2019 Friends of Gehlen Catholic Ball

Thanks to the 2019 Friends of Gehlen Catholic Ball Chairs & Co-Chairs for another record setting Ball!           

The 2019 Friends of Gehlen Catholic Ball,

"A Magical Getaway,"

Was A "Magical Success!"

The weekend’s cooler weather was quickly forgotten as guests were whisked away by palm trees, fragrant flowers, vivid colors & the vibrant hearts of the Gehlen Catholic students & parents at the “Magical Getaway,” this year’s Friends of Gehlen Catholic Ball. 

Guests were welcomed at the Le Mars Convention Center by this year’s General Chairs, Bob & Margie (Mai, 87) Augustine & Lee (’94) & Angela Nilles; & Gehlen Catholic President, Rev. Bruce A. Lawler.

A sit-down dinner featuring a Garlic Butter Stuffed Chicken & Whiskey Marinated Sirloin with demi-glaze & carmelized onions.  The first Saturday after Easter provided guests the opportunity to indulge in Chocolate Fudge Cake or Strawberry Cream Cheesecake.

The program opened with a video created by Gehlen Catholic Development Officer, Mrs. Maggie Erdmann, & senior, Isabelle Kessenich.  Students from preschool-12th grade shared why they love Gehlen Catholic School. 

The students’ enthusiasm spread quickly throughout the room as Rev. Lawler announced the winners of the spring raffle.  This year’s winners are:

  • $5,000-Larry & Carolyn Arens, Remsen;
  • $3,000-Mike & Karen Jaminet, Le Mars; &
  • $2,000-Steve & Danna Schuster, Le Mars.

Families & Gehlen Catholic School work diligently to prepare the youth of our community for a kindergarteners first day of school as well as this year’s graduates as they head to college.  Gehlen Catholic School seniors, Caden Kneip, son of Rick (’82) & Mary (DeRocher, ’85) of Le Mars; & Tyler Zenk, son of Pat & Jean, Gehlen Catholic K-6 Choir Director, added, nothing can entirely prepare you until you experience it for yourself.  Caden & Tyler shared their personal experiences so the friends & family of Gehlen Catholic could better understand how their education has transformed their lives & the Class of 2019. 

Tyler stated, “Students learn a great life skill: What you put into life is what you get out of life. They (Gehlen Catholic’s teachers & staff), have helped me learn to do my very best and to realize things are not always handed to you. If you don’t put in the work you are not going to get the ‘A’.”

Caden pointed to Religion Class.  “Our teachers & coaches remind us frequently everything we do should be for the glory of God.”  Both inside & outside of the classroom, students come together with their teachers, moderators & coaches to pray whether at Mass, as a team before & after a game, or through the students many expressions of their faith through Christian Leadership Team, Reading Buddies with the 3rd graders, the recent mission trip to Honduras or next week’s Then Feed Just One packaging event.   

Caden concluded, “Whether we’ve walked across the street, driven up the road, or traveled to Honduras, it is the people we have met, the memories we have made, & the opportunities Gehlen Catholic has afforded us & transformed us forever.”  The two young men thanked the friends & family of Gehlen Catholic School through their support of the Ball & many donations. 

Todd Ellensohn (’05) & Jordan Sitzmann (’10) assisted bidders with this year’s 47 silent auction items.  The collections included Trips & Travel; Wine & Dining; Religious & School; Spirit! & Treat Yourself! 

The top winners included:

  • $2,500 Tuition Voucher:Jeremy & Melissa Galles
  • Name The Gym:Bob Campbell
  • Steak Dinner for 8 at Bonnie & Timmy Rasmussen’s home in Arizona:Paul & Denise Gengler
  • Notre Dame 2019 Football Tickets:Tristan Sitzmann
  • 2018 Autographed Volleyball by the 2018 team & coaches:Juan Uribe
  • Authentic Mexican Dinner Buffet for 8 by the Gehlen Catholic Latino Outreach Subcommittee:Mark & Shelly Kallsen

On April 24th, Gehlen Catholic celebrated the school & Church’s 149th birthday during the Le Mars Chamber’s weekly Coffee.  1972 graduate, Gehlen Catholic father, grandfather, & coach, Steve DeRocher of LeMars, shared how the Gehlen’s pioneering footsteps have prepared generations of St. Joseph’s & Gehlen Catholic students to “discover the universe” through their faith, values, service & academics. 

Steve applauded the giants of yesterday, Gehlen Catholic’s priests & teachers, for providing him & generations of St. Joseph’s & Gehlen Catholic students the tools & resources needed to be successful in life. They gave of their “self interests” for the greater good of others, Steve testified.  Today’s priests, faculty & staff are today’s giants by “…arm(ing) the students with a background of faith which makes the task a little less difficult for families.” 

As a father & grandfather, Steve sees “…the faith seed has been well planted & highly nurtured at school….” When his youngest grandchildren confidently & proudly volunteer to say prayer or when the children plead for more questions during a game of Bible Trivia. 

Steve prays his grandchildren will do more than just experience the “Magical Getaway” Gehlen Catholic provides today’s students through their academics, faith & service locally, nationally & internationally. 

He prays his grandchildren will become tomorrow’s giants, following in the DeRocher family footsteps.    He pointed to his family’s memorial last year for their husband, father, grandfather & great-grandfather, Leo DeRocher, to Then Feed Just One; & his children’s selfless service this year through their son, Adam’s (’96) leadership with JClub & daughter-in-law, Kelly (Sitzmann, ’96) DeRocher’s service on this year’s Ball Decorating Committee, as two examples. 

Bob, on behalf of this year’s General Chairs, thanked all of this year’s attendees for making Gehlen Catholic such a special destination  epitomizing the Gehlen’s founding principles too by giving back the best & first of our fruits the school. 

Father echoed the chairs sentiments.  This year, one individual was particularly missed when the parish ladies folded the napkins for the Ball.  She & her husband have been involved in Catholic education, from their childhood to today.    This year’s Spirit of Peter & Catherine Gehlen winners were heralded for their leadership in the school & parish as committee members, parents, grandparents, & including the school & church in their planned giving.  With their family proudly in attendance, Father Lawler presented the Spirit of Peter & Catherine Gehlen Award to Larry & Karolyn Freking of Le Mars. 

Before the evening concluded, the Chairs asked Father Lawler & Gehlen Catholic Principals, Mrs. Lorie Nussbaum & Mr. Jeff Alesch, to come forward with the Friends of Gehlen Catholic Ball Chairs & Co-chairs.  As they came forward, the elementary students sang “We Appreciate You!” as one last thank you to this year’s friends of Gehlen Catholic School.

After being joined by Father Lawler, Mr. Alesch & Mrs. Nussbaum, the 2019 Friends of Gehlen Catholic Ball Chairs & Co-Chairs presented the record setting check of $264,103.00.  Since the Ball’s inception in 1987, the Friends of Gehlen Catholic Ball has raised $4,735,442.57.


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