The Diocese of Rockford, with the Aurora Task Force Committee, announced this week the creation of a new school, Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy, starting in the 2018–19 school year.
The new school is being created by the combining of four Aurora schools: Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Joseph, St. Peter and St. Therese of Jesus schools.
The Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy will be located on have two campuses, a north campus at St. Joseph parish and a south campus at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish.
The decision is a result of the Faith Forward Strategic Plan, which outlines objectives and goals to strengthen Catholic education throughout its 11-county region. Financial support of the new school will come from seven Aurora area parishes, including Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Joseph, St. Therese of Jesus, St. Peter, Sacred Heart, St. Nicholas and St. Mary’s.
“We are excited about the collaboration between these seven parishes in Aurora and the opportunity to build the best Catholic educational experience for our students,” said Michael Kagan, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Rockford.
Plan Addresses Challenges
The Rockford Diocese has not been immune from the issues facing so many Catholic dioceses, private and public schools in Illinois, which include declining enrollments due in part to declining overall population, and declining Catholic populations and a duplication of services in some areas.
The Aurora Task Force Committee, which includes pastors, principals, Parish Council, Education Commission and parish and school Finance Council members, has been meeting since early June, 2017 to develop a plan for a thriving Catholic education program on the southeast side of Aurora.
The decision choosing the two campuses was made after a process that included facility assessments of all four schools to evaluate the ideal locations based on size, structure, current and anticipated maintenance needs, amenities like spacious gymnasiums and other variables.
The school’s name, Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy, is a reflection of what the new school will represent. Pope St. John Paul II was a great supporter of Catholic education who traveled to more countries (especially Spanish speaking countries) during his years as pope than any of his predecessors.
The school will offer a global curriculum that integrates new learning technologies and focuses on teaching students to identify and solve real-world problems with collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity.
“This process has been long, but the end result is going to be amazing,” said the Rev. William Etheredge, chair of the Aurora Task Force Committee. “We are confident the opportunities provided by the new school will equip our students with a strong foundation in the Catholic faith and the necessary skills for future success.”
Kagan acknowledged that change is difficult, but said the announcement should also be seen as an exciting new chapter.
“Being creative and building for the future takes time, effort and vision,” he said. “People in Aurora can take pride in the way they have chosen to come together and meet the challenges, not just for today but for the future, as well.”
The Aurora Task Force will be hosting a community meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, in Aurora Central Catholic High School’s cafetorium. During the meeting, Task Force Members and a representative from the Diocese will be available to answer initial questions and share ways in which families can be involved in upcoming decisions such as school colors, mascot, uniforms and more.
To register a child for enrollment in Pope St. John Paul II Academy, contact the office at the current schools of Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Joseph, St. Peter and St. Therese of Jesus.
SOURCE: Rockford Diocese news release and The Observer, the official newspaper of the Rockford Diocese
About Catholic Diocese of Rockford
Established in 1908, the Diocese of Rockford is comprised of 105 parishes in Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, JoDaviess, Kane, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago Counties in Northern Illinois serving a Catholic population of more than 300,000. For more about the Catholic Diocese of Rockford visit www.rockforddiocese.org.