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Sal Gallo, center, caught up with former classmates Father Ken Brown, left, and Father Gary Braun at the 50th anniversary reunion held for former students the old Prep Seminary North. Six members of the class were ordained as priests and one is a permanent deacon.
Sal Gallo, center, caught up with former classmates Father Ken Brown, left, and Father Gary Braun at the 50th anniversary reunion held for former students the old Prep Seminary North. Six members of the class were ordained as priests and one is a permanent deacon.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

High school seminary class of ‘69 took to leadership role

Prep North graduates reflect on high school seminary’s influence 50 years later

Mike Lamb was all smiles — glad to reconnect with friends and to talk about the school that provided a strong foundation for the rest of his life. Lamb was among 23 men who returned to their high school seminary building Aug. 18 for a 50th class reunion, the first class to graduate from the former St. Louis Preparatory Seminary North.

“We got to be the top class for four years, so we got to set all the school traditions,” he said. “We were given a tremendous amount of responsibility from freshman year on up, and we thrived on that.”

A 50th anniversary reunion was held forformer students the old Prep Seminary North. The building now serves as one of the campuses of All Saints Academy.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
The faculty members — archdiocesan priests — “were great male role models for us,” Lamb said. “These were real men. Not only did they teach us in class, they taught us a lot about how to be men of dignity and restraint, that being a faith-filled man is something to strive after.”

Some of those priests included now-Bishop Robert J. Hermann, Father James W. Schaefer and the late Msgr. Edward Reilly.

High school, Lamb said, is a time of “finding out a lot about yourself, what your values are, what you’re good at, talents that maybe you didn’t even know you had. Here we are having had these things nurtured and developed in us by the faculty and with frequent reception of the sacraments.”

The class had “a lot of smart guys, serious about their studies, and that nurtured a healthy competitiveness,” Lamb said.

Classmates

Ninety-nine students were in the original class that started in the school at Sacred Heart Parish in Florissant before a new building opened. Forty-six of them graduated from Prep North in 1969. About 25 classmates continued seminary studies at Cardinal Glennon College, with five ordained priests in 1977, and one ordained later.

Lamb was among the students who went to Cardinal Glennon College. He left after a priestly formation program the summer following his sophomore year and attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis, earning a degree in English and having a career in communications. He applied much that he learned in high school, including from Bishop Hermann’s English class and on the school paper. Lamb and his wife, Mickey, stayed in touch with Bishop Hermann, who helped them with advice as they raised their seven children.

The Lambs are parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in St. Charles, helping start ministries, including Bible studies, youth groups and choir.

Series of firsts

Rich Woodley hadn’t returned to the high school since his graduation.

After high school, Woodley attended Cardinal Glennon College, seminary in Rome and Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.

He left the seminary prior to the diaconate year, but spent his life close to the Church, working in hospital chaplaincy and serving as a music director at his parish.

Woodley started working in pastoral ministry at the then-St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in 1979, then took on a similar role at St. Mary’s Health Center in Clayton from 1982-85. He worked at hospitals in Wichita, Kan., and San Antonio, Texas, before recently retiring as director of ethics at University Health System in San Antonio.

His class at Prep North was “always the first to do something,” Woodley said, “and for me that continued my entire career of establishing firsts in a lot of things, kind of a driving factor for me.”

Friendship

Father Gary Braun, director of the Catholic Student Center at Washington University, said Prep North is “where I learned friendship, learning how to be open to other people, learning to laugh at my mistakes, learning that I matter to God in this world and that I could have an impact, which encouraged me to go forward to the priesthood.”

In the tumultuous years of the 1960s, he said, “I got a north star” — a reference to Deacon Frank Olmsted’s reflection at a prayer service at the reunion citing the guidance of Christ and the Church that was provided to the Prep North students.

“Nothing has brought me closer to God than friendship,” Father Braun said. “What I learned here and became clear in college was that to talk to God is to talk to a friend.”

Deacon Olmsted said Prep North “planted the seeds that took hold the rest of my life. It was a wonderful experience for me spiritually, academically and socially.”

In addition to the priests, the class included future doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals, said Deacon Olmsted, who taught at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., and at De Smet Jesuit High School and serves as a deacon at St. Cletus Parish in St. Charles.

Dan Hogan was a student in that 1969 graduating class and a history teacher and JV soccer coach when it closed in 1987. “I really, really enjoyed being here as a student, faculty member and coach,” said Hogan, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville.


>> Prep North history

By 1964, more than 500 students crowded the small seminary high school facility in Shrewsbury. The next year, Cardinal Joseph Ritter created another archdiocesan high school seminary in north Saint Louis County.

St. Louis Preparatory Seminary North was administered by archdiocesan clergy. It held its first classes in the basement of the old Sacred Heart School building, on North Jefferson Street in Florissant. A year later, it moved to a new facility at 3500 St. Catherine Street, also in Florissant, now the site of All Saints Academy’s St. Rose Philippine Duchesne campus. Prep North later accepted nonclerical students, who formed a major part of its student body.

St. Louis Preparatory Seminary North closed in the spring of 1987. The two high school seminaries were combined that fall at the facility in Shrewsbury.


>> A bishop’s perspective

Bishop Robert Hermann was a young priest when he began teaching English at the new St. Louis Preparatory Seminary North.

He said members of the class of 1969, as the first class at Prep North, were leaders each year because they were the oldest students. “It was a privilege to be associated with them. They were such good students and good seminarians.”

He said he was edified by the talent of the students, their eagerness and willingness to learn. And he praised the work of the school’s first rector, Msgr. Norbert J. Dietz, and other faculty.

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