Jan 01

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.

Jan 01

Guatemala Mission Trip Blog


Our Mission Trip Travel Blog

Holly writing in her journal during daily devotional time. A previous Holy Family group helped lay the foundation for the church.

Follow our Guatemala journey as we spend time visiting this beautiful country and providing service at NPH Guatemala.

Background: Since 2010 Holy Family educators Melissa and Nick Livermore have led 5 trips to NPH Guatemala. Our students and chaperones provide service as well as experience the Guatemalan culture first hand—a great opportunity for students to practice their Spanish. 

In April 2019, The Livermores received the “Leaving a Legacy Award” from NPH USA, the organization Holy Family service trips volunteer with in Guatemala. Click on this link to read Chanhassen Villager writer Unsie Zuege’s article highlighting their leadership and Holy Family’s service trips.

Our students and adult chaperones will write regular posts on this blog for their parents, friends, and neighbors. (Newest post are on top, so scroll the bottom to see the start of their trip.) May God bless them and those they serve during their mission trip.

Guatemala Mission Trip 2019

Monday, July 29

Historical Tours

What is going on everybody? It is Will and Brendan back at it again with the blog. Today we woke up at 7:15am and went next door to have breakfast. All of the boys had the chocolate crepe except for Bishop, because it had nuts. Then we proceeded to go back to the room and get ready for our last full day. After getting ready, we left and went out into the beautiful city of Antigua.

Our first stop was the Iglesia La Merced. Here we met up with our tour guides from DIGNA. This organization gives people with special needs the opportunity to be tour guides. The tour took us through the city to see some of the historic sights. After we finished the tour, we went a couple of blocks to the local McDonalds. Will destroyed ten chicken nuggets while the rest of the lads took down double-cheeseburgers. After eating, we got the chance to take a picture with THE Ronald McDonald. Then we went shopping in the markets for about 3 hours. There was a lot of bargaining going on and also lots of horrible deals and good ones too.

After shopping, we came back to the hotel and all of us played a card game. While we were playing, David (NPH staff) surprised us and came to dinner with us. For dinner, the boys and David absolutely feasted on 3 pounds of meat, two baskets of fries, potato salad, green beans, and corn. Also, during the meal, our boy Alexis (NPH) showed up as well to eat with us. However, sadly we learned that Moy (NPH) couldn’t make it.

After feasting, the group returned to the hotel and we did our nightly devotions. However, this time was especially special because we had a birthday in the house. One of our incoming college freshmen, Brielle, celebrated her 18th birthday in Guatemala. We had chocolate cake and just had a blast all around. This week was one of the best weeks of our lives and we definitely want to come back.

Shoutout to my family, Mom, Dad, Sophia, and Jaycub. I’m sad to leave Guatemala but I’m very excited to see you guys and the mango. I would like to shout out to my family as well. Mom, Dad, Jamo, Hank and Marc. I miss you all and can’t wait to see you all.

Alright smash that like button.

Peace out guys,
Will and Brendan

Sunday, July 28

Waiting for the coffee tour to begin.

Hey all, it’s Gavin and Bishop again today with another blog post. Today was, unfortunately, our very last day at the NPH Orphanage. We began our goodbye with the classic bean “soup” and a fried egg for breakfast. Some of us were totally sick of the beans at this point but not us. We just decided to plug the noses and get to it. After the difficult breakfast, we joined the pequenos for a morning mass in the amazing chapel. The priest was actually there this time instead of the deacon that stepped in on Friday. It was really cool to sit around the rest of the pequenos and enjoy a quality homily.

After Mass, we ended up saying some pretty early goodbyes. The Italians were also leaving at the same time so a lot of the pequenos were already giving their farewells. By far the most difficult part of the trip was to watch some of the best kids we had ever met leave. Sure, saying goodbyes in another language are pretty difficult but it was much harder processing the idea that we could never see them again. None of us really ever expected this day to come so fast. We thought we had so much more time to spend with the pequenos.

After the goodbyes, we all went through our casas and checked to make sure we had everything and made the house look better than it was in the first place. It was even hard to say goodbye to the house that we had been playing late night games of Pounce and King in the Corner. After we finally gathered the courage to leave the houses, we both sat in the park and hoped for a couple more goodbyes from the pequenos. To our surprise, we found three girls that we had bonded with and we got one last goodbye with them.

