Cathedral High School gets ‘OK’ to move forward on fundraising plan

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Kristi Anderson
The Visitor

On Oct. 2, Bishop Donald Kettler and nine area pastors voted unanimously to move forward with Cathedral High School’s initiative to begin raising money for a facilities improvement plan. It’s the next step in a master plan that has been in the works for seven years.

“It’s a simple story to tell, ” said Mike Mullin, Cathedral’s president. “We are building, we are growing, we have a visible structure that is telling the story that Catholic education is alive and well. A lot of people know that, but this will provide a highly visible symbol that we are strong and we’ve got a bright future.”

During the past seven years, CHS board members supported the school’s efforts to “test the concept” and “test the capacity” of a new facilities plan. Initially, they hoped to do it all at once, but their research found it would work better in phases.

The first phase consists of building a new structure where the Zardetti House and former 1914 school building once stood, south of the North Gym.

“In that space, we will construct a school addition that will primarily address science, technology, worship, music and the arts. We have not yet done the fine detail planning, but there will likely be dozens of other uses,” Mullin explained.

All existing structures will continue to be used, he said, although their uses could evolve.

The Oct. 2 vote means that fundraising for this phase can begin. The goal is to raise $16.5 million.

Current Cathedral board chair Elaine Yaggie is a 1959 graduate of Cathedral and parishioner of St. Augustine Parish, St. Cloud. Part of her role has been to meet with individuals and ask them if they would be willing to support the campaign and then whether they were willing to contribute to it.

“Some were apprehensive,” she said. “They already had committed their donations to their parish and other charities. We really wanted to make sure they know that we don’t want to take away from any other needs in their own parish. We have to balance it and to do it respectfully.”

Mullin said it boils down to people voting for the plan with their gifts.

“It’s really people deciding what they want,” he said. “Our Cathedral community is 50,000-strong. We have over 12,000 living alumni, add to that their families, our current community and their families and it doesn’t take long to get to 50,000.”

Renovation and construction could begin as early as spring 2016 if enough money is raised. Originally, the plan included a target completion date of June 30, 2018.

“That is getting probably too close now,” Mullin said, “but we are still going to shoot for it.”

Catholic Community Schools

Not only would the plan help Cathedral, but it could also help local Catholic grade schools.

Last December, Bishop Kettler convened a steering committee, charging it to design a single Catholic school system for the greater St. Cloud metro area — one that ensures the continued vitality of Catholic education into the future and its availability to all Catholic families.

He asked the committee to present him with a final draft plan for his approval for what is being called Catholic Community Schools by this December. It would be part of a comprehensive early childhood-12 approach involving All Saints Academy in St. Cloud and St. Joseph, Holy Cross in Pearl Lake, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in St. Cloud, St. Francis Xavier in Sartell, St. Katharine Drexel in St. Cloud, St. Mary, Help of Christians in St. Augusta, St. Wendelin in Luxemburg and Cathedral High School in St. Cloud.

Cathedral High School will designate 10 percent of the funds it raises for the benefit of E-6 programs of Catholic Community Schools, Mullin said. The funds would be used in whatever way the bishop and the new yet-to-be appointed CCS board would decide.

Because about 85 to 90 percent of Cathedral’s students come from these area grade schools, he said, it is a top priority to help those schools succeed as well.
Mullin said the No. 1 message is that, at a time when many Catholic schools are declining, he hopes this model can “be kind of a beacon of light on the horizon that here is a school and a system comprised of elementary schools … that is investing in the future.”

“To take inspiration from this, if it works,” he added, “is something that I hope would happen throughout the diocese.”