Elementary School Celebrates Kindness Week

To kick off the first month of school, Lourdes Academy Elementary School celebrated its annual Kindness Week with a variety of fun activities, all designed to encourage students to think about how they can be kind to others, both in and outside of school.

During the week, students started the day singing “Reach Out with Your Kind-Hearted Hand” as part of morning announcements and also participated in daily kindness activities. Some of the activities included:

  • Brainstorming lists on how they can lend a helping hand
  • Smile day – students talked about what makes them smile and shared smiles with friends (from behind their masks)
  • Power of prayer and kindness – students said special prayers for friends and/or family
  • Compliment day – students were encouraged to hand out as many compliments as they could throughout the day

Each day also had a special dress-up day associated with it, including “Dreaming of Kindness PJ Day” and “Power of Kindness Superhero Day.”

To wrap up the week, Mrs. Geffers passed out “Kindness is Cool Popsicles” to all the students and Mr. Spanbauer’s 2nd Grade class presented September’s Kindness Connection theme, “Hope.” Since students weren’t able to watch the Kindness Connection as a whole school in the gym, Mr. Spanbauer recorded the presentation and shared the video so all the classes could watch.

The Middle and High Schools Welcome New Staff Members

Lourdes Academy is excited to welcome three new staff members into the hallways of the middle and high schools this school year.

Mrs. Amanda Zinthefer – Pastoral Youth Minister

Mrs. Zinthefer, Lourdes Academy Pastor Youth Minister, and her husband Jon.

Prior to joining our Lourdes Academy Family, Mrs. Zinthefer taught theology at St. Mary Springs Academy and was a High School Coordinator at Holy Family Church, both located in Fond du lac. She is looking forward to getting to know our Lourdes Academy students and creating an organized framework for students to participate in their faith outside of the classroom.

When talking about her own faith, Mrs. Zinthefer says:

“I love Jesus a lot! I try to spend every day loving Him and being loved by Him…with varying success of course!”

With degrees in Theology and Psychology from Marquette University, in addition to coordinating opportunities for students to practice their faith, Mrs. Zinthefer will partner with Mrs. Carie Kollat in the middle school counseling office. Mrs. Zinthefer will lead lessons in middle school classrooms and also support students in their overall social and emotional health. Lourdes Academy school counselor, Miss Samantha Van Zeeland, who previously split her time between the middle and elementary school counseling offices, is now located at Lourdes Academy Elementary School full time.

When not at school, Mrs. Zinthefer enjoys hiking and playing rugby with her husband Jon and dog Bo.

Mrs. Audrey Conley – Middle School Math and Science Teacher

Mrs. Audrey Conley is excited to join Lourdes Academy as the 6th grade math and science teacher. Growing up, she attended St. Mary’s school, a local Catholic school in Marathon, WI (near Wausau); because of this, Catholic education has a special place in her heart. After high school, Mrs. Conley attended UW-Madison.

“I was blessed to be able to attend UW-Madison. The St. Paul Center on campus helped form my faith while my classes deepened my knowledge of the natural world.”

Mrs. Audrey Conley, Lourdes Academy Middle School Math and Science Teacher

Mrs. Conley returned to St. Mary’s in Marathon after graduating from UW-Madison and taught middle school science for three years. During this time she married her husband Andrew, and welcomed her daughter Clare into the world. Andrew’s job at Oshkosh Corporation brought Mrs. Conley and her family to Oshkosh, and she says, “The Lord’s providence guided me to the community at Lourdes. I am so blessed to be here!”

Mrs. Conley shares the following about her approach to teaching:

“In my classes I strive to show the wonder and complexity of God’s creation. Math and science are amazing subjects to study because they can help us glimpse how God ordered the universe. Chatting with students about what in nature ignites their curiosity is my absolute favorite part of teaching.”

Mrs. Alyssa Dillon – Middle School Reading and Social Studies Teacher

Mrs. Dillon, Middle School Reading and Social Studies Teacher

Mrs. Dillon grew up in West Bend, WI, and is a daughter of two teachers.  She pursued her first degrees at UW-Stevens Point and graduated with Bachelors in Dance, German, and Business Administration.  After graduation, she moved to Appleton and for 9 years worked as a dance instructor.  A few years ago Mrs. Dillon decided to go back to school at UW-Oshkosh to pursue her love of teaching. 