When the bus arrived and Moy had received his suitcase of goods, we finally left one of the best places. It was hard but having a group this strong and bonded, we all were there for each other. Once in Antigua we stopped at the hotel. It has got to be one of the coolest hotels any of us have ever stayed in. There is a garden/patio inside the lobby, and above the third floor, there is a terrace/roof that gives an outstanding view of Antigua and the surrounding mountains.

Once we settled into our tiny but cozy rooms we were on the move again to the Finca Filadelfia coffee plantation. We learned tons about how coffee is made here in Guatemala. The overall process was super informational, and we enjoyed a delicious cup of coffee at the end of the tour. After that we got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

We had a couple of hours to relax, but we ended up leaving for dinner early because we were so hungry from going without lunch. We walked a couple of blocks through the open market and got to the restaurant. It was kind of like the hotel, with lots of inside plants and open windows. The dinner started with drinks, bean soup, and tortillas. Then we had the main course of steak, fried plantains, rice, refried beans, and guacamole. The food was fantastic, and we were treated to a traditional Guatemalan dance by some masked performers and a band. They even let us dance with them, even though we all had no idea what we were doing.

After dancing we were served coffee, and then we walked back to the hotel. We had devos on the second floor as we listened to the Guatemalan nightlife. Finally, after another long but fun-filled day, we hit the hay. Peace out for now: Bishop and Gavin

Hi Mom, Dad, Gracie, and Jack. It’s your crippled son (classic). Mom, the ankle is a real bummer, but I’ve really tried to make the best of it and haven’t given up on the rest of the trip. I traveled with the group everywhere whether it was on my crutches or me finally feeling comfortable enough to walk with only the brace on. I’ll be back to normal soon. Gracie, no offense, but the way you described the Guatemalan experience was nowhere close to what it is. It was so much better. Jack, I really hope you’re staying away from trouble while I’m gone. Dad, you’d love this place. It’s not a super busy country but still something that would constantly keep you busy. I can’t wait to see you all again and see Maisy!

Yo, what it do fam, it’s Bishop. As much as I love it here, I can’t wait to come home and see all of you guys! I have many stories to tell you, and I’m eager to hear what has been happening at home while I was gone. Gav is telling me wrap it up cuz he wants to go to bed, so I’ll sign off for now. See you in a couple of days! Love Bish (also shoutout miko cuz I miss him).

Saturday, July 27

At the mini carnival

What it do familias? It’s your favs, Lauren and Chelsea, back at it again. We started the morning off with breakfast which was beans and a homemade bread roll (we were a little “beaned” out so most of us just got bread). After breakfast, we hopped on the bus with some of the kids to go across town to the high school girls house.  We had a mini carnival and split up into groups and went to different stations. One of the stations had water balloons. We played a number game and also had to tie a string to our foot and try and eat a donut that was dangling from a line with one foot of ours in the air. Gavin sprained his ankle because he fell into a hole when we played four square ☹.  Lunch was hotdogs, chips, cake, and pop. It was fun.

At about 1pm,  we loaded back up and went back to our casa at NPH. We had a lot of free time when we got back so we cleaned up and packed some of our stuff to get ready to leave tomorrow (we are all very sad to leave).

For dinner the Italians made pizza and we brought ice cream and pop to share with everyone. The pizza was AMAZING (Lauren ate 6 pieces) and we all sat together outside in the park with a bonfire until dark. We finished up the day with our devotions on the basketball court and looked at the stars and listened to music. All in all it was a great way to wrap up our last day. Saying our goodbyes tomorrow will be very hard but we hope to come back and visit again one day. We are excited for Antigua tomorrow and our last few days in Guat so adios we will see you soon!!

NOTES TO HOME:I miss you very much mom, dad, aaaaaaaand of course syd. MOM I woke up from my nap having a panic attack and remembered that I forgot to remind you to feed my fish. It might be too late, and Fill might be dead but if he is somehow still alive give him a lot of food as an apology. I forgot to put sunscreen on today and am very burnt. Mom you would love it here, the mountains are like when we are in Arizona but 10 times prettier. It’s such a beautiful country and I also understand why auntie Kellie almost brought a kid home every time she came here. I love and miss you all very much and can’t wait to see you soon! – Lauren

Friday, July 26

Zach watches on as Holly jumps in with David and Caitlin.

