Sokolis and O’Connor Receive Mary and Joseph Medals Featured Image.

Sokolis and O’Connor Receive Mary and Joseph Medals

The Mary and Joseph Medals are awarded to a senior girl and boy who exemplify the identity and values of Holy Family Catholic High School. These individuals demonstrate a strong, mature faith in Christ while actively participating in the life of the Church. They are knowledgeable of the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church, desire to live like Jesus in their love and service to others, and strive to grow spiritually and intellectually.

The Class of 2019 Mary and Joseph Medal recipients are Emily Sokolis and Brendan O’Connor. Following the commencement, Emily and Brendan shared their thoughts on their faith journey throughout high school.

Emily Sokolis, 2019 Mary Medal Recipient

Emily Sokolis, 2019 Mary Medal Recipient

Family: Rich, Shauna, and Nick ’16
Extracurricular activities/clubs: Hearts on Fire, Pro-life Club, Fencing for seven years, Latin Club
Parish: St. Joseph Catholic Community, Waconia
Middle School: St. Joseph C-STEM School, Waconia
College: St. Norbert College
Major: Environmental Science and Theology

Talk about your involvement in the church (volunteer work, lector/cantor/Eucharistic minister, etc): I volunteer in my church by being a cantor once a month, sometimes more and by being a Confirmation Catechist to the ninth-grade girls who are preparing for their second year of confirmation courses through the parish.

How has your faith developed during your years at HFCHS?
During my freshman and sophomore years, my faith life was almost nonexistent. Like many teenagers, I was not into my faith or the church at all until I attended a mission trip to Haiti through HF that turned my whole life around. By my senior year, I was fully committed to my faith journey and growing outside of my comfort zone to build a relationship with the Lord.

Who has influenced you and your faith?  How?
The person who has had the biggest impact and influence on my faith is Holy Family theology teacher Mr. Bosch.  He helped me turn a passion for service for others into a servitude for God.  Mr. Bosch was always there to answer all the questions I had along the way and gave me amazing advice or prayers to foster growth.

What role does your faith play in your life?
Everything. I believe having faith at the center of your life is a truly authentic way of living. I try to center every choice I make around my faith, and through that, God has opened and closed many doors, all to help me have a better life.

What do you find most rewarding about your faith?
The sense of overall peace and love in my life. No matter how bad I screw up or how stressed I get, I always have an understanding of the love and peace that the Lord showers upon me and each person every day. Also, knowing that earth is not our home and that an even more beautiful place is waiting for all of us in paradise is amazing.

How did you make the most of your years at HFCHS?
I made the most of my four years by being involved in all the opportunities that HFCHS had provided me.  Opportunities such as clubs that foster spiritual and service growth, international history and exchange trips, and mission trips.  Also, by being apart of campus ministry and taking as many classes that can fit into one day (maybe some independent classes on the side)  I was able to take full advantage of my academic career.


Brendan O’Connor, 2019 Joseph Medal Recipient

Joseph Medal 2019 Brendan O' Connor
Brendan O’Connor, 2019 Joseph Medal Recipient

Family: Kathy, and Dan, Molly ’22, and Quinn (Freshman at UST
Extracurricular activities/clubs: Football, Basketball, Environment Club, Honor Society
Parish: St. Hubert Catholic Community, Chanhassen
Middle School: St. Hubert Catholic School, Chanhassen
College: University of Iowa
Major: Online Marketing/Communications/Journalism

What does it mean to you to lead in a Christian way?
To me, this means leading in a respectable way. A Christian leader does not act for the benefit of themselves but, rather, for the benefit of others. You must understand that the decisions you make while leading in a Christian way might not be the most popular or well-liked, but they are the ones that you must stand firm in.

How has your faith developed/changed in your years at HFCHS?
My faith has absolutely strengthened in my years at Holy Family. First, Holy Family has educated me on many aspects of the Church that I did not understand prior to taking the class. My knowledge on the background and foundation of the Church is so much stronger now, which in turn has strengthened my own individual faith. My faith as a community has grown as well. I have become more aware of the idea that faith is not solely individualistic, but rather personal and communal. I learned that faith has a lot to do with the community as well when I realized that my faith was growing stronger because of those around me. The individuals around me that helped strengthen this faith were teammates on sports teams, and peers in class.

Who has influenced you and your faith? How?
My grandparents have influenced me and my faith by being strong role models. They not only attended mass regularly, but they also participated in mass through their singing and responses. They were also great examples in how to respect the sacraments and to always participate in them when possible. However, their greatest influence on my faith came not when they were full of life, but rather near death.

In my Grandpa’s last moments of life he wanted to be doing one thing, praying surrounded by family. He showed me that even in a time where he was in great discomfort, and I’m sure very scared, he could turn to his faith to comfort him because he had such a strong foundation. This exposed me to the power that one’s faith can have. After my Grandparents passed, I learned about how active they were in the church. At the funerals of my grandparents people would come up to me and tell me the impact my Grandparents had on him or her because of their volunteer work in the Church. I realized how many lives they touched because of their strong faith. This is what motivated me to strive for a faith like theirs: one in which I can lean on, and one in which I can affect others.

What do you find most rewarding about your faith?
My faith has rewarded me with the two “C’s”: calm and comfort. No matter the situation, I find these because of the strong foundation of faith I have to lean on.  Even if I am outside my comfort zone, scared or nervous, I find comfort in my faith. I never feel entirely alone.

How did you make the most of your years at HFCHS?
I listened and observed those around me. We can learn so much from simply being in the presence of some individuals at Holy Family. So, how did I make the most of my four years? I just used my resources well. As a student, I kept my eyes and ears open as I acted like a sponge, always ready to soak in new information. I then developed relationships with these people, so that I was more comfortable with them, and I could learn even more. Thank you to all those around me that made it easy to make the most of my four years at Holy Family.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share in regard to the medal or your years at Holy Family?
I don’t know who to thank for this award, but thank you to everyone who made high school four years to remember, and helped me become the individual I am proud to be today (with the understanding that I can always grow and improve)! The faculty and staff at Holy Family are unparalleled and will always hold a special place in my heart.