Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
December 12, 2023 // Diocese

Diocese Explores Creating Career Technical Academy

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has four Catholic high schools that strive to open hearts and minds through an academically excellent environment, forming disciples of Jesus Christ. In an effort to stay connected with the times and be inclusive to students with unique talents, the diocese is undergoing a feasibility study to explore the creation of St. Joseph the Worker Career Technical Academy. This career center opportunity for students at Bishop Luers and Bishop Dwenger high schools would focus on faith, education, and service in the Fort Wayne area. 

According to David L. Maugel, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Bishop Dwenger High School Principal Jason Schiffli and his team communicated and initiated the conversation by sharing an aspiration to utilize a building given to the school by a generous donor.   

“The Bishop Dwenger team communicated the desire to partner with Bishop Luers in the development of a career technical academy that would serve the educational needs of students looking to gain more authentic experiences within their academic development,” Maguel told Today’s Catholic. “In addition, the state of Indiana has changed graduation pathways, which has challenged all high schools to develop career pathways to meet the graduation requirements for students not meeting an SAT or ACT cut-off score.” 

Schiffli said the high school has been part of a collaborative effort with the Fort Wayne Community Schools Career Academy at Anthis, a program that allows students the opportunity to gain technical skills to be college and career-ready. Throughout the past five years, the popularity of this program has tripled, but only a limited number of students from each school can secure spots because priority goes to students in public schools.  

Recognizing that not all students are interested in pursuing a college degree but are passionate about entering a career in the trades sparked the idea of creating a new technical facility.

“We saw this as a big ‘a-ha moment’ for us,” Schiffli said. “The Department of Education is encouraging and rewarding schools for offering career training opportunities. I think we will have a lot of people supporting this project.” 

Maugel said the diocese plans to renovate an existing building to develop five to seven programs that would align with the interests of local businesses and state graduation pathways. Currently, the diocese has partnered with Our Sunday Visitor to complete a feasibility study on the Fort Wayne side of the diocese. They are working with enFocus, a team of fellows who partner with civic institutions, regional businesses, and local entrepreneurs to solve problems and build capacity for innovation, to develop a business plan for long-term sustainability. Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers have collaborated on programs, funding resources, vision, and logistics. The Catholic School’s Office has provided guidance, direction, and questions with important details to address identifying programs, building and personnel logistics, and long-term funding models. 

The proposed curriculum would include construction trades, medical technology including certified nursing assistant (CNA) and certified medical assistant (CMA), and entrepreneurship. All pathways would culminate with a capstone project that will include entrepreneurial elements. Each pathway would include a certification and/or dual credit.  

Bishop Dwenger Development Director Katie Slee feels this venture is a great moment for the schools to be good stewards of their communities.  

“We owe it to our students to recognize the gifts God has given them,” said Slee, who noted that some students are athletes, others are strong in academics, and others thrive in the area of trades, and this school would allow students gifted in the trades to reach their full potential through the lens of their Catholic faith.   

Slee said the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will be the only diocese in Indiana to have a technical academy and allow for a unique moment of unity between the only two Catholic high schools in Fort Wayne. 

“St. Joseph the Worker Career Technical Academy will engage our students in authentic environments that directly connect to a career pathway,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The academy, as an extension of both high schools, will carry on the Catholic culture in the formation of our students through prayer, education, and evangelization that fosters disciples of Jesus Christ.” He added, “I fully endorse the investigation and development of a Catholic Career Technical Academy that reflects the characteristics of St. Joseph the Worker.” 

“The focus is on allowing students the opportunity to develop authentic academic knowledge and skills that will allow them to pursue vocations that they are called to,” Maugel said. “Secondarily, the Fort Wayne community may experience an increase in an ethical workforce that values the virtues of St. Joseph: just, faithful, righteous, silent, chaste, obedient, and devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” 

“Fort Wayne is a great place to live,” Schiffli said. “We hope these kids will go through the program, get their certifications, and then stay in the area providing smart, morally strong Christian people working and living in the area,” he added, noting that many of the generous donors to both schools are alumni who have built successful careers within the trades and are strong supporters of this project. 

To learn more, and to take the feasibility survey, visit

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