WhAt iS uP EvErYbOdY! It’s your two favorite bloggers here tonight, Holly and Caitlin. We started the morning off with some amazing rock n’ roll music courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Livermore (several loud knocks on the door also followed). We slowly made our way to mass, which was held at the church in the orphanage. This was a really cool experience for us because the mass was entirely in Spanish.

After Mass, we made our way to our work project for the day. The workers actually gave Holly a machete (Holly did not fall with it; everyone was warned to keep a close eye on her). We started to machete, and shortly after this Zach and Will somehow managed to find a snake. Of course, every boy on the property ran to attempt to kill the snake (they literally came from everywhere in a matter of 5 seconds). The snake was never located, therefore we were done macheting for the day!

After this, we had lunch and prepared our skit for the afternoon. Our skit was Jesus Loves the Little Children, and we performed it for the girls at the orphanage (Holly needs to work on her Spanish and Caitlin needs to improve her acting skills). We spent about two hours with the girls coloring, playing games, and jump roping. Holly got seriously involved in a jump rope competition (and once again didn’t hurt herself, Caitlin was watching close).

For dinner, we had potatoes, carrots, and tortillas (a rare treat for Guatemala, and no rice and beans!!). We ate with the kids outside, and Holly got attacked by fire ants (no surprise there, Caitlin did not come to the rescue). We then played an intense game of volleyball, accompanied by Holly messing up the game point.

The rest of our night was spent playing games with the pequenos and the Italians who are also staying at NPH (Europe has some cool games). Caitlin was pelted with a ball by a little boy, and shortly before that she was bit by another. She is still alive, updates to come. We ended the night in the chapel. Things got a little teary, but that’s how we do it in Guatemala. All jokes aside, this trip has been one of the best experiences either of us could’ve had. We can’t wait for our last day at NPH tomorrow and our two nights in Antigua! Adios!

Mom, I really miss you a lot, you would love it here (sutupahutsu Quan) (make sure my mom reads this Michele, I’m counting on you). Dad and JoJo, I miss you and I can’t wait to see you when I get back. Noelle and Charlie, miss you more than anything, I’ll see you guys soon!! Also shoutout to E and B, I miss my puppies the most (and I guess shoutout to Luke). Love you all! -Holly

What is up mom, I miss you so much and Holly and I are banking on you to be at that gate with cokes and our phones in hand, you would love it here so much I can not even describe it. I can’t wait to eat some sour cream noodle bake when I get home.

Dad, what is up pops I miss you a lot even though I am in my room a lot, I can’t wait to go get some crunch cones when I get home ily.

Tyler, what is up homie I hope you have enjoyed your time as an only child because trust me I know it’s not fun, I hope you haven’t had too much dq without me.

Casey sup loser, I hope you’re having so much fun working, can’t wait to see you whenever you come home from Colorado ily.

You guys are pretty cool- sissy

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The group at Lake Atitlan.

Hey guys what is going on? It’s Celia and Ashley. Today started bright and early (at least for the girls). We woke up around 6 am, ate breakfast and headed to the bus to start our journey to Lake Atitlan. It was around a 2-hour bus ride. Some slept, some played games, some sang, and some stared out the window.

When we arrived, we saw a beautiful view of the lake and the city then took a boat to our first spot, San Juan. We started by watching the women of the city show us the weaving process. We got to feel the different materials and watch one dye the string. It takes around 3 months for them just to make one blanket. Next, we heard from a native painter about his bird and ant eye view paintings. Then we went to the plant place. We felt and smelt rosemary, basil, sage, and others. We learned about their healing powers as well. Here we also met our new dog friend whom Chelsea named, Skaberchlynn. (Berchy). From here on out he followed us everywhere and was like our tour guide.

Church in San Juan.

We walked up to the top of a hill (it was quite the hike) to visit a church next to a Lasallian school. Next, we stopped at a coffee shop for lunch and a drink. Our final stop in this town was the chocolate shop. We got to taste the chocolate-making process starting from the most bitter and ending in the sweetest.

Then we hopped on another boat and went to the next town, Santiago. It was the feast day of their patron saint so there were big crowds and a fiesta. We walked stressfully through the very crowed and cramped marketplace. Then we made it to the church where we learned more about Saint James. We also learned about a priest that was killed there and recently became a saint.

Next, we took a little time to shop in the marketplace. We bargained with the salespeople and got Guatemalan goods for cheap prices. Staying hydrated was important, so we stopped again for a drink before getting back on the boat that would take us to our bus.

