The two religious orders that sponsor Joliet Catholic Academy, the Carmelites and Franciscans, along with three distinguished individuals who have demonstrated exceptional contributions to the school, were inducted into the Joliet Catholic Academy Hall of Fame on Thursday, March 26.
Joliet Catholic Academy’s Hall of Fame was established in 2009 to honor men and women who have given at least ten years of service to St. Francis Academy, De La Salle High School, Joliet Catholic High School, and/or Joliet Catholic Academy; live and/or continues to live the mission of JCA; and value and support Catholic education.
Joliet Catholic Academy is extremely proud of its heritage and tradition. In 1869, the Joliet Franciscans opened St. Francis Academy to young women in the Joliet area. Nearly 50 years later, De La Salle High School was founded by the Christian Brothers to educate young men. In 1933, the Carmelites assumed leadership of De La Salle, changing the name to Joliet Catholic High School. These three schools are the foundations for Joliet Catholic Academy, established as such on July 1, 1990.
The names of the honorees are kept confidential until the presentation although family members are notified so they can attend. As the inductees were introduced, family members entered the Student Activity Center. The astonishment of the inductees added to the joy of the event. Inductees for 2015 included Kris Horn, Kathy Major and Ed Mayer.
Even though the school’s two co-sponsors, The Congregation of the Third Order of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate and The Carmelites of the Most Pure Order of the Heart of Mary, were aware of the induction their respective organizations, the members present were still very excited and honored to be recognized for their commitment to Catholic education and especially Joliet Catholic Academy.
Kris Horn ‘93: Currently a Guidance Counselor, Horn has made a commitment to the JCA community in one way or another for over 19 years. She is a walking testament to JCA values and principles. Her spirituality and genuine care for the school is evident in everything she does. Horn has been married to John (’91) for 15 years and they are the proud parents of three daughters: Samantha, Jessica, and Ella. Mary Ragusa, her presenter, credited Horn as being kind, loving, giving, inspirational and deeply rooted in faith. According to Ragusa, Horn is much like St. Therese of Lisieux, she is a vessel for God and her vocation is love.
Kathy Major ‘74: Currently Guidance Department Chair and College/Career Counselor, Major has been a member of the JCA family for approximately 20 years. She is one of the school’s greatest assets. As a former alumna, she is passionately committed to the JCA mission. Major been married to Gary for 32 years and they are the proud parents of three children, Jeremy, Lindsay, and Tyler. Chris Voss, her presenter, credited Major as a person who lives her life in little moments with an enormous love for others. She is constantly improving her skills because she wants every student to have the opportunity to be successful beyond the walls of JCA.
Ed Mayer: Currently the Business Manager/CFO, Mayer has been dedicated to JCA for over 20 years. He is a respected member of the JCA administration and lives the charisms of the Carmelites and Franciscans. Mayer has been married to Peg for 38 years and they are the proud parents of five children: Sarah, Jennifer, John, Daniel, and Megan. Diane Reichstadt, his presenter, credited Mayer as being a person with a solid work ethic who oversees the school’s annual audit, which consistently gets praise from the auditors. Many individuals do not know what Mr. Mayer does at JCA, but Reichstadt attributed his job to balancing a personal checkbook times a thousand or squeezing pennies to balance the budget by a million. He does all this for the families of JCA in an effort to keep tuition costs as low as possible.
The Congregation of the Third Order of St. Francis of Mary, Joliet Franciscan Sisters: Currently celebrating the 150th Anniversary of their foundation, Joliet Franciscan Sisters have been proud sponsors of the school since 1869 when their foundress, Mother Alfred Moes, opened St. Francis Academy for young women. Three hundred eighty-five Joliet Franciscans have ministered at St. Francis Academy and Joliet Catholic Academy and an additional seventy-two at Joliet Catholic High School, which translates to over 2,500 years of dedication and commitment to education. Along with JCA, the Joliet Franciscans sponsor the University of St. Francis, the Franciscan Learning Center, and Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home. There are currently two sisters serving at JCA: Sr. Barb Kwiatkowski, Campus Minister, and Sr. Maria Pesavento, Staff Accountant.
The Carmelites of the Most Pure Order of the Heart of Mary: Currently celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Carmelite presence in North America, Carmelites have been a proud sponsor of the school since 1933 when they assumed leadership of De La Salle High School and changed the name to Joliet Catholic High School. Two hundred fourteen Carmelites have ministered at Joliet Catholic High School and Joliet Catholic Academy, amassing 1,099 years of ministry. Carmelites have a strong commitment to education as well as parish involvement. They are known for their zeal, passion for education, and spirituality. There is currently one Carmelite ministering at JCA, Fr. Jeff Smialek, Campus Minister and Theology teacher.
The Carmelites and Franciscans are integral members of the JCA family. Members can often be found at JCA events including but not limited to school masses, Open House, Parent Back-to-School Night, athletic events, concerts, and fine arts performances.
As Hall of Fame inductees were introduced, Angels and Hilltoppers filled the Student Activity Center with much applause, admiration, respect, and love.
Joliet Catholic Academy is grateful for the gifts their inductees have shared and continue to share.
For more information on JCA’s Hall of Fame, contact Bill Pender, Vice Principal, at 815-741-0500.