The Stern Family Keeps Traditions
Pointing to the white letters, emblazoned on the glass door to Gross Catholic, Betty Stern says, “I like that.”
The words are “Marianist Traditions,” reflecting the founding of the high school by the Catholic order more than 50 years ago and the continuous practice of their beliefs. It’s a big reason why the Sterns sent their children, Rob and Amy, to Gross; why Rob wanted his girls, Morgan and Carly, to attend Gross; and why Betty and her husband, Robert, became Lay Marianists.
Marianists, also known as the Society of Mary, see the Virgin Mother as a model of discipleship – just as she brought Jesus into the world, Marianists bring the presence of Christ to life within themselves and others. The order also believes in building communities, like Gross, to enrich the Catholic faith and meet world challenges, such as poverty and ignorance.
In 1986, when the Sterns were invited to become Lay Marianists, the Gross High organization was 200 members strong. Today, that number is in the single digits. Betty attributes the decline to several factors, including the loss of Marianist brothers and priests at Gross, and the aging and health problems of original members.
Still, as the Marianist representative on the school board, Betty is pleased with the religious teachings at the school, noting it “increases the values” taught at home.
Granddaughter Morgan is an example.
“My faith-life actually started here,” the 2018 graduate said.
While at Gross, Morgan was a member of Marianist Life and the Student Advocacy & Leadership Team (SALT), while also distributing communion at Mass as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist.
Coming from a large public school in Millard, Morgan was pleased to join a smaller, Catholic school.
“There were 80 kids in my class and we are all really close,” she said.
It made it easier to get involved, she said. Her interests ranged from track and bowling to drama, student ambassador and student athletic trainer.
Her sister, Carly, a current sophomore, echoes the values and opportunities in a smaller, Catholic school. She’s also a SALT member and student ambassador, and she’s a choir member. Carly is also happy with the academic opportunities for learning and the support that is helping her maintain an excellent grade point average.
“The teachers care more,” grandfather Robert said. “They work with you. If you want help, they are there for you.”
Rob, Class of 1986, said he wanted his daughters to attend Gross, but it would be their decision. Betty didn’t quite give that option to Rob; she knew when he was in diapers that he would be going to Gross.
“I was open, I guess,” he said of his mom’s choice. As a public school student in Ralston, he said, “I was ready for a change.”
Rob started at Gross knowing a few kids from Ralston and from playing football. But once at Gross, he immersed himself in activities, joining football, track and basketball teams.
“I made better friends,” he said, “became closer to them.”
The religious values learned at Gross have continued beyond graduation for Morgan. The Rockhurst University nursing student continues to serve as an EME, works in campus ministry and has led a couple of retreats.
Betty hopes such devotion to religious service by the next generation could reignite interest in becoming a Lay Marianist at Gross.
“We could keep it going,” she said, “if we get some younger people.”
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About Gross Catholic
One of Nebraska’s premier private schools, Gross Catholic High School is a faith and family-based community committed to developing Christian leaders through academic excellence in the Marianist tradition. Recognized locally for its outstanding education, welcoming atmosphere, competitive sports programs, engaging activities, robust faith, and boundless service work, Gross Catholic has energized the Omaha area for over 50 years. We are Faithful, Compassionate, and Driven! We are Gross Catholic!
To discover the Gross Catholic difference, contact us at 402.734.2000 or visit our Admissions page at grosscatholic.org.