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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 62

By September 8, 2023No Comments

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know Himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”

–St. John Paul II Preface to Fides et Ratio


Fides et Ratio Reflections


 In recent posts, I have highlighted the new “Splendor of Truth” class as well as further examples (“Faithful Scholar” and “Lens of Faith”) of the “Two Wings” and our commitment to the great Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Here are two other prime examples with course descriptions from our program of studies for Shanley High School:

Encounters with Beauty – This course aims to foster a deep and meaningful encounter with the God through the lens of beauty. This course considers the implications of the Divine works of Creation and Redemption for a radical reconsideration of the world and the human person. Focusing on the rich tradition of Catholic Art, students will personally engage with beauty so as to foster a deep appreciation of God and deepen their relationship of prayer.

Spirit and Charism – This course explores the rich diversity of spiritualities in the Catholic tradition, including the practices of the Benedictines, Jesuits, and Carmelites. Students will read through some of the essential writings of these and other figures, gleaning the insights of the great spiritual masters in the Church’s history. This class will also examine the lives of other saints who manifest the charisms of these religious communities and spiritual masters. In particular, this course ponders how one might incorporate these insights into one’s own daily life, prayer, and discernment.

I am grateful for these recent additions to the Shanley curriculum and the opportunities our students have for exploring Truth, Goodness, and Beauty and garnering the riches of Wisdom.


It’s About Time


Mary’s Birthday


Today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We celebrate her birthday nine months—the length of a typical human pregnancy—after we celebrated her Immaculate Conception by her parents, Sts. Anne and Joachim, on December 8.

Here is the Collect prayer from today’s Feast Day Mass. Note well its call for “deeper peace” and pray it for that fitting intention.

“Impart to Your servants, we pray, O Lord, the gift of heavenly grace, that the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin may bring deeper peace to those for whom the birth of her Son was the dawning of salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.” AMEN.


Shanley’s Birthday


In addition to the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, today, September 8, is also the birthday of Sacred Heart Academy, which opened on this day in 1897. Bishop John Shanley joined the students and the Presentation Sisters for the opening day and offered the first Mass at the new school.

Sacred Heart Academy was the forerunner of Shanley High School, which was named in honor of the first Bishop of the Fargo Diocese. The first class to graduate from “Shanely High School” was the Class of 1951.

Happy Birthday to Shanley High School!




Next week is Homecoming Week in all our schools. From the first “Homecoming” at Sacred Heart Academy in 1915, Homecoming has been a great tradition of celebrating our heritage and identity and of making new memories. I hope we all enjoy the many opportunities to do just that in each of our schools next week.

One new highlight this year will be the dedication and blessing of the new artificial turf surface at Sid Cichy Stadium. That ceremony will begin after our annual Homecoming Block Party at approximately 6:30 pm on Friday, September 15. Representatives from various stakeholder groups will be participating in the ribbon-cutting prior to the 7:00 pm kick-off for the Homecoming game versus perennial power West Fargo Sheyenne High School.

Go Deacons!


President’s Proverb



“If you’re leading the right way, you look inward first.”

–Minnesota Vikings Coach Kevin O’Connell on improving team performance



Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)




Sunday Psalm Sampler


Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)



“Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

–Luke 24:44b



Lectionary Readings: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 95:1-2, 6-9

Responsorial Refrain: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”  (95:8)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023, Psalm 95 – YouTube

Psalm 95 is one of the few Psalms we hear annually in the three-year Sunday Lectionary cycle. In Year A (our current year), it is even heard twice—the Third Sunday of Lent and today. That is no surprise, for in both the Jewish and Christian tradition, it is a pre-eminent Psalm, chanted as the Jewish Sabbath observance begins and as one of the first Psalms of the day in the Christian Liturgy of the Horus.

That pre-eminence teaches us a lesson about one of the fundamental lessons of Salvation History, namely, to end our rebellion and to embrace the will of God as the Prophet Isaiah exhorts:

“Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow” (Is. 1:16-17).

As we begin our days this week, let us remember to listen to the Lord’s voice and to have receptive hearts as we sing, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”



Mike Hagstrom

Mike Hagstrom was named President of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools and Director of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fargo on March 15, 2016 and assumed office on July 1, 2016. When he applied for the position, he wrote that his “approach would be that of stewardship of the great gift of Catholic Schools. With the help of God’s Grace and all our stakeholders we can be good stewards together, seeing that our schools not only merely survive, but also thrive. For they are designed for human flourishing, forming as we do the whole person, each and every student, made in God’s image and likeness, endowed with a transcendent dignity and destiny.” Prior to this role, he taught Religion and served in a number of other leadership capacities at Shanley High School for 31 years. There, he embraced St. Bede’s notion that “I have always found delight in learning, teaching, and writing.” Mike earned his B.A. in English and M.A. in Systematic Theology from Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota. He and his wife, Shawn, have two children (Therese ’08 and Joseph ’16) and two grandchildren (James and Oliver).