We got on the bus and headed back to NPH. We made a pitstop for the bathroom and some skittles (which really hit the spot). The place also had a playground with trampolines so that was a very fun time. We made it back to NPH and had a gourmet dinner of Instant Ramen. It was an adventure-filled day and we are excited to spend tomorrow with the kids.


Celia and Ashley

Shoutout Mom, Dad (sorry I’m not as good of a blogger as you), Riney and Gracie. Also please tell Molly I miss her.


¡¡Hola mi familia y mis amigos!! This week has been a great experience and so much fun! I miss you all and hanging out with our new dog friend made me miss Nali the most? Love you lots


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Chelsea, Brielle, Celia, Anna, Brendan, Bishop, and Gavin clearing the field.

Hola amigos y familias,

Brielle and Anna here to update you on our Guatemalan adventures. Today started off with Mr. Livermore’s wake up songs (Elmo, Barney, etc.) and our first breakfast of beans which took many of us by surprise compared to the pancakes we have been eating. After breakfast, we went to our work projects and split up into three groups. Some of us raked in the greenhouse, some worked in the kitchen, and others macheted for the third day in a row. Overall everything went smoothly, except for a brief moment of TERROR due to the fact that Gavin lost his grip on the machete (everyone is ok?) (seriously the Livermores want us to clarify that it was not a big deal…don’t worry moms).

After our work projects, we all had a much-needed shower and headed to the café to get some frappes and smoothies. We then ate beats and rice with the pequenos. During our second short break, we started a very intense game of four square. After four square, we had a panel with some of the NPH volunteers and some former pequenos currently working at the home.

It was very interesting to hear their stories and experiences (two of them were from Minnesota!). After that, the boys got crushed in a game of basketball while the girls blew bubbles with the kids and started a large volleyball game. Brielle and Anna’s team won…but you already knew that. After volleyball, we got our plates, went to dinner, went back to get Brielle’s plates (ugh), and ate dinner in the girl’s dorm with the pequenos. Next, we performed the fourth skit of the week for the children and decorated animal masks with the girls. We ended up staying for a few hours and having a giant dance party, which was almost everyone’s favorite part of the day. Overall, today was a very good day at NPH, and we can’t wait to wake up at 5:30 am☹ tomorrow for a jam-packed day at Lake Atitlan (no machete manana:)!


Your favorite Holy Family Alumni Brielle Bornhorst and Anna Galioto

Shoutout to mi famiglia Mom, Dad, Katie, John, and Tuck (who is now ten years old…happy late birthday puperino!!) Hope you aren’t having to much fun without me;)

Also, shoutout to the Killer B’s. Love you guys and I hope you guys don’t miss me too much. Tell Bobo I say that he is a good boy. I am having a great time and I haven’t gotten too burnt yet (fingers crossed). Love, Brielle (your soon to be eighteen-year-old daughter ?)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Brendan, Bishop, Zach, Gavin, and Will perform the Prodigal Son.

It’s Chelsea, Lauren, and Zach. Today we woke up mad early and ate pancakes. It was really good, sugary and cold. It came with strawberry milk that tasted very good. The water was out this morning so we had to wait to wash our dishes. Later on, the girls helped clean out the shed. There were A BUNCH of spiders and the workers kept trying to scare us (jokingly though). The boys helped moved rock in a wheel barrel for a new sidewalk and others helped picked weeds. We also found some avocados and Zach chopped it open with a machete and ate it like a champ (it wasn’t ripe). Lauren found a DEAD rat, named it Miguel and took pictures with it (she had gloves on though).

After a quick rest and washing off, we headed to lunch with the pequenos. Today’s VBS was about the Prodigal Son and the boys knocked it out of the park.  Afterward, we played soccer with the section. We played A LOT of soccer (lost every time) and learned a bunch of games from the pequenos. They taught us a hand game called “chocolate” and took pictures of us. Earlier in the day we went to the café and tried their smoothies and Frappuccinos. We’re going to have to end this now because the three of us are running on one brain cell and we need to shower after our long day so next time we will give you a longer blog.

Monday, July 22, 2019 

It’s the lads Bishop, Brendan, and Will. Today was our first full day in NPH Parramos, and Will had the impossible task of waking us all up. When he finally got us all out of bed, we went to the main casa to do devotions. We all spread out amongst the casas and had some private journaling time.

Anna, Brielle, Celia, and Chelsea at the welcome breakfast of pancakes in the Cafe.

