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!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Catholic Schools Week and the witness of our STM Students

This week we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. One of the marks of a Catholic Schools is being "Sustained by Gospel Witness" not only from our teachers and staff, but also our students at STM. On Tuesday January 30th we showed our appreciation for our teachers and staff who are a living witness to the joy of Catholic Education and being a witness of Faith for our students. It is that witness and joy of their faith that makes our teachers different and special. This joy spreads and passes onto our students to inspire them to live out their own faith. Last week we featured one student's witness from the March for Life trip in how they were a witness to the Gospel of Life and this week we share more of those testimonies. This is just one way we live out our mission to assist families in the formation of their students in mind, body, and soul to be Christ's Disciples in the world. 

Having been on the March for Life twice, I knew what to expect and what the atmosphere was like, or so I thought. Going in this year, I was a little nervous but my heart was so ready. Little did I know I would come back from the 2018 March for Life with more confidence and hope for our world, my generation, and our country than I’ve ever felt before. The feeling and atmosphere you receive while marching the streets of our nation’s capital is indescribable. Washington D.C. in and of itself is an incredible place to be with such rich history, but being in Washington D.C. on the day of the March for Life is an experience everybody should be a part of. Running on little sleep and waking up early to make the rally seems to be dreaded at first, but the minute you wake up the morning of the March you are overcome with joy and peace. Marching the streets of Washington D.C. with hundreds of thousands of people is simply incredible. In the chaos filled world that we seem to live in, the March for Life is a moment where all the chaos slows down a bit and people unite with the same belief and hope: to overturn the Roe v. Wade trial. The peaceful protest is almost a step away from reality and a time to truly witness the never-ending joy and the overwhelming hope our world, but our generation specifically, has to offer. The experience is incredible and to be surrounded by so many different people who believe in the same thing is inspiring. There’s so much hope for our generation and going on the March for Life trip this year reassured me of that. It starts with us.

Kennedy Record - Class of 2019

The March for Life trip was something that I had never experienced before, nor was it something I expected to participate in. I decided to go last minute after hearing my sister and some of my closest friends talking about it, and, in all honesty, I signed up to just hang out with them and to get a break from school for a couple of days. But, what I got out of it was so much more than I previously anticipated. I constantly felt a sense a community and a genuine love for the people around me from the moment we left for D.C., to the moment that I stepped off the bus when we arrived home. Whether it was my dance battle with Sophia in front of the Basilica that we visited, or Mrs. Hoffman’s uplifting talk on the bus ride home, I had no other desire in those moments than to be there with those people, embracing every second.
After experiencing the March for Life, I now know the feeling of what it’s like to be immersed in a sea of people who share the same vision of wanting to bring a culture of life and light back into the world. The serenity I felt being surrounded by thousands of people who exhibited their authentic and passionate optimism of the future was truly indescribable. I am thankful for this life-changing trip and I hope that I am able to spread my love and appreciation for all life wherever I go!!

Grace Aubry - Class of 2018

My excitement for the March for Life began even before the year began, even before school began. It was the middle of July when I really got excited. I couldn’t stop thinking about the trip and it was 6 whole months away! It was the sheer exhilaration of the cause itself that got me excited. I had fallen in love with defending those who cannot defend themselves, those who have no voice. I was in awe that we were literally changing the world! That we were fighting this fight and hoping for a victory. After this year’s March, I’ve started thinking a lot more about what it is were fighting and why. What really gets me is what the pro-choice supporters don’t understand. These babies that we march for could be scientists who discover the cure for cancer, nobel prize winners, the first woman president, or even someone’s wife. They had a life planned out by God the moment that they were conceived, but were never given the opportunity to live it out. It’s baffling to me.

A lot of the time, the March for Life is overlooked and overshadowed, but being there tells a different story than the one the news chooses not to tell. Being there leaves me awestruck by the number of people who all believe in the same cause, who are fervently working towards the same goal as one another. It’s honestly overwhelming. But the thing I love most about being at the March is the sense of joy and hope that come from being there. If there's anything to take away from the cause, it’s that we are making a difference, we are getting through to people, and soon we will have the VICTORY! It’s an abundant hope that I have received from the trip and I couldn’t be more thankful. I wish I could convey how I love the Pro-Life cause in a better way, but the only thing I can really say that even gets close is that there are no words, it is truly above me. God Is. Good.

