Catholic schools formulating plans to merge

Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
Precious Blood School students received Communion during Mass on Friday morning at the Catholic church in Jasper. A letter was sent home to parents Monday from Rev. Gary Kaiser of Precious Blood and Rev. John Boeglin of Holy Family School informing them that the two schools will begin the process of coming together into one Catholic educational system.

By CLAIRE MOORMAN
Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — Holy Family and Precious Blood schools will soon begin the process of merging to form one school on two campuses.

Father John Boeglin, the pastor of Holy Family Parish, and Father Gary Kaiser, the pastor at Precious Blood and St. Mary’s in Ireland, jointly sent a letter to parishioners Monday evening. The letter says that after gathering data from surveys and interviews, “the concept of one Catholic educational system in Dubois County was proposed by the strategic planning core team and we feel it is the right direction for our schools to move forward. In the near future, we will begin a process, supported by the diocese, that will include representation from all stakeholders in Dubois County.”

Father Ray Brenner, the head of the Jasper Deanery of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville, explained this morning that the core team was made up of two or three representatives from all 11 parishes in the countywide deanery. The group met several times to discuss possible changes that could be made by the diocese as a result of strategic planning that has been in the works for the past five years.

Bishop Charles Thompson announced the first phase of plans Friday, but that did not include changes for Dubois County parishes.

Fr. Ray said that conversations about the future of Jasper’s two Catholic schools was a small part of many of those local planning meetings.

Fr. John and Fr. Gary could not be reached for comment this morning, but Fr. Ray said he doubts the new school will include high school grades. Rather, he said he believes one school will begin serving the lower elementary school grade levels while the other begins serving the upper elementary school and middle school grade levels.

Holy Family currently has students in preschool to eighth grade and Precious Blood has students in preschool to fifth grade. Because enrollment at Holy Family has declined to 197 students and, according to Fr. Ray, very few Precious Blood students choose to transfer to Holy Family for sixth, seventh and eighth grades, the move could build the student population. Precious Blood has about 250 students.

“We’re trying to beef up enrollment,” Fr. Ray said. ”˜There are a lot of details to be worked out yet.”

Fr. Ray said no changes will be made at either school until next school year. Discussions will continue between the two pastors, the school principals and the congregations. Fr. Ray is hopeful that St. Mary’s parishioners from Ireland will become more involved in the school communities as well during this process.

Holy Family Principal Sally Sternberg and Precious Blood Principal Michelle Brandle could not be reached by The Herald for comment this morning.

Contact Claire Moorman at cmoorman@dcherald.com.




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