Pacelli Catholic Schools announces Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
FOR THE GAZETTE
STEVENS POINT — On May 27, Pacelli Catholic Schools recognized this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, Cynthia (Meshak) Calhoun-Kosiec.
The award, given annually to an alumnus (or alumni), recognizes graduates from the Catholic high school who exemplify a Christian lifestyle for their professional and/or volunteer achievements bringing honor and distinction to Pacelli and success in leadership, service, and character, both in private and public life. To date, there are 24 recipients of Pacelli’s most prestigious alumni award.
Cynthia is a 1981 graduate of Pacelli, and the first of Ralph and Mary Jane Meshak’s four children to graduate from Pacelli Catholic High School (Cynthia ‘81, Michael ’83, Patrick ‘85, and Melissa ’87). After graduation, she served in the U.S. Army for seven years of active duty, as a Dental Specialist and two years in the reserves, leaving service at the rank of Sergeant. For the last 21 years, she has worked as an Environmental Protection Technician (EPT) for the Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District.
Cynthia’s family proudly boasts three generations of Pacelli alumni and U.S. Military service. Cindy’s mother, Mary Jane (Drefcinski) is a 1955 Maria graduate, along with her sons Brett ‘09 and Dylan ’18, as graduates of Pacelli Catholic High School. She followed in the footsteps of her father, who was a Retired First Sergeant, Signal Command. Also following in service were her brothers Mike and Pat. It carried through to her son Kirby (SSG) who served 10 years in the Army, the last 6 as a Green Beret, and son Brett (SPC) who served for 6 years in military counter-intelligence.
During her service, she was stationed at Ft. Hood, TX, Augsburg and Munich, Germany, and Ft. Benning, GA, where she worked as a dental assistant, managed a dental office in Munich, and worked at a large dental clinic at Ft. Benning, GA as the floor supervisor. During her tenure at Ft. Benning, GA it was then that she began teaching Religious Education. When her family was stationed in Germany, she was active in their religious education program and served on the European Military Council of Catholic Women.
She has practiced what she has learned with her sons. After moving back to the area from her time in the Military, she sent her children, Kirby, Brett and Dylan, to Pacelli Catholic Schools. The education Pacelli provided, not only academically but in faith, was extremely important to her. Through hardships that have come her way, she has never strayed from believing in Catholic teachings and worked extra hours and volunteered more hours to make certain her three sons had a Catholic education. Her volunteering and pushing her sons to expand their faith was evident in religious achievement awards in scouting and at Pacelli, including the Diocese of La Crosse Bishop’s medals in 2009 (Brett) and 2018 (Dylan).
Cynthia continued to serve her community and country. She has served on the DAV-Chapter 30 as the Chaplain, a counselor for Boy Scout Troop 201, and deployments for relief efforts related to Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Gustave, and Maria.
Currently, Cynthia serves as a member at large on the St. Bron’s Pastoral Council, the chair of the Military ministry at St. Bron’s, and has taught Faith Formation for six years at St. Bron’s, working with seventh and eighth-grade students. She will be attending Steubenville this summer with students from St. Bron’s in St. Paul, MN. She is an active Lector and Lay Eucharistic minister, taking communion every third Sunday to a nursing home in Plover and completed the Lay Formation course from the Diocese of La Crosse. In her free time, you can find her spending time with family, traveling, and working in her flower gardens.
In her sister Melissa’s words, “To meet her is to know her love for God and the Church. To know her is a comfort and reminder that one’s faith is not one of silent reflection but of action. To be served by her is to know that God does have his caretakers here on Earth.”
Cynthia (Meshak) Calhoun-Kosiec was formally recognized May 27 at a brunch held in her honor. She also served as the keynote speaker at the Pacelli Catholic High School Class of 2023 graduation ceremony.