In this time of COVID-19, death, disruption, economic suffering, racial turmoil, social distancing and uncertainty, I’ve spent plenty of time praying and thinking about the state of our communities and country and how might I “be” better while “doing” better for others.
The health and safety of our VASJ students and families is our top priority. Our administration has been hard at work creating a plan for a safe and responsible reopening of the school.
Keep an eye out as you’re driving up and down East 185th Street for new VASJ street banners!
Out of concern for large gatherings and the health and safety of our community members, Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School has decided to cancel the All-Alumni Reunion planned for Friday, Oct. 2. We hope to see everyone at next year’s event.
Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School principal David Csank announced July 15 that Adi Taraska has been named VASJ athletic director.
Bank of America announced that the four Cleveland high school juniors and seniors selected as Student Leaders (#BofAStudentLeaders) have started their paid summer internship experience of leadership, civic engagement and workforce skills-building.
The VASJ Hall of Fame was established to honor alumni, faculty and staff members, and others associated with the Viking community who embody the mission and values of Villa Angela Academy, St. Joseph High School and Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School.
The Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School Athletic Department is excited to announce Laura Stauffer has been named the new VASJ women’s varsity basketball head coach.
As a newly minted Student Council officer for the following school year, one of my duties was to update the block-letter sign in front of the school over the summer months. The idea was to promote summer activities — things like dances and athletic events.
The Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School Athletic Department is excited to announce Ashen Ward ’08 has been named the new VASJ men’s varsity basketball head coach.
Vince White-Petteruti SJ ’69 has always been called to nature. Its beauty and quiet power serves as an escape for him to regroup and reflect. When he was experiencing a challenging time in college, he recalls taking a walk through the trails to clear his mind. The self-reflection he did on that week long hike eventually led him to join the Chicago chapter of the Sierra Club. Soon, Vince was asked to lead a weekend backpacking trip in Wisconsin. It was on this excursion that Vince met the love of his life, Duck. Little did they know just how instrumental the wonders of nature would prove in unveiling a life dedicated to serving others during a time when hope, compassion and love is needed most.
Throughout 1990, Vince spent several months traveling from Chicago to Cleveland to spend time with his father who was battling heart disease. Sadly, his father passed away, and Vince found himself needing a break. In December of that year, Vince and Duck planned a trip to the picturesque snow-covered mountains of Colorado. A surprise lack of snow soon changed plans for the couple eager to enjoy the winter landscape of Breckenridge. Making the best of their trip, Vince and Duck decided to go shopping instead. On their list: many acres surrounded by a forest and a lake or river. A call to a realtor later and the couple found exactly what it was looking for: 10 beautiful, forested acres with a view of Baldy Mountain. Vince and Duck had found the perfect location to enjoy their retirement when the time was right.
In 1997, Duck’s mother became terminally ill with cancer. Together with her sisters, Duck took their mother on a much-needed respite to Vail. This trip would be their last and a moment in time that Duck and her sisters deeply cherish. Vince shares that in the final hours of his beloved mother-in-law’s life, she held the photos that were taken in Vail of her and her daughters. She passed away surrounded by family and with memories that brought her peace.
Finally, in 2001, both Vince and his wife were ready to enjoy retirement, so they headed to Breckenridge, Colorado, to begin construction on their new home. That July, Vince took a hike with his children, Nic and Sarah, only to return to find that Duck had experienced a moment of clarity. While alone, Duck spoke to God and shared with Vince she felt a calling to use their beautiful land as both their home and as a place of respite for families dealing with the harsh reality of cancer. Together, the couple contacted an architect to begin plans for their vision.
The Domus Pacis Family Respite was opened in June of 2008. The natural beauty that surrounds Breckenridge offers families the perfect setting to create memories and take in moments of peace. Yet, Vince says the location offers more than just incredible scenery. The community of Breckenridge has opened its hearts — and homes — to Domus Pacis and its mission. Vince explains that aside from his home, more than 100 other sites are available to host families for respite.
Prior to opening Domus Pacis, both Vince, a former steel industry executive, and Duck, a senior vice president in information management, had never operated a nonprofit, let alone a respite organization. Still, their respective careers had afforded them strength in business and planning that proved vital in running their organization efficiently. Vince says one of the most challenging tasks was fundraising, an aspect of business neither he nor Duck had to consider during their corporate careers.
Initially financed by themselves, Domus Pacis quickly grew, meaning fundraising was essential for hiring new staff and expanding. Support was slow at first, but Vince explains once they started building relationships and sharing their story, the community believed in their mission. Just like Vince and Duck, so many others had been touched by cancer and understood the importance of the nonprofit. Vince’s children have also played key roles in the mission and operation of Domus Pacis. His son, Nic, serves on the board, while his daughter, Sarah, was instrumental in working with referral partners as a social worker. “Seeing the kids mature and their different skill sets develop is amazing,” Vince says.