Then we went to the bakery at NPH and they made us breakfast. It was pancakes and they were the most fire ‘cakes (AKA best pancakes) we’ve had in quite some time. After eating our delicious breakfast, the directors from NPH presented some information about the home to us. They showed us a video about the history and mission of the program. It was very interesting to learn about the history and why the tios and tias (house parents) do what they do.

After gaining basic knowledge of the home, Alexis gave us a tour of the whole campus. He showed us the main buildings, houses, clinics, and classrooms that the kids use daily. After that we grabbed our work gloves and headed over to the worksite. As soon as we got there, we knew it was going to be a grind (AKA difficult). Our job was to pull weeds in one of the greenhouses, as well as use machetes (Zach loved it) to chop the taller weeds outside. We worked for about 2 hours and surprisingly avoided getting bitten by the hundreds of spiders that were crawling around.

Once we had finished working, we headed back to our casa to play some President. Will choked super hard in last round and finished at the bottom, despite having an insane hand. Then we trekked our way to the lunchroom. They were serving spaghetti with red sauce, an unknown protein, and tortillas. Bishop and Brendan had a solid conversation with a man named Antonio who turned out to be a former pequeno at NPH and was there to practice marimba with the NPH band. He informed us that some members in the band would be traveling to Holy Family in October to perform for the school (Ms. Boillat’s love it), as well as observe the Minnesota way of life. After lunch, we played soccer and frisbee with the kids and we met a baller named Errison. The kids really enjoy it when we interact with them.

Then, we went over to one of the classrooms and listened to a marimba band play some of their excellent music. After that, we ventured over to the special needs house and performed a skit. We also colored with them and danced, and one of the special needs girls really loved dancing with Bishop.

After, we went to the main park area and played some four-square with David and Moses (they are the staff). Four-square was the most intense competition of our day. Master Livermore and King David controlled the king spot for most of the game. However, little did they know that Bishop and Gavin were four-square pros. Immediately after, we went to dinner and had rice, tortillas, liquified beans, and horchata to drink. During this meal, the lads had a solid conversation with some of the teens with about soccer and life in general. Following dinner, we went to casa 1 and created costumes and rehearsed for another skit.

Noah’s Ark performance

We then performed it in front of some of the pequenos as well as the Italian volunteers that are here. Then we played a competitive game of kickball under the lights on the soccer field. And then we came back to the main casa and did nightly prayer and devotions. Shoutout to Mom (Angela), Dad, (Rusty/Richard) Sophie, and Jacob. I miss you guys already and I can’t wait to see you and our little boy. Also, shoutout to my mom (Angie), dad (Jeremy), Jamo, Marc, and Katrin. I miss you all so much and really wish I could be there with you guys. Shoutout Mom, Dad, Sawyer (Insert dap and chest bump), Keyan (insert dance), Maielle (insert dope handshake and candy-on-a-stick), and last but not least Miko! (roof roof). Also, because Anna G told us to, we wish a happy birthday to the legend, Tucker the dog.

Adios y’all the lads are signing off,

Bishop, Will, Brendan

Sunday, July 21, 2019 – We’re leaving on a jet plane

After months of preparation, the day has finally arrived! It was an early start (3 a.m.), but everyone made it on time. As always, Delta made our group check-in quick and smooth. The security checkpoint opened up just as we were finishing up and we were one of the first in line. Minneapolis to Atlanta to Guatemala City.

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2019 Participants at MSP Airport

Hey all, it’s Zach B and Gavin L with the first blog coming from Guatemala.

Today was a very early morning for us all.  Waking up at the crack of dawn was a rude awakening for everyone. Fortunately, we had a two-hour plane ride to Atlanta and a three-hour flight to Guatemala to sleep and catch up. When we finally arrived in Guatemala City, we were all amazed by how cool the landscape and city we drove through were. We passed by multiple fried chicken places along the way including KFC and a Burger King. We also witnessed multiple corn fields and other farms. After the hour bus ride to the NPH orphanage, we unpacked all of our belongings and settled down in our casas. The boys made sure to unpack our snacks which ultimately created an abundant cupboard.

