Great AP Classes at JPII to Get Ahead for College

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Thursday in AP Language and Comp was like any other day in the junior Advanced Placement English class. The students turned in either an argument or a creative assignment, reviewed 50 Latin root words, logged in to their AP College Board account to see their progress check from Unit One, and then blasted through 100 pages of Mark Twain’s best written and least read book, Joan of Arc. Acting some passages, analyzing the claims of other paragraphs, and relishing Twain’s obvious admiration for his favorite heroine, JPII students had a rich if demanding day in English!

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JPII offers classes at college-preparatory, honors and AP levels. The 2019-2020 AP courses are these: freshman may take AP World History; sophomores may take AP European and AP Chemistry if qualified; juniors may take AP US History, AP Language and Comp., AP Physics. Seniors choose among AP Literature and Comp., AP US Government, AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Studio Art, AP Spanish, AP Latin ,and AP Statistics. If students score passing grades, their colleges may offer them college credit for some or all of these exams! JPII students not only have great classes in high school but also get ahead in their college degree program!

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Register for Open House to learn more about our Advance Placement classes.

In Search of Something More, Sister Maris Stella, OP

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When I was sixteen, I did not know what I wanted to become in life, but I knew that I wanted to be happy. I was searching for something more than what magazines, the Internet, and Hollywood told me I could become. Not once, however, had the idea of becoming a religious sister entered my thoughts as a possible path to my future happiness. In fact, I did not know that God was still calling young women to enter religious life. I had seen sisters in movies, but I figured it was a vocation of the past. That is, until my high school religion teacher posed the question to me: “Have you ever thought about becoming a sister?” I was stunned by the question, yet something stirred in my heart, and I found myself answering, “Well sure, I’m open to it.” When he handed me a Veritas newsletter of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia with the encouragement to “just look it over,” this man had set me on the adventure of discovering my life’s vocation.

A year later, as a freshman at Franciscan University of Steubenville, I prayed that God would help me know if he was calling me to become a sister. At the same time, however, I met a young man, and the more time I spent with him, the more I tried to convince myself that marriage was my vocation! I decided to visit the Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse in Nashville as a way of ruling out the possibility of a religious calling.

What happened when I arrived in Nashville took me by surprise. As soon as I stepped into the Motherhouse, I was overwhelmed by a sense of homecoming. As the retreat progressed, others commented, “You look so at home here.” I could not deny the happiness that filled me each day that I spent with the sisters. Finally, I told one of the sisters my dilemma: “Before I came here, I was sure I wanted to get married, but now…!” She listened to my whole story and then gently said, “I see in you what it takes to be a good religious sister. I hear the zeal, and I see your love for Christ.” Seeing my questioning eyes, she suggested, “Why don’t you spend the next few days listening to God in prayer. He knows his plans for you, and his plans will make you happy.”

In the silence of the chapel, I knew the answer to my question. It was not so simple to carry it out, however, because I still had to explain my decision to the young man awaiting my return at school. I spent the next few weeks with a heart torn between a dating relationship and application to enter the Dominican Sisters.

“Are you called to be a sister?” The haunting question came once more when I unsuspectingly attended a weekday Mass on the feast of the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas. In his wonderful Nigerian accent, the visiting priest addressed the young women in the congregation, “Do you feel called to be a sister? Because you ARE! Is there a Mr. Right in your life? You need to look to THE Mr. Right! Look to Jesus!” I knew I could no longer ignore my vocation. If God was calling, it was time for me to respond with a generous heart! I left the chapel with peace and a firm resolve to follow the Lord’s call.

I entered the convent the following August, and in this life have found what I was searching for throughout high school. In my search for “something more,” I found the only One who can ever fully satisfy the longing of our human hearts. Now each day is an opportunity for me to witness to the truth that God alone is the source of our happiness!

Sister Maris Stella professed her perpetual vows in July 2011.

Watch her vocation story here:

Taken from the website of the dominican sisters of nashville with the approval of Sister Maris Stella, O.P.

https://www.nashvilledominican.org/community/sister-profiles/sister-maris-stella-o-p/

Fostering a Spirit of Prayer

“Come, let us sing to the Lord and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us. Let us approach Him with praise and thanksgiving and sing joyful songs to the Lord!” (Psalm 95:1-2)

The St. John Paul II Schola Cantorum, our “School of Singers” also known as Schola for short, is off to a great start this year as we praise God through music at our weekly all-school masses.

