Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Faulk finishes third in season opening meet

Training in brutal heat proved to be a good thing for St. Bernard Prep’s Will Faulk as he took third place during the cross country season kick off this past Saturday at the Fairview Invitational in Cullman County.

Faulk competed against 355 runners from 13 other regional schools participating in the tournament. His time of 18:04.37 was only seconds behind Pope John Paul II Catholic’s, Evan Pardi and Alex Gilliiland of Oneonta.

Coach William Calvert said Faulk was ready for the competition as he had worked hard all summer in the blazing heat. “Will has worked hard all summer and actually completed an 8-mile hill workout on Thursday, followed by sprints, which might have contributed to his weary legs on Saturday."

St. Bernard’s Aleana Mami finished fourth in the girls’ varsity race with a time of 22:21.66. Taylor Robinett of Gadsden City, Katie Sullivan of PJPII, and Arab’s Paige Townsend were the lone three runners with better times than Mami.

Mami had hoped for better than a fourth place finish, but is happy to get the first meet out of the way.

“I think it’s going to help a lot because this is the easiest trail we do the whole season,” Mami said. “It’s a good start because everyone is now rid of those beginning jitters.”

St. Bernard’s other notable girls’ finishers included Logan Ayers, 12th; Caitlyn Varquez, 29th; Lesley O’Donnell, 30th; Allison Hubert, 55th; and Shavangi Patel, 60th. Their performances helped them earn a third-place team finish.

For the Saints’ boys, other finishers included Oscar Perez, 38th; Samuel Robles, 45th; Steven Mami, 55th; Isaias Robles, 71st; Brij Rama, 81st; Sam Shin, 83rd; John Schneider, 104th; and Madison Pride, 138th. As a team, the men Saints finished eighth out of 14 squads.

St. Bernard is expected to participate in the Chickasaw Trail run at Lawrence County High School on September 10 at 9 a.m. To follow the saints, visit the website, or “like” St. Bernard Prep on Facebook.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A new running trail currently covering almost nine miles has been cleared in the wooded areas located on the campus of St. Bernard Prep School. Roger Blaylock, a local realtor and avid runner, has been assisting the school in this project and hopes to complete a course that will extend to 13.1 miles in the future.

William Calvert, the St. Bernard cross country team’s coach, sought the help of Blaylock in creating this long course for the cross country program. “I have been a good friend of Coach William Calvert since my daughter ran track for him in high school many years ago. She wasn’t the fastest runner, but she had the drive to get her where she needed to be.” Blaylock continued. “Coach Calvert helped her get a full athletic scholarship to the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and she is now a physical therapist in Idaho.” Laughing Blaylock said, “When Coach Calvert needs my help now, it’s hard to say ‘No.’”

Calvert, who serves as the St. Bernard Middle School Principal as well as Cross Country Coach, beams with pride as he talks about the current project. “We certainly have excellent trails for cross country competition,” he said. “The trails have long sweeping curves, sharp twists and turns and includes the challenge of hilly terrain.” Calvert plans to showcase the new trails during St. Bernard Prep Oktoberfest 5K Run scheduled for October 15, 2011.

According to Blaylock, conservationist will be happy with the work being done in the woods. “The area excavated has been raked down and covered with hay to stop erosion,” Blaylock said. “We have made every effort to open drains to allow water to flow properly by installing water bars so the land will not wash away.”

A bridge was constructed at the bottom of a basin to allow for proper drainage and cleaner running. With proper care the bridge should last a minimum of ten years.
Men involved in the project were the Lewis family, E.C. Gibbs, Robert Frank, Mike Smith, Mike Jackson, Mark Aderholt, Joanne Jetton, William Calvert, and Joe Black.

The City of Cullman plans to make good use of the trail as they will be hosting the 2012 National Archery Championship Tournament at St. Bernard.

Fr. Marcus Voss is very pleased with the work provided by the volunteers. “I just can’t say enough about these volunteers who have worked so hard on this project. I am grateful for all they have done in making such a difference for our school community.”

St. Bernard will participate in their first cross country run of the season on August 27 at Fairview High School. For a complete cross country schedule visit

St.Bernard monk professes first vows

Br. Thomas Wesley Jones, a monk at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, was joined by family and friends on Monday, August 15, 2011, for his Profession of First Monastic Vows.

The celebration the Mass and the vows ceremony was held in the Abbey Church with Abbot Cletus Meagher, O.S.B., serving as main celebrant. After Br. Thomas professed his vows, he sign the document on the altar of the Abbey Church with Fr. Marcus Voss, O.S.B., and Fr. Joel Martin, O.S.B., serving as official witnesses.