“I am excited to help students grow in their devotion to their studies and draw even closer to God, the source of all knowledge,” said Mrs. Dillon.  “I look forward to teaching both reading and social studies, and hope to help students become life-long learners.”

Mrs. Dillon and her husband got married about 2 years ago and have two dogs, Della and Starfire. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, reading and spending time with her family.

Lourdes Academy 2020-2021 Signature Events

Like many organizations, Lourdes Academy has been forced to reschedule events due to COVID-19. This time of change has provided an opportunity to evaluate the timing of all our events to ensure that they are being held at a time that allows for maximum participation and involvement. After much consideration, Lourdes Academy is excited to announce a new event schedule for 2020-2021. This revised schedule will also continue going forward into future years.

Alumni Memorial Mass

Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2020 @ 9:30 a.m.

Location: St. Raphael the Archangel Parish (Fr. Jerry Pastors will preside)

Due to COVID-19, a meal will not be served following Mass this year. We plan to return to our regular Mass and brunch format in 2021.

Lourdes Academy Dinner Auction

Date: Saturday, April 24, 2021 @ 5:30 p.m.

Location: EAA Museum

This will be a hybrid event with an option for in-person attendance and online      involvement.

2020 & 2021 Awards & Recognition Dinner

Date: Friday, June 11, 2021 @ 5:30 p.m.

Location: Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel Ballroom

Lourdes Academy will recognize its 2020 & 2021 award winners, including          Outstanding Alumni, Distinguished Stewardship, Athletic Hall of Fame, Silver Swords, Education & Leadership awards, and more.

61st Anniversary “U-Knighted for Life” All-Class Reunion

Date: Saturday, June 12, 2021

Location: Lourdes Academy Middle/High School

Join alumni, faculty & friends as we celebrate the history and traditions of Lourdes Academy.

2021 Tee It Up for Kids Golf Outing

Date: Friday, August 20, 2021

Location: Lake Breeze Golf Club, Winneconne

Thank You for Supporting the 15th Annual Tee It Up For Kids Golf Outing

Lourdes Academy held its 15th annual Tee It Up for Kids Golf Outing on August 21 at Lake Breeze Golf Club. The event was sold out, and golfers were greeted with plenty of sunshine. The Party on the Patio event for non-golfers also brought parents, staff, alumni and friends out for a relaxing afternoon of socializing and prizes. Tee It Up for Kids raised more than $45,000 for Lourdes Academy’s PreK-12 system, which supports curriculum enhancements, faith formation, technology integration and facilities improvements. Thanks to all of our sponsors, attendees and volunteers who helped make the event a success.

Cart Sponsor: Landscape Solutions by Mike Kirsch

Squire Sponsors: Lakeside Plastics Inc., Oshkosh Smiles Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

Hole Sponsors: ALS Printing, Catholic United Financial, Fox Valley Hearing Center Inc., Gartman Mechanical Services, Hafemeister Machine Corp., Image 360 Inc., J & R Auto Service Inc., Legacy Private Trust Company, LifeFitness, Mark & Susie’s Piggly Wiggly – Class of 1971, McClone Agency, Nicolet Bank, Olson Legal Group, Oshkosh Marine Supply, Quandt Plumbing, Salamone Supplies, Inc., Sawyer Creek Orthodontics, S.C., SBG Financial, Thrivent Financial, Triumph Electric, Verve, a Credit Union, West Pointe Bank, Wihlm Dental, LLC

Tent Sponsor: Accu-Com

Meal Sponsors: Mr. & Mrs. Bradford & Maureen Lasky, Mr. & Mrs. Bob & Carol Prete, West Pointe Bank, Wihlm Dental

In-Kind Sponsors: Camera Casino, Ganther Construction/Architecture, Inc., Verve, a Credit Union

Falls Sports Update

The Lourdes Academy Knights and Lady Knights are excited to kick off their fall sports seasons with football, volleyball, boys soccer, girls tennis and cross country. WIAA gave schools the option to continue with fall sports under a modified schedule, postpone all fall sports until spring or cancel the season completely. Lourdes Academy decided to move forward with all their high school and middle school fall sports.