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A Schola is a type of choir that specializes in singing sacred music. Last year, members learned how to sing in harmony, hold a proper singer’s stance, train their ears by working with solfege, and read Gregorian Chant notation (as seen in this traditional Eucharistic chant below).

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This year, with a current roster of about 20 students, Schola is excited to continue the study of Gregorian chant by leading Mass parts and learning a proper Communion antiphon each week. The words of these antiphons are direct quotations from the Scriptures, and so each time we chant, we are truly praying through the text. We encounter Christ when we sing the words He has given us, and we hope similarly to foster this spirit of prayer at Mass for those in our congregation. 

Below is a recording by our Schola of the “Hymn of the Jubilee of Mercy,” written by Paul Inwood and Eugenio Costa, S.J. in honor of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2015. The refrain, misericordes sicut Pater, calls upon Christians to “be merciful, just as the Father [is merciful]” (cf. Luke 6:36). 

Sister Regina Ann Tonn, O.P.

House of St. Gianna

Schola Director

Misericordes sicut Pater! Misericordes sicut Pater!

1. Give thanks to the Father, for He is good in aeternum misericordia eius

He created the world with wisdom in aeternum misericordia eius

He leads His people throughout history in aeternum misericordia eius

He pardons and welcomes His children in aeternum misericordia eius

2. Give thanks to the Son, Light of the Nations in aeternum misericordia eius

He loved us with a heart of flesh in aeternum misericordia eius

As we receive from Him, let us also give to Him in aeternum misericordia eius

Hearts open to those who hunger and thirst in aeternum misericordia eius

3. Let us ask the Spirit for the seven holy gifts in aeternum misericordia eius

Fount of all goodness and the sweetest relief in aeternum misericordia eius

Comforted by Him, let us offer comfort in aeternum misericordia eius

Love hopes and bears all things in aeternum misericordia eius

4. Let us ask for peace from the God of all peace in aeternum misericordia eius

The earth waits for the Good News of the Kingdom in aeternum misericordia eius

Joy and pardon in the hearts of the little ones in aeternum misericordia eius

The heavens and the earth will be renewed in aeternum misericordia eius

© 2015 Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization (PCPNE).

Lyrics found on http://www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va/content/gdm/en/giubileo/inno.html


Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Two years ago on the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we were given the opportunity for a blessing of the future campus. Fr. John Muir, Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, led a rosary and blessing in procession around the future campus of St. John Paul II Catholic High School.

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There was progress on the foundation of the buildings and the graces of our prayers. Phase One of our Four Phase project is complete and we are entering our second year of school with many new students, staff and faculty.

Praise God for the blessings and may our Mother Mary pray for us!

Grace and Joy

Today was the Assumption of Mary into Heaven and our students were able to attend Mass for the second time this school year. Every week, usually on Wednesdays, our students and teachers walk over to our neighbor, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and School for our school Mass. On this special day our students had a very special surprise following Mass. All students, staff and faculty received free chicken sandwiches from Chick Fil A, donated in honor of Mr. Bruce Thomas Halle. We are grateful to the donors that made this day full of grace and joy!

Students Return

8/9/2019

The 2019-2020 school has officially begun and we opened our doors to freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Our students were excited to return to school with many new faces, from staff, faculty, students and even our chaplain.

Eleya and Shannah happy for the new school year.

Eleya and Shannah happy for the new school year.

During our first week, the students were able to attend Mass on the Feast of St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order and the patron of the House of Dominic. For many of our students it was the first time they attended Mass during school because they are coming from a public school. This new experience was one to remember.

Fr. Vinhson celebrating the Mass and Deacon Martin assisting.

Fr. Vinhson celebrating the Mass and Deacon Martin assisting.

The incoming freshman and transfer students found out which house they will be a member of on the first day of classes and were able wear their house shirt on Friday to show their loyalty to their house members.

Frankie reading questions to his group.

Frankie reading questions to his group.

Sofia waving hi to the camera.

Sofia waving hi to the camera.

We will see the students next week as they experience their first full week, a late start Tuesday and our parents will have an opportunity to meet the teachers.

