The following is a release from Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park:
Nazareth Academy ended its celebration of Homecoming/Alumni Reunion Weekend by presenting the Alumni Recognition Awards to Sr. Pat Bergen, CSJ, of La Grange and Dianne Kirtley of Western Springs during the school’s Family Mass on Sunday, Oct. 6.
The Alumni Recognition Award acknowledges and celebrates Nazareth faculty, staff or alumni who are making important contributions to their community or field, who demonstrate the value of lifelong learning and whose lives, in one way or another, support and reflect the values and mission of Nazareth Academy.
Dianne Kirtley, Western Springs
Dianne Kirtley began her teaching career at Nazareth in 1979, during a time when Nazareth was going through an exciting transition. Kirtley began when Nazareth first went co-ed and solidified its position as a college prep high school. She spread her talents across many boards during her time at Nazareth. From a teacher and department chair in English, to public relations director, to co-advisor of The Announcer, our student-run newspaper, to pom-pom coach and co-moderator of Roadrunner Club, Kirtley was a crucial part of the Nazareth community for 25 years.
In accepting the honor, Kirtley acknowledged the dedication of those around her and sought to share the spotlight rather than take hold of it single-handedly. She worked tirelessly in the area of public relations, but credits much of the office’s success to her former colleague, Carlene Kaps. Together they worked to share the good news of Nazareth to both current families and prospective students. Kirtley also worked closely with the late Sr. Frederick Molitor and, through that collaboration, was asked to be a presenter at the Scholastic Press Association at Columbia University on three occasions.
Though retired, Kirtley is still quite active in her community, volunteering at her church and with her sorority’s local alumnae chapter. She spent most of her free time researching and writing her novel, Point of Departure, which was published in January 2013.
In presenting the award, alumni relations coordinator Katherine Fernholz said, “Dianne has certainly left a lasting legacy that enriched the Nazareth community and is an educator whose students look back upon her fondly. We are so grateful for her years spent at Nazareth and are thrilled to celebrate with her today.”
Pat Bergen, CSJ, Class of 1963, La Grange
Sr. Pat Bergen has remained connected to Nazareth in more ways than one since graduating 50 years ago. After joining the Sisters of Saint Joseph shortly after graduation and then over the years, while earning her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate, she remained a prominent figure at Nazareth. She has taught at Nazareth as a faculty member and as the Religion Department chair, worked in Campus Ministry and served on Nazareth’s Board of Trustees.
“So many of the traditions Nazareth holds dear today are a result of Sr. Pat’s hard work and dedication. She was part of the team that helped name our four pillars of scholarship, service, spirit and unity, which is such a vital aspect of our school. Sr. Pat’s enthusiasm for education, campus ministry and prayer is apparent in everything she does,” Fernholz said.
Bergen also established Circle the City, an annual day of service for Nazareth seniors, and was a key player in the effort that enabled Nazareth to be the first high school to mandate eucharistic ministers. Currently, Bergen is a member of the congregation’s leadership team, which choreographs the mission of the Congregation of St. Joseph.
Nazareth Academy congratulates both recipients of the Alumni Recognition Award.