At this time, only families of athletes will be able to attend games, and some of the the venues for high school home events have changed. Boys home soccer games will be played at Valley Christian School, home football games at St. Mary Catholic Central in Menasha, and girls tennis at Oshkosh West High School.

Activities Director Kevin Wopat said, “We plan to promote live streaming of as many events as we can. Patience will be a key as there are likely to be many schedule changes throughout the fall.”

For up to the date information on fall sports activities check our Athletics Calendar.

Returning to In-Person Learning

The hallways are filled with chatter, and classrooms are buzzing with knowledge as Lourdes Academy students returned to in-person learning on August 25. Safety protocols have been implemented to protect students and staff, including modified schedules, daily temperature checks, modified pick-up and drop-off procedures, and social distancing. Outdoor spaces are being put to good use to provide much needed mask breaks. Students in middle and high school also have the option to join classes virtually via Lourdes’ e-Academy.

Lourdes implemented a 1-to-1 Technology Program this year with each student in kindergarten through high school receiving their own Chromebook. Curriculum-driven technology is being incorporated into each class, and staff have received professional development training on using technology in the classroom. In the event a class or the system has to transition to e-learning at any time in the coming year, students will be ready.

View our return to school plan.

Alumni Spotlight: Finding Love at Lourdes

In the past 60 years, Lourdes has celebrated many successes, including athletic state championships, National Merit Scholars and national STEM achievements, to name a few. But beyond the classroom we’re finding more success stories in alumni connections. Currently, Lourdes boasts more than 200 married alumni couples, and that number is growing. So what’s the connection? Is love blossoming in Botany class? Are alumni experiencing a love reaction in Chemistry class? We may need a math tutorial to calculate the probability of two alumni getting married so instead, we just asked them. Hear from some of our young alum who have recently exchanged vows or will be making their way to the altar soon.

Charlie (‘21), Joe (‘13), Gary, Fran (‘67), Joe (‘86), Melanie, Lucas (‘16) & Evlyn (‘15) Weber; Lois & Mickey (‘84) Noone; Olivia (‘18) & Mackenzie (‘10) Weber at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens.

LUCAS & EVLYN WEBER: May 10, 2019
Lucas (‘16) and Evlyn (Noone – ’15) Weber met running in high school and haven’t stopped yet. While they participated in Cross Country together at Lourdes, they became friends through UW Oshkosh Cross Country. They were married last summer in an intimate ceremony at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens. Lucas is currently pursuing a BBA in General Business online and Evlyn is working as a Special Education – EBD teacher at Merrill Middle School for the Oshkosh Area School District.

What drew you to your spouse?
Drive and determination in the running sport and in life, and similar beliefs and interests. We’re both Catholic and both love to run, spend time outdoors and believe that family is first before all else. Being on the same cross country team, we were able to support one another and keep each other motivated, as we continue to do today. We both feel that having a strong faith and trying to show that in everyday life is very important.

What is your favorite memory together from Lourdes?
Cross Country and Track meets. We both were on the teams and enjoyed having Paul Brown as a coach along with Tim Moore (’86). It’s fun to see that Tim Moore is still coaching today and continuing that tradition.

What was the most memorable part of your wedding?
Having a small wedding with just immediate family was perfect. Being able to just spend quality time with everyone and each other was exactly what we wanted.

Why do you think so many Lourdes alumni get married to each other?
We believe that people from Lourdes get married to each other because they have similar beliefs and interests. In today’s world, it’s hard to find genuine people who make their faith and family a priority over other activities and distractions.

Austin Eiler (‘14) and Madison Levesque (‘14) met swimming through the Oshkosh YMCA swim team (OSHY). They swam with OSHY through middle school and became reacquainted in high school. They remained friends until their senior year when Madison decided to ask Austin out on a date. The rest is history. They plan to marry this November at The Waters in Oshkosh. In 2018, Austin graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. He is working for the Department of Defense in California. Madison recently graduated from Abilene Christian University with a Master’s degree in Speech Therapy. She recently joined Austin in California where she will begin her clinical fellowship year working at an elementary school in the area.

