Mr. Larry Franz – 2014

Born in the Interlake, Larry attended Gimli High School and then studied at St. Paul’s College where he obtained a Science degree and a Bachelor of Education. Larry started at St. Paul’s High School in 1969 teaching Physics. Over the years he has taught most science courses, acted as Science Department Head, coached intramural football and volleyball, produced four drama productions and many yearbooks, sat on numerous committees and interviewed many prospective students and teachers. In 1983 Larry accepted the challenge of becoming the first lay principal at St. Paul’s. During that time the Monaghan Wing was renovated (thus increasing the school population by one class at each grade level) the front office was computerized and many changes were made to curricular programs. Larry worked hard to ensure that St. Paul’s students received their share of scholarships and entry into faculties of their choice. Many new teachers, male and female, got their start during his tenure as principal. When his term was completed Larry moved his whole family to Australia, teaching for part of the year at Xavier College in Melbourne, then travelled through much of Australia, Asia and Europe with the family.  After returning to St. Paul’s and with some training he became one of the school counselors. In 1999, answering a call from Fr. Paul Crouch, SJ, Larry took a group of students to Rockhurst High in St. Louis where they participated in a Kairos retreat. Since then he has directed fifty-four of these senior retreats making this program one of the most successful and popular events of the senior year.

After about ten years in the counseling department he happily returned to the classroom and his first love, physics. Not happy with the opportunities provided to gifted students Larry successfully introduced an advanced placement program in physics. A boon to students looking for a bigger challenge, this program resulted in a great many of them getting advanced standing at university. He has been awarded four University of Manitoba Teacher Recognition Awards for excellence in teaching and was the Ignatian Educator of the Year in 2011. In 2010, Larry successfully lobbied for St. Paul’s student involvement in the mission trips to El Salvador organized by Mr. Dennis Kuzenko. He has accompanied five such trips taking an average of 18 students each year to work on various projects in that country. Besides working alongside the villagers those students and staff members experienced life in the third world and learned the history of this war-torn country.

Larry is married to Lorraine and they have three children, James ’96, Andrea (SMA) and Chris ’01. Together they built their own home in La Salle where they have resided their whole married life. In the parish of St. Hyacinth Larry has acted as lector and parish council member, taught catechism and is a charter member of the La Salle Knights of Columbus.

Larry’s dedication to St. Paul’s has been a gift to all who have come into contact with him.  He has quietly mentored many teachers and inspired the faculty to be better educators.  He has also motivated hundreds of boys to develop a love of science and through the Kairos and El Salvador programs to look beyond themselves to explore faith and social justice.  This past June, Larry began a new chapter of his life - a well deserved retirement.  A quiet and humble man, Larry has lead by example and modeled what it is to be a true servant leader and man for others. 

More About the Event

In front of a crowd of nearly 900 of his friends, family, colleagues, students and alumni, Mr. Franz humbly accepted the highest honour bestowed by St. Paul’s High School.   The Ignatian Challenge Award is presented annually to men and women who embrace the ideals of St. Ignatius Loyola, and reflect the character and qualities inherent in a Jesuit education at St. Paul’s High School.

“While previous recipients have generally supported St. Paul’s, as it were, from the outside, by their generous contributions of time, talent, and treasure, Larry has worked on the inside, as teacher, administrator, and spiritual leader,” explained  Fr. Len Altilia, S.J., President of St. Paul’s High School.  “His influence over students extends far beyond their academic formation, for which he has been duly honoured, to their human and spiritual formation, through the 54 Kairos retreats that he led, through his commitment to the El Salvador Project, the dynamism of his faith, and the humility and good humour with which he served.”

Stacy Dainard ’88, who introduced Mr. Franz, recalled meeting Mr. Franz for the first time, as a student, in 1984.  As a blissfully unaware grade 9 student, however, he didn’t know what was occurring “behind the scenes” at the time.  The fact was that Mr. Franz, who had just been appointed the first lay principal of St. Paul’s, took on this position of leadership “at a time of significant change and significant risk for the school.”  Dainard, a faculty member since 1993, treated the crowd to the myth of Mr. Franz: “Award winning teacher, the Energizer Bunny, family man and man of genuine service.”  He concluded with a quote from Fr. Brian Gorgan, who was reflecting upon the life and leadership of the former Superior General of the Jesuits Fr. Pedro Arrupe “If we can see far ahead, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants”. Mr. Franz is without question a “giant” of St. Paul’s and has solidified the foundation that so many stand on today.

In accepting the award, Mr. Franz acknowledged the people with whom he wished to share the award: his wife Lorraine, his parents, his mentor Nick Laping ’61 and finally his colleagues.  Mr. Franz spoke with pride about the programs and educational experience offered by St. Paul’s High School.  “When I think of St. Paul’s now I see tremendous programs like Kairos and the Freshman Retreat. I see a huge cross section of athletics involving hundreds of students, debating, drama and so many more. I see religion programs many of which go beyond elementary catechism to worldviews. I see community outreach programs like Christian Service and mission trips to El Salvador. I see the effective use of technology. I see rigorous academic programs now including Advance Placement classes for the gifted and remedial programs for those who need a little time or help. While so much has changed over the years. St. Paul’s was always good, it is now even better. The students it influences now are so much more aware of themselves and the world around. And with the effective leadership the school has and the remarkable staff even greater things remain to happen.”

He concluded with the real reason for the annual Tribute Dinner – the students, more specifically the Bursary Program.  “St. Paul’s has never been just a school for the well-off but has always been there for regular families who could never afford tuition. Those families and those students have always been welcome and the school has found ways to accommodate them. So many good students have been given a chance by that program.  And isn’t that what St. Paul’s is and always has been about – reaching out into the community?”

Returning this year was the Ignatian Challenge Award Tribute Dinner Raffle that included seven amazing prizes graciously donated by members of the St. Paul’s community.  This year’s raffle, along with a friendly challenge put out by guests in the audience, raised a record $100,000 for the St. Paul’s High School Bursary Program.

The St. Paul’s High School community is extremely grateful for the support of our 21st annual Ignatian Challenge Award Tribute Dinner and would like to thank everyone for making this year’s dinner possible.

This is a question?