Letters from our President


January 25, 2021

V. Educate for Adaptation and Change
 
“A school ought to be continually revising its methods, bearing in mind the complexity and instability of the real world.” – Paul J. Hofer, SM
 
Adaptation and Change. In 2020, these two words epitomized practically every aspect of our personal and professional lives. Last March, we began to adapt to health-related guidelines and safety protocols established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to change the manner in which we conduct our lives at home, within the workplace, in our community, and at school. Planning for this new reality at St. John Vianney High School was never an option, but rather an imperative as we continuously work to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff as well as loved ones at home.
 
Transcending today’s COVID challenges, we recall the words of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, “New times call for new methods.” In this simple message, Chaminade refers to a proactive rather than reactive approach to education that serves to shape the future rather than passively submit to it. This is why Vianney encourages students to advocate for themselves and meet the inevitable changes they encounter with faith-filled discernment and reflection. Through formation for leadership, our students have the ability to shape their futures through social transformation.
 
As a Marianist-sponsored school, we seek to understand our world and the changes it presents through Mary’s call to be open to the Holy Spirit. Through a steadfast commitment to growing in our Catholic faith, continually assessing our college-prep curriculum in light of student needs, introducing programs and initiatives that reinforce our school’s mission, improving our campus, and dedicating ourselves to providing the Vianney Experience to a broader and more diverse group of future Griffins, St. John Vianney High School continues to adapt and change in order to support our mission now and into the future.

 


December 21, 2020
 
IV: Educate for Service, Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation
 
“One hopes that everyone will enjoy the material and spiritual advantages of the human community…In that tiny cosmos which is the classroom or the school, the students are progressively initiated into a sensitivity for the common good.” - Paul J. Hofer, SM
 
One need look no further for an imperative for goodness and justice than Mary’s Magnificat, which she proclaimed upon the occasion of her Visitation to her cousin, Elizabeth. In the Magnificat or Canticle of Mary, our Blessed Mother speaks of God’s mercy, reaching out to the poor, and the dignity of all people. St. John Vianney High School seeks to focus the efforts of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and constituents on the common good within our school community and, more importantly, beyond our campus.
 
As Blessed William Joseph Chaminade said, “We are all missionaries and we consider ourselves on a permanent mission” to witness the Good News of Jesus Christ. We strive to demonstrate this mission by the manner in which we treat one another within the classroom, in all school activities and interactions. This mission is also reflected in our service to others, which inspires us to become Christ-like in our thoughts, words and actions. Some examples include:
 
  • “Thoughtful Thursdays” in which sandwiches are made for the poor in a homeless shelter.
  • Our Special Olympics event that gives our students the opportunity to assist youth with intellectual disabilities in an atmosphere of fun and friendly competition.
  • The annual Christmas Toy Drive, in which thousands of dollars are raised by our young men to provide gifts to needy children during the holidays.
  • Social Service Projects that enable Vianney students to work with organizations focused on the care and well-being of the marginalized and vulnerable in our society.
  • Participation in the annual Pro-Life event in Washington, DC to protect the lives of the unborn.
  • Soliciting support for the Griffin Fund, “Night of the Griffin” auction, and other initiatives that directly help those families in need of tuition assistance.
  • The daily prayers of our school community, as we ask God to bless those who are less fortunate and implore Mary to protect us and open us to action of the Holy Spirit.
 
Vianney’s formation involves educating our young men on the causes of poverty and injustice, as well as the social and moral problems of our time, with the aim of undertaking thoughtful forms of action and promoting lasting change. Our Marianist education and curriculum provides students both the tools and motivation to be promoters of the common good and agents of positive social change through life-long service to others, civic engagement, leading faith-filled lives, and assuming personal responsibility for their decisions and actions. 

November 24, 2020

III. Educate in Family Spirit
 
“Marianist-educated persons exhibit Family Spirit in relationships. They are capable of developing balanced interpersonal relationships and successfully maintaining those relationships…. Their personal experience of community has taught them the importance of community for ongoing personal development.” —Stephen Glodek, SM
 
One of the most common descriptors about St. John Vianney High School is our welcoming atmosphere. No matter the age of our alumni, a similar message is conveyed regarding their four years at Vianney: “It felt like home.” I experienced that same feeling as a freshman in 1975. Vianney did, and still does, feel like home.
 
In my short time as president, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with several freshman parents in the Class of 2024. I never tire of hearing moms and dads tell me that their sons loved Vianney from the moment they stepped on campus. There’s simply a feeling of belonging and community that doesn’t exist in other schools. So what’s Vianney’s “secret sauce”? It’s the Family Spirit that was instilled by our Marianist predecessors and evidenced by anyone associated with Vianney.
 
