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Dr. Merylann Schuttloffel shares memories of diocesan schools, thoughts on Catholic education

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

Dr. Merylann “Mimi” Schuttloffel, a native of the Detroit Lakes area, was recently appointed founding director of the Institute for Catholic School Leadership at Saint Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Shortly after the announcement was made Jan. 22, she answered a few questions from Our Northland Diocese about her experience at diocesan schools and her continuing work in Catholic education.

Q: What is your favorite memory from attending Holy Rosary School, Detroit Lakes?

A: This is an interesting question and I could respond in numerous ways. First, my mother was the school cook at Holy Rosary, so it was always fun to see her during the school day.

Probably the thing that most impacted my future though, happened when I was in eighth grade. My teacher was Sr. Leoba, she was a 4-foot-10-inch force to be reckoned with – but she regularly sent me to the first or second grade classroom to help “teach” the students. I think I spent more time in the primary rooms than in the eighth-grade room! And I loved the teaching. 

Sr. Leoba was also instrumental in talking my mother into letting me go away to the Mount.

Q: What is your favorite memory from attending Mount Saint Benedict High School, Crookston?

A: People are usually surprised when I say that “I loved boarding school!” I loved living within the Monastery life, I loved having students from all over the country including black students from St. Louis and Latinas from Bogotá, Columbia. I am sure that both impacted my views of humanity coming from a very white, northern Minnesota environment.

I must also mention Sr. Mary Magdalen who encouraged me to go to the College of Saint Teresa instead of either of the two Benedictine women’s colleges. She thought that I would really enjoy the Franciscan influence and they had a terrific French department. I graduated a certified French K-12 teacher.

Q: How did your Catholic education at schools in the Diocese of Crookston prepare you for success?

A: I would more likely say that the schools prepared me for life, and a life beyond Detroit Lakes or Minnesota. They gave me a very good academic education, but also a worldview. Benedictines value community, hospitality, prayer and integrating God’s will into one’s vocation.

Q: How do you hope the work of the Institute for Catholic School Leadership (ICSL) will impact Catholic education?

A: The fact that ICSL is within a Seminary makes it unique and emphasizes the necessity of a distinctive formation for lay leaders who work within the special ministry of Catholic education. The Institute for Catholic School Leadership will offer academic and formational programs, encourage research on our Catholic schools and highlight the pastor-principal relationship within a faith-learning school community. The Institute hopes to be a resource for the dioceses in the upper Midwest and offer a model of Catholic school leader preparation to the nation.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

A: Born in Minnesota, always a Minnesotan. Our friends are amused that our grandchildren are devoted Vikings fans, but have never lived in Minnesota. I forgave my husband many years ago for being born in Iowa, and after 45 years made him an honorary Minnesotan.

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