Alumni Celebrate a Texas-sized Homecoming (View 3 Photo Galleries)
John E. O’Shea, Jr. of the Class of 1980 Honored as 2015 Alumnus of the Year
The 2015 Alumni Homecoming Mass, along with the jazz reception that followed, was a memorable celebration of what it means to be Blue Jays.
A throng of Jesuit alumni returned to Carrollton and Banks, many with their spouses or guests, on Saturday, Sept. 26, to attend Mass in the Chapel of the North American Martyrs, to reconnect with classmates, and to congratulate John E. O’Shea, Jr. of the Class of 1980 on his being honored as the school’s 2015 Alumnus of the Year.
Blue Jays from three classes were also recognized, including members of the 50-year anniversary Class of 1965 who received commemorative diplomas from Fr. Anthony McGinn, S.J. ’66, president of Jesuit High School. Members of the Class of 1990 received their 25-year “J” pins, while Blue Jays of the Class of 2005 were also recognized for their 10-year anniversary.
Lyon “Snapper” Garrison ’81, president of the Jesuit Alumni Association, also read out loud the names of those deceased Blue Jays in the Classes of 1965 and 1990.
At the reception in the Traditions Courtyard and Student Commons, decorations and special lighting were donated and coordinated by Jesuit parent Kevin Tran of CHL Linens. Patti Mahoney, the mother of 2010 alumnus David Mahoney, coordinated the refreshing libations. A trio led by clarinetist Gregory Agid ’05 provided cool jazz music.
Appreciation and thanks are extended to the Cvitanovich Family — Drago and Klara, and their son, Jesuit parent Tommy — of Drago’s Restaurant, as well as Mike Rodrigue ’71 (a former Alumnus of the Year himself in 2007) and his son, Tony Rodrigue ’10, and Mark Chapotel of Acme Oyster House. Drago’s and Acme provided boatloads of assorted seafood, including freshly shucked salty raw oysters, scrumptious char-grilled oysters, freshwater catfish fried to perfection, spicy jambalaya, savory red beans and rice, and finally, gallons of gusty seafood gumbo.
If anyone left hungry, it was with an appetite for more Blue Jay camaraderie.
Introduction of the 2015 AOY…
Following Communion, Fr. McGinn introduced O’Shea, who is CEO of Navigator Energy Services, a Texas-based energy company. A resident of Houston for the past 32 years, O’Shea is the youngest alumnus and the first from the 1980s decade to be honored. He is the 58th alumnus to receive the F. Edward Hebert Award, which is presented to an outstanding alumnus who is recognized for his notable achievements and distinguished service, either to Jesuit or the community-at-large, and in many instances, both.
O’Shea is a petroleum engineer who has channeled the results of his successful entrepreneurial ventures in the oil and natural gas industry into numerous philanthropic endeavors that have made a difference for the better, especially in education, and particularly for students and graduates of Cristo Rey Jesuit in Houston of which he is one of its founding fathers.
“John O’Shea is someone who wants to continue his Jesuit experience for others in a different situation,” said Fr. McGinn. “He has taken it upon himself, along with others, of course, in the Houston community, to develop a Jesuit high school that will not exactly replicate what we do here at Jesuit High School, not in its details, not in its curriculum necessarily, but in its high expectations, in its strong level of support, and in its great sense of camaraderie and connection.
“As a Jesuit alumnus who sees that our commitment to the education of youth is being continued in a different way, in a more challenging way,” he continued, “we are very deeply appreciative to John O’Shea for all that he has done for that school and for our school, and for the education of youth in general.”
Address by John O’Shea…
In a heartfelt address to fellow alumni, O’Shea began by pointing out Jesuit’s previous Alumni of the Year who are from outside New Orleans. Among them are professional baseball player Rusty Staub ’61 (1991), Don Wetzel ’46 (2003), who invented the ATM, and former Miami Archbishop John Favalora ’54 (2004).
“The way I see it is you have a player, a patentee, and a priest, and now you have an imposter,” he said, eliciting laughter before turning serious.
O’Shea said he has tried to live his life by the two Jesuit themes: Man for Others and A.M.D.G.
“As I have grown and matured I came to see a great correlation between Man for Others and the Catholic Church’s teachings of giving time, talent and treasure,” he said, adding that in his teens and early 20s, he had lots of time and used it to obtain an education and socialize. “But I also wanted to grow into manhood and found that as I volunteered my time, it made me a more content and happier man. During those years the commodity I had most was time, so I chose to use it to volunteer at the Church as a lector and Eucharistic minister, with youth as a youth minister and retreat leader, and with my children through their school and sporting activities.”
While these volunteer activities provided O’Shea with experience, he was also developing some talents. “The ‘for’ in Man for Others, to me, is a call to give back,” he explained. “As I saw different programs, I learned how various social ministers thought about volunteers. I was asked to be on my first volunteer board and learned that I could take best practices from one ministry and apply it to others. I was working ‘for’ God’s Greater Glory and felt great about it. Over the years, I have sat on boards for groups as varied as community organizations, churches, schools, scouts, sports leagues, and for-profit companies.”
