The following story appeared in the August 26 Idaho Catholic Register.
BK retirements: The ‘one more thing’ for Deacon Bonney is service
By Gene Fadness
Deacon Rick Bonney has a cancer that will likely take his life. But he’s going out, as he likes to say, “ready and thankful” even though the disease forced an earlier than anticipated retirement.
For 13 years, he has been a theology teacher at Bishop Kelly High School. “His impact on the faith life of kids and staff has been remarkable,” said Rich Raimondi, the recently retired president at Bishop Kelly. “His service as a celebrant with Father (Donald) Fraser and Father (Gregory) Vance has inspired many with his inspiring homilies and heartfelt prayers.”
Deacon Bonney has had a varied career from being in the U.S. Navy, working for the Idaho National Laboratory, teaching high school mathematics and serving as the administrator of a Catholic parish after he was ordained a deacon. But no job has been more rewarding than his 13 years at Bishop Kelly High School, he said.
“I’ve never been happier in my life,” he said of the BK position. “I got to deal with students on a one-to-one basis and learn about their lives. I got a chance to pray with them as part of a healing prayer ministry and got to talk about God every day at work. How cool is that?” He found it especially challenging and rewarding teaching moral
theology to students who might disagree with Church teaching. “During my last four years I fell in love with teaching Old and New Testament to the freshmen,” he said.
Born in a military family, Bonney joined the U.S. Navy after graduating high school in Chicago and attending two years of university at Penn State. While he was in the service, his parents moved to Island Park, Idaho, when his dad became head ranger at Henry’s Lake State Park. Bonney was stationed in Bremerton, Wash., not far from northern Idaho, and ended up with a position at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls.
Faith was not part of his life during his young adult years. His family attended Mass when he was a boy, “but when I turned 18, I said I wasn’t going to church anymore.”
He returned to the faith in the early 1970s. “I realized I was wayward and lost and out of control, going nowhere. I knew I needed something spiritual.” Evangelical friends encouraged him to start reading the Bible and his wife, Beatrice, whom he married in 1970, told him he needed to return to Mass. The couple made a Cursillo retreat together. “Once we did that, we were rock solid after that.” Prayer life became much more meaningful to him after he became involved in the charismatic renewal while living in Idaho Falls.
A few years later, he began to consider becoming a deacon. “I didn’t find the diaconate, it found me,” he says, particularly on one occasion when he was reading about the rich young man in Mark 10 who “lacked one thing.”
“When I read that, it was profoundly important to me. I began to ask my-self, What is the ‘one more thing’ that Jesus wants me to do?” The answer became even more clear when others began to ask him if he had given much thought to becoming a deacon. He was ordained on July 7, 1986, a member of one of the earliest classes to be ordained after the renewal of the diaconate in the Diocese.
He was serving as a pastoral associate in Idaho Falls when, on a trip to Boise, he learned there was opening at Bishop Kelly to teach theology. His previous high school teaching experience and the fact that he had served in many roles as a deacon for 24 years led him to accepting the position in 2010.
Even though he is 73, he would likely still be doing the job he loves, but his health has made that difficult. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 that has since spread to his bones. “I couldn’t move around the classroom like I wanted and my focus on the students was not what it should be,” he said.
Despite the diagnosis, he so far has not required more drastic treatment than oral medications.
He still enjoys fishing from his small boat and is an avid rockhound who cuts and polishes the rocks he finds. He and his wife continue to lector at Sacred Heart Parish and are involved with the healing prayer ministry there. He serves as a deacon at the monthly All Abilities Mass for people facing physical challenges.
His cancer diagnosis has changed his prayer life for the better, he said. “We now have a long list of people with cancer we are praying for every day, so I don’t have time to be glum or to worry about it. I’ve reached a point in my life that I’m not going to be overly concerned. I’m betting on Jesus.”
BK retirements: Jane Wilson retires from classroom, but not from art
By Emily Woodham
It was 44 years ago when Jane Wilson began teaching at Bishop Kelly High School in Boise. She tried retiring in 2011 and hated it. But now, she said, it’s time to pursue her love of art in other avenues. “I think I will just have fun my first year, and then maybe volunteer teaching at camps for children with cancer,” Wilson said.
She graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in Pullman in the mid-1970s. She taught for a year at a junior high in Washington, moved to Boise, and then married. She and her husband, Rich, have been married for 45 years.