After we settled in, Mr. and Mrs. Livermore took us on a short tour of the orphanage. Meeting interesting characters like Jose was a pleasant surprise. We played frisbee with many of the children up until dinner time. The children loved the frisbee and begged us to stay and play with them. Then we headed to dinner and experienced our first Guatemalan meal. We had black beans, tortillas, plantains, a special sour cream, and hot cup of flavored tea. We all sat down with the children and began to socialize. It was really fun to put our Spanish skills to the test (thanks Hache and Mr. O). We talked about a variety of things from soccer teams and players to movies.

After we finished dinner, some of the other volunteers from Italy asked if we wanted to join them in a pickup game of soccer. This was very fun because there were so many skilled players on the field and it was very hard to keep up with them all. We made many companionships through the game but also may have caused a little rivalry between us and the Guatemalans. After the Guatemalans left to go to sleep, we joined the Italians under the lights to play some basketball and more soccer. Finally, when it got too dark out to see the ball, we all headed back to the girl’s casa and did our ups and downs for the day. Our gathering ended with a group prayer and a layout of what tomorrow would look like. Then everyone finally got to what they wanted all day long: a good night’s sleep.

 Signing off,
Gavin and Zach

Thursday, July 18, 2019 – Packing and Praying Together

Sanding boat kits for VBS.

Parents and students came together to prepare for the trip. After enjoying a delicious potluck dinner and prayer, the group divided up. Mr. Livermore gave last-minute information and pointers to parents. Mrs. Livermore and the students prepped for Vacation Bible School. They made sure their skits were ready, all supplies were purchased, and sanded boat kits made by Mr. Livermore. Donations, including many t-shirts from Holy Family’s football program, were distributed for packing. We are ready to go!

Jan 01

Carlton and Phillips named Ambassadors of Christ


Holy Family Catholic High School proudly announces Chris Carlton as a 2019 Ambassador of Christ Award co-recipient. Chris is the son of Mary and the late Roy Carlton of Chanhassen. He attended middle school at St. Hubert  Catholic School in Chanhassen. This award is chosen by votes from classmates, faculty, and staff and awarded to a senior who consistently act in a dignified manner, and, by doing so, influence others to strive for goodness and holiness. This year the voting for the Ambassador of Christ was tied and Chris was the co-recipient with Allie Phillips.

Chris graduated Suma Cum Laude with honors from Holy Family Catholic High School on Wednesday, May 22. He leaves high school with a very full resume of involvement in school activities. He played tennis for four years and was a varsity captain his senior year. He served on the school’s student council for four years, finishing his term as an executive board member and the public relations external officer. He is a four year member of the Honor Society, Health Club, Eco-Freako Club, Lasallian Youth Club, the Knowledge Bowl Team, and Youth in Government, where he was invited to represent the State of Minnesota’s Delegation at the National Judicial Competition. As an underclassman, he also dipped his toes in football, lacrosse, and the Equality Club.  Outside of school he has volunteered with Feed My Starving Children, Furnishare at Love Inc., the American Red Cross, The Langdon, and Summerwood Senior Living Community.

Chris Carlton
Chris walks up to receive his award.

Next fall, Chris will attend the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where he plans to major in finance and physics. We caught up to Chris after graduation to learn more about his faith journey.

What role does your faith play in your life?

My faith leads my action. I have been absorbing Catholic values my whole life, thanks to my wonderful mother, and I keep them close to my heart so I may affect others positively. Additionally, my faith serves as a valuable foundation to lean on when I struggle.

How has your faith developed/changed in your years at HFCHS?

My faith has blossomed during my high school years, in part, due to my excellent teachers at Holy Family. Theology, Social Studies, and English classes at Holy Family have proven invaluable due to the free exchange of ideas which have strengthened my faith.

Who has influenced you and your faith?  How?

My mother has been my primary faith teacher throughout my life, with great support from my uncle C.J. Schoenwetter and aunt Robin Schoenwetter. By taking me to mass, teaching wisdom from the Bible, and emailing me on contemporary Catholic issues, my family builds my faith life. I could not discuss my faith, however, without my theology teachers Mr. Bosch, Mrs. Bosch, and Mr. Schlepp, all of whom have been instrumental in my faith formation.

What do you find most rewarding about your faith?

The results of manifesting the Catholic faith in the world: mostly, smiles.

 What are your feelings about receiving the Ambassador of Christ Award?

I feel very blessed to have so many people in my life to model my actions after. Even though I have grown up without my father, I have found many role models in the St. Hubert and Holy Family community, many of whom are reading this right now. Parents, teachers, coaches, and friends: thank you!

