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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 70

By November 3, 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


Fr. Mike Schmitz

Last night, Fr. Mike Schmitz spoke at the annual Bison Catholic Banquet for St. Paul’s Newman Center at the Delta by Marriott Hotel in Fargo.

Yes, that Fr. Mike Schmitz: acclaimed podcaster, YouTuber, Instagramer, and Newman Center Chaplain. About Fr. Mike Schmitz – Bulldog Catholic

My wife and I hosted a table for the event, and we were joined by fellow fans of his “Bible in a Year” podcast and YouTube videos on various aspects of Catholicism.

Fr. Mike spoke about the “story” or “lens” or “worldview” that each of us has and the life we live based on that story. He proclaimed the invaluable role of Newman Centers in helping students live a life based on the True Story of God’s presence, relevance, and incomprehensible, unmerited, and unparalleled love for each one of us.

I have written many times about the excellent example of St. John Henry Newman and the essential work of Newman Centers on college campuses in promoting the Two Wings of Faith and Reason.

St. Paul’s Newman Center in Fargo—with its stunning, newly dedicated chapel—is simply one of the best.

St. Paul’s Newman Center | Fargo, ND (

PS Like Fr. Mike, I attended Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. In the “About” link above for Fr. Mike, he wrote, “In college, I had a class on Shakespeare taught by a monk who was so moved by the beauty of the words that he wept during every class. It was incredible and drew me to a new love of beauty in the English language.”

I remember the Shakespeare class well, the late afternoon sunlight playing in the rustic brick-lined and oak-trimmed classroom in the old Quadrangle, with Father’s streaming tears as he recited Shakespeare. How beautiful, indeed.


It’s About Time


All Saints Day

            Trinity Staff on All Saints Day

All Saints Day observances in our schools have been growing over the years. From dressing as a patron or beloved saint in our elementaries (such as the Trinity staff above) to decorating pumpkins with apt symbols (such as St. Cecilia, patron of musicians, pictured below at Sacred Heart) to holiness lived in careers (such as Career Day at Shanley), it was a day to make clear the call we all have to “Be a Saint” by studying and exemplifying the lives of the Saints. Well-done.

    St. Cecilia – Patron of Musicians


New Principal at Nativity Elementary School

      Mary Beth Traynor and Jill Koch

On All Saints Day, we also welcomed veteran teacher Jill Koch to her new role as principal of Nativity Elementary School.

Thanks to Mrs. Koch for her willingness to serve and to lead the students, staff, and parents at the school named for the birth of the Lord Jesus.

Immeasurable thanks to Mary Beth for stepping in as Nativity’s administrator in mid-August and leading the school to such a great start this school year.

Prayers for Mrs. Koch and the Nativity School community at this time of transition and throughout the school year.


All Souls Day – JPII Schools Memorial Mass

Candles Lit for the Faithful Departed

Yesterday, we observed the Fifty-First Annual JPII Catholic Schools Memorial Mass at Sts. Anne and Joachim Church in Fargo.
Many family members and friends of those remembered with a memorial donation to our schools attended. We lit 272 candles, read the names of the faithful departed, and Shanley-Sacred Heart Chaplain Fr. Slattery offered the Mass for the repose of their souls. It is a powerful and profound tradition we have. May the souls of all the faithful departed, especially those named in memorial gifts, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. AMEN.

A reception was held after the Mass, and it was good to visit, share memories, and console one another in Christ our Hope.

A recording of portions of the Mass as well as the slideshow of people remembered yesterday is now on our website: 2023 Memorial Mass – JPII Catholic Schools (

President’s Proverb


“Do not complain, that shows discontent with the will of God in the present moment. That is also proof of impatience.”

–St. Martin de Porres



Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)




Sunday Psalm Sampler


Thirty-First 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: Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 131:1-3

Responsorial Refrain: “In You, Lord, I have found my peace.”

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm for 31st Sunday Ordinary Time 2023, Psalm 131 – YouTube

Fifteen Psalms comprise the “Songs of Ascent.” Psalms 120 through 134 are identified as such and were sung by pilgrims who “ascended” on their way “up” to Jerusalem. “Up to Jerusalem,” is quite literal: Jerusalem is a city built on the hills—2,430 feet above sea level.

As pilgrims approached the heights of the holy city and began their ascent, this series of Psalms prepared them for worshipping the living God.

Psalm 131 and its tender imagery of a contented child at rest with its mother served as a reminder of the need for humility before God. Pride over “great matters” and “things too sublime” needed to be punctured for one’s soul to truly rest in God.

This week, let us seek true humility while ascending to our Eucharistic encounter with the living God as we sing, “In You, Lord, I have found my peace.”



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).