Sisters Isabella and Mia smile for the camera.

Sisters Isabella and Mia smile for the camera.

MEET OUR NEW FACULTY

Mr. Christopher Bain   Mr. Bain is our new Art teacher. Mr Bain earned a Masters in Fine Arts from Boston University. This will be his tenth year of teaching Visual Arts. In addition to teaching, he collaborates with Catholic TV and enjoys providing artwork for note cards. Mr. Bain, who is originally from Winchester, England, moved from Illinois to join our faculty. Mr. Bain will also be serving as the Assistant Coach for Boys Soccer.

Mr. Christopher Bain

Mr. Bain is our new Art teacher. Mr Bain earned a Masters in Fine Arts from Boston University. This will be his tenth year of teaching Visual Arts. In addition to teaching, he collaborates with Catholic TV and enjoys providing artwork for note cards. Mr. Bain, who is originally from Winchester, England, moved from Illinois to join our faculty. Mr. Bain will also be serving as the Assistant Coach for Boys Soccer.

Mr. Chad Gower   Mr. Gower moved from Payson, AZ to join our school faculty. He will be teaching History. Mr. Gower received the Gila County Teacher of the Year Nominee and 2 - Legendary Teacher Awards. Mr Gower taught for 12 Years at Payson High School. He holds a Masters of Education from NAU. In 2010, Mr. Gower participated in the RCIA program and became a full member of the Catholic Church. He is happy to be joining the St. John Paul II faculty and will be teaching Western Civ, US History and AP US History.

Mr. Chad Gower

Mr. Gower moved from Payson, AZ to join our school faculty. He will be teaching History. Mr. Gower received the Gila County Teacher of the Year Nominee and 2 - Legendary Teacher Awards. Mr Gower taught for 12 Years at Payson High School. He holds a Masters of Education from NAU. In 2010, Mr. Gower participated in the RCIA program and became a full member of the Catholic Church. He is happy to be joining the St. John Paul II faculty and will be teaching Western Civ, US History and AP US History.

Mrs. Sarah Hopkins   Mrs. Sarah Hopkins is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and a graduate of St. Mary’s Catholic High School. Mrs. Hopkins graduated from ASU with a Bachelor's in Secondary Education- History and recently completed a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction for the Gifted. Currently she is pursuing a second Masters in School Leadership. Mrs. Hopkins will be teaching Western Civilization, Dance 1, Social Dance, and ASP. She will also be the Assistant Cheer Coach.

Mrs. Sarah Hopkins

Mrs. Sarah Hopkins is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and a graduate of St. Mary’s Catholic High School. Mrs. Hopkins graduated from ASU with a Bachelor's in Secondary Education- History and recently completed a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction for the Gifted. Currently she is pursuing a second Masters in School Leadership. Mrs. Hopkins will be teaching Western Civilization, Dance 1, Social Dance, and ASP. She will also be the Assistant Cheer Coach.

Ms. Cristina Martin   Ms. Martin will be joining our science department as our Biology/Anatomy Teacher. Ms. Martin received a BS in Anthropology from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Education in Secondary Education from NAU. She has attended two World Youth Days, including the last one hosted by St. John Paul II in 2002. Ms. Martin has helped in various forms of youth ministry/service and social justice missions for over 15 years, including mission trips to Haiti and Mexico.

Ms. Cristina Martin

Ms. Martin will be joining our science department as our Biology/Anatomy Teacher. Ms. Martin received a BS in Anthropology from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Education in Secondary Education from NAU. She has attended two World Youth Days, including the last one hosted by St. John Paul II in 2002. Ms. Martin has helped in various forms of youth ministry/service and social justice missions for over 15 years, including mission trips to Haiti and Mexico.

Ms. Lucy McInerny   Ms. McInerny recently moved to Arizona to join the JPII faculty. She is a graduate of Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School and holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Walsh University in North Canton,Ohio. After holding a variety of intern positions in Washington, DC, Ms. McInerny spent a year working at St. Rita School in Alexandria, Virginia. Ms. McInerny will be teaching Speech, Digital Photography and Graphic Design.

