Yesterday was a very special day for 1935 St. Rita grad Bob Konen, and he was surrounded by several members of his St. Rita Family to celebrate.
Konen turned 100 years old yesterday, and St. Rita President Mike Zunica, Major Gifts Officer John Schmitt, Assistant Recruiter Mike Swanson, and several members of the St. Rita Class of 2018 brought him a cake and sang Happy Birthday and the St. Rita Fight Song to one of St. Rita's oldest alums.
The St. Rita contingent made their yearly December 18th trek to Smith Village located at 113th and Western Avenue to celebrate with the St. Rita alumnus --- a tradition started a few years back and one that Konen looks forward to on a yearly basis.
Konen is the retired principal from Sutherland located in the Beverly neighborhood and one of St. Rita's best public feeder schools. He is also a parishioner of St. John Fisher.
Every Wednesday the entire St. Rita Community comes together to celebrate mass in the beautiful St. Rita Shrine Chapel, but last Wednesday's service was something special as the community celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The mass, which was celebrated by St. Rita Head of School Fr. Paul Galetto, featured a mariachi band and readings and songs done in the Spanish language. The band captivated the St. Rita student body throughout the mass and afterwards as they played traditional Catholic hymns. Readings were done by St. Rita students in the Spanish language as the goal of the day was to expose the entire student body to some of the traditions of the Spanish Catholic community. With almost 20% of the St. Rita student body of Mexican descent, the celebration continued the theme of exposing the St. Rita students to different cultures.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The basilica is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world, and the world's third most-visited sacred site according to Wikipedia. Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day is celebrated every December 12th, and the St. Rita Shrine Chapel includes a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is located in the back of the chapel.
At the conclusion of Wednesday's mass, the St. Rita Spanish Club, led by Spanish teachers Colleen Earley and Socorro Yanez, handed out treat bags containing Mexican candy and cookies to the entire student body.
On their way to the museum they also made a pilgrimage to the home that Emmett Till resided in during the 1950s, which is located on 64th & St. Lawrence Ave. in the Englewood community.
Students pictured include:
Xavier Alexander, Malcolm Banks, Nathaniel Bennett, Douglass Cosey, Louie Cox, Dylan Drew, Tim Feggin, Landen Gladney, Kevin Jackson, Jamal Johnson, Jeremiah Oden, Tim Regan, and Daniel St. Preux
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 projects or programs. Nominees for Mustang of the Month are those students who are vital elements to what St. Rita of Cascia 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 Administration and Student Life & Ministry.
Freshman Mustang of the Month – Mel Gade
The member of the Class of 2021 chosen to be our December Freshman Mustang of the Month is Mel Gade. Mel comes to us from Our Lady of the Ridge School where he is also a member of the parish community.
Mel has certainly wasted no time getting involved at St. Rita. He is a member of the Band, Jazz Band, Chess Team, Spanish Club, Stock Market Club, STEM Club and is an altar server. Outside of St. Rita, Mel is active at Our Lady of the Ridge where he is involved with the confirmation class and is an altar server. Mel also plays baseball for Chicago Ridge and he plans to play baseball at St. Rita in the Spring.
One member of our St. Rita faculty said of Mel, “Mel is a wonderful student and an all-around good person. He is very kind and well-mannered and always puts his best foot forward. He is a very hard worker and a great example of a Ritaman.”
When asked about his experience as a Ritaman, Mel replied, “Coming to St. Rita has probably been the best and most important decision I have ever made. I have loved and enjoyed every moment I have had here. I am very excited for the future.”
Sophomore Mustang of the Month – Chudi Martin, Jr.
Representing the Class of 2020 as our December Sophomore Mustang of the Month is Chudi Martin, Jr.. Chudi is a graduate of Chicago Quest School and is a member of St. Adrian Parish.
Chudi is heavily involved at St. Rita. He is a Sophomore Representative for Student Government and is a member of Theater, Improv, the Latin Club and our new Choir. Chudi has also played Soccer for St. Rita the past two years. As he continues this school year Chudi hopes to take a leading role in the Spring Play. Outside of his time at St. Rita Chudi is a Boy Scout Start Scout and a Daniel Murphy Scholar. Chudi is a comic book collector and also takes care of many reptiles and other exotic animals in his spare time.
The following was said of Chudi, “Chudi is a great example of for how we want our students to represent themselves and St. Rita. He is polite, academically focused, and very involved. He is always polite and friendly, and represents himself positively.”
When asked to speak about his experience as a Ritaman, Chudi replied, “I came to St. Rita not knowing anyone but everyone welcomed me with an open heart. I the brotherhood we have here at St. Rita. Everything seems to be going by so fast, but I plan to enjoy the next two and a half years with all my Rita Brothers. I love you all.”
Junior Mustang of the Month – John Murlasits
Representing the Class of 2019 as our December Junior Mustang of the Month is John Murlasits. John attended St. Gabriel School and is also a member of St. Gabriel Parish.
John is a leading member of the St. Rita Chess Team and also plays Varsity Hockey. John is also very active outside of St. Rita, especially at St. Gabriel Parish. He is a member of the youth group, volunteers with many of their events and helps to teach chess to the students of St. Gabriel School.
In his nomination the following was said of John, “John always puts in a lot of effort into his work, he participates positively in class and he is a very respectful kid. He is a genuine and kind person and someone who really tries to do well. In regard to the Chess Team, John regularly devotes his time during practice to work with the younger players, showing them how to improve their chess skills or taking the time to go over their games after matches. Overall, he is a great role model to our students and deserving of the award.”
John spoke of his experience as a Ritaman by saying, “Coming to St. Rita was the best decision I have ever made and I have enjoyed every second of my time here. I hope by last year and a half will be a great as my first two. Go Mustangs.”
Senior Mustang of the Month – Tyler Cichy
Leading the Class of 2018 as our December Senior Mustang of the Month is Tyler Cichy. Tyler is a graduate of Bridgeport Catholic Academy and is a member of Nativity of our Lord Parish.
Tyler excels in the classroom, consistently making the honor roll, and has also been involved in a variety of activities. He has been involved with St. Rita Volleyball, recently competed on the Flag Football Team and plans to play Rugby in the Spring. Tyler was also a leader on Kairos #131 in November and was awarded the distinction of Summa cum Laude for his Caritas Project of collecting blankets for veterans. Tyler helps tutor underclassmen, and outside of St. Rita Tyler assists in coaching basketball and volleyball and volunteers at a food pantry. In his free time, he also likes to fly airplanes and is currently working toward his private pilot license.
One teacher said of Tyler, “Tyler represents our school well in terms of how well he lives out the core values of Unitas, Caritas and Veritas. He works hard academically and made sure his Caritas Project was impactful. In addition he is polite and friendly to all he encounters.”
Speaking about his experience as a Ritaman, Tyler said, “Coming to St. Rita was easily the best decision of my life. I am extremely honored and blessed to have had such an experience and meet such great people. These relationships are going to last for a lifetime. I want to thank everyone at St. Rita who helped shape me into who I am today, especially my Rita Brothers. I don’t know where I would be without all of you. I am blessed to have each and every one of you guys. I love you guys.”