Friday, July 27, 2018

Reflecting on our Patron Saint @ STM for the 2018-19 School Year

In the month of June the Church celebrated the memorials of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, Martyrs for the Faith during the time of King Henry III in England as they gave up their lives as a testimony to the unity of the Church and sacredness of the Sacrament of Marriage. As we celebrate the life of our patron Saint at the High School of Saint Thomas More, it is a reminder to us all that we can become great saints by following our own conscience and living a life of faith even when it can be most difficult.

Thomas More was born in 1478 to a well to do family in London where he grew up receiving a quality education. More eventually went on to study at Oxford in 1492 where he would go on to become a lawyer, politician, author, and eventually Lord Chancellor of England in 1529. Thomas also was married with four children and later remarried after his first wife passed away. Throughout his life however, More was a man of God even discerning the religious life as a young man and living a life of prayer and penance. As a man of God however, it is his steadfast faith to follow his conscience that is an example for us.

After Thomas More was Chancellor of England, King Henry VIII divorced his wife, remarried, and eventually declared himself the Head of the Church of England. Thomas however, remained faithful to the Church and his conscience knowing the marriage to be unlawful and that the Pope was the true successor of Peter and leader of the Catholic Church. While many politicians, businessmen, bishops, and other prominent Englishman signed the “Act of Succession,” Thomas refused to, which led to him being locked in the Tower of London, charged with treason, and on July 6th, 1535 was beheaded.

There are many times in our days, lives, and world that we can easily “give in” to doing what is easy, taking a shortcut, giving into temptation, or doing something that is seen as “popular.” At school it can be easy to copy a classmates’ homework, write notes to use on an assessment, join the crowd in immoral actions, or back down from doing the right thing in following our conscience. As adults it can be easy to give in, to hide our faith in the workplace, to bypass our values and morals, or fall in our example of integrity and faith for our students and children. In our world they are those faced with persecution for their faith, pushed to the side in business and politics for following a moral law, and even losing their lives for following their conscience. So, when the situation we are faced with or the tough decision must be made how do we do it?

We can look to St. Thomas More for is his example of perseverance and prudence in following his conscience at a time when not many were in England. There are many Christians in our world today who live as an example of light amongst the darkness in giving up material goods and positions of powers, follow a moral law, etc. all because of their perseverance and keeping their eyes fixed on Christ who is our source of moral strength to
follow our conscience. Jesus promised his disciples that they would face persecution, but perseverance and prudence in the face of persecution will lead to true happiness.

In one of his general audiences, Pope Francis spoke about how “we now look to the saints, to “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.” Although at times we may feel that we can’t be saints or that it is too difficult to be a saint in our world today, the saints remind us that a life of holiness is attainable. It is God who gives us the grace needed to live a life of faith and we can ask for the saints’ intercessions daily as they have paved that road of faith for us.

Let us ask for St. Thomas More’s intercession for our students and for ourselves to have the courage and perseverance in following our conscience to be prudent in making the right decision - especially decisions that may go against the crowd, may not be popular, or may be persecuted for, but to make that decision that helps us on our walk of Faith in life. May we always have the strength to say with St. Thomas More - “I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

St. Thomas More...Pray for us!

August Save the Dates!

  • 2nd STM Registration
  • 16th First Day of School for Freshman & New Students - Welcome to STM for new families
  • 17th 1st Full Day of Class and Fall Sports Kickoff

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Class of 2018 Graduation

The High School of Saint Thomas More held its Baccalaureate and Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 20th, at 2 pm for 70 students.  STM was honored to have the Knights of Columbus leading the procession.  Father Matthew Hoelscher served as celebrant and homilist with the area vicariate pastors concelebrating. Jake Sellet, Michael Lee and Abbey Horn received the St. Thomas More Awards, the highest award presented by the school.   In her Valedictorian/House Leader speech, Maddie Evangelisti advised her fellow classmates:  “Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid. Put yourself out there. Use your strengths and abilities God’s given all of you.  Nothing can stop us because of the strong faith base and support system we have built up in our tiny Catholic school. As we exit the doors of STM, more doors will open. Our horizons will spread to Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, and so many other places, but we will always have each other and God to call our true home.”

Students were recognized at the annual Senior Honors Luncheon on Friday, May 18th. Salutatorian Michael Lee spoke about the importance of the Catholic Education he received because of the dedicated teachers and staff and also the support of his classmates. Faculty members presented departmental awards recognizing excellence in the various academic subjects, and seniors received recognition for numerous awards and scholarships related to academics and service.    

The 70 graduates completed over 12,100 service hours; 84% of them will attend a 4 year university with 16% attending a 2 year college.  The graduating seniors received over $5.7 million in merit and/or athletic scholarships.   Among the 70 graduates, one received a National Merit Scholar Commendation, Michael Lee, and 19 were named Illinois State Scholars.