Ms. Lucy McInerny

Ms. McInerny recently moved to Arizona to join the JPII faculty. She is a graduate of Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School and holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Walsh University in North Canton,Ohio. After holding a variety of intern positions in Washington, DC, Ms. McInerny spent a year working at St. Rita School in Alexandria, Virginia. Ms. McInerny will be teaching Speech, Digital Photography and Graphic Design.

Mrs. Laura Permenter   Mrs. Permenter will be joining Mrs. Medrano in Counseling. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Literature from Prescott College and a Master of Education in Counseling from the University of Phoenix. She brings 15 years experience in School Counseling and an additional 7 years of teaching. In addition to counseling and teaching, Mrs. Permenter has always enjoyed directing and assisting school theater and musicals.

Mrs. Laura Permenter

Mrs. Permenter will be joining Mrs. Medrano in Counseling. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Literature from Prescott College and a Master of Education in Counseling from the University of Phoenix. She brings 15 years experience in School Counseling and an additional 7 years of teaching. In addition to counseling and teaching, Mrs. Permenter has always enjoyed directing and assisting school theater and musicals.

Mrs. Flor Strazzulla   Mrs. Strazzulla recently moved from California and is the newest member of our Math Department. Mrs. Strazzulla earned her first degree in Chemical Engineer from UASLP, San Luis Potosi, México. As a Fulbright Scholar Mrs. Strazzulla earned a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering at Binghamton State University of New York. She enjoys volunteering in her community. Mrs. Strazzulla will be teaching Algebra II & Pre-Calculus at St. John Paul II.

Mrs. Flor Strazzulla

Mrs. Strazzulla recently moved from California and is the newest member of our Math Department. Mrs. Strazzulla earned her first degree in Chemical Engineer from UASLP, San Luis Potosi, México. As a Fulbright Scholar Mrs. Strazzulla earned a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering at Binghamton State University of New York. She enjoys volunteering in her community. Mrs. Strazzulla will be teaching Algebra II & Pre-Calculus at St. John Paul II.

Sister Maris Stella Vaughan, O.P.   Sister Maris Stella is a member of the Domincan Sisters of St. Cecilia. Like most Dominican Sisters, Sr. Maris Stella has had the pleasure of serving in a variety of schools. Her most recent assignment was at Mount De Sales Academy in Catonsville, Maryland. Sr. Maris Stella grew up in South Carolina and attended Franciscan University of Steubenville for one year before entering the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Aquinas College, Nashville, TN and a Master of Arts in Theology from Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Sr. Maris Stella will be teaching Religion and serving as a Department Chair at JPII.

Sister Maris Stella Vaughan, O.P.

Sister Maris Stella is a member of the Domincan Sisters of St. Cecilia. Like most Dominican Sisters, Sr. Maris Stella has had the pleasure of serving in a variety of schools. Her most recent assignment was at Mount De Sales Academy in Catonsville, Maryland. Sr. Maris Stella grew up in South Carolina and attended Franciscan University of Steubenville for one year before entering the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Aquinas College, Nashville, TN and a Master of Arts in Theology from Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Sr. Maris Stella will be teaching Religion and serving as a Department Chair at JPII.

Mrs. Jennifer Vilcan   Mrs. Vilcan is a graduate of Arizona State University, earning a degree in Chemistry. While at ASU, she served as the Presidet of Students for Life - A Pro-Life Group! Last year, Mrs. Vilcan was the head of the Chemistry Department and lead Science Safety Officer at Coronado High School. She was also a head coach of the varsity swim team. Mrs. Vilcan enjoys photography and her photography has been featured in the Voyage Phoenix Magazine. She will be teaching in both our Science and Math Departments this year.

Mrs. Jennifer Vilcan

Mrs. Vilcan is a graduate of Arizona State University, earning a degree in Chemistry. While at ASU, she served as the Presidet of Students for Life - A Pro-Life Group! Last year, Mrs. Vilcan was the head of the Chemistry Department and lead Science Safety Officer at Coronado High School. She was also a head coach of the varsity swim team. Mrs. Vilcan enjoys photography and her photography has been featured in the Voyage Phoenix Magazine. She will be teaching in both our Science and Math Departments this year.

Welcome to St. John Paul II Catholic High School!