Natalie Deptula - Class of 2019

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Celebrating the Culture of Life at STM

On January 19th, some of our Saint Thomas More Students joined together with hundreds of thousands of others from across the United States in Washington DC to peacefully protest the legalization of abortion at the annual “March for Life.” This is a gathering of hundreds of thousands of people from across the country in peaceful protest of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in 1973. Since that time, over 60 million have lost their chance at life.  We as a Catholic School join with others to give a voice to those who
cannot speak out for their own. The students came back energized and inspired to lead the next pro-life generation. Let us pray for the conversion of hearts to see the value and dignity of every human life as made in the image and likeness of God. This opportunity for our students is one that allows them to join in solidarity with others to fight for the unborn who cannot fight for themselves. It also allows for them to see how we are part of something much bigger than just our small part of God’s Kingdom here on Earth in the Champaign Urbana Community.

Here is a short reflection from one of our STM Students who went on the March for Life trip sharing her experience:
Going into the 2018 March for Life, I was so nervous because of the recent terrorism that has been occurring throughout the country, but I was also very excited to support a cause so dear to my heart that I believe in so strongly. I got on the bus, road the long 12 hours there, and the journey started. This March for Life was my third, so I knew what I was getting myself into. However, the positive energy and never-ending joy radiating through the streets of Washington D.C. seems to surprises me every year. After this March, I can easily say that it is my favorite day of the entire year. There is no other cause that so many people fight for in which the atmosphere is so loving and beautiful. Everyone there is so full of happiness and rejoicing in the fact that we have the beautiful and God-given gift of life.
The March for Life is by far the most beautiful experience I have ever had, and every year, it just gets better. I can say without a doubt that my favorite place to be in this whole world is the March for Life every year. It is truly a life-changing experience every single time I go, and the whole trip always brings me closer to Christ. The best thing about this trip is definitely being amongst hundreds of thousands of people and still feeling like I am making a huge difference in the world. I feel so in control of the fate of this country and like I am making a stand and being heard even when I am in such a big crowd. The March for Life is such an incredible experience and has truly changed my life drastically to make me a happier and holier person, and I would recommend it 150%. I cannot say enough good things about the trip as a whole, and I cannot wait to go back next year!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Catholic Curriculum at STM

Last week we look at the following passage from Acts of the Apostles and how there were certain actions the early Church was taking that have shaped our Catholic High School at STM in how we live out our mission of Catholic Education. 

"They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47

This week let's take a focus at the first part of the passage in how we devote ourselves tot he teaching of the Apostles. What we see in this passage is what we live out every single day at STM as a Catholic School. Each day our students come to learn about the created world that God has given to us to be good stewards of through the various disciplines. However, as a Catholic School we see these areas of learning - math, science, art, social studies, language, english, etc. - through the lens of Faith. "Every class is Theology."

Much of our world today lives in skepticism and moral relativism claiming that faith is not real, hat faith and reason cannot coexist, or that what is true for me may not be true for you, but that is ok. This "worldview" can be very harming for students as they grow in their ability to reason, make conclusions, explain and understand the world around them. With Faith we have a guide that for over 2,000 years has allowed us to have an encounter with the Truth who is Jesus Christ. It is this faith of the Apostles that has been passed down through the centuries that has helped to form our understanding of the various disciplines of math, science, language arts, social studies, fine arts, etc. Our teachers have done a lot of work with the Cardinal Newman Society to help guide us in this endeavor. Please pray for them that the Holy Spirit would continue to guide us in our teaching and leading of our students to a greater growth of learning and faith.  

As we continue to build and strengthen our Catholic Worldview in our curriculum, we go back to the foundations of our Faith to lead and guide us to an encounter with Truth that helps to give meaning, purpose, and direction in life. It was the teachings of the Apostles that the Early Church passed on that we have today to form the richness and beauty of our Faith. May that guide and inspire us as a Catholic School to live out our mission of sharing those same teachings with our students so that they may be equipped to share that same joy of the Truth of the Gospel with others in our world. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Giving Time, Talent, and Treasure at STM

The book of Acts of the Apostles starts off with Jesus' Ascension and descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary & the Apostles at Pentecost. It is from the descent of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles go out and form the early Church. If one were to read through Acts they would see the Apostles going out and spreading the mission of Christ and Paul's journeys throughout the Mediterranean spreading the Word and forming the early missionary churches. What we read about the Church in Acts essentially is what we see in the Church today.

