Steel sharpened steel last year as the leaders and faculty of Helias Catholic High School prayed, deliberated and even argued over an official vision statement encapsulating their loftiest goals.
At last, they agreed upon “Building a community of saints and scholars for Christ.”
“When our students leave our doors, they are the leaders, the problem-solvers and the lifelong enthusiastic participants in the Church that our world desperately needs,” stated Kenya Fuemmeler, in her new role as president and principal of Helias Catholic.
Ms. Fuemmeler served for seven years as principal before also being appointed president earlier this year.
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight installed her on Aug. 21, in a ceremony in the school’s St. Pius X Chapel.
He presented her with a presidential medal commissioned for her and future presidents of the school.
Joining them were Dr. Erin Vader, diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools; Father Stephen Jones, Helias Catholic’s immediate past president and current chaplain, who is now the diocese’s stewardship director; Ms. Fuemmeler’s parents, John and
Cathy Fuemmeler; and a group of students highlighting the school’s diversity of experiences and its excellence in academic and extracurricular pursuits.
Fr. Jones began with a prayer of thanksgiving, especially for Helias Catholic and all who are entrusted with leading it and guiding it.
“Pour out your blessings on Ms. Fuemmeler today, as she begins this school year as the president and principal of our school,” he prayed. “Confirm and strengthen the servant's heart within her. Imbue her with wisdom, hope and charity. Fill her with your divine and life-giving love.”
He also asked God to help her recognize His face in all the people she leads and serves.
Bishop McKnight thanked Ms. Fuemmeler for her leadership and ongoing service at Helias Catholic during the time she also served as interim superintendent of Catholic schools.
He urged her not to carry out her new responsibilities alone.
“Quality leadership looks for and empowers other leaders,” he noted. “A good leader searches out the skill sets and talents that are available to a community, and knows how to facilitate their use in accomplishing the mission.”
Ms. Fuemmeler, in turn, thanked the bishop for entrusting her with this new role, and praised her colleagues who will work with her.
She spoke of continuing to build up Helias Catholic as an authentically Catholic school, focused on evangelizing young people and promoting excellence.
She lauded the students who “epitomize what it means to be a Crusader,” and the faculty and staff whose tremendous dedication allows them to be excellent teachers and “missionaries of Christ, sent to make Christ present in the lives of young people.”
“Their work is not that of a job but rather that of a vocation,” she said.
She credited her parents’ consistent example in instilling in her a heart for service.
She talked about the importance of building up the Helias Foundation Endowment, ensuring that the school is accessible and affordable to students and families for generations to come.
After the service, Bishop McKnight visited all of the classrooms while blessing the building for the new school year.