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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 86

By February 23, 2024February 28th, 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


                St. Polycarp

Today we remember the 2nd century Bishop and Martyr, St. Polycarp of Smyrna. As a young man, he heard the Good News from St. John the Evangelist. He, in turn, taught that to the young man St. Irenaeus—three generations of handing on the Apostolic faith.

He was among the first martyrs to be venerated, and the written account of his martyrdom continues to inspire new generations of Christians.

Asked by the magistrate to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ and then be spared, the elderly St. Polycarp replied, “Six and eighty years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”

The magistrate condemns the holy bishop to be burned at the stake. Note the eucharistic images in the account of his martyrdom: “Then the fire was lit, and the flame blazed furiously. We who were privileged to witness it saw a great miracle, and this is why we have been preserved, to tell the story. The fire shaped itself into the form of an arch, like the sail of a ship when filled with the wind and formed a circle around the body of the martyr. Inside it, he looked not like flesh that is burnt, but like bread that is baked, or gold and silver glowing in a furnace. And we smelt a sweet scent, like frankincense or some such precious spices.

Eventually, when those wicked men saw that his body could not be consumed by the fire, they commanded an executioner to pierce him with a dagger” (Polycarp’s Martyrdom 15-16).

St. Polycarp’s decisive defense of the faith and trust in the Lord fits well St. John Paul II’s description of the freedom inherent in the act of faith in Fides et Ratio: “The Church has always considered the act of entrusting oneself to God to be a moment of fundamental decision which engages the whole person. In that act, the intellect and the will display their spiritual nature, enabling the subject to act in a way which realizes personal freedom to the full. It is not just that freedom is part of the act of faith: it is absolutely required. Indeed, it is faith that allows individuals to give consummate expression to their own freedom” (No. 13).

On this Lenten Friday and memorial of St. Polycarp, let us invoke his prayers in entrusting ourselves to our King and Savior. St. Polycarp: “Pray for us.”


It’s About Time


Tournament Time 2024

       South-Shanley boys players celebrate the winning goal yesterday
                     Photo Credit: Dave Samson, The Forum

Winter sports are entering tournament time—always full of thrills, chills, spills, action, adventure, and excitement.

Yesterday our hockey teams played in the quarterfinals of the state hockey tournament. The girls team (co-op with Fargo Davies) led 1-0 after the first period, but Grand Forks outscored them the next two periods, for a 4-1 victory. The girls now play in the consolation round at 5:00 pm at Farmer’s Union Arena in Fargo.

For more information about the Girls’ Tournament: Girls’ Ice Hockey Tournament |

The boys team (co-op with Fargo South) defeated Dickinson, the number 1 seed from the West, 3-2. They will now face nemesis Grand Forks Red River, the team we beat last year in double overtime to capture our first state championship in boys hockey. The semi-final match begins at 5:30 pm at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

For more information about the Boys’ Tournament: Boys’ Ice Hockey Tournament |

 Meanwhile, east region basketball tournament quarterfinal action begins next Tuesday, February 27.

The number six seed Shanley Girls will travel to number three West Fargo Horace and the number seven seed Shanley Boys will travel to West Fargo Sheyenne. Two victories in the regional tournament next week would earn a visit to the state tournament in Bismarck.

Bests wishes to all these and our other athletes as they wrap up their winter sports seasons



Re-enrollment for our current students opened with the new year in January. Thanks to all families that have re-enrolled at this point. I encourage those who have yet to re-enroll to do so soon.

Review and acceptance of enrollment for new families will begin March 1. We have limited space in some of our class sections and waiting lists in some cases.

In addition, our Admissions Director, Lori Hager, continues to host many tours for prospective families.

To learn more about enrolling in St. John Paul II Catholic Schools, visit our admissions page here:

Admissions – JPII Catholic Schools (


Arizona Alumni & Friends

                     Bishop John Folda preaching at
All Saints Catholic Church in Mesa, Arizona

Beginning as a teacher in 2014, I have travelled to the Phoenix, Arizona area eleven times with a delegation from our Catholic schools to meet with our alumni and supporters in late February or early March. There, in a variety of settings, we thank them for their support and give updates on St. John Paul II Catholic Schools. Bishop John Folda, pictured above at daily Mass yesterday, has often been part of our delegation.

I relish visiting our alumni with great gratitude, sharing the good news about the type of education we offer in our schools, acknowledging the challenges we face, and asking for their prayers and support.

Wednesday through Friday this week, I did just that. Thank you, Arizona alumni and friends, for the good visits!


President’s Proverb


“Give alms.”

–Gerard Manley Hopkins’ advice to Robert Bridges, who had asked how to learn to believe in God



Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)



Sunday Psalm Sampler


Second Sunday of Lent (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: Second Sunday of Lent | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 116:10, 15-19

Responsorial Refrain: “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.” (Ps. 116:9)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm Second Sunday of Lent, 2024 Cycle B (

Psalm 116 is rich in Eucharistic themes such as thanksgiving, deliverance, and offering sacrifice. Moreover, the “land of the living” indicates a liturgical setting “in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem.”

The other readings today all suggest the Paschal Mystery, which is at the heart of our faith and of every Mass: “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” In Mark’s Gospel account of the Transfiguration episode, for example, the disciples get a preview of that glory made manifest and hear Jesus’ prophetic self-reference to “the Son of Man…risen from the dead.”

This week as we continue our Lenten journey, let us follow in the path of the Lord’s self-sacrificing love as we sing in the assembly of the faithful, “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.”




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).