Spring 2018 Cathedral Magazine Article
My name is Marit (Hartjes) Ortega, and I graduated from Cathedral High School with the class of ’97. My high school memories are fond ones, ranging from theater experiences under the direction of Fr. Chris, Minne Singers and choir with Ms. (now Sr.) Mettling, Spanish class with the legendary Señora Mansell, volunteer experiences at the St. Cloud Children’s Home, Les Voyageurs (wow! what a life-changing experience!), and friendships and fellowship developed in faith and acceptance. It is also not lost on me that the education I received was exceptional. I feel privileged, blessed and extremely grateful that my parents chose to send me to Cathedral High School.
Even so, if you had asked me on that fine graduation day in 1997, standing among my classmates in blue robes, some with gold cords, some without, whooping as blue caps flew through the air, “Where do you see yourself in 20 years?,” the answer certainly would not have been here, back at Cathedral. As a teen I never pictured myself settling in St. Cloud. I was adventurous and had a strong urge to leave St. Cloud – and leave I did. For one whole semester. I started college at the University of Montana in Missoula, and spent all of my high school earnings on those four months of out-of-state tuition before realizing that maybe Minnesota wasn’t so bad after all!
Upon returning to St. Cloud, I attended St. Cloud State University (eventually graduating with a Biology degree – thanks for the inspiration, Fred Rupp!) and worked part-time at the Tri-County Humane Society to pay for my much more affordable tuition, room and board. Part-time work at the humane society led to full-time work, and in a blink of an eye almost 20 years passed by. My last position as Director of Philanthropy involved all things fundraising and marketing, and it was in this position that my love for humanity flourished. There are some really good, kind and generous people in this community, and I can honestly say there’s no place I’d rather be.
I have always enjoyed going to work, choosing to make sacrifices in order to entertain a job that was rewarding and fulfilling. That said, my oldest child will be in 7th grade next year, and while Cathedral High School has always been our first choice for our three children, we had no idea how we would afford it. When I was approached in February by Chris Schellinger to join The Campaign for Cathedral, it was like a dream come true. An organization that I care about? Check. A job that is rewarding and fulfilling? Check. The chance to make a difference in my community while creating a better future for my children? Double check.
My only question to Chris Schellinger before taking a leap of faith and changing occupations after 20 years was this: Do you think we can pull this campaign off? And he answered with a resounding, “Yes.”
It turns out Chris has a very different definition of “we” than I do, because two weeks into the job he announced he was leaving Cathedral! While I certainly wish I could have waded in a little more gradually, I have taken the polar plunge into The Campaign for Cathedral, and I survived. More than that, I am actually really enjoying the challenge.
Here’s what I’ve observed in my short time with The Campaign for Cathedral:
- The nine months this year with Chris Schellinger at the helm were incredibly productive. Most importantly, he was the driving force behind creating a building committee consisting of some of the most intelligent, talented and self-driven volunteers I have ever met - and I’ve met a lot over the years! Countless hours with this committee, ATS&R Architects and McGough Construction have resulted in the completion of our new school design, which is in keeping with our $15 million building budget.
- There’s a lot riding on this new building project. The faculty, staff, students and parents (both current and future) are excited about the possibilities that this will bring to the campus of Cathedral High School, bringing 21st century learning to the school like never before, but they seem afraid to get their hopes up. There seems to be this huge question mark hanging over the entire campaign, which happens to be the same one I had originally asked: Can we pull it off? I believe Chris was right – we can and will pull this campaign off – but it needs to be a very big and collective WE.
- For as many people wondering if this new building project will really happen, there seem to be just as many (if not more) waiting in the wings wondering why they haven’t been asked to help yet. Consider this your ask. And trust me, we will ask again, and again, and again until we reach our $16.5 million goal.
Thank you for your patience with The Campaign for Cathedral while much needed and important details were sorted out this year. Thank you to Chris Schellinger for seeing the value in running parallel paths with The Campaign for Cathedral; nurturing donor relations, involving staff and faculty, and developing and coordinating numerous committees to really nail down the new school building design and begin important discussions for the long term vision of Cathedral. Thank you to ATS&R for your great expertise and willingness to listen to our needs and wants and put them on paper. Thank you to McGough Construction for donating all pre-construction work, respecting our need to stay within our budget, and for recommending ways in which we can get the biggest bang for our buck. Thank you to all of the staff, faculty and volunteers who have dedicated hundreds of hours to make sure this project succeeds. And last but certainly not least, thank you to all who have already given to The Campaign for Cathedral, and to those of you who will give.
We can and will do this.
By: Marit Ortega, Director of The Campaign for Cathedral