Not only did we recognize our Class of 2018 graduates, but we also those Faculty and Staff who will be taking a new step in life after their years of service to STM. In a particular way we have been blessed by the presence of Mrs. Eleni Sofronis who has been the Latin teacher at STM since the school opened in 2000. Mrs. Sofronis has touched the lives of many students helping them to grow in their understanding and love of the Latin language, but most importantly by her witness of faith to inspire students to see how their faith impacts their whole lives. We also say goodbye to Mrs. Maria Tucker our long time Food Services Director. Mrs. Tucker poured all of her time and energy into the meals that she serves for our students at lunch, but also provided the many treats at various STM extra-curricular activities. We will definitely miss her tasty meals as she truly did all she had with great love for STM. Finally, we say wish the best of luck to our Chaplain Fr. Matthew Hoelscher. Fr. Hoelscher has served STM in his first four years of his priesthood as the STM Chaplain. He has been an encouraging presence for all of our students, staff, and teachers to know that God loves them and to invite them into the deep and intimate relationship with Christ that we are all called to. We wish Fr. Hoelscher the best of luck in his new assignment at Rock Island Alleman High School and welcome Fr. Eric Bolek to STM as our new Chaplain!

As with life, STM as a Catholic School continues to welcome and say goodbye to members of our STM Family. It is important for us to remember however that no matter what they are still members of our STM Family - whether they are students, families, teachers, staff, alumni, alumni donors, benefactors, etc. We pray and hope that all of our STM Family has a blessed and restful summer as we look toward the future and the continual new beginnings the Lord has in store for us. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

STM Family System and Strengthening our Catholic School

The High School of Saint Thomas More was been nominated for “the Catholic Teacher: Innovations in Catholic Education” for their Family House System. STM was nominated in the category of Catholic Identity (among Curriculum, Technology, and Fundraising). Principal Jason M. Schreder attended the award presentation reception on Wednesday April 4th, 2018 in Newport, Kentucky for all nominated schools. STM was recognized for the hard work and commitment by all the staff, teachers, and students who have been a part of the implementation process of the Family System. In part of that recognition, STM received a banner recognizing this effort of strengthening our Catholic Identity, which is now proudly displayed alongside our Blue Ribbon Academic Award Banner in the CafeChurchAtorium. It is very appropriate that these banners are side by side marking our excellence in academics, but also our continued growth in faith as a Catholic school in building our sense of family at STM.

At the High School of Saint Thomas More we have sought to strengthen our Catholic Identity through our Family System to bring that communal life of the Church into the school day at STM. Within the Family System, Students and Staff will have the opportunity to form relationships and friendships with those they may not have otherwise. All students -- freshman through seniors -- along with teacher mentors are part of a House that meets weekly for a time of faith, fellowship, fun, and food. Each students is part of a House led by student House Leaders along with a teacher House Mentor. A collection of four families make up one STM family - St. Peter, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and St. Michael the Archangel. Within the Family System, students and staff will have the opportunity to form relationships with those they may not have otherwise.  In our Family System, our House Mentors and Student Leaders will be the ones imitating true friendship and love to their fellow Sabers in the model of Christ.

As we build our Family System, this spirit of fellowship and community will continue to grow. We hope to be able to meet on a daily basis in the future and are planning and discussing ways to incorporate that into the school day. Our House Mentors will then be able to strengthen those relationships with their House students as well as the House Leaders to help their fellow housemates grow in faith, virtue, character, and academics, etc.

We strongly believe and hope that the Family System at STM will be a great benefit for our students in building those strong Christian relationships with one another that will strengthen their own relationship with Christ as we keep our Catholic Faith the center and focus of all we do at The High School of Saint Thomas More.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Joy and Beauty of Easter at STM in celebrating the Beauty of Catholic Education

Happy Easter! What a joyous occasion to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and what that means for our lives. Not only does Christ’s Resurrection bring hope and joy, but meaning to our lives. When life can seem dreary or glum - think “Eeyore” from “Winnie the Pooh” - the beauty of our Faith brings a new wonder and excitement that there is something much greater waiting for us in the life to come.

In his encyclical “Evangelium Gaudi” (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis describes the way of beauty as a path that leads to an encounter with Christ. “Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus...Each particular Church should encourage the use of the arts in evangelization, building on the treasures of the past but also drawing upon the wide variety of contemporary expressions so as to transmit the faith in a new “language of parables” (167). We have these opportunities at STM to be drawn into an encounter with Christ through the arts, music, and drama. This was on display as our students and staff put on a wonderful show of “The Sound of Music.” The students did a wonderful job of bringing to life the beauty of song, family, faith, and the joy those all bring. Hats off to Mrs. Marquart and Ms. Davis for their leadership, to all of our amazing Sabers in sharing their talents with us. Thanks to all who came to watch and all - especially our STM Community - who supported our students to do their best.