Introducing our new Assistant Principal

Mr. Ross Helland

Mr. Ross Helland

Mr. Ross Helland did his undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona where he studied music education and saxophone performance. After a few years of teaching, he saw a desire to be a school leader. After completing his masters at Grand Canyon University, Mr. Helland started teaching at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, AZ. While there, he created the marching band program and became the Fine Arts Department Chairperson. He has extensive experience working with the Catholic Church as well. With 8 years in the classroom, He holds certifications in pK-12 Music and pK-12 Administration. Mr. Helland is married and recently adopted a son. He and his family enjoy attending mass, spending time together as a family, and going to Disneyland.

Mr. Helland will be a member of the House of Maximilian!

Introducing our new Chaplain

Fr. Vinhson Nguyen

Fr. Vinhson Nguyen

Fr. Vinhson Nguyen is the newest Chaplain of St. John Paul II Catholic High School. Fr. Vinhson grew up in Gilbert, AZ and was ordained a priest in June 2018. Fr. Vinhson studied Philosophy at the Pontifical College Josephinum and Theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Some of his hobbies are cooking, reading, and watching/playing sports.

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Fr. Vinhson will be a member of the House of Jose!

Discussing Ethics and Philosophy - Summer Enjoyment

July 25, 2019

By Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P.

When the newest members of our school’s faculty arrived for the first day of pre-service, they were not expecting to be learning about class schedules, room assignments or school uniforms.  Their first conversations focus on our school’ culture, the mission of Catholic schools and the special mission of St. John Paul II Catholic High School. The agenda for pre-service includes  the Philosophy of the Human Person, which is the backbone of our school’s curriculum.

Leading the discussions on the Philosophy of the Human person is Sister Terese Auer, O.P.  

Sister Terese and I are members of the same religious community and worked together for eight years at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School where Sr. Terese is a teacher and the chair of the Bioethics Department.  Our teachers will explore the following topics:

  • What is Truth?

  • The Dignity of the Human Person: From Love to Desire

  • The Rational Power of the Human Soul

  • The Nature of Human Love

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Since Sister Terese was in town for the meetings with the teachers, we invited students from the class of 2021 and 2022 to participate in seminars to discuss ethical issues that are prevalent in our society today.   After six weeks of summer vacation, our students were eager to turn on their brains and engage in discussing bioethical topics with Sr. Terese. JPII hosted two days of seminars earlier this week.  

On August 7, when our students return to school, some will be taking a new class at JPII:  Bioethical Issues.  Perhaps the students who attended this week’s seminar will have a head start!


A Dream Come True

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The sound of nuts and bolts being riveted into wood is like music to my ears.  The long-awaited library shelving arrived today and the order of our first 3,296 volumes is on its way.  It feels like Christmas in the library! And so it is . . .

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for what to my wondering eyes should appear

but a group of our students sitting right here--

here in the corner where cozy chairs sit

enjoying a story--unfold bit by bit.  

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And I turned in a flash to see what was the matter-- well, it happened a study group made a great clatter

with book bags and posterboard, markers, and such

they’re hoping this project will help their grade much.

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Then database research and articles printed,

to the reference section I practically sprinted

to help out some students who seemed to be stuck.  

But in fact here’s the book that they needed--what luck!  

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From Dickens to Charlemagne, Lincoln to Currie,

the students I know will be all in a hurry--

a hurry that is to return after break

and hit the new library--for goodness sake.  

And they will make true, what my “eyes” have foretold.  

It’s a story brand new and yet centuries old--

the story of knowledge and wonder so near

In a book, in a book, in a book . . .and they’re HERE!

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Beginning, Even Winning

A priest who came to say Mass at school last week sat in the chapel and half-whispered, "Imagine what it takes to begin a school!" It takes time and energy and vision and action steps and setbacks and it is the greatest adventure.

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Imagine what it takes to start a sports program! The fall teams experienced varying degrees of success: the football team never won but grew in numbers despite their losses; the spirit line developed all new cheers and routines; soccer won a game and tied another; volleyball went to the State playoffs; and in swimming the men's relay took home the State bronze medals. 

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Now the winter sports have begun. The first victory is being able to have the team. We have four teams for basketball: JV and Varsity Girls and Boys' teams, and a new spirit line to cheer them on. Three of the four teams have won games. Soon, the Lions will be able to play on a newly-installed gym floor. Home games will be our next victory!

