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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 84

By February 9, 2024No 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 1992 (six years before he released Fides et Ratio), St. John Paul II designated February 11 as the annual “World Day of the Sick.”

February 11 is also the annual memorial of “Our Lady of Lourdes” and recalls the healing, miraculous waters St. Bernadette discovered there through the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858. (Bishop John Shanley made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in April of 1909, and that refreshed him, though his health struggles would linger until his death in July 1909.)

Early in Fides et Ratio, St. John Paul II emphasizes Jesus as the Revealer of Wisdom, of the Father—including His “signs and wonders,” which often involved healing the sick. He does so by quoting Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation at length, including this passage:

“To see Jesus is to see the Father. Jesus perfected Revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making himself present and manifesting himself: through his words and deeds, his signs and wonders, but especially though his death and glorious Resurrection from the dead and finally his sending of the Spirit of truth” (Fides et Ratio No. 11).

This prayer for the use of Holy Water from Lourdes is especially fitting for the World Day of the Sick as we recall our brothers and sisters who are sick:

Blessed be the Holy and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. Mother, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Lourdes, heal us for the greater glory of the Holy Trinity.
Our Lady of Lourdes, heal us for the greater glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lady of Lourdes, heal the sick, convert sinners.
Health of the sick, Help of the suffering, pray for us.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

St. Bernadette, pray for us!


It’s About Time


Catholic Schools Week 2024 – Bishop’s Message

Students receiving Holy Communion at All Schools Mass

“What a beautiful sight,” Bishop Folda observed at the beginning of his homily on Thursday, February 1, while gazing on the Shanley-Sacred Heart gym filled with our students, staff, families, friends, and clergy for the annual All Schools Mass for Catholic Schools Week.

As a postlude to Catholic Schools Week, follow this link to Bishop Folda’s recorded message for Catholic Schools Week 2024 in the Diocese of Fargo:

Please continue to pray for all our Catholic schools.


Giving Hearts Day

Yesterday, February 8, was the seventeenth annual “Giving Hearts Day.” Founded by Dakota Medical Foundation in 2008, it is the single biggest charitable giving day of the year in our region. Dollar by dollar including yesterday, more than $194 million has been raised for charities and non-profits since it began.

Giving Hearts Day

Our Catholic school system was among the 40 charities participating that first year, and we have been a part of it ever since. (Yesterday, more than 600 non-profits appealed to many giving hearts for support.)

This year, we sought to “Paint the Nation Deacon Red.” With more than 640 donors, we raised more than $350,000 in support of the noble mission of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools.

State with the most donors: North Dakota with 428 donations
Alumni class with the most donors: 1970 with 13 donations

Thanks to all the giving hearts of our generous donors and volunteers!


Lent 2024


 “Through the desert God leads us to freedom.” –Theme of Pope Francis’ 2024 Lenten Message

Our Lenten journey begins next week with “Ash Wednesday,” and Pope Francis is calling all the faithful to true freedom.

Message of the Holy Father Francis for Lent 2024 (

Using the story of Israel’s exodus from slavery in Egypt and the journey through the desert to freedom in the Promised Land, the Holy Father calls us to leave behind the illusions of our tempting idols: comfort, indifference, security, money, ambitions, position, power, and the status quo.

“Even more to be feared than Pharaoh are the idols we have set up for ourselves,” advises Pope Francis. He continues, “Instead of making us move forward, they paralyze us.”

He calls us beyond numbing paralysis: “It is a time to act, and in Lent, to act also means to pause”—to pause in prayer, in almsgiving, and fasting.

These Lenten “pauses” for love of God and neighbor are the paths through the desert to “God’s dream” of our true freedom in the Promised Land.

Pope Francis begins his 2024 Lenten Message with this observation: “When God reveals Himself, His message is always one of freedom.”

Each of us should therefore pause before the Lenten journey to freedom and ask for grace and wisdom:

  1. What idols do I need to leave behind in Egypt?
  2. What is my prayer pause? (Seeking deeper union with God)
  3. What is my almsgiving pause? (Giving to my neighbors in need)
  4. What is my fasting pause? (Denying myself)

St. Paul gives us the bottom line in his letter to the Galatians (who also struggled to maintain their freedom): “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).


President’s Proverb


“Christ’s presence comes to break the isolation which pain induces.”

–Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes (2008)



Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)



Sunday Psalm Sampler


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. (Year B)


“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: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11

Responsorial Refrain: “I turn to You, Lord, in time of trouble, and You fill me with the joy of salvation.”(Ps 32:7)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2024, Psalm 32 (

Psalm 32 celebrates the return to and rebuilding of Jerusalem from the Babylonian Exile (c. 538 ff). It thus set in the Post-Exilic context of praise for the Lord’s mighty deeds and faith in His power.

Today’s Gospel reading (Mk 1:40-45) likewise demonstrates the Lord Jesus’ power and might in healing the leper, who approaches Him in faith: “If you wish, You can make me clean” (Mk 1:40).

The portion of Psalm 32 we hear and respond to today parallels the Gospel account of the Lord’s power in the dynamic of confession of sin, repentance, and healing.

May we, too, seek the healing power of His forgiveness as we acknowledge our need for salvation and sing, I turn to You, Lord, in time of trouble, and You fill me with the joy of salvation.”




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).