Music Director, St. Mary’s Cathedral
Vocal Music Teacher, St. Mary’s School
Adjunct Professor of Guitar and Voice, Laramie County Community College
I am Patrick Stolz, native of Cheyenne. Born into a large, extended Italian Catholic family, I have been a parishioner of St. Mary’s Cathedral parish and have received most of the sacraments at the cathedral. When I was in seventh grade, I began attending St. Mary’s School, the school where my mother and many of my other relatives once attended. From there, I went on to graduate from Seton Catholic High School in 1984. (St. Mary’s High School closed and reopened as Seton Catholic High School, between my 9th and 10th grade years.) I feel truly blessed to be able to now teach in the same building where I went to school, and although I will miss this old building very much, I look forward with great anticipation to the opening of our new school in January.
The Catholic school experience shaped me into the person who I am today. At school, we would gather together for prayer at the beginning and end of each school day, and of course, have religion classes daily. We had knowledgeable teachers who not only taught us, but were our friends and modeled Christian virtues. I had Fr. Gary Ruzicka, our current pastor, as my teacher in 8th grade religion. Fr. Gary prepared our class for Confirmation that year. Father Carl Beavers taught our religion class our senior year. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the Catholic faith, but Father Beavers proved that theory wrong. With his great knowledge and spiritual insight, I found his class the “tip of the iceberg” in my spiritual journey. Through his intellectual challenges, combined with the reading of Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning in Joanne Kelly’s Psychology class, I developed a long-lasting friendship with God and now know how important it truly is to cooperate with Him.
St. Mary’s, and later Seton, had a family atmosphere. In addition, we had good sports teams which generated contagious spirit. Since our school was small, the students had opportunities to participate in a wide variety of activities. I enjoyed being a member of the basketball team, singing in the choir and the liturgical group, and serving as student body president and yearbook editor.
After graduating from Seton, I found no problems adjusting to a larger campus at the University of Wyoming. Two of my Seton classmates lived in the same dorm on the same floor at college. We would sing together at the Neumann Center Masses. Remarkably enough, the pastor at St. Paul’s Neumann Center was none other than Fr. Gary Ruzicka! The university was an extension of the positive experience I had had at St. Mary’s and Seton.
The ideal job came along for me when I was asked to be the announcer for the Wyoming Cowboy Marching Band. As an avid sports fan, I was able to travel with the band and announce at such places as Mile High Stadium in Denver and San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. The list goes on and on. Also, for two seasons, I was asked to sing the National Anthem at all the Wyoming Cowboy home basketball games. I was known around campus as the “Voice of the Wyoming Cowboys”, and as a result received the distinguished Admiral Land Award.
After serving as the Religious Education Coordinator and music director at the base parish, I completed a competency-based teacher’s education program through Regis University and earned another degree at the same time from the University of Wyoming in Music Education. My first teaching assignment was at Meadowlark Elementary in Gillette, Wyoming, where I taught for two years. In 1997, I completed a Master’s degree in Voice Performance from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
I still heard a call from God that He wanted me to serve in his church in some capacity. After much discernment, I came to the conclusion that the calling was to be a teacher at a Catholic school or university and to serve as a music minister. The opportunity came about when Fr. Beavers offered me the position to serve as an administrative assistant to the music director at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and at the same time to teach vocal music at St. Mary’s School. A year later, my position as “administrative assistant” changed into “music director”. For eight years now, I have been able to maintain what I consider to be the most perfect scenario for me– working as the Music Director of St. Mary’s Cathedral and a music teacher at St. Mary’s School. Furthermore, I serve as an adjunct professor of guitar and voice at Laramie County Community College.
I heard God’s call again a few years later, and this time He was calling me to a vocation—the vocation of marriage. Karen (Colling) Stolz and I were married in 2005. We share the Catholic faith and the same family values. Like me, Karen is also a teacher at St. Mary’s School. In fact, it was at St. Mary’s where Karen and I first met, more evidence of God’s work in our lives.
St. Mary’s School has truly played a life-changing role in my life. I cannot quite imagine how my life would have been different without it. From my own quality education I received there, to the faith-based decisions that guided my life, from the people I met at St. Mary’s—including my wife, to my current employment, each step of my life has connected me back to St. Mary’s School and to its Divine Founder. I expect that St. Mary’s will continue to be a part of my family’s life for many years to come.