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Imagine what it takes to begin. Imagine what it takes to win. We are doing both.

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The Mission

THE MISSION OF ST. JOHN PAUL II CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL IS TO PROVIDE AN EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT THAT PROMOTES A PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS CHRIST THROUGH PRAYER, STUDY, COMMUNITY, AND SERVICE AS DISCIPLES.

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Rooted in Christ, we learn and hand on what is Good, True, and One. At St. John Paul II Catholic High School, we have a distinctive purpose: to foster the gospel spirit of freedom and charity. We seek to relate all human culture to the news of salvation.

Who we are going to be:

· believers seeking daily encounters with Christ

· a family community through houses within the school

· staff and students formed in philosophy in the Ethics & Culture program

· teachers offering excellence in academics, meeting students’ needs and challenging them to grow

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Our graduates carry with them a clear understanding of their own identity. They are immortal beings, of incomparable worth. Their intellects seek and value objective truth and they make decisions based on truth, not merely on opinion. They think logically and speak clearly on the bioethical issues of the day. Their emotions resonate with love for whatever is good, true, and beautiful; they reject evil, deceit, and disorder. They exercise self-discipline learned through their studies, sports, and performances. Their hearts are compassionate because they have known the Options students and the members of their Houses. They understand their mission to be “good Christian and upright citizens with a joyful vision and hope of a better world,” as St. John Bosco said. They serve the needy, vote, and act for the common good. They defend the dignity of every human being in the fields of art, politics, science, and medicine. Above all, they practice and grow in their faith throughout their adult lives. In this way, they are agents of change, building up a culture of life.

House of the Month!

Congratulations to the House of Maximilian who won the first ever House of the Month award and is currently in first place in our house competitions.

They have persevered through our first house games, the dodge ball competition and quiz bowl.

House of Gianna and House of Kateri are tied for second with House of Lorenzo and House of Dominic trailing close behind.

House of Jose is on the rise as they tied for first place in the quiz bowl last week. We will see how the semester ends and prepare for the spring!

For now Go House of Max!

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Litany of Humility

by Cardinal Merry del Val

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours.  

From self-will, deliver me, O Lord.

From the desire of being esteemed,

From the desire of being loved,

From the desire of being extolled,

From the desire of being honored,

From the desire of being praised,

From the desire of being preferred to others,

From the desire of being consulted,

From the desire of being understood,

From the desire to be visited,

From the desire of being approved,

From the fear of being humiliated,

From the fear of being despised,

From the fear of suffering rebukes,

From the fear of being calumniated,

From the fear of being forgotten,

From the fear of being ridiculed,

From the fear of being suspected,

From the fear of being wronged,

From the fear of being abandoned,

From the fear of being refused,

That others may be loved more than I, Lord grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I,

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,

That others may be chosen and I set aside,

That others may be praised and I go unnoticed,

That others may be preferred to me in everything,

That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,

At being unknown and poor, Lord, I want to rejoice.

At being deprived of the natural perfections of body and mind,

When people do not think of me,

When they assign to me the meanest tasks,

When they do not even deign to make use of me,

When they never ask my opinion,

When they leave me at the lowest place,

When they never compliment me,

When they blame me in season and out of season,

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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Advent Preparation

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Advent is a time for preparation and for longing for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Preparing for the opening of St. John Paul II Catholic High School gave us a great longing for meeting our students and their families.

Waiting for the arrival of the chapel furnishings gave us a great longing for the day when the tabernacle will hold the Lord Jesus so that each of us can meet Him in the chapel whenever we wish. When the furnishings arrived, we swiftly brought them to the chapel and unwrapped them. Then we put them in place, dusted them, and dreamed of their use. Isn't that the point of Advent?

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We take the furnishings of our souls--prayer, works of mercy, and acts of charity--and bring them to the Lord, cleaning and arranging, and putting God first.

As the chapel began to look more and more beautiful, our joy overflowed in song. As our Advent makes our souls more and more beautiful, the joy of our salvation will come out in songs, hymns, family meetings, and praise. 

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Come, Lord Jesus; come and make us one family for the praise of Your glory this Advent.

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Are we supposed to be happy?