What drew you to your fiancé?
We both admire each other’s sense of humor, character, and kind personality.

What is your favorite memory together from Lourdes?
My favorite memory together was going to our senior prom. It was the first dance we went to together and the band Austin was in played at our prom. Austin’s favorite memory together was the surprise party I planned for him at Lourdes. Our senior year of high school he played junior hockey in Philadelphia. After returning home, I threw him a surprise party at our high school with our friends and family.

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?
We are looking forward to finally getting married. We have been apart for most of the time since graduating high school, and we are excited to finally get married and be together.

Brady Schneider (‘15) and Jayne Held (‘15) met their freshman year at Lourdes Academy. They spent time together with mutual friends and began dating junior year. Now, with college under their belt they’re looking forward to their wedding this fall at St. Vincent Church (St. Jude Parish) in Oshkosh.

Jayne graduated from UW Oshkosh with a Nursing degree and is working at ThedaCare Waupaca as an ambulatory surgery registered nurse. Brady graduated from UW Oshkosh in Communication Studies and is working at Schneider National as a logistics sales account executive.

What drew you to your fiancé?
Brady: I was drawn to Jayne’s intelligence and ability to have a strong balance in her life. She displayed high levels of maturity and ambition, which I respected greatly about her. Also, I knew she was trustworthy and someone I could always rely on.
Jayne: I was drawn to Brady because he had a fun and infectious personality. He was always making others and myself laugh, which is the one of the many reasons I enjoyed being around him. We also both participated in many sports at Lourdes. Our common interest in sports and being physically active was something we appreciated about one another and helped to build a strong connection between us.

What is your favorite memory together from Lourdes?
Our favorite memory from Lourdes was walking across the stage together on our graduation day. We cherish this day because we were able to look back on the past four years and realize how many milestones we have accomplished together.

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?
We are most excited to get married in the Catholic church and have the opportunity to hold a celebration with such meaning and positive impact. Many of our guests are people who have shaped us into the couple we are today.

Why do you think so many Lourdes alumni get married to each other?
We believe so many couples from Lourdes get married because our faith-based education emphasized the importance of establishing good values and morals in life and in our relationships. This is something Lourdes alumni carry with them after graduation and stay true to beyond their years at Lourdes. We have learned many important life lessons at Lourdes and are forever thankful for our time spent there.

MICHAEL & KATE WAGNER: August 12, 2017
In 2009, Michael Wagner (‘10) sat in front of and Kate Cuttill (‘11) in Spanish. They started talking during class, and six years later they were exchanging vows. Kate graduated from UW Eau Claire in 2015 with a double major in Music Education and Spanish. After teaching four years at Markesan Middle/High School, she accepted a job as Omro Middle/High Schools’ choir director. Michael graduated from UW Oshkosh in 2013 in Criminal Justice and Sociology. He then completed the law enforcement academy and was hired as a Deputy Sheriff for Winnebago County. In 2019, he started his own business, Wagner Woodworks, which specializes in custom cabinetry and woodworking projects for new construction, as well as remodels. They live in Oshkosh with their daughter, Grace.

What drew you to your spouse?
Kate: I liked that Michael wasn’t afraid to speak his mind/share his opinion. He also was always cracking jokes and making me laugh.
Michael: Initially Kate caught my attention in class as she was one of the best students in Mr. Weber’s Spanish class. I thought maybe through small talk and a few jokes she would be able to help me get my struggling test scores up. Small talk turned into a few dates, and she continued to impress me with her hard work ethic. While my Spanish grade didn’t go up much, it worked out in the long run.

What is your favorite memory together from Lourdes?
Every day after school we would sit in the hallway outside of the weight room and talk with our friends. We can’t walk through that hall without thinking of all the memories we formed there.

