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Bishop Machebeuf: From the Parents’ Perspective

This is the ninth article of a 10-part series that seeks to shed light on the tremendous things happening at Bishop Machebeuf High School. Links to previous stories are provided at the end of the article. For more information about Bishop Machebeuf High School or if you are interested in applying, please visit machebeuf.org.

So far, this series has explored the great things happening at Bishop Machebeuf High School from a wide variety of perspectives. But what do the parents of current students at Bishop Machebeuf have to say about their children’s high school? Parents are a vital part of what makes the Bishop Machebeuf community so strong. So what do parents feel makes Bishop Machebeuf unique and special? What desires do they have for their children’s education, and how has Bishop Machebeuf met those desires?

Bishop Machebeuf parents have high standards for their children’s education

Fernando and Clare Chavez are grateful for being blessed with a large family and for Bishop Machebeuf’s role in helping them educate and form their older children. Their eldest, Fernando Chavez II, graduated from Bishop Machebeuf in 2018 and is currently studying Mechanical Engineering at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Their second son, Emmet Chavez, graduated in 2020 and is currently studying at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Their oldest daughter, Maria Chavez, is a senior and will be graduating on May 20th of this year. Pilar Chavez, their second daughter, is a Sophomore, and Hope Chavez, their third daughter, will be starting as a Freshman in the Fall.

Clare Chavez said what she desires most for her children’s education is that they would become saints. “This life just isn’t long enough; I want to spend eternity with them! I would like their education to lead them to the Truth with a capital ‘T,’ that is, to Christ Himself, in the classroom, on the sports field, in the Commons, and the chapel.” 

As the Chavezes discerned the right high school to send their children to, they had high standards in mind. Clare said, “I want the school to assist in this great task by teaching them how to read and understand well, how to communicate in the written and spoken word, and hold them to high behavioral standards through the development of human virtues. In other words, I would like the school to support us as parents as we help each of our children develop and put to use their God-given talents in service of God in their professional work and family life.”

The examples she saw from other Bishop Machebeuf students and their families were what attracted the Chavezes to consider sending their children to the school. “When my older kids were young, we met several other Catholic families whose children attended Bishop Machebeuf, and we were impressed by their children. We noticed that these families really loved the Catholic faith and were raising their children in ways that inspired us. We attended a few sporting events and started praying to discern the path for our kids. We asked a lot of questions.  Our family was growing, and I was worried about the expense of private high school education. So I did what I had been taught to do in my Catholic upbringing: I brought it to Mary. I started going out of my way to pass Bishop Machebeuf High School and would pray one simple Hail Mary each time. I kept choosing over and over again to trust that Our Lady would make it possible for us to afford to send our kids to Machebeuf, and after many twists and turns, she granted that request. Our fifth child will be a freshman at Machebeuf in the Fall of 2022.”

The Chavez sisters Pilar (left) and Maria (right). (Photo provided)

Sonia and Jeff McGarrity, are the proud parents of eight children, including one Bishop Machebeuf alum and two current students. Their eldest son graduated from Bishop Machebeuf in May 2021 and is a freshman at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI. Their son Seán (2023) is a junior, and Brendan (2025) is a freshman. The McGarritys emphasized that their sons’ time at Bishop Machebeuf is “preparing them both academically and, more importantly, spiritually for their college experience and their adult Catholic lives beyond that.”

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The McGarritys expressed that education starts in the family, and an excellent educational environment supports a continuation of the valuable life lessons learned in the home. “We strive to raise our children with a faithful and faith-filled worldview which forms the basis of their educational aspirations. We appreciate an approach to education that reaffirms, through an integrated humanities curriculum, the valuable lessons learned in history and through the rich texts of the Great Books. We are grateful for the collaboration with the teachers and staff at Bishop Machebeuf High School who continue to provide an excellent academic environment at Bishop Machebeuf and consistently challenge our boys to reach their full potential.”

Before sending their children to Bishop Machebeuf, the Chavezes were also attracted to the high school because of the presence of clergy and religious on campus. “Priests and brothers from the Servants of Christ Jesus and sisters from the Nashville Dominicans on campus, teaching and working on staff, offered yet another witness: the possibility of a vocation for our children. We were also blessed to find rich liturgical life in the school, which has provided them the opportunity to attend daily Mass and pray the Liturgy of the Hours.” 

In addition to the priceless significance of formation in the spiritual life, the McGarritys desired opportunities for their boys to participate in team sports. “Some or all of our boys have played golf, soccer, basketball, football and lacrosse, and we have found that at Bishop Machebeuf, the sports teams are one environment where the rubber of the spiritual life meets the road of lived experience.”

The moment they recall that most stands out as ‘the’ moment they knew Bishop Machebeuf was the right fit for their sons was when Thomas came home from Bishop Machebeuf, bringing with him the excitement he had over meeting his new classics teacher. “The enthusiasm Mr. Lynch brought to the classroom and instilled in his students cannot be overstated. The other teachers who now teach in the integrated humanities classes bring that same zeal for reading and engaging the Great Books, and the students benefit from their example.”