“It is an old and revered tradition for novices to profess their first vows a year and a day from the date of entering the monastic community as a novice,” said Abbot Cletus. “As outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict, we commit our whole life to Christ in a specific monastic community by professing our vows. We give everything away and our whole being belongs to God and to the community of brothers among whom we work and pray as we strive towards the heavenly Kingdom.”

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Br. Thomas is the oldest of three children born to Michael and Rosemary Jones. He attended Bevill State Community College for two years before transferring to the University of North Alabama where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He spent the next six years working for the Association of Retarded Citizens in Fayette, Alabama.

The profession of “First Monastic Vows” binds a person to live as a monk for three years. During these three years, Br. Thomas plans to work at Ave Maria Grotto where he is apprenticing with Leo Schwaiger in the repair and maintenance of the miniatures. He will also help maintain the four acre garden park that provides the setting for the miniatures created by Br. Joseph Zoettl.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weight equipment rejuvenated at St. Bernard

Shannon Mescher joined the staff of St. Bernard Prep School last year as a gym assistant to host students in the afternoons and to help with upkeep at the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center. Mescher and her family became acquainted with St. Bernard due to her husband’s job transfer in 2006 from Ohio to Cullman while he was employed with Topre, Inc.

However when his job ended two years ago, Mescher said they could not leave Cullman. “This was home. We chose St. Bernard because we are Catholic and wanted to offer a quality education to our girls, and Cullman had exactly what we wanted at Sacred Heart and Saint Bernard.”

Mescher has now taken charge of the girls volleyball team after seeing the interest expressed by the students athletes. One of her first requests was the restoration of the school’s weight equipment room so her girls could start a volleyball training program.

Martin Poe, owner of Poe’s Sporting Goods in Nashville, and an alumnus of St. Bernard, donated the original equipment to St. Bernard several years ago to assist with athlete training.

This summer the free weights were powder coated. The other weight equipment having cushioned seats were upholstered with new padding. With stainless steel polish, the Mescher family scrubbed the weight machines from top to bottom and gave new life to the heavy duty equipment.

“This equipment is state of the art,” said Mescher. “When Middle Tennessee State University held volleyball camp at St. Bernard this summer, the instructors were impressed with such a wonderful weight room and compared it to a college program,” Mescher said. “They loved it so much they would work-out while the rest of us were having lunch.”

“The volleyball team exercises on the restored equipment as do most of the student-athletes. In addition, the snack bar and social room is open daily for students to grab a bite to eat after school,” said Mescher. “The gym has become the after-hours hub of the campus.”

Br. Benedict professes final vows

St. Bernard Abbey rejoices as another member of their monastery entered final vows on August 20, the feast day of St. Bernard. The Solomn Profession of Br. Benedict Dyar was held in the Abbey Church with Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB, servings as the Main Celebrant.

Br. Benedict, a native of Opelika, AL, said, “This was the biggest day of my life. It really means the world to me and it’s like placing a seal on the vocation.”

“The Carthusian monks call it the eternal vow.” Br. Benedict continued. “This is a commitment for life and I never could have gotten to this point without my monastic confers in the monastery.”

“The ceremony for the final profession of vows has much symbolism,” said Br. Benedict. “For one, there is a full prostration at the foot of the altar just before praying the Litany of the Saints. A funeral pall is then placed over those to make final vows. The Litany is sung asking all the saints of God to come to their aid,” Br. Benedict said. “When the pall is removed the person arises symbolic of coming out of the waters of baptism. A caculla, large black garment, is placed over the outer garment worn by monks and is used as a reminder of their final profession of vows. It is worn on Sundays and feast days of the church, and symbolized that person has vowed their lives in service to the Lord.”

Remembering his early years trying to discern his vocation, Br. Benedict said, “I will never forget trying to discern my vocation. When I walked inside the Abbey Church for the first time, I felt right at home, But I was concerned about having to live in one place for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until I actually came to the monastery and started to live here that I understood the value of stability and why we do things as a community.”

Br. Benedict said, “The joys overcome the challenges of living in a community of men. God challenges each one of us to be satisfied with the portions he has received. I think this has been the right choice for me and I am very grateful.”

Br. Benedict has enrolled for the fall term at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, to complete his Master of Arts degree with a concentration on monastic studies.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Four St. Bernard monks continue monastic studies

Photo cutline: Br. Benedict Dyar, OSB, Br. Anselm Kuehler, OSB, Br. Josemaria Balderas, OSB and Br. Bernard Denson, OSB

Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB at St. Bernard Abbey recently announced that four monks will enroll in college and theological studies this fall to continue their monastic formation.

Br. Anselm Kuehler, OSB, and Br. Benedict Dyar, OSB, plan to matriculate at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN while Br. Bernard Denson, OSB, and Br. Josemaria Balderas, OSB, will enroll at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS.

