CSA 2021: Helping Catholic schools stay focused on the mission


This is part of a series of articles about the impact diocesan ministries supported by the Catholic Stewardship Appeal (CSA) have on local parishes and schools.

The Catholic schools Superintendent and staff helped all 37 Catholic grade schools and three Catholic high schools in the Jefferson City diocese carry out their mission remotely this spring and in person this fall.

Principal Kathryn Coulson of St. Brendan School in Mexico said her priorities have always been to keep students safe, help them build a loving relationship with Christ, and provide a rigorous academic program balanced with the support they need to become what God created them to be.

“These priorities have not changed, but the approaches we take as educators during this time have adjusted,” she stated. “It has taken a lot of time to consider all of the safety measures, procedures, materials, instructional resources and strategies, and communication needed for us to return to school, meet students where they are emotionally and academically, remain in school safely, and have students, faculty and parents ready for the possibility of remote learning.”

Help from the Superintendent’s office has been invaluable.

“Prompt information was given about steps to take to apply for and utilize funding, resources for purchasing, and people we could contact if additional help was needed,” said Mrs. Coulson. “Providing this information saved us precious time so we could focus on what we needed to do in a manageable way.”

Diocesan Superintendent Dr. Erin Vader repeatedly reminded the administrators, teachers and staff that they are never alone, and to stay focused on God.

“This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate to our students and families that through Christ, we can do all things,” said Mrs. Coulson. “This is a chance for us in our schools to build community and serve others, strengthen prayer life, and guide students into deeper relationships with our Lord.”

Staying focused

While the Superintendent’s office helped navigate the frontier of educating during a pandemic, the Finance staff worked overtime to help each school apply for emergency assistance under the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

“Dr. Vader has been a blessing to all Catholic schools this year,” said Gayle Trachsel, principal of St. Peter Interparish School in Jefferson City.

Having someone to discuss problems with and help generate solutions is very helpful, “especially this year,” said Mrs. Trachsel.

She noted that Dr. Vader and her administrative assistant, Paula Glynn, are always just a phone call away.

“I feel like I’m part of the school office team,” said Mrs. Trachsel. “When we are a team, and can work as a team, everyone wins.”

Principal Julie Clingman of St. Martin School in St. Martins said the School Office has been a pillar of support through these precarious times.

“Dr. Vader is willing to do what it takes to help keep our schools in session,” she said.

And her assistant, Paula Glynn, is “the most organized multi-tasker I know. She is able to keep everything moving forward, in the most chaotic moments, and she does it all with a smile in her voice,” Mrs. Clingman stated.

Principal Lisa Grellner of St. George School in Linn said Dr. Vader “has used her leadership skills to provide guidance that we all need to help the local parish school to flourish amidst the chaos.”

“This time in history has posed many challenges, as to how those resources have been distributed and used to their fullest potential,” said Mrs. Grellner. “During these uncertain times, we really must focus on how we can use these resources to really help each other.”

“We are in a position where we really have to expect the unexpected,” said Mrs. Grellner, “yet Dr. Vader has emphasized the importance of not feeling like the local Catholic school must go at it alone.”

More information about this year’s CSA can be found online at: diojeffcity.org.