In addition to the vibrant academic life, meeting Tom White, the golf coach, “sealed the deal” for the McGarritys and their oldest son. “Thomas approached Bishop Machebeuf with an interest in golf and a few rec center lessons and met Coach Tom, who welcomed him to the team with a passion for golf and a keen desire to foster that passion in the members of the team. Finally, in his senior year, Thomas made it to State, and when I captured a photo of Coach Tom and Thomas praying — as they always do — before the match began, I knew these four years had properly prepared him for whatever his future would bring him.”

Following these experiences, and after speaking with many parents of current students, the McGarritys placed Thomas into the care of the teachers at Machebeuf. They sent him there with their “prayerful support.” Sean followed two years later and Brendan two years after that.

Bishop Machebeuf parents treasure the things that make their high school unique and special

Clare Chavez is grateful for the community that she and her husband have found at Bishop Machebeuf. “We have benefitted from the guidance of talented and committed teachers and coaches. In addition, we will always be grateful for the support we received from the Machebeuf family when we lost a baby. Machebeuf came together in prayer and worked to help us through a very painful experience.”

While Chavez admitted that many things about the high school have changed in recent years, and she misses some of those things, she is grateful for numerous things that remain, namely the relationships they and their children have made along the way. “We still look forward to attending volleyball and soccer games and the wonderful theatrical productions. Our younger kids look forward to seeing the friends they’ve made through Machebeuf. Our kids who are alumni make a point of visiting former coaches and teachers when they are home. They have made lifelong relationships at Machebeuf and are invested in keeping those relationships. We look forward to growing this community and meeting many new Machebeuf families.”

The McGarrity brothers Brendan (left) and Sean (right). (Photo provided)

The McGarritys reflected on something a Bishop Machebeuf teacher told them early on in their discernment process. “When we first spoke to one of the Bishop Machebeuf teachers about the possibility of Machebeuf as the right high school for our sons, she described the school as a ‘microcosm of the universal church’ with students from many different socioeconomic backgrounds. At first, that seemed a bit daunting, but I can honestly say that since they walked in the doors at Machebeuf five years ago, the universality of the Church as witnessed at Bishop Machebeuf has given my sons experiences they need to launch in the ‘real world.’  They have met friends from diverse backgrounds, faiths, family situations, and even from different areas of the country. They have learned to see the value in their peers’ differences and appreciate how their classmates with different backgrounds than ours bring a richness to their Machebeuf experience.”

What do current Bishop Machebeuf parents want the Denver Catholic community to know about their school?

Chavez recognized that raising and forming adolescents is very challenging, but God gives parents many graces to do the job. “We are not alone in this task, and a school like Machebeuf can be a big help. Even though we live in the town of Castle Rock, 28 miles from Bishop Machebeuf High School, we are making the effort to attend there because we believe it is the best place for our kids. We know that Bishop Machebeuf is offering them the example and guidance of many other happy, faith-filled Catholic adults. The school can never replace us as parents, but it can offer help!”

The Chavez family recognized that there are no guarantees on this side of Heaven, but Bishop Machebeuf is meeting the desire they have for their children to become saints. “Bishop Machebeuf High School is reinforcing the Catholic faith that we have instilled in our children and that we hope and pray they will hold and cherish forever.”

The McGarritys echoed these sentiments, considering their sons’ vast opportunities over the years. “Our sons have flourished at Bishop Machebeuf. They have participated in the drama department performances from Shakespeare to contemporary musicals.  They have wrestled with texts and argued finer points from Homer, Augustine, Machiavelli, Tolkien, Dostoevsky, and others I cannot even spell. They walk through our home singing songs from Annie and West Side Story and reciting poetry from Hopkins and Shakespeare. Our conversations center around current cultural and political events and contemporary issues, and we can enter into these discussions with our sons who are bringing their own encounters and arguments with their fellow students [at school] to the discussions [at home].”

In terms of how Bishop Machebeuf has met the desires the McGarritys had for their children’s education, they said, “Our children benefit not only from being ‘taught’ the faith in their theology classes. But we feel they have also ‘caught’ it as they witness their teachers and fellow students strive to live their faith both in and out of the classroom. We believe that they learn as much about what being a faith-filled Catholic means by the witness of the staff and faculty at Bishop Machebeuf as they do in their theology classes. We feel like being a part of the Machebeuf family has been a huge blessing to our McGarrity clan.”

Explore the previous Bishop Machebeuf stories:

Part 1: Honoring the Past. Celebrating the Present. Engaging the Future. 

Part 2: Forming Disciples of Christ

Part 3: A transformative education through Catholic Liberal Arts

Part 4: Dr. Bonta announces departure from Bishop Machebeuf High School; new president named 

Part 5: Creating Vibrant Student Life

Part 6: Continuing a Legacy of Athletic Excellence

Part 7: Discerning life after high school and discovering God’s call to be extraordinary

Part 8: Celebrating a 60-year history of Alumni

John Wojtasek
John loves walking alongside brands and causes he believes in. Using proven storytelling and marketing frameworks, he develops clear messaging and communication that helps them serve more people with their life-changing solutions. A lifelong Catholic, John has served as a FOCUS Missionary from 2013-2016 and is passionate about building up the Kingdom and Family of God. John is a freelance contributor to the Denver Catholic.
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