Questions? Please contact Taylor Holman at, or at 616-233-5918.


Fr. Dennis Morrow - St. John Paul II Award

Fr. Dennis Morrow always showed his support of Catholic education - both at the parish level as well as at the high school level. Fr. Den, as he was called by those who knew him, served the Grand Rapids community on many levels. He was the pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish for over 20 years, beginning in 1993. He also served as the chaplain for the City’s Police and Fire departments, and was well versed on the history of Grand Rapids.
Upon celebrating his 40th anniversary of his ordination in 2015, the Grand Rapids Press referred to him as “…a man of many facets - priest, historian, expert in Canon Law, police and fire chaplain. He has worn these cloaks for decades which shows a profound dedication to community service.”
His parishioners saw him as a friend - one who knew peoples’ names and addressed them as he presented Communion the first time. He was also known for his sense of humor, which he often added to his homilies. Fr. Den regularly attended family celebrations of his parishioners whether they be baptisms, first communions or weddings. Before he passed in 2020, firemen raised a ladder to his room at the cancer center to offer him words of encouragement as he had often done for them.
Fr. Den’s support of Catholic education was an important part of his ministry. He believed that the schools were critical to expanding the Catholic faith. A scholarship in his name - the Fr. Dennis Morrow Education Fund under the Foundation for Catholic Secondary Education was established by some of his parishioners to further his love of Catholic education.
Bernard Geerling - Falcon by Choice Award
Bernard Geerling has always considered himself a Falcon. Growing up on the west side, he completed two years of education at St. Adalbert’s then transferred to Catholic Central and graduated in 1960. Bern has always had a “West is best” mentality and feels it has a warm, friendly community that offers students an excellent education. He is a lifelong parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.
Bern spent his entire career in Human Resources. He was the Director of Human Resources at Grand Rapids Metalcraft and the Human Resources Manager at Oliver Products. He attended Davenport for two years studying business and completed his bachelor’s degree at Aquinas College, minoring in psychology. He and his lady-friend Carole Anne have been best friends for 20 years and they belong to St Anthony of Padua Parish.
Bern calls himself a “sports-aholic” and loves attending any event including the Whitecaps, Griffins, Fighting Irish and, of course, the Falcons.
One of Bern’s many highlights at West is being asked by the football team players to recite the rosary in the chapel on game day. It is an awesome privilege for an awesome school.
His love for the students at West has its benefits. Bern gets thank-you notes and phone calls from parents who appreciate him for mentoring and encouraging their children. He also attends many graduation parties because he sees these students as his extended family. Bern makes sure to tell everyone how humble, hard-working and successful West Catholic students are. His hope is that West Catholic continues to grow and goes on forever.

Rita Totoraitis - Alumni Excellence Award

Rita Totoraitis, affectionately known as “Miss T” has been at West Catholic for most of her adult life. After graduating in 1969, she received her teaching certificate at Western Michigan University and returned to WC in 1979 to begin a 40-year teaching career. During those years, she not only taught typing and business classes, but also coached the girls basketball cheerleaders, which was a unique addition to the sport in the ‘80s, but one the players appreciated.

Miss T grew up on the west side, attending Ss. Peter and Paul grade school. She was an only child and after her parents passed away in the late ‘70s, she considered West her second family. She attended many sporting events and cheered on her beloved Falcons in their contests whether at home or across the state. Even after retirement, she actively participated at the games, working as a scorekeeper for both the girls and boys basketball programs, selling tickets at the home football games and substitute teaching and volunteering at fundraising events. She and her colleagues, Miss G and Pat Nugent - also known as “Pat and His Party Pals” - continue to attend sporting events, graduation parties and social events.
Her devotion to West didn’t go unnoticed, and when the on-campus football stadium was completed, a small ticket booth on the south entrance of the stadium was built in her honor. The “Miss T’s House” even adorned one of her Christmas cards because it represented her commitment to her West family.
Miss T loved all of her students - even, in her words, “the stinkers”. She always challenged them to work a little harder and go the extra step and feels West will continue to thrive and produce good Christian citizens for a long time to come.
John Thompson - Lifetime Achievement Award
John Thompson was born in Chicago, Illinois, but moved to the west side of Grand Rapids at a young age. He graduated from Catholic Central in 1954 before attending Grand Rapids Junior College where he received a degree in Business Administration. John joined the Army National Guard at the age of 24 and served for four years. He then worked at his family’s business, Blue Arrow Trucking, until his retirement in 1980.
Later in life, John became reacquainted with his Catholic faith. After a 50-year absence, he was proud of his decision to return to the Church. Through this renewed faith, John established a connection with West Catholic. A generous and humble man, he was drawn to the school, believing that the West Catholic community shared many of the values he held in the highest regard. He admired dedication and teamwork, which compelled him to support WC Athletics and other areas of the school through a large donation after his passing.
John is remembered by his friends and family for his love of adventure. He enjoyed golfing, hunting and fishing, and could often be found cruising the waters of Spring Lake or filling up the tank and setting out in search of a new destination. Most importantly, however, John is remembered for his generosity. An only child, he learned from his parents to give back to causes that were meaningful to him. Now, many West Catholic students will benefit from his gift for generations to come.

West Catholic High School
1801 Bristol NW.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 233-5900