Abbot Cletus said, “God has blessed St. Bernard with the talents of these four men. I wish them the best as they start another chapter of their monastic life, and look forward to what their futures hold.”

Br. Anselm Kuehler has been a member of St. Bernard Abbey for the past six years. After graduating from high school in Dallas, TX, Br. Anselm spent four years in the seminary. “I left seminary school and started working on my Master’s degree,” he said. “After teaching for 20 years in Dallas, I came to Alabama and taught for two years at St. Ann’s in Decatur before accepting Fr. Joel’s invitation to teach at St. Bernard.”

While teaching was nothing new to Br. Anselm, he was so impressed with the monastic life at St. Bernard that he decided to look into the monastic life to see if it might be a good fit for him. He entered the monastery shortly thereafter.

Br. Anselm’s plans to earn his Masters of Divinity which is a four-year program covering the basic classes needed to be ordained a priest.

Br. Benedict Dyar also will enroll at St. John’s University in Minnesota just days after making final vows as a member of St. Bernard Abbey. Br. Benedict came to St. Bernard Abbey from Opelika, Alabama and has been very involved in community life. He has become known as the “bread man,” since he is one of the main bakers of breads in the Abbey Kitchen. He is also very involved with the Abbey vocation program. He works on the Abbey Farm and helps in the upkeep of the grounds around the campus. During the 2010-11 school year, he taught a history course in the high school and was the faculty moderator of the astronomy club at the Prep School.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to begin studies toward a Master of Arts degree,” Br. Benedict said. “I plan to concentrate on monastic studies while completing the requirements for ordination to the priesthood.”

Br. Josemaria Balderas, OSB came to St. Bernard two years ago from California. Growing up he describes himself as a regular person who excelled in music and athletics, especially soccer and wrestling, while in high school. At the age of 18 he felt the call to monastic life. After a few years of discernment while working and playing in bands, he decided it was a fit and entered St. Bernard Abbey.

“I still have two more years to complete my first vows and I am extremely happy to be furthering my educational studies at Benedictine College,” Br. Josemaria said.

Br. Josemaria has been attending Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, AL, where he is a member of the Dean’s list. He plans to major in philosophy with a minor in Spanish at Benedictine College.

Br. Bernard Denson, OSB will also enroll this fall at Benedictine College in Kansas. A 2009 alumnus of St. Bernard Prep School, Br. Bernard entered the monastic formation program of St. Bernard Abbey just three weeks after graduation.

“I always wanted to be a priest, and didn’t know what a monk was before arriving at St. Bernard,” Br. Bernard said. “Coming to St. Bernard in 2006 as a sophomore in high school was the best decision I ever made. The monks had such an impact on me that I knew I wanted to be a part of the monastic life.”

Br. Bernard plans to study philosophy and possibly complete a double major in English so he can return to St. Bernard and teach at St. Bernard Prep School.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

St. Bernard begins new school year

Residential students at St. Bernard Prep School moved into their dormitory rooms on Sunday, August 14th, in preparation for their first day of classes on Monday, August 15th, while commuting students assisted in welcoming students to the St. Bernard campus.

The Middle School program opened with an enrollment of 49 students in grades 7 and 8. William Calvert was pleased with the beginning of the school year. “It’s our first day and all of the students were on-time for class. Aside from a few students not having received their uniforms, we are in good shape.”

St. Bernard Prep School opened the school with 111 students in grades 9-12. In a general assemble, Fr. Joel Martin, Headmaster, introduced the new faculty to the students. He encouraged students to work hard, study hard, and let the St. Bernard spirit work on them. “When students attend St. Bernard we encourage you to always be honest, forth right and to do your job at St. Bernard Prep.”

Fr. Marcus Voss, President of the school, was present at the assembly echoing Fr. Joel’s remarks. Fr. Marcus said, “Many people have been where you sit, and part of my job is to keep this tradition strong, and stay connected with people just like you. When you arrive at St. Bernard, you are always a part of the family. Please keep in touch with us. We hope to provide each of you with opportunities for success in life.”

Students attending St. Bernard represent the United States, Germany, China, Korea, and Africa. For more information about St. Bernard Prep visit or

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mary Mayo selected Guidance Counselor for SBP

Mary Mayo recently joined the staff of St. Bernard Preparatory School to take up the duties of guidance counselor. After twenty-five plus years of service at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Mayo retired and accepted the vacated guidance position at St. Bernard Prep replacing Barbara Rasplicka who is now Assistant Headmistress at the school.

Mayo brings her knowledge of planning and assessment to St. Bernard Prep. “I am really looking forward to meeting the students and working with them as well as their parents,” Mayo said. “My main focus will be getting to know each student and helping to guide them to the right curriculum to take them to the next challenging step in their lives.”

