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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 95

By April 26, 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

                   Trajan’s Column

These are my photos of “Trajan’s Column” near the Colisseum in Rome. The near-100-foot-tall tower tells the tale in sculpture of Emperor Trajan’s military triumph in the early second century AD.

Despite the impressive column, I knew nothing about his battles or military might.

But I do know something about the person depicted in the statue atop the column (since the late 16th century). That is St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles and first Pope.

What a statement about history and various types of power.

In Fides et Ratio, St. John Paul II writes about the power of God revealed in Jesus:

“History therefore becomes the arena where we see what God does for humanity. God comes to us in the things we know best and can verify most easily, the things of our everyday life, apart from which we cannot understand ourselves.

“In the Incarnation of the Son of God we see forged the enduring and definitive synthesis which the human mind of itself could not even have imagined: the Eternal enters time, the Whole lies hidden in the part, God takes on a human face. The truth communicated in Christ’s Revelation is therefore no longer confined to a particular place or culture but is offered to every man and woman who would welcome it as the word which is the absolutely valid source of meaning for human life. Now, in Christ, all have access to the Father, since by His Death and Resurrection Christ has bestowed the divine life which the first Adam had refused (cf. Rom 5:12-15). Through this Revelation, men and women are offered the ultimate truth about their own life and about the goal of history” (No. 12).

Even the mighty Trajan was subject to that Truth


It’s About Time


President’s Pilgrimage

                    The Holy Father, Pope Francis

As noted the past two weeks, twenty-one pilgrims participated in our first “President’s Pilgrimage” to Rome April 1-10. The group included staff, alumni, parents, and friends of JPII Catholic Schools. Mary Hanbury, Director of Catechesis for the Fargo Diocese, and Fr. William Slattery, Chaplain of Shanley High School and Sacred Heart Middle School, served as adept leaders of our group of pilgrims.

After breakfast on our first full day in Rome, Wednesday, April 3, we ventured several blocks from our hotel to St. Peter’s Square for Pope Francis’ Wednesday Audience.

We knew he did not participate in all the observances of Holy Week the week prior due to illness and fatigue, so, though hoping to see him, we were prepared not to.

The crowd of pilgrims filled the main section of the square, and the buzz began to build. Then… “There he is—in the Popemobile!” His vehicle went counterclockwise around the pilgrims—twice!

I snapped the picture above as he passed our group the second time.

He has been giving a catechetical series of talks on the virtues and vices for his Wednesday Audiences in recent months. The message we heard on Easter Wednesday, April 3, was a beautiful teaching on the Cardinal Virtue of Justice.

You can read his message here:

General Audience of 3rd April 2024 – Cycle of Catechesis. Vices and Virtues. 13. Justice | Francis (


Grandparents’ Day

“It’s the best.”

That is my standard commentary on being a grandparent. Shawn and I delight in the time we spend with our two grandsons.

That seemed to be true today in all our schools as well with the annual “Grandparents Day” gatherings and activities.

It was a joy to see the generational dynamics at work and to visit with so many grandparents. Thank you, JPII Catholic Schools grandparents, for your support and prayers!


40th Annual Deacon Dinner Auction & Gala

I was a new teacher just a few months after the first Shanley Auction in 1985, and over the decades since then we’ve seen the auction grow and flourish, becoming one of the premier events in our region.

The on-going evolution to the “40th Annual Deacon Dinner Auction & Gala” includes the Third Annual Presentation Awards, the dance with the ever-popular “Front Fenders,” both new and tried and true auction items, and a great venue in the Delta Hotel.

I’m grateful for all the pioneers who blazed the auction trail and worked so diligently to build this tradition. With this 40th anniversary, I especially want to thank all the auction chairs, directors, donors, volunteers, attendees, bidders, emcees, entertainers, techies, chefs, servers, and support staff.

So much good has been done to support the mission of Shanley High School and now the entire St. John Paul II Catholic Schools system over those years. Thousands of students have benefited from the auction’s generous spirit, graduated from Shanley, and been sent out as “Deacons” to make a difference for the good.

I am eagerly looking forward to the 40th auction—and gala and more


President’s Proverb


“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

–G. K. Chesterton

For more on this and other Chestertonian proverbs, listen to my conversation with Roxane Salonen on her podcast: Matters of Soul Importance with Roxane Salonen (



Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)



Sunday Psalm Sampler


Fifth Sunday of Easter (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: Fifth Sunday of Easter | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

Responsorial Refrain: “I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of Your people.” (22:26a)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm Fifth Sunday of Easter 2024, Psalm 22 (

Psalm 22 is the most-quoted Psalm in the New Testament, which aligns with the Risen Lord Jesus’ explanation quoted at the beginning of this weekly blog feature—that all that was written of Him in the Old Testament “must be fulfilled.”

This Psalm of the Suffering Servant is a typology which Jesus perfectly fulfills, for the Lord’s cry of distress and anguish in suffering His Passion for our sake. He appeals to the Father for help in time of affliction. That’s why we sing this Psalm every Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.

Now in the Easter season, we hear a different section of Psalm 22—a rising spirit of confident trust as well as a spirit of prophetic praise which echoes in the assembled faithful and throughout the earth: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; all the families of the nations shall bow down before him” (Ps 22:28).

This week, let us sing in confident trust, “I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of Your people.”




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).