by Michael Reul
This year marks the 50th reunion of language department dean Rev. Jack Hanna, C.S.B., class of 1962. It is also Hanna’s 30th year at St. Thomas as a teacher.
“Padre Hanna,” as his Spanish students know him, has not only left his mark on the school throughout the past 50 years, but also on each student who has been touched by five decades worth of words and wisdom.
Hanna first entered the doors of St. Thomas High School as a freshman in 1958 from St. Rose Catholic School, just across the north 610 loop off of Shepherd.
“I was in plays and the drama club and forensics,” Hanna said. “I liked doing that. I made good friends and people who I still see occasionally.”
Hanna was also a four-year member of St. Thomas Club, the “A” honor roll, publications and public speaking. He participated in debate for three years, worked two years on the library staff and served for two years on the student panel. He also played intramural basketball as a freshman.
After his graduation in 1962, Hanna entered into the Novitiate.
“I met Fr. Hanna when we both entered the Novitiate in 1962,” social studies teacher Rev. Robert Glass C.S.B. said. “We both did pots and pans for our first year. We were separated after our time at the seminary when Fr. Hanna went to University of St. Thomas and I came here.”
Hanna returned to St. Thomas in 1982 as a Basilian priest.
“Back then, there was one computer in the entire school, and it was in the main office,” Hanna said.
Fr. Hanna has witnessed the school’s development over the past thirty years as he has taught advanced Spanish 1 and AP Spanish 4.
“Fr. Hanna was a mentor for me in my first year here,” Director of Student Activities Joe O’Brien said. “He ran the campus ministry program, and our offices were right next to each other. He is one of the best teachers we’ve ever had here, and he exemplifies what all of us strive to be as teachers.”
Glass indicated Hanna holds the same reputation even at home across the breezeway.
“He is an institution in the priest’s residence,” Glass said. “He is the treasurer and is very important to our everyday lives.”
And, likewise, students feel their experience is all the different because of having Hanna as an instructor.
“Father Hanna is one of my favorite teachers because not only does he teach the material well, but he’s hilarious and he always keeps the class entertained,” junior Jimmy Olsen said.
“I really like to see the development that students go through over the years,” Hanna said. “What I love most about St. Thomas is the family. Students I have now have fathers that I taught years ago. And those fathers have fathers that I went to St. Thomas with.”
Today, Hanna still teaches the same Spanish courses, in addition to Art History. He enjoys playing the organ at school masses and special events.
“His interest in arts and music is fantastic,” Glass said.
As the department dean, he also oversees the teaching of Spanish, French and Latin.
Over the years, Hanna has lived a life of goodness, discipline and knowledge, inspiring everyone who has known him. His celebration of 30 years of service to the school and 50 since his graduation is a bold tribute to a lifelong vocation.