Skip to main content

“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


             “Be Not Afraid” (St. John Paul II)
    by then-Nativity Student Adam Bowden (2020)

This framed artwork sits at the entrance to my office, greeting all visitors. I am grateful for the student’s depiction of our school system’s Patron Saint and his frequent exhortation to “Be not afraid.”

Tomorrow will be St. John Paul II’s 104th birthday. “Karol Wojtyla” was born on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland.

He was profoundly formed by his father and other mentors to seek the Truth by developing both wings of faith and reason within a crucible of personal loss and totalitarian oppression.

Happy birthday, St. John Paul II, and thank you for your witness to Hope and your work to make Jesus Christ—the Way and the Truth and the Life—proclaimed, known, and followed.

St. John Paul II: “Pray for us.”



It’s About Time


St. Isidore the Farmer

I wrote the following reflection for my staff newsletter column on St. Isidore’s Day (Wednesday, May 15).

“Thank God I’m a country boy.” –John Denver

Today is the Feast of St. Isidore, Patron Saint of Farmers and Rural Life.

Though we live and work in the metro area, many of us grew up on farms or in small towns; we are just a short drive from the countryside; and agriculture remains an economic engine. So happy Feast Day one and all.

Whether or not you grew up on a farm, the reality of preparing soil, planting seeds, cultivating plants, waiting patiently, and finally harvesting is a good image for both a school year and education in general.

Teaching and learning take time, effort, patience, and grace.

Thank you, “farmers” for your work this year and over the years of maturation of our “crop” of students.

This year’s harvest includes 45 Trinity 5th Graders, 9 Holy Spirit 5th Graders, 35 Nativity 5th Graders, 84 Sacred Heart 8th Graders, and 90 Shanley Seniors.

Starting tomorrow morning at Trinity and ending a week from tonight at Shanley, they will be recognized for their growth in learning as Children of God, Who gives all good gifts (James 1:17). Thanks be to God and congratulations to them all.

Again, thank you, all staff members. Moreover, all the best to those who are pursuing a new direction in their life. (See, for example, the open houses next week for long-time “farmers” Mr. Kotrba and Mrs. Storandt.)

Have a most blessed summer everyone!

PS The Shanley High School Commencement will be livestreamed on ShanleyTV at 6:00 pm, Wednesday, May 22:



Mary, Mother of the Church

Monday, May 20, is the day after Pentecost Sunday. With it we return to Ordinary Time in the liturgical year.

But since 2018, Pope Francis decreed that the Monday after Pentecost be observed with the “Obligatory Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.”

As “Mother of the Church,” she is by extension “Mother of Catholic Schools,” and for that we are most grateful.

At the close of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (November 21, 1964), Pope St. Paul VI gave an address which included the case for this title of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Holy Father said, “Taking into consideration the close ties by which Mary and the Church are bound together, to the glory of the Blessed Virgin and for our consolation, We declare Mary Most Holy to be Mother of the Church, that is, of the whole Christian people, faithful and Pastors alike, who invoke her as their most loving Mother; and We establish that by this sweetest of names the whole Christian people should henceforth give still greater honor to the Mother of God and offer her their supplications.

“Venerable Brothers,” he continued, “this concerns a title by no means new to Christian piety; indeed the Christian faithful and the universal Church choose to invoke Mary principally by the name of Mother. In truth, this name belongs to the genuine nature of devotion to Mary, since it rests firmly on that very dignity with which Mary is endowed as the Mother of the Incarnate Word of God.”

For more from this address and other aspects of this observance, see this link from the USCCB:

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church | USCCB



Open Houses

We have scheduled open houses for next week for two long-time employees who are leaving their roles in JPII Catholic Schools.

Mr. Jason Kotrba, Holy Spirit School Principal, has decided to pursue a new opportunity, and Mrs. Dawn Storandt, School Nurse, has decided to retire.

My gratitude and best wishes to both. Here are the open house details for each:



President’s Proverb


“Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into the public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the good news of salvation in the squares of cities, towns, and village…It is time to preach from the rooftops.”

–St. John Paul II




Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)



Sunday Psalm Sampler


Pentecost Sunday (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: Pentecost Sunday – Mass during the Day | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

Responsorial Refrain:Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 104:30)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm Pentecost (DAY) 2024, Psalm 104 (

Pentecost—the fiftieth day of the Easter season—is the long-desired, long-prophesied outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Today’s first reading from Acts of the Apostles describes the signs of the Holy Spirit’s power on the day of Pentecost: “a noise like a strong driving wind…tongues as of fire…speak[ing] in different tongues.”

Just as the Spirit hovered over the waters in the first Creation account in Genesis, so is the creative power of the Spirit manifested in the new Creation of the Church at Pentecost. Psalm 104 prophesies and proclaims the Lord’s wondrous work through the Spirit’s renewal.

As the Easter season ends with Sunday evening vespers, let us pray throughout the week for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church and all her members as we sing, “Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”




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).