May 8, 2013 // Local

Catholic school expansion in Fort Wayne

St. Joseph and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishes to open doors to two separate schools in fall, 2014

FORT WAYNE — It is the hope that St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth School, St. Joseph Parish and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish will be starting a new chapter in their schools and parishes in August of 2014. That is when two separate schools, St. Joseph Catholic School and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School, will begin the school year as two separate Catholic schools.

For the past 15 years, St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth School operated as a joint Catholic school, sponsored by both St. Joseph Parish and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. The school received financial support from both parishes.

Faculty and staff worked hard to keep the two campuses united, with shuttle buses, a monthly all-school Mass, and partnering different grades together as Prayer Partners — such as the eighth and second grades — by doing special projects and sitting together at Mass.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades commissioned a committee to study Catholic schools, and the committee concluded that this is a good time to have pre-K through eighth grade at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on Aboite Center Road in southwest Fort Wayne. The committee also concluded that this is a good time for St. Joseph Parish on Brooklyn Avenue to have kindergarten through fifth grade. The 2015-2016 school year will add sixth grade, the 2016-2017 school year will add seventh grade, and the 2017-2018 school year will add eighth grade to St. Joseph Catholic School.

“It is important to me that our school be able to accept more children, and be able to educate and form this next generation of students into wonderful and moral young people with great character,” said St. Joseph pastor Father Tim Wrozek. “St. Joseph Parish celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2014, and it seems very appropriate to open our school doors as St. Joseph School that year.”

St. Joseph School enrollment will be open to St. Joseph parishioners, as well as parishes such as St. Patrick Parish, which does not have a Catholic school. The plan of having St. Joseph School and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School as separate schools is being put in place so as to not turn away families who want their children to attend Catholic schools. Indiana’s School Choice Program has made children attending Catholic schools a realistic option for families who could previously not afford Catholic schools.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish will begin a capital campaign to help fund a building project that will add on 11 classrooms, conference rooms, additional office space and a media center. Both schools are scheduled to open as two separate schools in August 2014.

St. Joseph School will have one class per grade. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School will have two classes per grade.

Lois Widner will be principal of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School along with Greg Slee as assistant principal. Cristy Jordan will be principal of St. Joseph School.

“As St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish celebrates our 25th anniversary this year, we look forward to the continued growth of our parish community and facilities,” said St. Elizabeth Ann Seton pastor Father Jim Shafer. “Bishop Rhoades has a wonderful vision to provide Catholic education to even more of our children. Both parishes will be blessed by this move.”

Bishop Rhoades expressed his gratitude to the study committee, the pastors and the principals for their hard work and commitment to Catholic education. He looks forward to both schools providing strong Catholic formation and academic excellence for over 200 more children than the present school can accommodate. He especially encouraged the generosity of parishioners in supporting this new endeavor.

The new plan for both schools was announced by Bishop Rhoades at a meeting for parents, faculty and stuff at St. Joseph Parish on April 29. In attendance at the meeting were Superintendent of Catholic Schools Dr. Mark Myers, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton pastor Father Jim Shafer, St. Joseph pastor Father Tim Wrozek, Principal Lois Widner, Assistant Principal Greg Slee, future Principal Cristy Jordan, and members of the committee who studied the idea of having two separate Catholic schools.

“This is an exciting time for both our Catholic schools,” said Principal Lois Widner. “As we experience a tremendous growth in enrollment, we see our vision touching so many children’s lives. Our committed and dedicated staff is looking forward to the expansion and being a strong presence in southwest Allen County.”


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