Monsignor Raymond J. Wahl graduated from Community Catholic High School in 1945. He attended St. Ambrose College and St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John Joseph Boylan on March 8, 1952. He studied in Rome where he earned a Master’s Degree in Religious Education and a Doctorate in Canon Law.
In 1961, Pope John XXIII appointed him a Papal Chaplin with the title of Monsignor. He was invested as a monsignor in the private chapel of Bishop Loras T. Lane. Later, he was honored by Pope Saint John Paul II with the title of Protonotary Apostolic Supernumerary; the investiture was held in the same chapel by Bishop Thomas G. Doran.
Monsignor Wahl served the Rockford Diocese as an associate and then as pastor of many parishes. His first assignment was at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Aurora and his final parish was St. Edward in Rockford. He was Diocesan Chancellor and Officialis, Officialis for the Tribunal, Director of Education, Director of Vocations and Director for the Society for the Propagation of Faith. Monsignor served for several years as the superintendent of the Freeport Catholic Schools and as dean of the Freeport Deanery. He was a member of the Priest Health Panel Board, the Diocesan Stewardship Committee, the Bishop Lane Retreat Center Board of Directors, and the Presbyteral Council.
Additionally, Monsignor is a published author. In 1964 he wrote a pamphlet entitled, “The Call of the Parish Priest.” In 1991 he wrote his first book, Happy Being a Priest, which countered media reports that priests were dissatisfied with the demands of their ministry. He followed that with Yes, I am a Catholic Priest which was published in 2002.
Monsignor Wahl was honored for his work in education and was presented with the Donaghey Award for Outstanding Service from Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa. In a 1995 interview with the Observer, he said one of his greatest accomplishments was in encouraging men to say yes to the priesthood. He was also a very popular pilgrimage leader and had a special interest in promoting spirituality in youth by sponsoring them for trips to Rome and World Youth Day gather.
Monsignor Wahl passed away on January 31, 2015. The Wahl legacy continues with his great great nieces and nephews who currently attend St. Mary’s Grade School in Sterling. His two books are also available in our library.
Helen Long Blomberg graduated from Community Catholic High School in 1952; she was the class valedictorian. She attended Marycrest College and earned a BA in Elementary Education with minors in Science, English, History and Theology. At Marycrest, she was chosen for Kappa Gamma Pi, a national honor society for graduates of Catholic women’s colleges. She did post graduate studies at Northern Illinois University and Western Illinois University.
Helen taught sixth grade in the Sterling Unit 5 school district for 35 years. Three times she was selected by Western Illinois University to present her unit, “Language Arts in the Outdoors” to Outdoor Education conferences. The highlight of her final year of teaching was when one of her students placed second in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
She was a volunteer at the Home of Hope and at Sacred Heart Parish where she was a member. Helen passed away on November 11, 2014.
Monsignor Daniel Hermes graduated from Newman in 1961. He then enrolled at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Arts in Divinity. He was ordained on May 17, 1969 at Saint Patrick’s Church in Dixon by Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill.
After his ordination, he was an Associate Pastor at both Saint James and Holy Family Parishes in Rockford. For six years he was an associate at Christ the Teacher Parish in DeKalb. He was the founding pastor of Saint John Neuman in Saint Charles. He also served as pastor at Holy Family and finally at Saint Thomas the Apostle in Crystal Lake.
He became a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) in 1996. Monsignor was a member of the Diocesan Board of Consultors, the Priest Incardination Committee and the Saint Anne Center. He also served as Dean of the McHenry Deanery.
Monsignor is the author of Thoughts on Aging: From an Aging Priest published in 2020 and available in our library. He retired on June 18, 2018 but remains active saying Mass throughout the Sauk Valley Area, attending Newman events, and watching his great nieces and nephews compete for the Comets.
Kimberly Koehler Freitag, graduated from Newman in 1976; she was the class Valedictorian. She earned her BA, magna cum laude, from Marquette University. While at Marquette, she was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, a Jesuit Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, a Political Science Honor Society and was the Outstanding Senior in Education. She earned her MSEd from Northern Illinois University and was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education. In 2013, she completed her EdD in Curriculum and Instruction, also from Northern Illinois.
