Parish pitches in to help devoted principal Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008 -- 1:00 AM
  Steve Bolser

MADISON -- There aren’t many pastors who would willingly let someone throw a cream pie in his face.

But Msgr. Ken Fiedler did just that -- for a price. At the recent Bolserpalooza fund-raising event for Steve Bolser, the long-time principal at Our Lady Queen of Peace School, Monsignor Fiedler agreed to make himself a target in the pie-throwing contest for $1,000.

Twenty minutes later, parishioners came up with the money allowing Steve’s wife, Mel, to target the priest. “Mel missed the first time, but then she got me,” recalled Monsignor Fiedler with a smile.

As the picture with this article shows, she really got him good! But they remained friends afterwards.

It all went for a good cause. People raised over $35,000 for the Bolser family. Last spring, Steve was diagnosed with brain cancer. After months of aggressive treatment, Steve and his family face significant challenges on the road back to health.

Support pours in

Patty Chryst, assistant principal and acting principal in Steve’s absence, said that from last March and right up to the present time, “Students, parents, faculty, staff, and parishioners have all been extremely supportive.”

The pastoral staff immediately worked with Mel to set up a schedule of meals being sent to their home three times a week. The pastoral staff also trained and set up a schedule of faculty and staff who were able to serve as a respite team and visit Steve on a regular basis.

The teachers organized a schedule of cards from the various grade levels, so that cards were arriving at their home all spring on a daily basis.

“The Education Commission and School and Family Association organized a number of wonderful things to support the faculty and staff, such as gift baskets and massages during Teacher Appreciation Week,” said Chryst.

“One of our Education Commission members set up the ‘Caring Bridge’ link on our Web site. The middle school students thought about what might make Mr. Bolser happy and pitched in to get a Wii machine. Students at all grade levels did various things.

“The teachers organized ‘care’ baskets, high schoolers mowed their lawn, friends helped financially so that renovations could made to their basement to make room for their first grandchild. There have been so many acts of kindness,” said Chryst.


With the blessing and endorsement of the parish Finance and Pastoral Councils, a committee of school and parish volunteers created an opportunity to come together as one family to support Steve and his family as he works to regain his health.

Bolserpalooza was held on Saturday, Oct. 25, at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish. The day began with a prayer service and was followed by food and fun family activities before, during, and after the Badger football game.

“Bolserpaloosa was the perfect opportunity for us to join our parish and school families and to honor Steve, his wife Mel, and their commitment to the education of our children,” said Monsignor Fiedler and Mary Beth Drabik, chair of the event, in a joint letter to parishioners.

Leadership in Catholic education

Steve Bolser was also recently honored with a Leadership Award at the Catholic Charities Awards Dinner. Mel accepted the award for him.

Steve has been employed in Catholic education throughout his career. He has been principal at Our Lady Queen of Peace School since 1994. Before that he was a teacher at Edgewood Campus School and principal of Edgewood High School. He was a teacher and assistant principal at Catholic schools in Springfield, Ill., before that.

He also served as president of the Diocese of Madison Principals’ Association for three years and has been active in the association.

“As a Catholic educator, part of putting my faith into action has been striving to make Catholic education not only academically excellent but spiritually nurturing and service-oriented,” he said.

“As principal, he has made service an integral component in the fabric of QP School,” said Chryst. She noted that Steve also directed many “very ambitious” productions at the school in recent years. “His expertise and creativity leaves a lasting impression on not only those acting, but the large number of students involved.”

A Friends of Steve Bolser fund has been established for the family. Contributions with checks payable to Friends of Steve Bolser may be sent c/o Theresa Wiese, 6 Redmound Circle, Madison, WI 53717.