Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Example of Mens Sana in Corpore Sano


Some years ago in my stint at the position of freshman dean, I solicited Abbot Theodore’s artistic abilities in helping me write and place a Latin quote above the entrance to the freshman dorm. Mens Sana in Corpore Sano. It was placed there in the fall of 1991, when I was preparing the dorm for the coming school year.

I must admit that I knew many people in the future would ask about what those words meant and why they were placed there. I must also admit that I am not particularly fond of Latin, although I did fairly well in the six years of Latin classes I took here at Mount Michael—then St. John’s Seminary. The quote comes from a Roman poet—Juvenal. However, the quote and theme of the quote is used in John Knowles novels: A Separate Peace and the sequel Peace Breaks Out. A loose translation might go like this: A sound mind in a sound body – or a healthy mind and a healthy body. I have always found a bit of St. Benedict’s notion of balance in this quote as well.

Over the years of working and living at Mount Michael, I have observed many, many young boys grow up – literally—boys becoming men! It is, indeed, something to behold! Truly, Mount Michael students have all the advantage in the world to become fully developed human beings, developed in what one might think of as the whole person.

Although I cannot say that he was the sole inspiration for me to get this Latin quote in place above the entrance to freshman drom, Ted Mikuls is a likely candidate for the type of human being I had in mind in regard to: Mens Sans in Corpore Sano.

Hailing from Red Oak, Iowa (in those days of the early 80’s), Ted was/is the youngest boy of five boys and only one other sibling, a sister. I remember him as a stout, dark-haired, and perhaps a bit mouthy and ornery boy—clearly – all boy.

I am relatively sure it was his sophomore year when I was coming from work in the garden and I met Ted and a few of his friends walking on the road up to school. Ted decided to be astute and proceeded to expound on his knowledge of literary symbolism, especially in regard to literature of John Steinbeck. Although at that moment, I interpreted Ted’s astuteness as ostentatious, I was soon to realize how talented this young mind really was. Really, all this boy needed was some direction, discipline and guidance.

Ted could/did excel well in all fields of academia! Ted was one of Abbot Michael’s protégé’s, as a math and science student. Ted understood protégé, for it is French. Ted could draw. Ted had/has the eyes of an artist. Ted could/can see things others cannot. Ted could/can photograph as a true artist. Ted could/can write—oh my, the writing. I have realms and realms of paper, filled with Ted’s stories. Ted was an athlete. Although enduring Killer Kane’s coaching tactics may have been trying at times, Ted was part of the state championship basketball team in the spring of 1985. Ted was not afraid to ask theological questions. He still likes to do that! The only area of discipline that I could probably stump Ted in is music. However, I am sure that he has done his share of Karoke!! Enough said!

Of course, this young man was destined to earn admittance into a good college. I believe his first choice was Stanford. But for some reason Stanford passed him by. That was the good fortune of Santa Clara, not so far away and still in California. Ted did so well at Santa Clara and on his M-CATS, that he had medical schools fighting over him, offering “good deals” so that they could include such a mind among “their” ranks. Nebraska won out in this regard—even paying for all of his books for all of med-school.

Before Ted settled into the regime of med-school, he decided to donate a year of service to Mount Michal Benedictine High School. Ted worked and lived with us here at Mount Michael, teaching, deaning, coaching, disciplining and whatever else we would throw his way. I remember how comforting it was in those days, (early 90’s) to have someone so adept in so many areas to help out. I might add that Abbot Michael has repeatedly said that if he ever needed doctor, Ted would be one whom he would trust with his life!

Today Ted resides in Omaha. He teaches now at the Nebraska Med-Center. He is a major researcher and travels a lot. A few years ago, he mentored one of our alums thinking about the medical profession, Jeff Kucirek.

Ted married a beautiful woman from Friend, Nebraska. Michelle is her name. She hails from a farming family. They met in medical academia. Michelle is a physical therapist. So now Ted can even boast about being on a combine in the corn fields of Nebraska. He has kidded his father-in-law about planting all his land in sweet peas instead of corn and soy beans. That is what one of Ted’s favorite characters created by Steinbeck (Peter Randall) did in Steinbeck’s short story- The Harness.

Ted continues to dabble in photography and art. He has a mini- gallery in his home now.

We are hoping that some of Ted’s genes transferred to his son, Jared, who is a sophomore at Mount Michael this year.

Blessings to you always, Ted and family. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for us

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