As a way to show appreciation to those who help to provide the gift of respite, Vince explains that each family who visits Domus Pacis is asked to write a thank you letter to the individuals who made their experience possible. He finds that the request is welcomed by the families, as they’re often overwhelmed with gratitude and want to share their story.
Domus Pacis means “House of Peace,” a name that Duck holds close to her heart. At her mother’s funeral, Duck sang a hymn with a verse asking the Lord to grant peace. Upon reflection, she realized their mission was to create a place of peace for families — a house of peace. Vince says anyone of any age or stage of cancer, including end of life, is welcome for a week-long respite. He explains that a seven-day stay allows families to take time settling in before beginning to make memories. Vince notes that family includes friends who have been part of the cancer journey as well.
The process is initiated when a referral partner, like an oncology nurse, recommends a family for a stay. A lead family member must write a letter sharing his or her cancer journey and discuss his or her needs and wishes for the visit. Learning more about a family helps the Domus Pacis team to choose the right home for the stay and ensure the respite is specific for each family. Vince and Duck work with a community of businesses that help to make each respite special. Common requests include photography, massage therapy, horseback riding and fly fishing. Volunteers bring home-cooked meals to guests. Counseling is not provided; rather, Duck believes in allowing the breathtaking landscape and Spirit to guide conversations.
The experience of helping families escape the haze of cancer has opened Vince’s heart to the goodness that exists even amid uncertainty. The “quiet love that isn’t yelled or shouted” is what’s most moving for Vince to witness between the bond of family and friends. Throughout his years operating Domus Pacis, Vince has learned some remarkable lessons. “What you learn is so much more than what you give,” he says. “I am not afraid to die, and I wish for my family to surround me the way these families do.” He’s also come to know that God had a plan for him and his wife.
In recognizing the challenges many small businesses are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more important than ever for us to lend our support. Many alumni and Viking families own and operate local businesses that are open and ready to serve their community. Some will need support as they reopen in the coming weeks.
Eight Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School students were named winners in the LifeWorks Ohio “Respect Life” Art, Essay and Poetry Contest.
Congratulations to three Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School bowlers who were recently recognized by The News-Herald!
Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, in cooperation with the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, is closely monitoring updates on COVID-19.
The VASJ Academic Decathlon Team competed in the state finals the weekend of March 6 and finished second in the Small School Division. The team accumulated 34 medals: 12 gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze. The medal count included two in speech, two in interview, two in literature, two in science, three in essay, three in art, four in music, four in social science, five in economics and seven in mathematics.
Eight students at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School competed in the Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition on Saturday, March 7.
Twenty-four VASJ students were inducted into the National Honor Society on Wednesday, March 4. These students were recognized for their commitment to the values of scholarship, service, leadership and character.
Join Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School for its biggest fundraising event of the year, the Continue the Dream gala, on Saturday, May 16 in the VASJ Gym. The gala supports the school’s effort in providing quality, Catholic education in the traditions of Ursuline and Marianist values. This year will also recognize the 30th anniversary of VASJ and its ongoing legacy present and thriving today.
Every January, the Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School community joins together to celebrate the traditions of the school’s founders: Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Society of Mary (Marianists), and St. Angela Merici, founder of the Ursuline Sisters. The Mass celebrates VASJ’s combined core values and unique identity.
Misrach Ewunetie ’20 has received a full four-year scholarship to Princeton University through the QuestBridge National College Match program.
Trying to break a rare four-game losing skid, VASJ needed a win in the worst way as the Vikings traveled to Gates Mills to play Hawken on Jan. 25.
Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School hosted a breakfast the morning of Thursday, Dec. 5 in recognition of the school’s legacy families. About 80 people attended the Legacy Breakfast, including current VASJ students and their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School exceeded its goal of raising $10,000 during #WeGiveCatholic on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School welcomed 82 local first-grade students on Tuesday, Dec. 10 for the school’s annual Christmas on Campus event.
The VASJ community observed All Saints’ Day with an all-school Mass the morning of Nov. 1. Fr. Patrick Schultz from Communion of Saints Parish presided at the Mass.
The Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School Athletic Department is excited to announce the appointment of Liz (Guard) Sellers ’02 as the new head women’s volleyball coach.
Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School has been a participating school in the Educational Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Program for many years. Thanks to recent rule changes made by the state, VASJ has been able to offer vouchers to even more local students who are eligible.