Most people I know want to be happy.  

Yesterday I began conversations with individual students by asking, “What makes you happy?” The answered varied but there were common themes.

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“My lunch” and “My mom’s cooking” landed in the hungry stomach category.  Both of these responses came during lunch. The lunchtime crowd offered a variety of food related happiness thoughts, sometimes speaking to me while chewing on a sandwich.  One boy conversed while flipping M&Ms up into the air and catching them in his mouth.

“My friends” and “Being able to come to the school” were two answers that told me that some teens have a hunger for relationships that matter.   

How would parents and adults answer the same question?  

Later in the evening Father Camou, Mr. Walker and I met with more than fifty volunteers who had come to St. John Paul II to learn about our service program and opportunities for volunteering.

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I want to make a difference in the community.

I can tutor in Math.  

I’m available to help with clerical tasks.

I’d like to help organize an event.

I can help with clean-up or set-up.  

Anything I can do to help will make me happy.

Happiness comes from giving or contributing.  When we contribute to our community or to others, we experience Christ.  We taste happiness that is better than lunch.

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Hungry for something more satisfying than the contents of your brown-bag lunch, consider volunteering at St. John Paul II Catholic High School.  

Wow, this is a lot of hard work!

How should we approach our high school studies?

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  • First, we have to do what's important, even if that's not what's urgent. 
  • Next, we have to face our challenges and begin some plan for tackling them.
  • Then, we turn to the things that we may enjoy more or that are urgent but not as important.
  • Finally, we have the time to enjoy the fun things.

Wisdom lies in knowing which is which.

When athletes take the field or court, they have done a lot of hard work to be ready to play. In the same way, students have to build up their mental muscles to be able to play in the game of academic excellence. The prize is knowledge, skills, competence, and compassion. But the only road to success, either in athletics or in academics, is the road of hard work.

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No one is proud of easy accomplishments. We are proud of going through great difficulties in achieving our goal.

Saint Paul gives the analogy of the runner, “All the runners in the stadium compete. But only one wins the crown of victory. In that case, run so as to win. Athletes deny themselves all sorts of things. They do this to win a crown that withers, but we a crown that endures forever.”

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Anyone can succeed in academics, with a lot of hard work. When something is hard to understand, then we just work harder to understand it. With mastery comes increased understanding, and the satisfaction of enduring to the end.

Enjoy the summer, but take advantage of the summer assignments and invitations to improve your skills. Mental strength is its own satisfaction.

The Saints are in the House!

Why We Chose these House Saints

The House System groups all the members of the school under six spectacular saints. We chose these saints because each of them, living in very different circumstances, shows how the Holy Spirit makes saints of everyone who receives the grace of Baptism and lives it fruitfully. Looking at their lives, we can learn from them creative ways to love God and our neighbor. Inspired by them, we hope to become saints ourselves.

The Six Patron Saints of the Houses

Six different nationalities, speaking more than six languages.

Five were not yet saints when John Paul II became Pope.

Four were virgins.

Three were martyrs.

Two were married.

One was already a saint when John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla.

St. Dominic de Guzman    Feast Day:  August 8   Nation:  Spanish, lived in France and Italy   Dates:  1170 – 1221   Age at Death:  51   Vocation:  Priest   Work:  Preacher of Rosary, Founder of Order of Preachers   “First”:  Dominican   Course Patron:  History   Quote:  “Fortiter, fratres! More boldly, my brothers!”   Lesson for Life:  Living always in God’s presence makes a person very joyful.

St. Dominic de Guzman

Feast Day: August 8

Nation: Spanish, lived in France and Italy

Dates: 1170 – 1221

Age at Death: 51

Vocation: Priest

Work: Preacher of Rosary, Founder of Order of Preachers

“First”: Dominican

Course Patron: History

Quote: “Fortiter, fratres! More boldly, my brothers!”