By creating a decades-long atmosphere of acceptance and love, Vianney serves as an extended family, encouraging growth, development, and personal responsibility. Our faculty and staff create this atmosphere by modeling Mary, Our Blessed Mother, who was open to God’s call and the needs of others throughout her life. Mary’s unconditional love and response to others are witnessed by her visit to care for her cousin, Elizabeth. It’s also apparent in her instruction to the servants at the wedding in Cana, made to spare the newly-married couple from embarrassment: “Do whatever He tells you.”
 
Marianist educational tradition has also been characterized by shared responsibility for decision making at the appropriate levels. Presidents, principals, and academic counsels exist to promote teamwork and obtain insights among faculty, staff, and administrators. Parents, students, alumni, and donors are encouraged to provide feedback formally and informally regarding school operations and key initiatives. And, like a family, everyone’s voice is heard and valued with compassion and understanding.
  

October 26, 2020

II. Provide an Integral, Quality Education | “We don’t educate for the school, nor merely for the years one is in school, but for life.” - F. Armentia, S.M.
 
As a Marianist sponsored school, St. John Vianney High School looks to Mary, Jesus’ first educator, as our model for nurturing the development of our students spiritually, academically, and personally. Following Mary’s lead, our administrators, faculty, and staff view each student as a child of God, uniquely gifted and deserving of respect and dignity.
 
Marianist education is comprehensive yet personal in nature. First, there is a focus on educating the “whole person.” While intellectual development is critically important, so is the moral, social, psychological, physical, and creative aspects of a student. Integrating these various areas helps to develop a more thoughtful, faith-filled, and mature adult, better prepared for life’s opportunities and challenges. Second, the encouragement to further integrate learning and participation with prayer, reflection, and service is key to the development of self-knowledge, critical thinking, and prudent judgement. Blessed William Joseph Chaminade stated that, “The essential is the interior.” Deepening the interior life motivates students to active leadership for the common good.
 
Finally, Vianney’s class schedule, commonly known as our “Two-Semester, College-Style Schedule,” helps promote discourse within the classroom and an appreciation for diversity of background, thought, and perspective. Our expanded class periods provide time for more in-depth discussion, idea generation, and collaboration. With students actively participating in the learning process, essential skills such as listening, reflecting on dialogue, and sharing views are enhanced and become a key element of their overall learning experience.           
 

September 28, 2020
 
I. Educate for Formation in Faith | “Our primary objective is formation in faith. In particular, we aim to motivate and train apostles to foster communities of dedicated lay people.” Rule of Life of the Society of Mary #71.
 
At St. John Vianney High School, the primary formation that occurs, along with a college preparatory education, is our faith life. With Mary, our Blessed Mother, as our guide, we strive to foster the virtues of Christ in each student. Whether taking part in school-wide prayers three-times daily, celebrating the Eucharist, visiting our chapel for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, attending retreats, or participating in our LIFE program, Vianney students are constantly reminded of their obligation to become faithful disciples with an aim to be truly Christ-like.
 
No less important is the formation that takes place in our classrooms where faculty promote dialogue centered around faith sharing as well as important conversations involving faith and culture. As a preparatory school, Vianney assists our students in their readiness for college and beyond, through consistently practicing our faith, fostering the discourse which allows young men to express themselves, encouraging the incorporation of gospel values and Christian attitudes in one’s daily activities, and using these values to build communities of faith throughout their life.
 

August 31, 2020

Through the course of this school year, St. John Vianney High School will highlight the Characteristics of Marianist Education (CME’s) with our entire Vianney family. If our mission represents what Vianney does, the CME’s describe how we do it. These Marianist educational traditions date back to the Society of Mary’s founder, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, and maintain their relevance two hundred years later.
 
The CME’s, formally established in 1996, are derived from Marianist spirituality which reflect Chaminade’s personal experiences, struggles, and vision for innovative missionary work. This spirituality is based on three dimensions: a spirit of Marian faith, the building of communities of faith, and a deep sense of mission. Mary, who formed Jesus, through her fiat and profound instruction to “do whatever He tells you,” shows us that with God all things are possible. Second, Chaminade believed that transformation required the action of many people working together as a community with a common aim. Finally, with Mary’s inspiration, communities like St. John Vianney High School are infused with a deep sense of mission as they carry out their work of emulating Christ and, through the Vianney family, bringing His message of salvation to the world.
 
