Prep students, staff honor memory of beloved art teacher

St. John’s Prep teachers Dan Stark, Brandon Anderson, Tom Grandy and Jeff Engholm gathered in front of the school in Collegeville Nov. 11 around a huge, steaming pot of bouja remembering their friend and colleague Patrick Dwyer.

Jeff Engholm stirs the pot of traditional bouja, while Tom Grandy keeps an eye on a smaller batch of a vegetarian version. (Photo by Dianne Towalski)

The four were helping to prepare a special lunch, created by teachers and students, as part of a week of activities in memory of the school’s long-time art teacher who passed away unexpectedly Nov. 4 at his home in Collegeville. 

Dwyer loved to cook and made the soup for BoDiddley’s sandwich shops for many years. He also was in charge of cooking bouja for the annual Collegeville Colors event and would often organize school Lenten soup luncheons and bouja days, said Jill Pauly, director of communications and events for the school.

A group of about 10 teachers gathered the night before to chop vegetables and get the ingredients ready, using the recipe from the Collegeville Colors events. The pot was set up outside, and cooking began at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 11 with students and teachers working in shifts stirring the soup until it was ready to serve. The students and staff enjoyed the soup with Johnnie Bread donated earlier that day by St. John’s University. 

“Taking action, even something as simple as stirring soup, is healing for us all,” Pauly said.

Students, faculty and staff are honoring Dwyer, who taught at the school since 2000, with several activities this week including making and wearing tie-dyed shirts, a project he did with many of his classes and summer campers.

Patrick Dwyer stirs the bouja during Collegeville Colors 2010. (Photo by Kris Fremo)

“This was just so unexpected,” eighth-grader Sylvie Bechtold said. An avid artist, she was currently in Dwyer’s class and has attended his summer art camps.

“He did tie-dye a lot at the summer camps that I went to, and he would wear tie-dye shirts [to school] once in a while — he just loved doing it, so this is kind of a special way to remember him,” she said.

“Students also are making cards and collecting written stories to share with his family,” Pauly said. 

There are several mourning rooms available and the counseling staff is attending classes and reaching out to students.

“He was super-special, always positive and energetic and he brought that to his work, so he was a really fun teacher to have,” said Louise Ruzanic, also an eighth-grader. “He was a very vital part of the community, and he was always there for everyone. Everyone’s going to miss him a lot.”

Dwyer’s funeral was held outdoors Nov. 8 at St. John the Baptist Parish Center in Collegeville with Abbot John Klassen presiding.

Pictured above: Laura Hartog, director of admissions, serves a cup of bouja to a middle school student.

Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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