After wrestling and playing football at the University of St. Thomas while majoring in education, Mike McGovern’s path seemed pretty clear.
McGovern quickly became a teacher and high school football coach in Morristown, Minnesota. There were about 100 kids in the school then.
“That went quite well,” McGovern says with a smile decades later. “Then I married one of the three single women in town. The other two married the other single teachers. Then we all left.
“The town wasn’t very happy with us.”
As the McGoverns moved back to his hometown of Northfield, though, Mike transitioned from the education and athletics world into business, first with Transamerica and later as the president of Catholic United Financial, a position he held for 15 years, to support his growing family.
From 1999-2008, McGovern served on The Saint Paul Seminary Board of Trustees. His tenure saw the appointment of Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan as rector and seminarian enrollment that burgeoned past the 100 mark.
Between teaching, coaching and leading a company of more than 4,000 employees, McGovern’s penchant for servant leadership, effective change management and fundraising came in handy as the seminary sought support for this growth.
“Running a 4,000-person company and all the other things I did — coaching and teaching and everything else — none of it compared to my experience of being on the board,” said McGovern, a 2023 Saint Paul Seminary honorary Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. “It was just so rewarding. There were a lot of changes that took place, all of them I thought were for the better.”
During his long commute between the Twin Cities and Northfield, McGovern would often stop at the seminary’s St. Mary’s Chapel to pray alone or join in evening prayer. He also became a member of the first-ever class in the seminary’s Catechetical Institute.
Today, he spends most of his time in Northfield, enjoying the time he’s able to spend as a retiree with his five children and 11 grandchildren.
“I still tell anybody who listens about what happens over there,” McGovern said of the seminary. “It really is a special place.”