November 15, 2013

On Tuesday, 5 November, 2013, in front of a crowd of over 950 alumni and friends of St Paul’s High School, Mr Michael Guertin ’76 humbly accepted the Ignatian Challenge Award at St Paul’s annual Tribute Dinner. 

Now in its 20th year, the Ignatian Challenge Award Tribute Dinner honours individuals within our community who embrace the ideals of St Ignatius Loyola and who reflect the characteristics and qualities inherent in a Jesuit education at St Paul's High School. Award recipients, through their leadership and commitment to service, become examples for our students of a lived faith and philosophy of becoming Men and Women for Others. 

In his first address as President of St Paul’s High School, Fr Leonard Altilia SJ, thanked Mr Guertin for his contributions not only to St Paul’s High School but to the other communities he so graciously serves.  Although not part of the selection committee that chose to honour Mr Guertin, Fr Altilia went on to say that in the short time that he has gotten to know Michael, he has “come to appreciate greatly the generous dedication of his time and talent to St Paul’s.  Michael has provided excellent service in so many ways, and always with a self-deprecating humility and gentle style, one might even say with a shyness that is endearing.” 

Long-time friend and former classmate, Mr Jim Komishon ’76, had the honour of introducing Mr Guertin with humorous and nostalgic stories of their time at St Paul’s, but also delved into the ethos of Mr Guertin and why he was such a deserving recipient of this year’s award.  Coming from two different “worlds” as they entered St Paul’s in their grade nine year, the two soon became close friends, attributing this to the unique experience only found at St Paul’s High School.  “St Paul’s is special” explained Mr Komishon, “Friendships are built by aligning to the values and ideals that I would suggest only a Jesuit education provides.”  He described his friend Michael as a “man of action and steadfast commitment”, who is currently serving his 3rd term on the Board of Directors, co-chair of the MultiPlex Building Committee and Chair of the of the Building and Grounds sub-committee of the Board since 2006.  In addition to St Paul’s High School, Mr Guertin serves the communities of St Timothy’s Roman Catholic Church and the St Vital/St Boniface Kiwanis Club to name a few.  “There is a theme here” explained Mr Komishon “Michael is a builder, and implementer, able to mobilize and energize people to do more for the greater glory of God.”

In accepting the award, Mr Guertin spoke about the St Paul’s experience and the unique connection that is formed by alumni of any era that attend the School.  “St Paul’s High School has shaped me in so many ways” Mr Guertin told a captivated audience “It has shaped how I see God, community, work, family, philanthropy and perhaps especially, friendship.”  As an alumnus and now parent of St Paul’s graduates, Mr Guertin is fiercely proud of his school and to see his sons graduate from the same institution that has shaped him in so many ways .  “Our time in high school is short but it is a critical and formative period in our lives.  It’s a time when our character takes shape, a time when our ideals and convictions are moulded.  Spending those critical years of my life at St Paul’s has made me who I am today.”  He explained that a common thread that every alumnus of St Paul’s experiences is a sense of community – “an extended family – a brotherhood, forever.  It’s a very real and deep feeling.” 

In a more poignant part of his speech, Mr Guertin dedicated his award to his late father and role model, Edmond, and thanked his mother Margaret for continuing to be his inspiration.  Mr Guertin also thanked his wife of 25 years, Lynne, and his two sons Samuel ’11 and Dominic ’13, both recent graduates of St Paul’s High School.  

Reflecting on his own interpretation of what it means to be Men and Women for Others, he explained it is “to do well for yourself by doing good for others.”  Mr Guertin closed by challenging those in attendance to work together for many years to build St Paul’s High School, to enhance our communities and to find great joy in helping others.  

To view a photo gallery of the evening please click here.   


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