Shakespeare Comes to Life at St. Rita

By: John Nee '93

On Friday, April 21 The Crew of Patches Theatre Company was welcomed to St. Rita to perform two of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Macbeth.”

St. Rita English Department Chair Tim Baffoe designed the day with the idea that “Shakespeare did not write his plays with a teenager stuck in a school desk reading the text in mind---he wrote for that teenager to see the complex human issues that endure today come alive on stage.”

Freshman and sophomores were treated to an early morning rendition of “Romeo and Juliet.”  All freshmen are required to read “Romeo and Juliet” as part of the freshman curriculum, so it was an opportunity for students to broaden their horizons on the play of which all of them were familiar.

Juniors and seniors were then treated to a matinee showing of “Macbeth,” which is a part of the senior curriculum at St. Rita. So while seniors were able to compare their experiences of the play from the classroom, the juniors, who study American Lit, were given a preview of something they’ll be studying next school year.

Overall, students and adults alike were surprised by their reactions to the performances.  They found the “foreign language” of Shakespeare very relatable on stage, and they even found laughter in many spots of the two tragedies. Overwhelmingly, the students saw this as a valuable experience and something that Mr. Baffoe hopes to make a tradition going forward at St. Rita.

March Mustangs of the Month

Pictured left to right:  Matthew Beam, Fr. Tom McCarthy, OSA, Evan Wojcicki, Fr. Bernie Scianna, OSA, Brian Gralek, Fr. Richie Mercando, OSA, Joe Qualter and Fr. Paul Galetto, OSA. (Not pictured:  MIchael Jurek)

Pictured left to right:  Matthew Beam, Fr. Tom McCarthy, OSA, Evan Wojcicki, Fr. Bernie Scianna, OSA, Brian Gralek, Fr. Richie Mercando, OSA, Joe Qualter and Fr. Paul Galetto, OSA. (Not pictured:  MIchael Jurek)

Each month St. Rita of Cascia High School honors one student from each class to be the Mustang of the Month.  In order for a student to be considered for the Mustang of the Month Award, he must excel or stand out in at least two of the following areas: academics, activities, athletics, spirituality or community service.  Nominees for Mustang of the Month are those students who are vital elements to what St. Rita High School is all about and whose efforts, accomplishments and contributions to our community sometimes go unnoticed.

Nominations are open to all faculty and staff and final selection is determined by members of the Administration and the Student Life & Ministry Team.

Freshman Mustang of the Month – Evan Wojcicki

Chosen to be our March Mustang of the Month for the Freshman Class is Evan Wojcicki.  Evan comes to us from St. Barnabas School and is also a member of St. Barnabas Parish.

Evan has had a very busy first year at St. Rita.  While excelling in the classroom, he played football, basketball and is now on the baseball team.  Evan is also a member of the Spanish Club, Seinfeld Club and is a Freshman Representative for Student Government.  Evan is also very active beyond St. Rita as he volunteers at the P.A.D.S. Shelter and the Villa Nursing Home in Evergreen Park.  This year was just the beginning of success for Evan, who hopes to hold multiple leadership roles.  He was captain of the football team and plans to be President of Student Government and the Seinfeld Club by his senior year.

When asked about his experience as a Ritaman, Evan replied, “I never doubted my decision to come to St. Rita.  I love all my Rita Brothers that have made this first year great.  I know the next three years will be even better.”

Sophomore Mustang of the Month – Matthew Beam

This month we had a tie for our Sophomore Class Mustang of the Month.  The first March Mustang of the Month for the Sophomore Class is Matthew Beam.  Matthew comes to us from Queen of Martyrs Parish and Grammar School.

Matthew is a member of the bowling and lacrosse teams.  He is also a member of the Yearbook Club.  Matthew has made the Silver Honor Roll and strives to be a leader of his peers and make the National Honor Society.  Outside of St. Rita, he helps make homebound meals at St. Christina.

Speaking of his time at St. Rita, Matthew has said, “It’s been an awesome two years at St. Rita with my Rita brothers and I cannot wait to spend the next two years with them.”