 Favorite HFCHS memory:

There are too many to choose from, but I’ll try to narrow it down: Haiti, tennis, football, knowledge bowl, each and every learning moment with my teachers, lunch table discussions, convocation, and the time I have cherished with Holy Family’s Class of 2019.

 How did you make the most of your years at HFCHS?

As an underclassman, I did my best to give everything a shot. Then, I focused on what I was passionate about. Open-mindedness has gifted me new joys, new beliefs, and new experiences which I otherwise would not have had the pleasure of knowing.

 Other comments:

Best of luck to all of my friends graduating this year and thank you to the parents, teachers, faculty, and staff who have supported us along the way! Go Fire!

Jan 01

Chaplain Appointed to Holy Family


Archbishop Hebda appoints chaplain to Holy Family

Holy Family Catholic High School is excited to announce Archbishop Hebda’s appointment of Fr. Nels Gjengdahl as Holy Family Catholic High School’s full-time chaplain beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. Fr. Gjengdahl is the current pastor of Nativity of Mary Catholic Church in Bloomington, MN, and has previously served as the school chaplain at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights. This appointment comes in response to a formal request submitted  by Holy Family in March 2018.

Fr. Nels Gjengdahl
Fr. Nels Gjengdahl

Fr. Gjengdahl grew up in North St. Paul, MN, graduating from North St. Paul High School in 1999.  He then attended North Dakota State University to study engineering.  While he has been a lifelong Catholic, it was at college where his faith came alive. After two years of studying engineering, Fr. Gjengdahl entered Cardinal Muench Seminary in Fargo, ND, and graduated with a degree in Philosophy in May of 2003. In the fall, he entered the St. Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas. He was ordained a priest in 2007 and was appointed parochial vicar at St. Odilia in Shoreview, MN.

Following St. Odilia, Fr. Gjengdahl was assigned as parochial vicar of St. John Neumann in Eagan as well as part-time chaplain at Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights.  After one year, his chaplain assignment became full-time. This change allowed him to be both a full-time teacher and a sacramental minister for the school.  He taught several subjects including morality, sacraments, Church history, world religions and Catholic social teaching and even coached ultimate frisbee. After a seven-year term as school chaplain, he was assigned as pastor to Nativity of Mary Catholic Church in Bloomington, MN in 2017.

Beginning July 1, Fr. Gjengdahl will transition from his position at Nativity of Mary Catholic Church to providing the Holy Family community with full-time sacramental leadership and spiritual guidance. He will teach within theology department, support ongoing campus ministry efforts, and enhance formation opportunities for our students and their families.

When announcing the move to his congregation, Fr. Gjengdahl shared these thoughts, “I am very grateful to Archbishop Hebda and to Holy Family Catholic High School for this opportunity. I have enjoyed serving as a high school chaplain in the past and look forward to returning to this ministry.  It is a rare opportunity to engage high school students in our Catholic faith on a daily basis, and it is a precious gift that I take seriously. I am excited to share Jesus Christ with the community at Holy Family through the sacraments, and in the entire life of the school.”

When asked what the addition of a full-time chaplain to the Holy Family staff means for the school, President Brennan responded, “As a school, we are blessed to have wonderful relationships with our local priests and are incredibly grateful for their time and leadership over the past 20 years.”  He added, “However, the addition of Fr. Nels to our community, our theology department, and campus ministry programs creates opportunities for daily sacraments and allows us to more deeply live out our Catholic mission. I am grateful for the wisdom, open hearts, and leadership of Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens in providing a shepherd for our school with an extensive background in secondary Catholic education.”

Jan 01

Relic Visits Holy Family


Holy Family Catholic High School Receives Saint Relic

In recognition of the 300th anniversary of the April 7 Good Friday passing of St. John Baptist de La Salle, a relic of the saint is traveling for display and veneration throughout the Christian Brothers Midwest District. St. John Baptist de La Salle is a patron saint of teachers and all those who work in education. 

The reliquary will be on display through Friday, April 26.

Holy Family Catholic High School is the first high school in Minnesota to receive the transfer of the relic for display.  Holy Family President Mike Brennan, Principal Kathie Brown, Lasallian animator Doug Bosch, and Brendan O’Connor received the relic from Brother Dennis Galvin before the start of the Founder’s Week MassIt will remain on display from the April 23 Mass through Friday, April 26, before transferring to Totino-Grace High School in Fridley. 