"They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47

One aspect of the early Church that had such a dramatic impact on the world in the early centuries was the aspect of them going out and serving the needs of the poor and marginalized of society. The early Christians saw the needs of their fellow human beings around them and gave what they had so that the poor and marginalized had food, clothing, shelter, medicine, education, etc. In a similar way, we at STM see the needs of our fellow human beings and seek ways to give to those in need. Our "Living the Faith" program helps our students to live out their Faith through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. This year alone our students and staff have not only given their time and talents in serving others, but also their treasure. In November we donated over $1300 to Cristo Rey Jesuit High
School in Houston, TX for Hurricane Relief. We also collected over 4,400 canned goods during November for the annual "CanStruction" House Competition, which were donated to the local St. Vincent de Paul Society. During the Fall Semester Finals week, over $700 were collected for our sister student Pendo in Tanzania. We have been Pendo's sponsor for her Catholic Education through the organization "Children of Hope and Faith" for many years. We have another opportunity to give this Friday January 12th to one close to our own STM Family. We will be having a $5 dress down day to support Class of 2016 Alumni Tori McCoy who has been diagnosed with a rare kidney disease - loose fitting jeans or athletic pants may be worn, shorts must be worn over tights or leggings with an appropriate or modest top.

Lastly, we will be having our annual "One Day of Giving" to STM on January 30th in conjunction with NCEA's "Many Gifts, One Nation: A Day of Giving to Catholic Schools." More information will be given on our STM Website as the date approaches.

These are just some of the ways we at STM live out the mission of the Church that is reflected in the book of Acts of the Apostles. We hope to continue to live out that mission especially in the way we give of our time, talent, and especially our treasure to reach out to our fellow human beings in giving them hope and inspiration. Thank you to all who have helped us in these endeavors and have supported STM with their own time, talent, and treasure.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Incarnation at STM

“And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

This famous verse from the Gospel of John highlights one of the great truths and beauty of our Catholic Christian Faith that Jesus as the Word of God took on our humanity to reveal the Father’s glory and love to mankind. This is the great joy that we celebrate at Christmas when Jesus, the Word of God, was born of the Virgin Mary and became man. The Incarnation makes our Catholic Christian faith real and tangible as Christ took on our humanity and fully entered into it so that we may enter into that divine relationship that He shares with the Father.

The joy of the Incarnation is something that we at the High School of Saint Thomas More are blessed to experience on a daily basis.

  • Our Chapel is open to all students, staff, and visitors who would like to enter into the silence of prayer and be with Jesus. It is a very blessed opportunity that we have the availability to have that quiet prayer time with Christ throughout the noise of our daily lives in our school.
  • Not only is the Chapel a central place for prayer, but throughout the school day we live out St. Paul’s call to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Throughout the day, prayer acts as “bookends” to major events as we begin and end the school day, classes, and lunch periods with prayer.  These prayers can be those that we are familiar with from the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, the Angelus, etc. to spontaneous prayer offering the intentions we have to seeking the intercession of our patron Saint Thomas More. In these times we come together as one to let the Lord into those daily moments of our school day.
  • As a Catholic School, we know that we are an image of the Church as the Body of Christ made up of many unique individuals. As individuals we come together in our relationships with one another building each other up through encouragement and love. It is the love and service we show to others that reflects that it is not us who lives, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). We see this particularly in our Family System and Extracurricular Groups. As they come together as one working towards a common goal. We saw this especially with our volleyball team this year. The girls worked hard and for one another living out their motto of “Stronger Together.” It was this faith in one another that flowed from their one faith in Christ that gave them that strength to become the first ever STM State Volleyball Champions!
  • Because we realize and understand that the Incarnation means that our faith enters into our humanity, so
    does our faith enter into each classroom through our curriculum. We hope to continue to build a true Catholic Curriculum that helps students to see the world with a Catholic Worldview in seeing the truth, beauty, and goodness of our faith in each and every subject.
  • Once a month we come together for all school Eucharistic Adoration. This is one real and tangible way that the Christ becomes the center of our lives in worshipping and giving praise to Him. For our students and staff this is a time for them to enter into His presence to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). During these times of Adoration, we also have the opportunity to experience Christ’s love and mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation as many area priests come be ministers of that love and mercy for our Sabers.
  • Most importantly we are able to celebrate the most Holy Mass on an almost daily basis. It is in the Mass that we hear Christ speak to us in the Liturgy of the Word and to be our spiritual food in the Eucharist. In the Mass the Incarnation happens as the bread and wine truly become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

These are just some of the more visible ways that we are able to experience the Incarnation at STM and that is something that no other area high school can say! One could say that we experience Christmas everyday at STM as Christ enters into our school and hearts of our students and staff in many different ways. What a blessing that is and opportunity that our Catholic High School can offer to all who enter through our doors.  
Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!