What was the most memorable part of your wedding?
Going to Lourdes after our ceremony and taking pictures with our wedding party (which was largely made up of Lourdes graduates). We were surprised to find the doors open, and we were able to sneak in and take pictures in the Castle!

Why do you think so many Lourdes alumni get married to each other?
The special part about Lourdes is the relationships you are able to make with your peers. We are raised with similar values and are looking for similar things in life. Lourdes will always hold a special place in our hearts. It not only provided us with a great education and extracurricular activities, but also friendships/relationships that will last a lifetime.

JESSE & MORGAN BOEHM: May 16, 2020
Jesse (‘16) and Morgan (Genal – ’16) Boehm met in sixth grade at Lourdes Academy Middle School and have been best of friends ever since. Their friendship started with school ski trips, lunches in the Commons and sporting events, and the two eventually started dating as juniors in high school. They’ve attended 11 Lourdes dances together, and on May 16, they celebrated their first dance as husband and wife in their backyard, as their reception was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Morgan graduated from Marian University in May 2020 and works as a radiology technologist at ThedaClark Hospital. Jesse will graduate from Michigan Technological University in December 2020 with a Mechanical Engineering degree and will commission into the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant.

What drew you to your spouse?
Our strong friendship and our very similar personalities.

What is your favorite memory together from Lourdes?
Fast walking to lunch every day to get to the front of the line.

What was the most memorable part of your wedding?
After coming to the realization that we would not be able to have the wedding that we had been planning for two and a half years, we decided to take advantage of the situation. With all of the uncertainty, we decided to get married two weeks earlier than we had planned with immediate family and move back our reception. We live streamed a private wedding at St. Vincent Church, and were pleasantly surprised to find all of our friends and family in the parking lot after the ceremony. It is definitely a day we will never forget!

Why do you think so many Lourdes alumni get married to each other?
They grow close to each other in such a close-knit community and share similar values.

English class might not seem like a breeding ground for budding romance, but that’s where love began for Anthony Holland (‘14) and Adrienne Gruber (‘13) when Adrienne was a sophomore and Anthony was a freshman. They dated through high school and have survived long-distance romance, but the two are finally in the same state for the next phase of their education. Adrienne is currently in her final year of optometry school at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Illinois, and will be graduating in May 2021 as a Doctor of Optometry. Anthony has been doing pharmaceutical research in Madison since graduating from UW Oshkosh and will be attending medical school this fall at Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University.

What drew you to your fiancé?
We were drawn to each other when we became really good friends during solo/ensemble season and realized we made a great team.

What is your favorite memory together from Lourdes?
Getting to be in the Lourdes musical cast/pit together.

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?
We’re currently in a long-distance relationship and we’re really looking forward to starting a life together in the same city.

Why do you think so many Lourdes alumni get married to each other?
Faith is essential in a relationship, and finding that common ground at Lourdes allows couples to grow closer to each other while also growing closer to God.

Teaching Religion in an E-learning Environment

Middle School and High School Religion Teachers Get Creative with their Lessons

A lot of teachers had to get creative these last few months of school, as they adapted their classroom lesson plans for online learning. For high school Sacraments teacher, Mrs. Abby Mikesell, this meant reaching out to members of the community and inviting them to talk with students about different aspects of the Sacraments.

Fr. Tom Long joined Mrs. Mikesell’s Sacraments class to discuss the sacrament of Holy Orders.

While learning about the Sacrament of Holy Orders, Father Tom Long from St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church joined the virtual class and shared the process he went through while discerning to be a priest. He also answered questions from students – everything from “What is one thing you wish you could do, but can’t as a priest?” to “How did you know you wanted to be priest?”

Marriage Sacrament virtual panel discussion in Mrs. Mikesell’s high school religion class.

When it came time to learn about the Sacrament of Marriage, Mrs. Mikesell once again reached out to the community. This time to arrange a virtual panel discussion with engaged and married couples. The couples talked with students about preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage and the grace they received from that Sacrament.

In middle school, religion teacher Miss Jen Andrysczyk wanted to find ways to help students to continue to practice their faith at home. So for a class project she asked students to create a chapel at home.