According to Catholic teachings, relics of saints may be displayed for veneration but are not worshipped. They are holy objects with association to  saints who now live in God’s presence. 

The Holy Family community is welcome to view or venerate the relic during school hours (7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.) The relic will be displayed a cabinet in the school foyer and in the school chapel for the Friday, April 26, Day of Giving 24-hour Prayer Vigil.

Click HERE to watch the transfer ceremony.

Dr. McInerny comments on relics and their veneration:

Holy Family theology instructor, Dr. Brendan McInerny, prepared the following information on relics and the Catholic Church:

The veneration of relics appears to coincide with the broader veneration of the saints. Already in the first ‘post-apostolic’ (after the deaths of the apostles) generation of Christians, we find accounts of Christians collecting the relics of the martyrs. There appears to be some scriptural support for this in miracles occurring by touching the garments of, e.g., Peter or Jesus, and the reverence being given to the remains of prophets and patriarchs within the book of Genesis (all the more striking since the authors of Genesis did not appear to have a belief in the idea of the resurrection of the dead). Between roughly 200 and 1500, relics were a constant, universal, and central feature of Christianity.

Only where Protestant Christianity became dominant do we see a disappearance of relics. As those who have been in historically Catholic or Orthodox countries (France, Italy, Spain, Greece) might attest, relics are still very much in existence and sometimes very much on display. It is widely reported that a relic of the Crown of Thorns was saved from the 2019 fire at Notre-Dame. Up to the 1960s, virtually all Catholic churches had a relic in the altar. They are still around us, though we often don’t notice or know what to do with them.

What are we to make of all of this?

First, we can understand relics as a special instance of what is commonly referred to as “the sacramental imagination” or “sacramental worldview.” “The sacramental imagination” refers to the Catholics belief that God’s grace or presence works through tangible, physical things. Encompassing the seven ‘chief” sacraments (baptism, chrismation/confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony) as well as the innumerable ‘lesser’ “sacramentals” (the altar, incense, candles, images/icons, song, funerals, etc), the sacramental imagination in fact stretches to embrace all of creation. Everything can potentially be an avenue of God’s presence and grace because God is creator of everything, and called all of it good. Furthermore, God “assumed” this tangible, physical, created order “directly” (though mysteriously) in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Word became flesh and through his flesh Jesus is connected to the whole web of relationships that make up the material universe.

One crucial purpose of this sacramental economy of grace is to transform men and women in holiness. God does not simply work through created things as passive instruments. God also works together with free human beings, who, in ordinary and extraordinary ways, become witnesses of God’s love. These men and women imitators of Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit, or simple “saints,” become vessels of grace themselves. Sometimes this grace is shown in miracles during a saint’s life, sometimes not.

Second, just as the immaterial and material are bound up together in the sacramental imagination, so too does Catholic theology maintain that the body and soul of human beings are distinct but not truly separate. This lack of separation is what undergirds the practices of fasting and abstinence. What happens in the body affects the soul. Therefore, from a Catholic point of view, a ‘complete’ human being is an embodied soul or an ensouled body and even after death the two realities remain, somehow linked. In our lives we might see something of this in the care with which we treat the bodies of the dead or the way in which we treasure mementos or heirlooms.

Somehow, we intuitively sense that a corpse is still our loved on in some manner or that a treasured object is still theirs. From a theological viewpoint, this common intuition reflects the truth in reference to the resurrection of the dead or the resurrection of the body. Being body/souls, we are incomplete in death and await a re-union of body and soul. Just as Christ rises bodily from the dead, so too will we. What exactly that resurrection body is or how it might relate to the assemblage of molecules that make up our bodies on this side of death and which pass into other bodies as a result of decomposition remains a mystery, but Catholics hold the conviction that the body, fully united with the spirit, will have a share in paradise.

In the instances of holy men and women – those beatified and canonized – we imagine the ‘link’ between body and soul in this life and after death as somehow ‘stronger’.  To put it in a spatial metaphor: because the saint is ‘closer’ to Christ, he or she is ‘closer’ to the state of paradise in which there is no discontinuity between body and soul. As a result, the saint is both present and (potentially) active in and through his or her relics. Perhaps, it is better to say through the relic, the believer is made present to the saint. It is for that reason that people went to such lengths to go on pilgrimage to Paris, Canterbury, Rome, Constantinople, and Jerusalem: to be in the company of saints in the presence of God.