Sophomore Mustang of the Month – Brian Gralak

Our other March Mustang of the Month for the Sophomore Class is Brian Gralak.  Brian is a graduate of St. Linus School and is a member of St. Linus Parish.

Brian enjoys being a member of the football and volleyball teams, Latin Club and Knights of Augustine.  He is also in the Celtic Boxing Club and volunteers at Our Lady of the Angels Food Pantry.  Brian plans to get even more involved next year with the Big Brothers Program and National Honor Society.  He was also nominated for the National Youth Leadership Forum trip.

Brian said of his time at St. Rita, “My time at St. Rita has been some of the best moments of my life.  I cannot believe that it is almost halfway over.  I cannot wait to spend the next two years with my Rita brothers in a place that I call home.”

Junior Mustang of the Month – Michael Jurek

Our March Mustang of the Month for the Junior Class is Michael Jurek.  Michael comes to us from St. Therese School and is also a member of St. Therese Parish.

Michael is currently involved with Apple Programming and the Stage Crew for the Theater Program.  He is also very active in serving the community through regular visits to the PADS Shelter and assisting with our weekly school recycling efforts.  Outside of his time at St. Rita, Michael helps out at his parish by altar serving and also enjoys fishing, carpentry, swimming and diving.  He is actually a certified advanced scuba diver and has completed dives up to 100 feet.  This June, Michael will be taking part in St. Rita’s Summer Service Trip to work with Habitat for Humanity in North Carolina.

Michael said of his time at St. Rita, “Getting involved in activities has really helped me to discover what I am good at and enjoy doing.  I enjoy helping people and know that is an important part of who I am.  St. Rita has helped instill in me a sense of pride and purpose in everything that I do.  I will enjoy my last year at St. Rita with all my Rita brothers.”

Senior Mustang of the Month – Joe Qualter

The March Mustang of the Month for the Senior Class is Joe Qualter.  Joe comes from Most Holy Redeemer Parish and School.

Throughout his four years Joe has worked hard to excel academically but also been very active outside the classroom.  Joe has been a member of the swimming water polo and football teams, as well as, the Knights of Augustine.  Joe recently earned a full tuition scholarship to Merrimack College where he will be moving on to in the Fall.

Speaking about his experience as a Ritaman, Joe said, “St. Rita has been a part of my life for a long time and it has been an amazing experience.   I have had a great four years attending school here and I hope to have fun the final two months with all of my classmates.”

St. Rita Celebrates Pride Week

This week students took pride in all things St. Rita:  Academics, Athletics, Spirituality, Faculty/Staff and Brotherhood.

The week began with a special assembly honoring students who stand out as exemplary in class.  Principal Brendan Conroy emphasized that the students honored are not necessarily those with straight A’s.  The criteria was based on work ethic, daily preparedness, class leadership, and high interest in learning. 

On Tuesday, the Coach Jay Standring Awards were given for Athletics.  These awards were given to the teammates who exemplify work ethic and always put their teammates and coaches first.

The Coach Jay Standring Awards were presented to:

Football: Keegan O’Hara, Joe Horn, Nick Adent

Basketball: Ray Faulk, Miles Adams, Miguel Zavala

Cross Country: Will March

Bowling: Joshua Jackson

Swimming: Jake Kuska

Hockey: Colan Fitzgerald, Kyle Gustafson

Soccer: Adam McCarthy, Jose Alencastro, Patrick Cranley

Wrestling: Orlando Rojas, Dylan Killeen, Nick Adent

On Wednesday, St. Rita Pride in Spirituality was celebrated, honoring students who give of their time and talent in campus ministry.  This included the students who plan our liturgies, the altar boys, Eucharistic ministers and Kairos leaders.


Thursday, the faculty and staff of St. Rita were honored.  Students were asked to nominate those teachers who consistently show their care for the students; the ones who come to class especially excited to teach.  The teachers honored were: Br. Joe Ruiz, O.S.A., Mrs. Maureen Pangrazio, Mr. Andrew DiMarco, Mr. Thomas Conlon, Mrs. Colleen Earley, Mr. Tim Baffoe.