“In the high school years, everything from community service and leadership roles to great academic achievement is important,” Mayo said. “Everything counts starting in the 9th grade and continuing through the senior year. It is never too early to be preparing for college and the next level.”

“When students have an idea of what they might want to do, I will work in every way to assist them in finding the top schools in their chosen field,” Mayo continued. “I want to make sure they have the necessary curriculum, especially in the math and sciences, so they will be successful.”

Mayo received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts and Counseling from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She is married to David Mayo. They have three grown children – Ben (Jena), Will and Sarah; and one granddaughter, Avery Mayo.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hinson joins St. Bernard faculty

One motto at St. Bernard is “Old Teachers never die. They become Saints.” This couldn’t be more true as Margaret Hinson, a thirty-four year veteran joins the faculty at the Prep School. Hinson declares she was definitely born to teach, and accepted a position at the prep school teaching English to the Freshmen and Junior classes.

As a child, Hinson was a California girl and describes herself as an ex- army brat. “I have lived all over the US and Europe. My first three years of high school were completed in Germany, and I graduated my senior year in Kansas."

While attending Auburn University, she married Jim Hinson and started a family. In 1978 Hinson graduated from the University of South Alabama with a degree in Secondary English and then earned a graduate degree in Secondary English and Special Education with a concentration on working with emotionally disturbed adolescence.

She was the first student to be named Secondary Student Teacher of the Year at the University of South Alabama, and has been nominated teacher of the year three times at two different schools. In 1998, she was awarded the Parent Teacher Student Association of Mobile- Secondary Teacher of the Year for Mobile County. In 2004 she was named Wal Mart Teacher of the Year for North Mobile County in Alabama.

Having taught in mostly inner city schools, Hinson became acquainted with St. Bernard Prep as a substitute teacher last year. “St. Bernard is certainly a lot different from inner city schools,” Hinson said. “While in Mobile, I mostly taught AP Seniors, and really enjoyed the students who had the drive. At St. Bernard the students have that drive.”

Hinson has enjoyed the atmosphere at St. Bernard, but really thinks uniforms make such a difference in the classroom. “I was in Mobile when we first went to uniforms, and saw first- hand what a difference it makes in classroom performance. What I like most at St. Bernard is the special bond the students have with one another. The older students reach out to the 9th and 10th graders, and I don’t see the problems with discipline that I have seen in the public schools.”

Fr. Joel Martin, Headmaster at St. Bernard Prep, said he looks forward to Mrs. Hinson joining the faculty, and sharing her expertise. “I have watched her in the classroom as a sub, and I have to agree, she was born to teach.”

The Hinson’s moved to Cullman in 2010 and has two grown children, and five grandsons. Andy and his wife, Sarah have two boys, Joseph and James, and are anxiously awaiting the adoption of their little Chinese girl at the end of September. Their daughter, Christine is married to Doug Gordon, a commander in the Navy, who is expected to build and become the captain the Navy’s newest nuclear sub - The USS North Dakota. They have three sons, Chris, Nick, and Ben.

Saint Bernard Lady Saints experienced great interest in the girl’s volleyball program. Recently Shannon Mescher accepted the position as volleyball coach, and decided it was time to take a new direction with her young team by hosting the team’s first ever volleyball clinic through professionals at Middle Tennessee State University.

Under the direction of Alicia Lemauu and Queen Nzenwa, the team worked on basic fundamental skills, as well as building a team chemistry. Lemauu has played collegiate volleyball at MTSU, and Queen Nzenwa was a University of Kentucky standout and has played volleyball professionally for Spain and Finland. She will continue her professional career this coming year in France.

Both ladies have worked at many of the high schools in Cullman County throughout the summer, but have been most impressed with the campus and facilities St. Bernard offers. “I would compare St. Bernard to any community college campus,” Lemauu said. “As a matter of fact, I am quite jealous. My old high school didn’t have this.”

Nzenwa , who attended boarding school in Nigeria, echoed her comments by stating how impressed she was to find the gym up to health codes. “The facilities are just awesome.”

Sixteen girls attended and worked on techniques and drills. “These girls were very coachable. Normally with young girls there is a level of frustration. They certainly made our job easier by absorbing the information and being very open minded,” Lemauu said.

Mescher knows the road ahead of her young team will be challenging, but is pleased with the team’s dedication. “While our teams have been working on conditioning all summer, this camp has been a great opportunity to provide our junior varsity and varsity girls with not only fundamental techniques but also a team building spirit.”

Parents were involved in the clinic making sure the girls were eating a health diet by providing well balanced meals prepared in the gymnasiums kitchen. “We had such wonderful support, and are very thankful for all of their work preparing the nutritious meals,” Mescher said.

The Lady Saints will open their first home season game against Asbury on August 18, at 4:30 p.m. in the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center. To follow the Lady Saints visit the website at