O’Shea said “Others,” in Man for Others refers to how treasures are used. “Hoarding our treasure leads to selfishness and self-destructive behaviors,” he said. “When I am open to sharing my treasures with Others, I am truly living God’s Greater Glory.”
On Success and Failure…
“I’m very fortunate to have been involved with four start-up companies and one start-up school over my career. One of these companies was a failure. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial talked about America being the failure experts. We expect it, forgive it, often celebrate it. If tolerance of failure is a prerequisite for success, then you need to love your failures as much as you do your successes.”
On His First Start-up…
“I started my first company when I was getting my MBA at the University of Texas. It was very successful in a short period of time and within two years, it grew to the point where it needed real management expertise, so my wife Charlene kicked me out and put herself in charge. The second company I founded was one of the fastest growing energy companies in America and we sold part of it in 2006 and the rest in 2008. After the sale in 2006, Charlene and I set up a foundation. Actually, we used our Jesuit training and spent six months trying to decide what we wanted to do and decided to focus on inner city education and women’s issues.”
On Inner City Education…
“This became a mission for me as I delved into the education that our inner city youth were receiving. In his talk to the students at Our Lady Queen of the Angels school in East Harlem this week, Pope Francis said: “MLK’s dream was that many children like you could get an education. It is beautiful to have dreams and to be able to fight for them. Those outside the bounty of this world have an inherent tight to an education.” It is deplorable what happens in the public education arena for those in the bottom quartile. Only eight percent of youth from this socio-economic group graduate from college. That is shocking to a Jesuit High School grad where every one of my classmates was expected to graduate from college.”
On His Involvement with Cristo Rey Houston…
“In 2007, we learned through Strake Jesuit that the Jesuits were looking to open an inner city college prep high school in Houston, so we got involved with their efforts. Cristo Rey is a Catholic college prep network of high schools in which the goal is to get 100% of their graduates into college. They take only the poor, so if you can afford to go to Cristo Rey, then you are ineligible to attend. The school opened in 2009, a year early in Houston. The nameplate tuition is $2,000 a year; the average tuition paid is $25 a month. And they get a Jesuit quality education. We have graduated 3 classes of students in Houston and 100% of them have been accepted into college. This from the quartile of students that has a college graduation rate of only eight percent. I’ve been on the Board of the Houston school since before it opened and now also sit on the national Cristo Rey Network board. In fact last summer and fall, during a change of leadership, I was asked to run the network. I felt very fortunate to be able to step in and assist a great ministry during a time of transition.”
“So giving my Time, Talent and Treasures to my church and community has helped me to live as a Man for Others. I’m not always successful, but I always try as hard as I’m able. I’m up here today thanks to many, many people who have helped me grow as a man and as a Christian. So, in the Jesuit spirit of gratitude, I’d like to thank the many friends, teachers, and classmates who are here today and especially recognize and thank my family.”
Giving Thanks to His Parents…
“My parents, John and Ann O’Shea sacrificed much so that their four children could go to Catholic schools. My mom went back to college to get her teaching degree when we were young and in grade school. She was a full time Mom and a full time student. I don’t know how she found the energy to give us so much love and attention when I’m sure she was exhausted. She eventually got her teaching degree and taught at Archbishop Blenk High School for many years. My dad was always into community service. He was president of many organizations, including the YMBC (Young Men’s Business Club) and the Lion’s Club. I got my commitment to give back from him. Thanks Mom and Dad for being here today and for all the sacrifices you made so that I could attend Jesuit High School.”
Giving Thanks to His Children…
“I want to thank my children for being here today. My daughter Julie and her husband Chris met in high school much like Charlene and I did 35-plus years ago. They came in from Dallas and I appreciate the time you have taken to share this award with me. My son Chris just moved to Dayton, Ohio to work for the professional baseball team there. He is in his first month with the Dayton Dragons and I know that it was a chore to make it here today, but it means a lot that you made the time to do so. My youngest son Jim is a senior at Syracuse and he left keys to his house for his cousins who attend LSU so that he could be with me for today’s event. Thanks Jim for making that long trip down. My two sons Chris and Jim and my son-in-law Chris Weber are all Strake Jesuit grads. It was really hard when I first moved to Houston to cheer for Strake Jesuit, whose colors were (Archbishop) Shaw-green and whose mascot was the Crusaders.”
Giving Thanks to His In-Laws…
“I also want to acknowledge my in-laws, Jim and Kay Brandau for being here. Mr. Jim is a Blue Jay from the Class of 1951. I was the first Jesuit boy to ever date his daughter and I had a golden halo because I was a Blue Jay. They gave me permission to marry their daughter before the halo had tarnished.”
Giving Thanks to His Wife Charlene…
“Finally, I want to thank my wife Charlene. We met when I was a junior at Jesuit and she was a junior at Immaculata High School. I know that Jesuit got me the girl of my dreams as her parents knew what “good boys” Blue Jays were. She has been with me on my life’s journey and has steadied me when I have slipped and pulled me up when I have fallen. She has been my partner in our marriage and family and has raised three super children. We have tried to be good stewards of the resources that God has bestowed on us and she has shown me the path to success in life.”