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Central Catholic elementary school campaign in ‘silent phase,’ but active

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GICC new elementary

Since the Grand Island Central Catholic announced its plan in May to move forward in establishing a new Catholic elementary school (pictured), there has been a lot of buzz. The capital campaign, which recently announced its co-chairs, is in a “silent phase” … for now.

Fundraising for the Grand Island Central Catholic elementary school addition, projected to cost $9 million, is still in its “silent phase,” but things are certainly happening behind the scenes.

That includes naming the campaign chairs for the effort: “Grounded in Faith - Building Our Future Capital Campaign.” GICC is working to have an elementary school join its high school and middle school at 1200 Ruby Ave.

Co-chairs for the addition are John and Katie Goering, Brett and Kristen Klein, and Matt and Kristen Maser. Honorary chairs are John and Barbara Reilly, Tom and Kim Dinsdale, Mike and Jean Hamik, and Tom and Sue Pirnie.

Jolene Wojcik

Jolene Wojcik

“Each of these seven families are well-known within the GICC community and throughout Grand Island,” said Jolene Wojcik, executive director of the Central Catholic Development Foundation. “Some are GICC graduates, some sent their children here, but the common denominator is that all have been wonderful advocates and supporters of Central Catholic.”

Kristin Maser and her husband, Mike, have children who have attended GICC — two in school and a graduate. She said “Grounded in Faith” is also grounded in “joy.”

Wojcik indicated the same, saying, “As we’ve had our first meetings and gatherings of this leadership team, there’s just such a joy in the meetings.”

Working closely with the co-chairs are Wojcik and GICC Principal Jordan Engle.

The Rev. Joseph Hanefeldt, bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island, will headline the campaign’s pastoral leadership. Bishop William Dendinger, the diocese’s bishop emeritus, and Bishop James Golka of the Diocese of Colorado Springs will serve alongside Hanefeldt.

Golka has strong Grand Island ties. He is a GICC graduate himself, and served as pastor of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island before his appointment as bishop.

Forming the leadership team for the capital campaign is a major step in the process.

“Eventually we will be out there in the public, asking for help and asking for volunteers and pledges,” Wojcik said.

Leaders of the project told the Independent in May construction could begin in the summer of 2023, ideally ready for pre-K and elementary students in school year 2024-2025. The addition will accommodate 280 students.

While the campaign leaders are quietly working, encouragement from the community has not been quiet, Wojcik said.

“There are a lot of people since the Catholic elementary schools closed 1970s that have been waiting for this. The minute they heard, they said ‘Yes. We’re going to build this.’”

A few donations have already rolled in, despite being in the silent phase, Wojcik said.

As the “Grounded in Faith” leaders quietly organize, there is plenty of positivity. Maser said even in the “silent phase,” during meetings the excitement for a new Catholic elementary school in Grand Island is loud and clear.

Wojcik said, “It makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing.”

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