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Founders’ Day Celebration Marks Three Milestones

Fr. John Blazek (`58), Campus Minister, leads the community into prayer during Founder's Day Mass. Picture by Mr. John Overman, Instructor in English.

On September 15, 2017, the Academy came together for a day of celebration. Students and faculty from the Lower, Middle, and Upper schools spent the day participating in Mass and community-building activities on Founders’ Day.

This year, the Founders’ Day’s celebration was three-fold. It marked the 71st anniversary of the school’s establishment, 50th year jubilee of priesthood for Fr. John Blazek (`58), Campus Minister, and the 10th year since the beatification of St. Basil Moreau.

This is Fr. John’s 38th year serving as the priest at Gilmour Academy. Fr. John has witnessed the building of Our Lady Chapel and the current Athletic Center. He said he remembers the first outdoor swimming pool that the school had opened in 1956.

When the planning committee asked Fr. John how he would like to celebrate his big milestone, he said that he wanted to spend the day with the students.

Before coming back to his alma mater, Fr. John served as the priest at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio, for 12 years. He said that the Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross asked three times for him to come to Gilmour Academy. Fr. John had felt called to be at St. Edward High School until the Brothers’ third visit in 1979 seemed a new call. It “was the right thing to do,” he said when reflecting on his decision to move to the Academy.

Fr. John said he loves his priesthood where he is able to serve at a high school. He can’t imagine being anywhere else. When the planning committee asked Fr. John how he would like to celebrate his big milestone, he said that he wanted to spend the day with the students.

During the Founders’ Day Mass, two students who have attended Gilmour Academy since Montessori, Angeline Monitello (`19) and Richard Jones (`20), spoke to the crowd. These Lifers explained the impact Fr. John has had in their lives. Monitello said that Fr. John has been at every important religious event in her life. She hopes he will also officiate her wedding in the future. “I felt honored and humbled by it,” said Fr. John.

After the Mass, students split up by grade level to do various activities. Grades 4, 8, and 12 decorated stepping stones honoring the 144 Holy Cross figures who have served at Gilmour Academy, including St. Basil Moreau. They will be used to make a prayer garden at the school. Activities also included baseball and ice skating for community building, coloring pages and thank-you letters for Fr. John, and viewing videos for more information about the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

Allie Mikolanis (`19) and Sophia Minello (`19) decorate stepping stones.

Two videos were viewed in the Field House. Throughout the day, grades 4-8 and 11-12 watched the video that The Lance had put together for the 70th Founders’ Day last year. It contained interviews with Holy Cross Brothers who explained the values of the Holy Cross and the charisms. Brother Robert Lavelle, former Head of School, had captured most of the footage at Notre Dame University. The main idea was to show how the Brothers remain committed and influential to the Academy.

The second video was made by the Lower School students. Ms. Colleen Michael, Grade 1-6 Religion Instructor, is on the Founders’ Day planning committee. Michael executed the planning, filming, and editing. She said that she wanted all of her students to be a part of the video that thanked Fr. John for his service as a priest. The video was also used as a hype to get the Lower School students excited for Founders’ Day. It was successful, she said, and they looked forward to the event.

Every year, the school has celebrated Founders’ Day on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Every year, the school has celebrated Founders’ Day on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows. Mrs. Whitney Daily, Director of Pastoral Life, said Gilmour celebrates the school’s birthday on this day because the Virgin Mary is the “special saint” of the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

When this year’s Founder’s Day ended with all students and faculty assembled at the Family Life prayer garden, Daly engaged the community in reflection of the day and its meaning. Mr. Brian Horgan, Director of the Upper School, led the students and faculty in applauding Daly for her central role in organizing this year’s Founder’s Day activities.

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Da-Eun (Kathy) Jung is a senior at Gilmour Academy and lives in Jeonju, North Jeolla, South Korea with her family. This is her third year writing for The Lance and is the Editor-in-Chief. Outside of the classroom, Kathy writes for The Mill, the city of Gates Mills’ monthly magazine. Kathy enjoys writing editorials and feature stories for both The Mill and The Lance. She is involved in the VECTOR Program in the Creativity and Expression branch and volunteers at the Holden Arboretum in her free time. Her favorite class is AP Literature & Composition and wants to study communication in college. Read Kathy’s articles below, and contact her at gilmourlance.org.