Miss Andrysczyk shared with her students, “We cannot attend Sunday Mass right now, and will not have our weekly chapel day as a class — but Jesus is still inviting you to spend personal time with him!”

Students were asked to gather items from around their home (bible, candle, rosary, etc.) and dedicate a corner or place in their home to pray. Miss Andrysczyk encouraged students to set a ritual (e.g., light the candle, bless yourself with holy water, read a psalm, meditate, end with a decade of the rosary) and spend 15-20 minutes per day in quite prayer.

Below are a few examples of some of the wonderful home chapels students created.

“I think what students appreciated most about these discussions and projects was the opportunity to hear how people stayed close to God during times of uncertainty, and discerned their vocation to marriage and the priesthood,” said Mrs. Mikesell. “In the witness that Fr. Tom and the engaged and married couples gave, students were able to see that good discernment requires that we stay attuned and close to God. As they discern their own vocations, I hope they will remember that their path may take unexpected turns, yet our Lord will always lead them to fullness of life.”  

Best Wishes in Retirement!

Lori Balistrieri, Marci Escamilla, and Ron Vandenhouten retire with more than 60 years of combined teaching experience at Lourdes Academy.

When the new school year starts in the fall, there will be a few missing faces among the teaching staff. With 61.5 years of combined teaching experience at Lourdes Academy, Lori Balistrieri (elementary phy. ed.), Marci Escamilla (middle school science and social studies), and Ron Vandenhouten (high school Calculus), are retiring and leaving some big shoes to fill.

Mrs. B during her first year teaching.

Lori Balistrieri – Elementary Phy. Ed.: Lovingly known as ‘Mrs. B’ to hundreds of Lourdes Academy Elementary students, Lori is retiring after teaching Phy. Ed. at Lourdes for 40 years (yes you read the right, 40 years). Lori started teaching at St. Mary’s parish school and then continued on at the Cabrini and Seton schools when the parish schools combined under the Oshkosh Unified Catholic School System.

Mrs. B playing Scooter Hockey during her last year teaching.

“Mrs. B has been such a blessing to our school family,” said Elementary Principal, Amy Geffers. “She makes physical education fun for our students and always encourages them to do their best, especially when learning new skills. She has been a cherished member of our Lourdes Academy family and we are going to miss her so much!”

When looking back at her career, Lori mentioned that one of the things she is proud of, in addition to helping kids stay active and healthy, is an award she received in 2017 from the American Heart Association for her commitment to the annual Jump Rope for Heart program. In 2015, Lori helped raise a career high $13,000 through her Jump Rope for Heart activities.

Marci Escamilla – Middle School Science and Social Studies: Marci has spent the last 6 years of her teaching career at Lourdes Academy. Prior to coming to Lourdes she was a researcher and also taught at other schools for 12 years, including Markesan Middle School, UW-Oshkosh, and Northern Illinois University.

Marci Escamilla

“When you walked into Marci’s classroom, you always knew you were in for a treat,” said Dave Mikesell, Lourdes Academy Middle School/High School Principal. “She absolutely loved bringing Science and Social Studies alive for the students. She loved the students, she loved the field trips, she loved sharing her knowledge and life experience with the students. We will definitely miss her.”

Marci’s first year teaching at Lourdes.

Marci has also been an important part of expanding Lourdes Academy’s STEM curriculum, and one of the reasons the Middle School has been honored as a Project Lead the Way Distinguished School.

Marci shared the following about her time at Lourdes: “I will truly miss Lourdes Academy. The staff and students are a very special group, and they should be very proud of what they have built!”

Ron Vandenhouten – High School Calculus: After 15.5 years of teaching Calculus at Lourdes High School, Ron is retiring from teaching, but will continue what he calls his ‘real job’ as a Statistical Programmer/Analyst for the Pharmaceutical Research industry. Prior to teaching at Lourdes, Ron taught at Western New England University and at the University of Kentucky, teaching many different courses, from college algebra to graduate-level mathematics and engineering.