We invite all to come and be witness to the beauty of Catholic Education at STM. Our students have many opportunities to experience the beauty and joy of life in the classroom and extra-curriculars especially in the fine arts. We extend an invitation to all families to come and visit the school and to witness to this beauty. We also invite all those who would like to be a part of this beautiful mission in support of Catholic Education to attend our annual Spring Gala on May 5th - more details can be found on the STM Website at

We pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to guide us and all of our STM Families and Community to see our school, families, lives, and world with the beauty and wonder that the loving God has made for us.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Holy Week and 2nd Semester Blessings at STM

As we close the month of March during this Holy Week it can seem that Lent flew by and also a realization that the school year has flown by as well. With less than two months away from Graduation and Finals we can tend to fall into fight or flight mode and hit the “panic” button as we feel that we are not ready for the end of the school year to be so close. As with our Lenten spiritual practices of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving meant to
help us grow in holiness and closer with the Lord, the school year as well is meant to help us grow intellectually, morally, physically, and spiritually as our mission at STM states. We do well to let this Holy Week remind us of how those Lenten practices have helped us to see how the Lord has worked in our lives and helped us to become closer to Him. Likewise, we do well to pause and take time to see what great things the Lord has done this semester for us at STM and how the Lord is working in our students at STM (in no particular order).

  • To Mrs Neitzel and Mrs Stewart on your 15 year anniversary of serving in Catholic Education all at STM
  • To Mrs. Eleni Sofronis was named a News-Gazette Teacher of the Week; she was also honored with the Paideia Award for her excellence and devotion to teaching at STM as she has been with us since the beginning of the school.
  • To Mr. Dan Hennessey, Mrs. Pat Hettermann, and Mr. Steve Rear - for their service to starting and building STM Athletics in receiving the Carl D. Stewart Service Award.
  • To the cast and crew of "Sound of Music" on an entertaining and amazing performance.
  • To Senior Mica Allison for being named as the Gatorade Player of the Year for Volleyball in Illinois!
  • To the Fall Sports Teams who were named to the IHSA Scholastic Team Acheivement based on team GPA: Volleyball, Girls Tennis, Girls Golf, Boys Soccer, Boys & Girls Cross Country
  • To Senior Ethan Smith performed in the All-State production of Big Fish this week at the 2018 Illinois High School Theatre Festival at Illinois State University!
  • To the STM Math Team who finished 2nd at Regionals this past weekend and had several individuals advance to the state competition in May.
  • To the Science Olympiad Team who placed 4th overall at the regional tournament this past weekend at Parkland College and who are going to the state tournament in April at the University of Illinois.
    • Hannah Niccum and Lia Znaniecki for 1st Place in Chemistry Lab and 2nd Place in Dynamic Planet
    • Will Hoerner for 1st Place in Forensics
    • Evan Marquart and Parker Klein for 2nd Place in Herpetology
    • Evan Marquart and Lauren Hunt for 2nd Place in Micro Mission
    • AJ Wrobel and Jack Kramer for 2nd Place in Thermodynamics
    • Michael Zemaitis and Jack Kramer for 3rd Place in Mousetrap Device
  • To seniors Michael Lee and Maddie Evangelisti on their selection for DAR/SAR Good Citizen Awards and their scholarships!
  • To Senior Izzy Schmitt on signing with Monmouth to play Soccer for the Fighting Scots!!!
  • Our four families competed in the Penny Wars to support the Crisis Nursery during Catholic Schools Week. The total collection for the week was $1,046,46!
  • To JD Sexton (2020) on being only the 4th Saber to compete at the IHSA State Wrestling Meet.
  • To Laura Nussel on her Honorable Mention in the Eric Show. There were a total of eight pieces of art from STM students in the show over at the University of Illinois Art Gallery inside the Illini Union.
  • On March 3rd, seventeen of our music students performed at Solo and Ensemble Contest. Out of these seventeen students FIFTEEN of them received Division I ratings (Superior), one received a Division II (Excellent), and one received a Division III (Good)!
  • Junior NaKaya Hughes was named to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association ALL-STATE Team as a Special Mention!
  • Senior Kayley Schacht of STM Tennis & soccer, was named to the IHSA ALL STATE ACADEMIC TEAM (HM)!!!

There are many more ways the Lord has blessed us and will continue to bless our students and staff at STM. As we prepare for the Easter Triduum, let us be thankful for the ways He is working at STM and pray that we may be open to the graces that make our students and staff capable of all the He has made us for!

