Jennifer Miller
Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer
August 8, 2019 // Diocese

Catholic school principals prepare to welcome students

Jennifer Miller
Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer

For Indiana children, August is the bittersweet month when the joys of summertime give way to the structured days of classroom education. But reuniting with friends and teachers and experiencing the fun of learning can brighten the time of transition to a new school year.

The Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is also going through a time of transition. Following the passing of former Superintendent Marsha Jordan in the spring, Dr. Joseph Brettnacher, former principal of Marian High School, Mishawaka, will fulfill the leadership duties; Jeffrey Kiefer, former principal of St. Joseph School, Decatur, will serve as assistant superintendent. Additionally, several school principals have changed posts or been hired.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is where Brettnacher first began his vocation as a Catholic school administrator and he is grateful to be returning. He said he finds the diocese to have its strengths in “God, the Most Reverend Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, pastors and priests, OCS staff, administrators, teachers and staff. They see their jobs as a vocation from God. As disciples, they understand the importance of partnering with parents to assist them in developing their children to fulfill their destiny, become saints, and go to heaven.”

Principals of Catholic schools of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend gathered at Sacred Heart Parish and school, Warsaw, Aug. 1 for Mass with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and meetings led by Secretary for Education Carl Loesch and Superintendent Dr. Joseph Brettnacher. The 2019-20 school year begins during the next two weeks for the majority of Catholic schools in the diocese. — Nate Proulx

Some of the challenges that the CSO office will face in the coming year, he said, will be “to continue to develop partnerships with institutions, organizations, foundations and charities to help our students excel spiritually, intellectually, physically and socially. Another opportunity is for the CSO to work with pastors and administrators to create school climates where students live out their faith for the good of the marginalized in our society.”

“The CSO wants to work with our pastors and administrators to lessen their workload by using technology as a tool to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a wide array of paperwork that results from tuition assistance and school plans and reports,” he added. “We see challenges as opportunities to work together as a community to resolve them.”

He hopes to visit all 43 diocesan Catholic schools by the end of the first semester. “I want to listen to our bishop, Catholic Schools Office, pastors, principals, faculty, staff, parents, community and students about some of the opportunities we have to improve our schools and work collaboratively to get there. Individually we can do no great things, but with the grace of God and by working together as a community, we can make some astonishing progress.” He hopes that Catholics of the diocese will pray for him and ask God to guide him to make wise decisions for the betterment of the schools, the diocese and God’s kingdom.

Five school administrators have transferred from one school to another. Two additional principals are new to school leadership, and a position is to still be filled at Our Lady of Hungary School. Also in South Bend, Mattie Willerton, previously of St. John the Evangelist School in Goshen, now serves at Corpus Christi School.

In Monroeville, Travis Heckber has transferred from St. Charles Borromeo School, Fort Wayne, to St. Rose of Lima School. Jeanine Skordos has transitioned from Bishop Luers High School, Fort Wayne, to St. Joseph – Hessen Cassel School. Also in Fort Wayne, Mary Keefer, a former Bishop Luers principal, is serving at St. John the Baptist School; and Bea Royal, former principal of St. John the Baptist School, is the new principal of Our Lady School.

Sacred Heart School in Warsaw and St. John the Evangelist School will welcome freshman principals. Michael McClain is serving at the former, with John Loflin at the latter.

McClain, a parishioner of St. Paul of the Cross, Columbia City, is originally from Altoona, Iowa, an eastern suburb of Des Moines. He earned an English teaching degree from the University of Northern Iowa and worked as a middle school assistant principal and elementary school principal with Whitko Community Schools.

“I’m excited for every aspect of being the educational leader of Sacred Heart,” McClain said. “I’m looking forward to work with the staff and parents in equipping our students with the knowledge needed to be successful in their academic and spiritual endeavors. I’m looking forward to developing a shared vision of what Sacred Heart could be, and I look forward to building relationships with and working with all stakeholders. Lastly, I look forward to helping to develop and augment systems that will lead us to be the best SHS that we can be.”

Loflin, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Parish, has worked as a public school teacher and administrator for the past 20 years, receiving his B.A. from Nicholls State University in Louisiana and his master’s in education and educational specialist degrees from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

He’s looking forward to serving at a Catholic school, a place where, “Catholic educators and the institutions they serve have the unique opportunity to model Catholic morals and values no matter which cultural contexts they espouse those values.”

In the coming year, Loflin said he will strive to serve like his mentor saint, St. John Bosco, “patterning his works according to the corporal works of mercy and serve as an instructional leader to help the students at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School meet or exceed their potential and become model Catholic members of their community.”

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