St. Rita Pride Week wrapped up with Pride In Brotherhood with a Class Competition Day which included tug-of-war, musical chairs, basketball vs. the Faculty, Dodge Ball, Softball vs. the Faculty, St. Rita Trivia and Bumper Ball Soccer.   Faculty also took part in the fun and games and the seniors took first place overall.

St. Rita welcomes Austrailian Exchange Students

Saint Rita is hosting a second student exchange program this spring.  This group is from Brisbane, Australia from another Augustinian high school called Villanova College.   Sean O'Neill is the chaperone here with five of his students staying with Saint Rita families. Earlier this year, Ritamen hosted students from Argentina.

The Australians are Dan Shearer, Dan Moses, Ethan Erikson, Shayle Korander-Matheson and Nick Halstead.   They will be here until April 10.  Our Saint Rita students will travel to Brisbane, Australia and stay there at the end of May with St. Rita teacher Mr. Andrew DiMarco, their chaperone.


The Augustinians Invite Alumni to Celebrate Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A.

At their fifth annual gala on April 28, the Midwest Augustinians will honor Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A.. As many of you know, Fr. Tom is a member of the St. Rita Class of ’83; he returned as chaplain of St. Rita from 1994 to 2000, and then served as President from 2000 to 2012.

The Augustinians invite the alumni of St. Rita to join them in thanking Fr. Tom for all of his extraordinary service to the Chicago area. Please consider taking out a congratulatory ad in the gala program book, or make a tributary donation to Fr. Tom to have your name listed in the program as well! You could further express your support by joining us for this celebratory evening, Friday April 28, 6:30-10:00 PM, at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago.

For more information, please visit or call 773-595-4008.

Profile of Fr. Tom’s Service

For his work in the last eight years as Director of Augustinian Vocations alone, Father Tom McCarthy, O.S.A., deserves to be honored at this year’s gala. When you add to this his tenure as President of St. Rita of Cascia High School and his direction of numerous life-changing parish retreats, we become immeasurably indebted, as a family and community, to his selfless service.

Let us consider the numbers: The Order of St. Augustine, in North America, currently has 40 men in formation, with 11 friars newly professed in 2016. For those of you who have been supporters of the Augustinians, you can understand what a dramatic shift this represents from only five years ago. Each year that Fr. Tom has served as Director of Vocations, the number of men in formation has increased.

As a graduate of St. Rita of Cascia High School, class of 1983, Fr. Tom encountered the strength of community in the Augustinian Brotherhood at a formidable moment in his life. While working at the monastery answering phones to help pay his own tuition, Fr. Tom was able to witness the personal side of the friars who ran his school: “I saw the way they lived their life. I saw the way they prayed and the way they had fun, and it attracted me, saying this is what I want.”

After St. Rita, Fr. Tom went on to Villanova University, where he earned his B.A. in Communication Arts in 1987.  While there, he entered the pre-novitiate formation program, and he made his first profession of vows in 1988. Five years later he made his solemn profession, and he was ordained to the priesthood in 1994. He earned his M. Div. from Catholic Theological Union in 1993 and his M.A. in Education Administration from Lewis University.

Following his time at St. Rita High School, Fr. Tom assumed his current position his current position as full-time Director of Vocations for Eastern and Midwest Provinces. While he resides at Villanova, he makes frequent trips back to St. Rita of Cascia High School, where he still serves as the Director of the Shrine of St. Rita.

Fr. Tom continues in the role to lead renowned parish retreats and is known within the Order as one of the most passionate and effective speakers at missions appeals. Both of these accolades have been made possible only through Fr. Tom’s great dedication to his mission, as he continually seeks counsel to become better at his vocation. It is with great joy that we thank Fr. Tom at this year’s gala. Please join us in celebration of the unofficial “Mayor of the Southside!”