Because there were no jobs for art teachers in Boise, she worked on her master’s degree in Art Education at Boise State for a year. In 1978, she began teaching at BK, although she was not Catholic at the time.
“It seems kind of ironic. I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me when I was in college that I would spend my life teaching in a Catholic school. But it’s been a great place to work,” she said.
Wilson grew up on a wheat farm in a small town in eastern Washington. A part of the appeal of BK, she said, was the small size and friendliness, which reminded her of her hometown. “When I started at BK, I think we had around 360 students,” she said.
Enrollment at Bishop Kelly now pushes 900.
“We’re a big family now,” she said. “For a long time, I was the only art teacher. There are a lot more opportunities and variety at the school. The school will have three full-time art teachers next year,” she said.
Her favorite aspect of teaching is watching students become engrossed with a project. “It can make your day when kids just really get excited about what they’re doing, when they walk out the door with something they made and their faces are just shining, particularly if they’ve worked through some hard-ships to get there,” she said.
The most difficult aspect is convincing students who don’t believe in themselves that they can create art. “Some students have a sense that making art is magic and that some people can do it and some people can’t do it. But it’s really a teachable skill.” A challenge for an art teacher is helping students find that they are more creative than they think. “Sometimes that’s the hard part; letting them see what’s inside of them that they don’t know is there.”
Wilson detects a decline in how much students are exposed to art in the elementary and middle school grades. “I don’t know that computers and phones have been particularly friendly to working with our hands. So, in some ways, that’s a little discouraging. It seems kids are a little underdeveloped in the arts.”
Art is an important part of brain development, she said. “It helps how you think and how you feel, how you get in touch with what you’re feeling and the world around you. It gives you the ability to look and really see things.” Art can be therapeutic for many, she said.
Not all schools are as supportive of art as is Bishop Kelly, Wilson said. She recalls a time when the School Resource Officer stopped to view her students’ art work. “He said to me, ‘This must be the greatest job in the world.’ I said, ‘This is the greatest job in the world at this school.’ It’s a pretty easy place to work.”
After Wilson’s two children were older, she took time to travel to attend workshops and conferences on art. Bishop Kelly’s administration has been supportive throughout her career in allowing her to continue her education, which she believes is important for all teachers.
Many of her students have gone on to pursue art as a career. Some of her former students who are professional artists visited her classroom to give constructive feedback on students’ work.
During COVID, Wilson faced the same struggles as many teachers did trying to teach online. “That was some tough teaching,” she said. However, an added obstacle for her was making sure students had materials for projects. When students were able to return for short periods of time and had access to materials, students began excelling once again.
“There weren’t as many sporting events, so they had more time. Maybe they weren’t as distracted with other things. I was just amazed with what they made. Perhaps the art was just a good way to work through their feelings,” she said.
Wilson is looking forward to a more flexible lifestyle in retirement. “I really enjoy teaching, but I don’t want to have to be anywhere early in the morning every day,” she said. She plans to volunteer at camps and workshops. She also will continue to do what she loves and create her own art. If you keep fueling yourself with the things you love, she said, it carries over into everything you do.
Other Bishop Kelly retirements
President Rich Raimondi – Raimondi retired on July 1 of this year after 12 years as president of Bishop Kelly High School. The former Hewlett-Packard executive presided over unprecedented growth in the school and its foundation. A major profile of Raimondi and his years at BK was included in the March 11 Idaho Catholic Register.
Wes Worrell - After 47 years as an educator, Worrell retired to be with his family. He came to BK in 1993 to teach health, physical education and to coach. He started the girls’ softball program at BK in 1995 when it became a sanctioned sport in Idaho and proceeded to build the premier program in Idaho, winning eight state championships in his tenure as head softball coach. He was instrumental in the construction of the softball fields at BK.
Kelly Shockey – Shockey retired after 24 years of exceptional service as a volleyball coach, front office staff, and, for the last 14 years, as Director of Admissions. Shockey was key to the school’s growth in enrolment from about 625 students in 2008 to more than 940. “The care and attention she provided to each new student and family was a key factor in their decisions both to come and to stay at BK,” said former BK President Rich Raimondi.
Chris Haener – Haener retired after 21 years in education, and the past six as a counselor at BK. She helped thousands of students navigate their way successfully through high school with academic advising, college and career decisions, and personal and emotional health challenges. She has written countless letters of recommendation and served as Counseling Department chair for a number of years.
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