May I Say Thanks - Again?

by Dr. Joseph D. Hollowell, 2 yrs ago

In 1990, when I first assumed the role of principal of Roncalli, I never dreamed of the enormous needs that would surface in terms of facility challenges at our school.  I must confess that once these needs became apparent to me, I was unsure of our ability to meet them.  I also confess that initially I had much trepidation in asking people to support our various projects.  But it finally dawned on me that our students needed someone to make their case and it looked like I was the one that would have to do that.  It is our students for whom every dime we raise is ultimately targeted to help.  It is on their behalf that I say thanks!

I once had a conversation with a benefactor in the midst of a solicitation during one of our capital campaigns that stays with me today.  Reflecting upon the great accumulation of wealth in our society I said something to the effect of, “We live in the most affluent society in the history of humanity.  When I look at every aspect of my life, with one exception, everything I have and everything in my community is nicer.  My house is nicer than the house I grew up in.  My car is nicer than anything my parents ever owned.  Our family takes more extravagant vacations than anything I ever dreamed about as a child.  Our roads are better, hospitals are safer, and the facilities, museums, shops, concert halls, and restaurants downtown would not have been imagined thirty years ago.  The CD has replaced the LP album and the computer has replaced the typewriter.  So what is the one exception?  Our diocesan high schools.  Roncalli High School.  We must work to change that!”

That conversation took place over seven years ago.  And certainly we have seen many facility changes since that time.  But I still feel as passionately today about the necessity to work to improve the lot of the many students and families choosing Roncalli.  We have seen the beginnings of this work of transforming our facility through the astounding success of our capital campaign in 1997 and subsequent expansion.  The past two years saw an extraordinary leap in giving on the part of our broader community with our advancement programs raising over $4,400,000 in the Building Faith and Futures campaign.  These funds will allow for completion of, among other things, the first Catholic performing arts center in Indiana in over forty years. 

We are not alone in the challenges we face with our facilities.  Hundreds of Catholic schools around the country are in our position.  They were built in the ‘50s and ‘60s to accommodate the baby boom.  Largely funded by the inexpensive labor provided by priests, brothers, and sisters, the schools underwent tremendous financial pressures as religious vocations rapidly declined over the next 25 years necessitating the hiring of lay people like me with a responsibility to feed, house, and clothe a family.  Every available penny went into escalating salaries to provide equitable and livable compensation for teachers.  Consequently, the buildings around the country, Roncalli included, all began to accumulate a long list of deferred maintenance needs.

Thanks to the leadership of Archbishop Beuchlein and many others, our archdiocesan parishes and schools have tackled hundreds of millions of dollars of building projects.  If you are like me, there are many days when it seems like the requests for support just never stop.  But if you look at the transformation that has taken place in our physical plants just in the South Deanery, you recognize that our teachers and ministers are gradually gaining access to quality facilities with which to practice their craft.  Having seen the difference it has made in the lives of our students and teachers I can tell you it has been worth it.  

A year or so from now as we are all sitting in our new auditorium admiring the God-given skills and talents of our musicians and singers we will know, even more surely, that the many sacrifices have all been worth it.  As the first Down Syndrome child walks into our school to learn in our new special needs facility, we will know that it has surely been God’s call to do this work. 

So on behalf of our students and faculty, please allow me to extend again a heartfelt thanks.  The tremendous generosity of our supporters has improved the lot of our students today and has given us great hope that these ambitious plans will be turned into reality tomorrow.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you!

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