Mary’s influence is visible throughout Marianist spirituality and the CME’s represent the roadmap to achieving Vianney’s mission of forming young men for spiritual, academic, and personal excellence in the Catholic, Marianist tradition.
 
 The five Characteristics of Marianist Education are:
1.      Educate for formation in faith
2.      Provide an integral, quality education
3.      Educate in family spirit
4.      Educate for service, justice, peace and the integrity of creation
5.      Educate for adaptation and change
 
We look forward to sharing how St. John Vianney High School “lives” the CME’s as we journey through this unprecedented school year.

July 1, 2020

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

As I embark on my first step as president of St. John Vianney High School, the world, our nation and our school community have traversed some challenging staircases over the past four months. The hard-fought road to winning a state hockey championship, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic and punctuated by a call for sweeping reforms after the tragic death of George Floyd. These events have tested our resolve, tapped our emotions, and explored our humanity. Through it all, I believe that the words of our Blessed Mother, “Do whatever He tells you,” will continue to light Vianney’s staircase and our future as a Marianist school community. 
 
I know that God places people on our personal staircase to help us find our way. It has been a blessing to have Mr. Mike Loyet as my guide. Much has been said about the gifts that Mr. Loyet brought to Vianney over his many years of service as a Marianist educator and administrator. I can only add that his legacy of love for this school will undoubtedly be remembered and celebrated during Vianney’s next 60 years.
 
I am also fortunate to be working with a talented, faith-filled faculty and staff, led by our principal, Mr. Ian Mulligan. This team, along with an outstanding board of directors, is truly devoted to the mission of forming our students spiritually, academically, and personally in the Catholic, Marianist tradition. In my view, Men of Character and Accomplishment is more than a tagline; it is a heartfelt promise to students, parents, alumni, and benefactors. Vianney will always maintain its pledge to prepare young men to confidently meet the opportunities and challenges of this world, through college and beyond.
 
Now ordinarily, this would be the ideal time to outline my vision for Vianney’s future. Quite honestly, I wish that these times were indeed ordinary, as much of my transition into this role has been dedicated to planning a safe return to campus for students, faculty, and staff this coming school year. As part of a task force initiated in May, we have worked to ensure that the faith formation, academics, co-curricular activities, and personal engagement which represent the very essence of Vianney, will be firmly in place as the health and well being of our school community takes on a new and greater significance. Please know that throughout my service as a board member, the selection process last fall, my six-month preparation, and right up to the present day…this mind has been filled with “all things Vianney.” My vision will most assuredly emerge as we travel our many staircases together.  
 
Finally, a request: I humbly ask for your prayers and support as I start this journey, mindful of those words spoken by Dr. King, that the “first step in faith” is essential. And, together, we will proceed with the love and dedication of a Marianist community to ascend each step in the success story called St. John Vianney High School.
 
Go Griffins!
 
Sincerely,
Rick Davis ’79
President

December 4, 2019

St. John Vianney High School in Kirkwood, Missouri is pleased to announce its next president. Richard P. Davis officially assumes his responsibilities on July 1, 2020. Davis completed his bachelor’s and master’s in business administration at Saint Louis University and worked at Anheuser-Busch for more than 20 years, rising to Vice-President of Mass Merchandising to oversee the company’s largest retail customers. He went on to serve as Director of Advancement at Covenant House Missouri and is currently an adjunct faculty member in the College of Business and Administration at University of Missouri, St. Louis. He is a member of Vianney’s Class of 1979 and serves on the school’s Board of Directors.

 “My professional life has been dedicated to building relationships, mentoring associates, providing solutions for customer needs, and reaching organizational goals. My experience ranges from leading multi-functional teams in large companies to achieving the funding goals of a shelter for homeless youth. Recently, I created and currently teach a university-level business course. I have a passion for education that helps young people grow spiritually, intellectually, and professionally,” said Davis.

Davis has been a member of Assumption Parish (Mattese) for the past 28 years and was endorsed by the Society of Mary who founded St. John Vianney High School in 1960. “Rick possesses proven professional experience in leadership, business strategy, and marketing. He is a man of faith…Rick’s understanding of our Characteristics of Marianist Education makes him uniquely qualified to sustain St. John Vianney High School as a Catholic, Marianist institution,” wrote Assistant for Education Bro. Jesse O’Neill, SM.

President Mike Loyet retires at the end of the school year after leading Vianney since 2007. His service allowed the school to operate with a surplus budget and build its endowment while advancing the school’s mission to form young men for spiritual, academic, and personal excellence in the Catholic, Marianist tradition. Loyet remains in an advisory capacity through the 2020-2021 school year.