Each year during Catholic Schools Week, Catholic schools throughout the United States bestow a Distinguished Graduate Award honoring members of their alumni who have made a contribution to American life and/or the Catholic Church.
Recipients are active members in their parish and share their time and talent for the betterment of the parish or school.
Here are some of the honorees from the Jefferson City diocese:
JEFFERSON CITY: St. Joseph Cathedral School honored Max and Susan Rademan, members of the Class of 1997.
Mr. Rademan is the manager of interventional services at SSM St. Mary’s Hospital–Jefferson City. Mrs. Rademan is a physical therapist at River City Living Community in Jefferson City.
“We are caring for others, as the Lord has cared for us,” they stated.
Their children are third-generation St. Joseph Cathedral School students.
Principal Spencer Allen praised the Rademans’ commitment to the school and the larger community.
“In addition to their work as heroes caring for others on the front line during the challenging last several months, Max and Susan are active in their parish and school, such as by volunteering for the Christmas bazaar and in the school, sharing also the gift of their three children,” he said.
Mr. and Mrs. Rademan are convinced that Catholic schools are important.
“We feel a Catholic education created a Christ-centered model to help our children mature into Christ-like people and to recognize Christ in themselves and others,” they stated. “As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. Attending a Catholic school that supports our faith is an extension of our home and allows us to have an active role in their education. Catholic schools have high expectations of their students academically and spiritually. Students are expected to take responsibility for their actions and how they treat others.”
Catholic schools also teach the value of community involvement, they stated.
JEFFERSON CITY: Immaculate Conception School honored Kevin and Debbie Kolb for the countless hours they’ve given in support of the parish and school.
Mr. Kolb graduated from the school in 1977, and Mrs. Kolb is considered an “honorary alumna.”
“I cannot begin to estimate the time and effort that they have given back and with complete humbleness,” stated Principal Heather Schrimpf.
“Whether it’s serving on the school advisory board, parish council, the I.C. Home and School Association, various other parish organizations, volunteering to tutor students after school, or helping to substitute in the classroom, their love for Catholic education and the Catholic faith is evident,” Mrs. Schrimpf said.
LINN: St. George School honored Elizabeth Hoffman Reinkemeyer, a member of the Class of 2000.
She has been serving as second-grade teacher at St. George since graduating from college.
“Liz’s dedication to Catholic education is reflected in her commitment to passing our Catholic faith down to all children,” said Principal Lisa Grellner. “Liz has a love for the sacraments that she instills in all of her students.”
Second grade is a big year for Catholics, as they receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion for the first time.
“Liz never lets her students forget that Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the Eucharist — Body, Blood, and Divinity,” Mrs. Grellner stated. “Liz not only teaches the importance of the sacraments, but she models this in her daily life.”
All teachers have struggled through shut-downs, virtual learning and other challenges while ensuring their students’ continued learning and academic and spiritual growth.
“The people around here can testify that Liz’s faith during these times has not only inspired students but adults as well,” Mrs. Grellner stated. “This is another example of building the Body of Christ as well as her dedication to St. George students.”
Her mother, Veronica Hoffman, received the same award in 2017.
MARSHALL: St. Peter School honored Ashley Allison with its Alumna of the Year award and Al Terhune with the Friend of St. Peter award.
Mrs. Allison and her husband own a local business and have two children who now attend St. Peter School.
Mrs. Allison is an energetic volunteer. She is dedicated to the Scrip program and goes above and beyond, trying to help offset the costs of running the school.
As an educator herself, she understands the toll the pandemic has taken on teachers and has looked for ways to help the St. Peter faculty.
She mixes faith and service, making herself available to help at any time.
Mr. Terhune is everything St. Peter School could want in a friend. He exemplifies the commitment to service, dropping everything to help whenever he’s needed. “His faith is unwavering, and you see it, every time he responds to a situation, ready to manage whatever is necessary,” said Principal Mary McCoy. “He holds a special place in each of our hearts and we are so grateful for the way he generously gives of his time.”
RICH FOUNTAIN: Sacred Heart School honored JoAnn Rudroff for her selflessness commitment to passing on the Catholic faith to the youth of Sacred Heart Parish.
She has been giving of herself for many years in the Parish School of Religion and in helping candidates prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
SEDALIA: Sacred Heart School honored Mary Kehl, a 1973 Sacred Heart High School alumna who has been an art teacher at the school for 44 years, with its Teacher of the Year award.
“We just could not be more grateful that she chose Sacred Heart School to devote her professional life to,” stated Sacred Heart School President Mark Register.
She said it was always her dream to return to Sacred Heart to teach art, and she did so after graduating from college.
Her siblings and children are also Sacred Heart graduates, and her grandchildren are current students there.
“I have enjoyed my teaching career here, otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” she said upon receiving the award Feb. 5. “I loved being here as a student, I love teaching here, and I love the kids and the teachers. I mean, it’s a big family.”
VIENNA: Visitation Inter-parish School honored Beth Wulff, a member of the Class of 1999.
“I look back on the list of past honored graduates and can’t help but think that I don’t deserve to be grouped with our parish’s finest,” she stated. “I have spent my whole adult life looking up to those on that list can’t believe that I have now been added to it. Thank you all.”
WESTPHALIA: St. Joseph School honored Karen (Fennewald) Gentges, a member of the Class of 1982.
“Karen continues to live out her Catholic faith by showing all of us what it means to be a disciple of Christ, giving of herself in service to others,” Principal Pat Kirk stated.
Since graduating, Mrs. Gentges has continually dedicated her life to giving back to the parish and her elementary school.
She served for many years as director of St. Joseph Parish School of Religion (PSR) and the high school PSR program.
She works with the Parents as Teacher Program for Fatima R-3 School District.
For the past several years, she has been a substitute teacher for St. Joseph School in all areas of academics.
Her husband Kurt and her three sons are alumni, and two of their four grandchildren are students at St. Joseph School.