Augustinian

Large Crowd Attends St. Rita's Annual Andrew Smialek '08 Leadership Awards Ceremony

2019 Andrew Smialek Award Winners

2019 Andrew Smialek Award Winners

The word “leadership” has many definitions and meanings. It can be defined as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” It can be defined as “having a vision and sharing it with others.” It can be defined as “creating an environment that will encourage all the members of a team to develop their skills.” There are dozens of ways to describe leadership. But what does leadership mean to you? When you hear the word “leader”, who do you think of? You may think of a teacher, or a coach, or a doctor or a community organizer.

On Tuesday, August 27, 2019 The St. Rita Family thought of 38 of the best and brightest 8th graders in the Chicagoland area in regards to leadership, as they received the Smialek Leadership Award.

The Andrew Smialek Leadership Award, formerly known as the Mustang Award, originated in 1983 to recognize young men of exceptional caliber and who have great potential for the future. 

Andrew Smialek, St. Rita Class of 2008, was a strong person who handled his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with grace and humility.  Andrew loved his time at St. Rita and cherished the Augustinian values of truth, unity and love.  While maintaining a strong GPA, he was involved in many school activities and always put others before himself.  He was a wonderful role model for us all.

All of the recipients of the 2019 Andrew Smialek Award demonstrated their leadership skills already. To be named a winner of this award, the young men had to undergo an intense application and interview process. First, they were to submit their application, grades and a student essay that told us what they thought leadership was. Student recommendation letters were submitted as well, along with many letters of support from teachers, coaches and family friends. Then came the hard part: a 20-minute, face-to-face interview with a St. Rita faculty member. No doubt, the young men may have been nervous before their interviews, but they handled themselves quite well and were very impressive.

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Over 250 people joined in the celebration at the St. Rita Shrine Chapel on Tuesday evening. After remarks by Assistant Admissions Director Sharon Smolik about Andy Smialek and his legacy, each student leader was presented a Smialek Award plaque by Wes Benak ‘81—St. Rita’s Interim CEO and VP of Academics, and VP of Student Life Josh Blaszak ‘02.

Following the ceremony, a group photo was taken with Andy’s family and families were invited to the many shrines around the chapel for prayers, pictures, and finally a light reception in the St. Rita’s breathtaking chapel foyer.

Congratulations to the 2019 Andrew Smialek Leadership Award Winners.

St. Rita Students Attend 10th Annual Student Augustinian Values Institute (SAVI)

The inaugural Student Augustinian Values Institute (SAVI) was held at St. Rita High School in 2010. Fast forward to April 5-7, 2019 and six St. Rita sophomores, Emilio Alvarez, Aidan Connolly, Matthew Orta, Jesus Pedroza, Reggie Sykes, and Tristan Wright along with chaperones Mr. Josh Blaszak ‘02 and Br. Joe Ruiz, O.S.A. traveled to St. Augustine Prep School in Richland, N.J. to take part in the 10th annual gathering of students from the ten Augustinian High Schools in North America.

SAVI has grown to a widely known and anticipated annual event. On the 10th Annual SAVI, Ritamen have been getting to know members of their larger Augustinian family, in addition to deepening their knowledge of the Augustinian Core Values of Truth, Unity and Love, They were also able to visit the Old St. Augustine Parish, the foundation of the Augustinians in North America, and the National Shrine of our patroness, St. Rita of Cascia.

The students also took part in presentations on the core values and the Augustinians, small group discussions, prayer, Mass and fun activities including an outing to a Phillies game.

The goal of the weekend is to empower the Ritamen to be stewards in strengthening and enhancing the Augustinian core values once they return to campus at 7740 S. Western Avenue. The St. Rita family looks forward to welcoming these young men back to school on Monday, April 8, 2019, and learning about their experience.


In Memorium: Rev. Gerald J. Van Overbeek, O.S.A. '53

Please join the Augustinians in mourning the loss of Rev. Gerald J. Van Overbeek, O.S.A. who passed away at the age of 84 and was born into eternal life on January 1, 2019.

Funeral arrangements are below:

MONDAY - January 7, 2019

Crown Point, IN
Franciscan Home
203 W Franciscan Dr
Crown Point, IN 46301
Wake: 10:00am
Mass: 11:00 a.m.

Chicago, IL
St. Rita of Cascia High School Chapel
7740 S Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60620
Wake: 3:00 p.m.
Mass: 7:00 p.m.


TUESDAY - January 8, 2019


Burial: 11:00 a.m. at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, IL

The St. Rita Family Unites with Giving Tree Initiative

As Catholics, we are called to love Christ above all. But how do we show our love for Christ? In Hebrews 6:10, we are taught “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones”. God tells us that through serving, loving, and tending to others, we are serving and loving Him.

Giving Tree Leaders: Ms. Missy Smialek, Eddie Fidler, Isaac Gaytan-Reilly, Dylan Cooney and Diego Carrillo (Not pictured: Jack Esselman & Tadhg Scanlon)

It has been a tradition here St. Rita for the last several years to have our Giving Tree Initiative in the month of December—2018 was no different. The Giving Tree helps Ritamen show that the core values of Caritas and Unitas are not just slogans, but things that St. Rita students strive to live out, especially during the holiday season.

Each year, through the Giving Tree, several St. Rita families are given donations by the St. Rita school community to help offset the ever-rising costs of the Christmas season through food and gift donations.

Hebrews 13:16 teaches “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.” Ritamen were encouraged to make the sacrifice of sharing what they have in an effort to love others who are in need and therefore, love God. Some were able to give more than others, but all were encouraged to look into their own lives and determine where a sacrifice could be made. For instance, some sacrificed vending machine snacks and donated that money, others brought lunch from home and donated lunch money.

In the end, so many Ritamen put money toward those in our St. Rita family who are struggling. The St. Rita community ultimately raised $4,882.85 and helped ten families this Christmas.