School principals, pastors meet for year-ending Mass, luncheon

Photo Caption: Patricia Kellogg, who is retireing as associate superintendent of schools at the end of this month, received a gift from Bishop Jenky during the recent luncheon.

By: By Jennifer Willems

Before they went their separate ways for the summer, the principals of Catholic schools around the Diocese of Peoria came together for Mass and a luncheon at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria.

Along with their pastors they were honored for their years of service and those who are retiring were thanked with applause, plenty of laughter, and tokens of appreciation presented by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC. He was also the principal celebrant for the Mass in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel at the Spalding Renewal Center.

To whet their appetite for the next school year, the pastors and principals heard about a new initiative that will be launched in the fall. “Life After Meitler: Faith in Our Future” is a collaboration between the Office of Catholic Schools and the Office of Development and Stewardship, with representatives from the diocesan staff working with each school to develop “a simple, understandable and easy-to-execute plan for their future.”

“The operative word here is “with” — this is not something that is going to be dumped on you,” Bill Engelbrecht, director of advancement for the Diocese of Peoria, assured them. “We’re going to get into our cars and come to see you and work through many of these issues.”

To do the same thing that has always been done or to do nothing is not an option, he said.

“We hope to create some plans with you, to stay with you in this process, and to watch it develop over the years,” Engelbrecht told them.

The new effort picks up where the Meitler study, “Renewing Our Mission: A Blueprint for the Future,” left off, according to Dr. Sharon Weiss, superintendent of Catholic schools.

“One thing that Meitler taught us is we need to plan for the future of our schools,” she said. “We need to assess where we are now and where we want to be.

“Meitler is now five to six years old. What we would like to do is to reassess some of the demographic information we gathered, some of the enrollment management numbers, and some of the things we want to update,” Weiss explained.

Not only is this important for each school, but it’s also important for the Office of Catholic Schools, she said, adding that doing this will help in determining how diocesan resources will be allocated.

Another lesson learned from Meitler is that a review of this kind must be done systematically so there is a common language, common components and a common strategy, “infused with best practices to achieve the vision and ensure sustainability,” Weiss said.

Principals and pastors needn’t fear that they will have to “throw the baby out with the bath water,” however. She acknowledged that many schools have already implemented long-range plans.

“We’re just going to bring to the table a common process,” she said. “We’re going to take what you’ve done and put it into what we’re going to ask for. You won’t have to re-do and redesign.”

Meitler also taught school officials to step back and “let the experts do it” and that’s why John Gibson, director of the Office of Development and Stewardship, and Engelbrecht have been asked to assist with the new planning process. Collaborating with them will be Dr. Susan Stolt, financial services coordinator for the Office of Catholic Schools.

By the time it is over, the process will help each school talk about why Catholic education is important and why that school is equipped to meet the needs of the students in unique ways, Engelbrecht said.

Areas that will be explored are enrollment management, marketing, development and tuition and financial assistance.

Details are still being finalized. Weiss said the principals will learn more at their annual retreat in August.

During the celebration of service after lunch, 12 pastors were honored for giving 15 years or more to Catholic education. They include: Msgr. Philip Halfacre, St. Michael the Archangel, Streator; Msgr. Doug Hennessy, Holy Trinity, Bloomington; Father David Kipfer, St. Columba, Ottawa; Father Jeff Laible, Carroll Catholic, Lincoln; Msgr. Thomas Mack, Immaculate Conception, Monmouth; Father Michael Pakula, St. Malachy, Geneseo; Father James Pallardy, St. Vincent de Paul, Peoria; Father Ted Pracz, Holy Family and Schlarman Academy, Danville; Msgr. Richard Pricco, St. Paul, Macomb; Father Ric Schneider, OFM, St. Mary, Bloomington; Msgr. William Watson, St. Thomas the Apostle and Peoria Notre Dame; and Msgr. Dale Wellman, Seton Catholic Academy, Moline.

Msgr. Hennessy and Father Pracz, who have been granted senior status, and Msgr. John Prendergast, who is leaving St. Patrick Parish and School in Washington to work as a special assistant to the bishop and serve as vice chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria, received special thanks.

In addition, nine principals who retired at the end of this school year were recognized. They are: Elizabeth Blachinsky, Visitation School, Kewanee; Rose Costello, Holy Cross School, Champaign; Stan Griffin, St. Malachy School, Geneseo; Jim Kovac, Costa Catholic Academy, Galesburg; John Meisinger, St. Edward School, Chillicothe; Dr. James Minick, St. Vincent de Paul School, Peoria; Jimmie Moore, St. Mark School, Peoria; Bob Rice, Schlarman Academy, Danville; and Trina Schmidt, Holy Family School, Peoria.

The 2013 Distinguished Pastor for the Diocese of Peoria, Msgr. Eric Powell of Epiphany in Normal, also received a token of appreciation. He had been honored as one of 12 outstanding school pastors by the National Catholic Educational Association in April.

Jim Kovac was called front and center a second time to be recognized as the 2013 Distinguished Principal for the Diocese of Peoria. (See related story, page 8.)

Pat Kellogg, who emceed the celebration, is also retiring this month and received a gift and sustained applause from the pastors and principals. A former principal at Holy Family School in Peoria, she has worked as associate superintendent in the Office of Catholic Schools for eight years.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
© Copyright 2023 - The Catholic Post || 2 || All Rights Reserved || Design by