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Delphos St John

2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

DELPHOS — St. John’s Alumni Association welcomed four new members to its Hall of Fame on Sunday.

The Class of 2015 is:

Professional Achievement — Dick Scherger, class of 1959
Arts/Athletic Achievement — Joe Bonifas, class of 1971
Service to Mankind — Brother Nick Renner, class of 1961
Service to St. John’s — Mary Beth Will

Scherger received his award first and regaled the crowd with short stories of he and his friends’ antics in high school and he commented on how much fun he had as a student at St. John’s.

After graduation, Scherger went on to attend Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he received his master’s degree in school and clinical psychology in 1966.

“At Xavier University, my classmates were from private schools around the country. I was very concerned that I might not be as well prepared for college as they were, but I was so wrong. My St. John’s education allowed me to excel at Xavier. The teachers at St. John’s trained me to compete successfully in the world outside our little community. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have grown up in Delphos and have my primary education at Delphos St. John’s,” Scherger said. “I hope Delphos and St. John’s continue to see success, health and happiness.”

After Xavier, Scherger began his career as school psychologist with the Lima City Schools and stayed for 36 years. He also served as director of the system’s Title I federal program for disadvantaged students. Early in his career, he served as the psychologist for the three Lima Catholic elementary schools: St. Charles, St. Gerard’s and St. Rose, and for the Delphos and Wapakoneta public schools, in the evenings and on Saturdays. He was on the medical staff of St. Rita’s Hospital for 25 years and he served on the Development Council at St. Rita’s Medical Center beginning in 1979 and was chairman of that committee for 10 years. In 2003, he received the St. Rita’s Mercy Club Award for his Humanitarian service in the community.

When Bonifas took the podium he joked that his invitation had read for arts/athletic achievement and he was surprised his “athletic abilities” were finally being recognized. “Sometimes memories are greater than reality,” he said.

Bonifas discovered early on his interest in art was a talent he could use to embellish spirit posters, reports, bulletin boards and science projects.

“The one constant I could depend on at St. John’s was a high grade on anything related to art. In fact I often spent more time on my report covers than the actual reports.”

On a serious note, “I am honored to be part of a group that continues the legacy of St. John’s in the communities in which they live,” Bonifas said. “I want to thank the past teachers, nuns, priests and alumni who made St. John’s such an inviting place.”

After high school, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Art Education in 1975 and a masters of Arts in 1981 from Bowling Green State University. He began his teaching career in the Lima Shawnee School System in 1975 and continued to teach art at Shawnee for 35 years.

Bonifas contributions to education and the arts have been recognized on a variety of different levels. In 1982-83, he was chosen by the Shawnee’s superintendent as a “Martha Holden Jennings Scholar” for his excellence in teaching, sponsored by Bowling Green State University. The Shawnee faculty and staff selected Bonifas for the “Make Shawnee The Best It Can Be” Award in 2000-01. Members of the Ohio Art Education Association selected Bonifas as the “Outstanding Art Instructor of Northwest Ohio” in 2006. In 2013, he received a lifetime achievement award from The Arts Advocacy Collaborative of West Central Ohio for his creations of art locally and nationally.For the past 40 years, Bonifas has been demonstrating his craft of blacksmithing throughout the United States at local and international blacksmithing conferences. The exposure at such conferences has given him the opportunity to create a market for his art, as far away as Harimacho, Japan.

Brother Renner accepted his Service to Mankind Award. Renner encouraged everyone to be good stewards of the earth.

“We should learn how the earth works first and then learn how to work the earth,” Renner said.

His first inkling of a religious life was in third or fourth grade when Brother Hotz of the Brothers of the Holy Cross visited his class at Landeck. Later Sr. Bernadette asked him in junior high if he had thought again about his interest in being a Brother. He also spent a week at St. Meinrad’s Seminary but he found that was not the place he fit in. While the interest was still there, most of his time was spent just being a kid. He played basketball for Bob Arnzen and worked for Fischer Plumbing and Heating after graduating from St. John’s in 1961. But he still wanted something more and decided to scratch that itch of religious life that he had long felt. He just wanted to give it a try and see if it worked for him.

In the fall of 1962 he left for the seminary of the Society of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in his 1956 Chevy. He found his niche and in 2015 celebrated more than 50 years as a member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, living at St. Charles in Carthagena.

One of his duties at St. Charles in Mercer County was to farm the seminary’s 1,100 acres. It was while farming that he came to realize that the earth was God’s gift to mankind and that we were not taking adequate care of this valuable gift. This interest in protecting God’s gift for others and future generations led to a lifetime of research in soil and water conservation. Over 40 years of research, much of it hands-on, he’s accumulated a wealth of knowledge on the topic and has shared that knowledge in Ohio, across the United States and across the world.

Brother Renner is the Chairman of the Mercer Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors and a consultant with The Ohio State University. He’s also working in Tanzania, Haiti, Jamaica and Guatemala, helping to feed the people as well as teaching them to use the resources they have to improve their lives. His research and advocacy in soil and water conservation has led to him receiving numerous awards among which is the 2013 Archbishop O’Hara Advocacy Award for Rural Ministry from the National Catholic Rural Life Conference for his dedication and passion toward rural conservation.

Will focused on the youth of church and how she has enjoyed seeing them grow.

“The number of students involved in the ministries here at St. John’s and those who have gone on to take positions in their colleges has been a tangible reward for me,” Will said. “Those continuing to bring their gifts, time and talents to the Body of Christ are really carrying on the faith of the St. John’s community.

“As for my ministry, I have been to every Christmas and Easter Mass in the 30 years I have been here. I have played at least 1,400 funerals and maybe 400 weddings. I have not kept track of Masses. I have celebrated many special events with the 150th Parish Anniversary celebrations and the Re-Dedication of the Church in 1998 plus many graduations and anniversaries. It is always with praise and thanksgiving.”

When she came to St. John’s, she taught music two years and the sixth grade one year.

“I then went to Ottoville where I taught nine years. It was at the time that I became part of the liturgy committee here at St. John’s. Fr. Henning had been working with the liturgy at St. John’s under Fr. Sidner who was part of the Diocesan Liturgy Committee. When Fr. Henning was about to leave, he had Fr. Sidner hire in a liturgist who also did music. I applied and was hired,” she said.

She began in 1985 and in the first month, realized it was a six-day-a-week ministry.

“I was soon responsible for every part of it; music, wedding music, funerals, choir, ordering items for worship such as hosts, wine, candles, etc. In the beginning Ann Byrne accompanied many of the services but as time moved on I had more music responsibilities and many more helpers too numerous to mention,” she said.

Will entertained the group with stories of all the animals that have found their way into the church.

“We have had two dogs, sheep, two donkeys, birds, bats and more join us for our church services,” Will said. “Some were expected and some were a surprise. All creatures of our God and King praise the Lord.”
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