…did he even age in 15 years?
Ron’s first year teaching at Lourdes…

“Dr. Vandenhouten will be missed. He had a way of teaching Calculus that was mesmerizing, ” said Mikesell. “You knew the students were in great hands with him. They embraced the challenge of his class. He always treated each and every student as an individual and put the responsibility on them.”

“Both Ron and Marci lived out the Catholic Social Teaching practice of human dignity. They found the best in each child and help them grow into that. When students were down, they were there for them. They not only loved their students, but also supported their colleagues and the school’s mission as well. They are just great people.”

Earlier this month, Ron shared this letter with his Lourdes Family, thanking fellow teachers, administrators and students for being such an important part of his life the past 15.5 years.

Thank you, Lori, Marci, and Ron, for all you have given the Lourdes Academy School System. We wish you the best in retirement and with your future adventures. God’s blessings to you all!

Mary Buttke Receives 2020 Outstanding Stewardship Honor

Mary (Kerrigan) Buttke (’70)

Mary (Kerrigan) Buttke (’70) has served as a volunteer in the Lourdes Academy system for more than 20 years. Her involvement began when her son Dan (’99) was in high school. She served on the Booster Club board supporting athletics at Lourdes, as well as in many other capacities that arose, from volunteering at events to serving concessions and everything in between.

Upon her son’s graduation, Buttke felt a desire to serve in the Lourdes system in a new way. She joined the Lourdes Foundation Board in 2002 and became president in 2011, a position she still holds today. Buttke was on the Board when a vision to unite the system onto the existing Middle/High School campus began to materialize.

The new vision led to the purchase of Lourdes Academy’s Central Business Office and adjacent storage units, which would allow for future growth. Buttke played an instrumental role in facilitating these purchases. She served as a project manager for the Capital Campaign Feasibility Study contacting and educating participants, and she continues to serve on the Building Committee to solidify the plans for the unified campus.

Fellow Foundation Board member Doran Ryan has served alongside Mary for nearly 20 years.

“Mary is so responsive to what’s going on,” Ryan said. She keeps everyone informed, keeps all of the historic records and is diligent about doing her job. Mary has been outstanding.”

In addition to managing assets for Lourdes Academy, the Foundation Board also manages numerous funds and endowments that support the system by providing funding for tuition assistance, special programs, facilities and staffing. As Foundation Board president, Buttke works with the Advancement Department to set strategic funding goals that will benefit Lourdes both now and in the future.

One such fund is the Bill Behring Staff Endowment Fund, which was established in 2018 to support staff salaries and professional development. Buttke not only helped develop a plan for the endowment, but made the first gift to start the fund, which inspired other alumni gifts.

The staff endowment fund was a result of a larger comprehensive strategic plan, which Buttke was also involved with developing. She served on the Strategic Planning Committee, as well as a task force to update Lourdes Academy’s mission and vision statements.

Mark Bullard, former Foundation Board vice president who served with Buttke, described her as a rock who was willing to step up and “take the bull by the horns” when needed.

“Having known Mary for eight years as a board member, she was a stalwart,” Bullard said. “Her love for the school and what it represents is phenomenal. She’s so humble. She doesn’t take credit for anything. You need people like that.”

In 2019, and as a result of the strategic planning process, Lourdes Academy formed an Alumni Association to engage alumni and create opportunities for them to connect with Lourdes and with fellow alumni. With gusto, Buttke took a leadership role in organizing the group and moving it forward. She helped organize the school’s 60th anniversary Homecoming celebration for alumni and is an integral part of the planning for the all-class reunion scheduled for June 2021.

“Mary has been a true Godsend for me during my time at Lourdes Academy,” Lourdes Academy President John Dinegan said. “She lives and breathes Lourdes as an alumnus, parent, grandparent, and president of the Foundation Board. She is always willing to help in any way she can.”

When she isn’t serving on a committee, Buttke also assists the Advancement Department in maintaining the system database, organizing mailing crews for the Lourdes Fund mailing, and helping at special events.

“Mary’s knowledge of the history of our school system and the Catholic community of Oshkosh is such a valuable resource for me,” Dinegan added. “She is a great champion for our students, parents, alumni, teachers and staff, and anything that has to do with making our system better!”

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