Closing words from Bishop Jenky’s Easter Message:

“Peace be with You”

These first words of the Risen Christ are addressed to his disciples on that Easter Day. The power and significance of this Paschal greeting and gift of Peace continue to echo down through the ages. But what is this Easter peace? Above all, the peace of our Victorious Savior is the tranquility of soul that comes from the forgiveness of our sins. In the Easter narrative of St. John, the first gift of the Risen Jesus to his terrified disciples is the gift of peace. Then Jesus immediately and perpetually unites peace with the grace of the Sacraments – “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them.” As Catholics, let us celebrate today -- and for the next 50 days -- our Lord’s victory over sin and death and rejoice in that true peace that is ours when we accept the power of forgiveness in our lives.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Olympics and our Catholic Faith at STM

With the beginning of the Olympics it has been exciting to see the various athletes from all around the world competing in their various sports in striving to do their best as individuals, but also to compete for their country. These athletes put in many hours of training and work to get to the highest point of athletic competition coming from all over the world to gather as one body of athletes. In a way you could say this is similar to our Catholic Christian Faith and at STM. As one body of students, teachers, and staff at STM, we come from all walks of life to STM for one purpose - to help our families in the formation of their students in becoming the saints God created them to be. It is our goal to help our parents and families who have that great responsibility of the education of their children (CCC 2223). All at STM are committed to this endeavor just as the many coaches and trainers are committed to helping those Olympic athletes achieve at a high level.

Speaking of training and practicing for competition, we enter into the Liturgical season of Lent this week as we celebrate Ash Wednesday as a school with Mass. During Lent we have our own spiritual exercises and practices that help us to grow in holiness - prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We encourage all of our Sabers to a growth in holiness to commit to living these out during Lent to build up our own spiritual muscles and prepare for Easter.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The High School of Saint Thomas More Showcase of Thanks

The High School of Saint Thomas More hosted its  Annual “Showcase of Thanks” Mass and Reception on Sunday, February 4th, 2018. The event began with Mass concelebrated by STM Chaplain Fr. Matthew Hoelscher and Monsignor Albert Hallin.
The High School of Saint Thomas More was pleased to announce Mrs. Eleni Sofronis as the 2017-18 High School of Saint Thomas More Paideia Award Winner. Mrs. Sofronis has been an integral part of the STM teaching staff since the beginning of the school in 2000. Sharing a love and passion for the Latin language, she has been able to lead students to know and learn the Latin language. Her students have been able to see how the Latin language is still a major part of language today especially with the Catholic Faith. She has been a part of the STM School Improvement team working to help improve and grow the academics at STM in order to strengthen our curriculum and student learning.  Most importantly, Mrs. Sofronis understands and lives out the mission of Catholic Education at STM as more than just a teacher. She is a great witness of her faith to her students and fellow staff incorporating that into daily lesson plans and sharing her faith through the fellowship she has with other teachers and staff. At the conclusion of the 2017-2018 school year, Mrs. Eleni Sofronis will be retiring after 18 years of teaching in Catholic Education at STM. She will be greatly missed and all students and staff that she has taught and worked with during her time at STM are truly blessed from her presence.
As part of the “Showcase of Thanks” STM also took the time to recognize those who have given time, talent, and treasure to STM over the years. This year there were three honorees highlighting some of the pioneers of STM Athletics. Mr. Dan Hennessey was honored for his time and service as the first STM Football Coach and longtime Athletic Director. Following the longest playoff run in STM History after the 2016 season, Coach Hennessey retired from coaching and was honored this past 2017 season at halftime where former players and coaches joined him on the field to show their appreciation for his dedication to forming the young men he led on the football field.
Mrs. Pat Hetterman the long time Girls Golf coach at STM was also honored as she worked to find success not only on the golf course, but also to shape the young women that she worked with. The Girls Golf team has been one of the most successful teams at STM as they have posted a fourth place, a third place, two runner ups, and one IHSA State Championship. Coach Hetterman has not only been able to help to build the lady Sabers’ golf skills, but also be a mentor and guide form them in life. After the 2017 season Coach Hetterman retired as the girls golf coach as the future looks bright from the foundation Coach Hetterman built.
Lastly, Coach Steve Rear was honored for his time as the first Varsity Baseball Coach. Coach Rear retired as the only Varsity Head Baseball Coach of the High School of St. Thomas More in its 17 years of existence. During his time as Baseball Coach Rear led the team to over 300 victories, 4 Regional Championships, and 4 Conference Championships.
Ms. Amarissa Garcia, 2017 graduate of STM, was the featured Alumni speaker in sharing her experience at STM and highlighting how her teachers and experience at STM helped her be where she is today.
The High School of Saint Thomas More thanks all of our contributors and supporters for their continued support to our high school that allows us to continue “Shine More”.

Happy Birthday Monsignor Albert Hallin!