Veteran Catholic school educator and adviser Dan Hollenhorst to retire

Categories: Around the Diocese

June 21, 2013, edition
By Rita Meyer

Dan Hollenhorst’s No. 1 retirement goal is “to lead a more contemplative life.”

Hollenhorst, school consultant with Catholic Education Ministries of the Diocese of St. Cloud for the past seven years, said, “I don’t know what form this will take yet, but I want to be more aware, more alive, more in the moment.”


Figuring out where to start might be the challenge. Hollenhorst and his wife of 41 years, Juliana, enjoy many activities, including camping, canoeing, traveling, reading, photography, historic preservation and bird watching.

Hollenhorst, 65, has led an advisory role to the 29 Catholic schools in the St. Cloud Diocese. He has worked mainly with the principals and teachers within these schools.

“They’re still locally controlled, site-based managed, independent entities,” he said. “Mine was a support position,” he explained. He planned four meetings per year that dealt with current education issues including changes in social media and technology, available resources and how to address a specific concern such as dyslexia or the use of iPads.

He’s most enjoyed the people. “It always comes down to relationships,” Hollenhorst said, “and I’ve really enjoyed working with the principals and teachers, as well as my colleagues, within this position.”

One of the greatest challenges he’s seen St. Cloud Diocese Catholic schools face has been the declining enrollment and financial struggles, challenges that Catholic schools across the nation are experiencing, with enrollment decreasing 24 percent since the year 2000. Changes in technology, specifically hand-held devices and the apps to go with them, have resulted in new challenges as well.

He’s watched as schools in the diocese work to meet the challenges of enrollment and recruiting.

“All our schools are doing a variety of innovative things such as embracing technology in general and mobile devices such as the iPad in particular,” Hollenhorst noted.

“They’re also looking at best instructional practices, particularly at how to best teach reading and how to meet the needs of struggling readers who might be dealing with challenges such as dyslexia.

“All the schools are focusing on their Catholic identity to emphasize what is primarily distinctive about them.”

Hollenhorst’s entire upbringing and career has been in Catholic education.

He attended St. Augustine Grade School (now called St. Katherine Drexel) and Cathedral High School, both in St. Cloud, St. John’s University for his bachelors degree and the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul for his master’s degree.

He was a teacher, principal and activities director in several St. Cloud-area Catholic schools. “I’ve been positively influenced by the Benedictines,” Hollenhorst said.

“It’s hard to beat working in a Catholic environment,” Hollenhorst related. “It lends itself to strong, healthy relationships that benefit families and the children being served.”

Whether it’s enjoying more quiet time in their renovated 1895 home in St. Cloud’s southside University neighborhood or planning their next trip to the Boundary Waters, Hollenhorst and his wife are looking forward to quality time together. “There are no guarantees,” observed Hollenhorst. “Mom died at 61, Dad at 65.”

Come June 30, Hollenhorst’s official retirement date, his first agenda item might be to sleep in a bit. “I’m a morning person but I might sleep in a little later than 6 a.m.,” he offered.