Lesson for Life: Living always in God’s presence makes a person very joyful.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz    Feast Day:  Sept 28   Nation:  Filipino, Oceania      Dates:  ca. 1600-1639   Age at death:  39            Vocation:  Husband   Work:  Calligrapher, Mariner, Catechist        “First”:  Filipino martyr             Course Patron:  Calligraphy; Physics   Quote:  “If I had a thousand lives, I would give them all for Jesus Christ.”       Lesson for Life:  He embraced death heroically because he had lived faithfully.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz

Feast Day: Sept 28

Nation: Filipino, Oceania   

Dates: ca. 1600-1639

Age at death: 39      

Vocation: Husband

Work: Calligrapher, Mariner, Catechist     

“First”: Filipino martyr       

Course Patron: Calligraphy; Physics

Quote: “If I had a thousand lives, I would give them all for Jesus Christ.”  

Lesson for Life: He embraced death heroically because he had lived faithfully.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha      Feast Day:  April 17 (Canada); July 14 (USA)   Nation:  Mohawk, North America      Dates:  1656-1680       Age at Death:  21           Vocation:  Virgin   Work:  Catechist   “First”:  Native American          Course Patron:  Environmental Science; American History       Quote:  “Who will tell me God’s will, so that I may do it?”     Lesson for Life:  Christ never disappoints. Christ satisfies every human longing.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha  

Feast Day: April 17 (Canada); July 14 (USA)

Nation: Mohawk, North America   

Dates: 1656-1680    

Age at Death: 21     

Vocation: Virgin

Work: Catechist

“First”: Native American    

Course Patron: Environmental Science; American History    

Quote: “Who will tell me God’s will, so that I may do it?”  

Lesson for Life: Christ never disappoints. Christ satisfies every human longing.

St. Jose Sanchez del Rio    Feast Day:  February 10   Nation:  Mexican; Central America   Dates:  1913-1928       Age at Death:  14           Vocation:  Christian teen   Work:  Altar server, Cristero   Course Patron:  Spanish             Quote:  “I will never give in. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!”          Lesson for Life:  Love of God is preferred over any other love: family, country, etc.

St. Jose Sanchez del Rio

Feast Day: February 10

Nation: Mexican; Central America

Dates: 1913-1928    

Age at Death: 14     

Vocation: Christian teen

Work: Altar server, Cristero

Course Patron: Spanish       

Quote: “I will never give in. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!”    

Lesson for Life: Love of God is preferred over any other love: family, country, etc.

St. Maximilian Kolbe     Feast Day:  August 14   Nation:  Polish; Eastern Europe   Dates:  1894-1941       Age at Death:  47           Vocation:  Priest   Work:  Founder of Militia of the Immaculata; Publisher   “First”:  Martyr of charity   Course Patron:  Ethics and Culture Seminar; Journalism; Digital Media      Quote:  “I am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place.”   Lesson for Life:  True manly strength came from his devotion to Mary Immaculate. Faith showed his enemies the dignity of the prisoners.

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Feast Day: August 14

Nation: Polish; Eastern Europe

Dates: 1894-1941    

Age at Death: 47     

Vocation: Priest

Work: Founder of Militia of the Immaculata; Publisher

“First”: Martyr of charity

Course Patron: Ethics and Culture Seminar; Journalism; Digital Media   

Quote: “I am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place.”

Lesson for Life: True manly strength came from his devotion to Mary Immaculate. Faith showed his enemies the dignity of the prisoners.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla            Feast Day:  April 28   Nation:  Italian; Western Europe           Dates:  1922-1962       Age at Death:  39           Vocation:  Wife; Mother of 4   Work:  Physician   Course Patron:  Science; Vocations; Bioethics             Quote:  “Whatever God wills.”              Lesson for Life:  Love conquers death.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla       

Feast Day: April 28

Nation: Italian; Western Europe     

Dates: 1922-1962    

Age at Death: 39     

Vocation: Wife; Mother of 4

Work: Physician

Course Patron: Science; Vocations; Bioethics       

Quote: “Whatever God wills.”        

Lesson for Life: Love conquers death.

One student asked, “How do we get put in Houses? I want to be in Joselito’s.” Of course he does. Why would he not? Every 14-year-old Mexican boy’s heart swells with holy pride hearing Jose’s defiant shout of faith and praise, “¡Que viva Cristo Rey!” But we don’t choose the saints; they choose us! As students, teachers and families spend time in their own Houses, they will discover many new connections with that saint.

Jesus said, “I came to ignite a fire; how I long to see it blazing!” The House Saints give us six ways to encounter Christ, the blazing Splendor of Truth.