Kim taught at Newman for two and a half years, at St. Anne in Dixon for two years and was principal of St. Charles Borromeo in Hampshire for three years. She then became the Gifted Program Coordinator for the Carol Stream School District. She retired from that position in 2018. She is currently an educational consultant working with districts to engage in curriculum reviews, instructional improvement and gifted education programming. She has presented at the Illinois Council for Social Studies Conference and will present at the Illinois Reading Council Conference in March 2023.
She was selected to serve on the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) Admissions Committee, was listed in Who‘s Who Among America’s Teachers, and authored six articles for professional journals. She was a member of the Illinois Principals Association and First Amendment Society, Chairperson of two Carol Stream District Committees and of the Rockford Diocese Elementary Social Studies Curriculum Committee. Kim was also an adjunct professor at National Louis University, the Connecting Link/Saint Francis University and Skylight/Saint Xavier University. In all, Kim has over 20 years experience as an educator in parochial, public and international schools.
Along with her husband, Bob, she has been active in parish ministry as a Marriage Preparation Couple, Eucharistic Minister, and Parish Council member. They established the Natalie Graffron-Smith Scholarship Fund at John F Kennedy German-American School in Berlin, Germany. This scholarship honored a young woman who babysat for their daughter when they resided in Berlin and who passed away in her mid-20s from Hodgkin’s Disease. Kim has also been a judge for the Illinois Historic Preservation Society History Fair and for local science and history fairs.
Besides her educational endeavors, Kim plays the double tenor steel pan with steel drum ensembles at Elgin Community College and rings handbells at Saint Thomas More Parish in Elgin. She and Bob enjoy traveling throughout the world; they have made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and their latest trip included Egypt and Jordan.
Michael Stotzer, graduated from Newman in 1987; he was Valedictorian, President of the Senior class and of the National Honor Society. He attended the University of Notre Dame earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering; he was named a Notre Dame Scholar and was a member of Pi Tau Sigma, a mechanical engineering fraternity. He was also chosen to study for the summer semester in the University’s London, England program. He earned his MD from the University of Illinois where he was a James Scholar for research studies at the medical school. He spent two years in General Surgery training at Wayne State University in Detroit and completed his Urology residency there in 2004. He was Chief Resident at the Detroit Medical Center at Wayne State.
Dr. Stotzer is a member of the American Urologic Association and is trained in laparoscopic surgical techniques and has a particular interest in laparoscopic urologic oncology. He also has extensive training in endourological surgical techniques. He worked with the South Carolina State Legislature on medical tort reform. While living in South Carolina, he frequently spoke to local groups as well as groups of nurses on prostate cancer.
In 2015, Michael closed his private practice in Columbia, South Carolina and moved to the South Island, New Zealand. He has a public and a private practice there; his specialty is cancer surgery, open and laparoscopic. He is a member of the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand.
He and his wife, Julie, have one daughter who is a senior in high school (2023).
Father Kenneth Wasilewski graduated from Newman in 1993. He attended Saint Ambrose University and Sauk Valley Community College where he earned an Associates Degree. After receiving guidance from Father Francis McDonnell, Pastor of Sacred Heart and Father Matthew VanDerBleek, Assistant Principal at Newman, he decided to study for the priesthood. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at Immaculate Heart of Mary College Seminary in Winona, Minnesota.
Father was ordained in 2003 and assigned to Saint Patrick Parish, Dixon as parochial vicar pro temp. He completed studies for a licentiate in Sacred Theology at Pontifical American College in Rome and was then named Associate Pastor at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Rockford. He was also pastor of Saint Laurence Parish in Elgin and is an adjunct professor of Ethics at Saint Anthony School of Nursing.
His vocation story began when he was an altar server in grade school. During the summer between his junior and senior years at Newman he took a job in Oregon at a cattle ranch. It was then that he saw the need for priests as there was only one who covered a huge geographic area and he had to travel to different parishes in order to attend Sunday Mass. The tragic death of Father VanDerBleek helped him realize what an awesome calling the priesthood was and the number of people that one person can impact. Knowing that he was about to make a serious decision, he took time off of school to pray about his calling. Father McDonnell guided him to diocesan officials and he then made the decision to finish his BA at the seminary. He was ordained on May 17, 2003 by Bishop Thomas Doran.