Skip to main content
Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 67

By October 13, 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

             Dr. Andrew Seeley

Today is a scheduled “Professional Development Day” in St. John Paul II Catholic Schools. Our elementary school teachers are learning more about our new “English-Language Arts” curriculum, while our secondary teachers are learning from Dr. Andrew Seeley of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education.

Home – Institute for Catholic Liberal Education

He has entitled the day, “Liberating Education: How a Catholic Liberal Arts Education Frees Teachers and Students.”

His four sessions highlight various aspects of the “Two Wings” of Faith and Reason in the great tradition, so I am “pinching myself” that our teachers have this opportunity from a master teacher.

Session I: The Liberal Arts Revival: Origin and Progress
Session II: The Catholic Witness: Magisterial Documents on Education
Session III: Faith and Reason: The Outcomes of a Catholic Liberal Arts Education
Session IV: The Spirit and Craft of Teaching in the Catholic Liberal Arts Tradition

May today’s cultivation bear a fruitful harvest in the culture of our schools.


It’s About Time


Returning Pilgrims

Last Saturday’s terror on attacks in Israel drew the world’s attention, and here in Fargo we had an additional attentive watch on a group of eighty-some Holy Land pilgrims from Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead and other towns in our region.

Among them were two pastors of our sponsoring parishes, Fr. Phil Ackerman of Holy Cross Church in West Fargo and Fr. Gerard Braun of St. Anthony’s Church in Fargo. As pastors, they sit on our board of directors.

The pilgrims sheltered in Bethlehem after the attacks, and with the help of many people of goodwill and many prayers, made or are making the convoluted journey back to Fargo.

We are grateful for that outcome given the gruesome realities on the ground in the Holy Land.


The Power of Prayer

                    Fr. Phil Ackerman

In a direct link with our students and in what we call “a teaching moment,” our Trinity Elementary students were praying for the pilgrims and Fr. Phil Ackerman during a Perpetual Adoration time before the Blessed Sacrament at Holy Cross Church.

In the picture above, Fr. Ackerman shows the students in prayer—a picture he received just as he learned that there was a safe passageway back home.

He, Trinity Principal Karissa Flieth, and so many others celebrated the lesson about the power of persistent prayer for our students.

Thanks be to God for the safe return.

Speaking of the power of prayer in these uncertain times, a friend shared this prayer with me recently:

Loving God,
Welcome into Your arms the victims of violence and terrorism.
Comfort their families and all who grieve for them.
Help us in our fear and uncertainty,
And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in Your love.
Strengthen all those who work for peace,
And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts. AMEN


October 18

Next Wednesday, October 18, we will observe the feast day of our Patron Saint, St. John Paul II. (His feast is typically observed on October 22, the anniversary of his installation as Pontiff, but when that is on a non-school day, our board of directors has instructed us to select another nearby day to observe the feast day.) We’ll celebrate the feast fittingly with an All Schools Mass that day.

Next Wednesday is also the end of the first quarter of the school year (39 days of our 175 student contact days completed). With no classes scheduled next Thursday and Friday, the second quarter will begin on Monday, October 23.

President’s Proverb

“Pray for me, so that I shall not fail the test.”

–St. Ignatius of Antioch (Feast Day, October 17)”



Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)




Sunday Psalm Sampler


Twenty-Eighth 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-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 23:1-6

Responsorial Refrain: “I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” (23:6cd)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm 28th Sunday In Ordinary Time 2023, Psalm 23 – YouTube

On the day preceding this Sunday’s Sabbath—October 14—we remember St. Callistus I, Pope and Martyr (d. 222). He organized the first Christian cemetery in Rome, and the extensive underground “Catacombs” are linked to his name. There are approximately 12 miles of tunnel-tombs with an estimated 500,000 bodies.

As 19th century archeologists re-discovered and explored this necropolis, they marveled at the relatively well-preserved artwork. Prominent themes were repeated: Jonah and the Whale (resurrection), vines (recall last week’s Psalm and other readings), and the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23 and John 10:1-16).

Psalm 23 was read by early Christians in light of the Sacraments of Initiation (think about it), and the Heavenly Banquet promised to the faithful.

This week, let us kindle our longing for the Lord, the Good Shepherd, Who invites us to be with Him for ever as we sing, “I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”



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).