the smart,” says Loesch. “All students deserve a Catholic education.”

Besides their studies, Marian’s students are involved in many and varied experiences. For instance, Thomas Stackowiak plays football and also is an accomplished violinist and another player, Matt Thomas, also has a lead in one of school’s plays.

Marian offers a lot ways to nurture the faith of its students. Carol Miller is a full-time campus minister. Mass is offered three times a week in its beautifully renovated chapel for students and teachers in addition to the all school liturgies. Confession is available twice a week and First Friday Adoration is offered throughout the day.

The school does a variety of things to promote religious vocations and is blessed to have four alumni, Dave Violi, Steven Jagla and Brandon McCafferty in the seminary for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and Chris Brennan who joined the Congregation of Holy Cross. Loesch attributes this primarily to the work of Father Dan Scheidt, Msgr. Michael Heintz and all the local parish priests.

Often alumni return to teach and stay for many years, such as Steve Rethlake, social studies teacher, who has been at Marian for 36 years. After graduation from Indiana University he got a position at his alma mater and never left.

Mary Kay Dance, director of admissions and public relations, has a son and daughter who graduated from Marian. She and her husband are also alums. Dance also considers teaching a vocation. What she enjoys most about her 33 years in education “is working with all the people, especially the young people and exploring with them their faith and relationship with God.” She believes Marian’s greatest strength is the students. “They are happy to be here. They want a college education and get well prepared for college. They also are hungry for more knowledge and information and relationship with God, academics and spirituality.”

Loesch is also grateful for all the ways the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration have supported the school, including donating the land upon which it is built.

Finally, Dr. Mark Myers, superintendent of schools for the diocese, speaks of how fortunate Marian is to have Loesch as principal. “His faith speaks volumes to the student. For instance, he included Mass before the annual silent auction. The Catholic identity is strong and present here, and we are blessed to have that due to Carl’s leadership. We have a gift (Marian) here and we want people to know about it.”

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