New Catholic High School in Avondale to Open in 2018

PHOENIX (Jan. 17, 2017) — The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, invites the community to a special groundbreaking event at 10 a.m., Jan. 27, to celebrate the next step in establishing St. John Paul II Catholic High School, the first Catholic high school to serve the growing number of Catholic students and families in the far West Valley.

Hundreds of future students, their families and community leaders will participate in a short program, which will include a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new Catholic high school at 13720 W. Thomas Road, Avondale, AZ 85392, adjacent to St. Thomas Aquinas Parish.

Opening in time for the 2018 academic year, the Diocese of Phoenix’s newest high school is named after St. John Paul II, whose leadership and call to holiness during his 27-year papacy resonates to this day. Arizona residents still treasures the memory of the Holy Father’s visit to Phoenix in 1987, where he touched the lives of hundreds of thousands.

“Building a new Catholic high school in the West Valley is a clear statement about the importance of young Catholics in the Church’s life and mission today,” Bishop Olmsted said. “St. John Paul II Catholic High School demonstrates our commitment to the wonderful communities that make up the West Valley, and our steadfast desire to assist parents in preparing their children for their unique and vital mission in society, as friends and witnesses of Jesus Christ.”

A yearlong feasibility study and community support confirmed the need for a new Catholic high school in the region. The West Valley has experienced high growth in recent years and is projected to continue for the next decade. Two nearby Catholic schools, St. John Vianney and St. Thomas Aquinas, continue to experience growth in enrollment. Religious education and youth programs at both parishes are at record-high numbers.

“At the heart of our Catholic schools are communities that support faith, knowledge and service. By focusing on these three aspects, Catholic schools prepare students to use their God-given talents to the fullest.” MaryBeth Mueller, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Phoenix, said. “We are blessed as a Diocese to be building a new Catholic high school that will form students in their faith and academics and outreach to the community.

St. John Paul II Catholic High School is led by a community of religious sisters, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, who are new to the Diocese of Phoenix. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, commonly referred to as the “Nashville Dominicans” due to their historical roots in the city dating back to 1860, are acclaimed for their expertise in Catholic education and for their academic and spiritual leadership.

Sr. Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P., is the principal of St. John Paul II Catholic High School, and is one of the three sisters that are providing leadership for the new school. She began working with the planning team for the new school in April.

“It is a joy to be part of the life of the Church in Phoenix and to work together with so many faithful Church and lay leaders toward the opening of this new high school,” Sr. Mary Jordan said. “The groundbreaking marks the beginning of the construction phase and I hope it will increase the desire for Catholic education among families who will one day be part of the St. John Paul II school community.”

Fundraising for the $23 million school will begin in the near future as part of a comprehensive Diocesan-wide campaign that will unfold over the next five years.

More than 14,000 students currently attend one of the Diocese of Phoenix’s 28 Catholic elementary schools, six high schools and 28 preschools. Students receive a rigorous, faith-filled education that prepares them for the challenges of higher education, a competitive world and for being faithful witnesses of the Gospel of Christ. An estimated 99 percent of students graduate from high school; 97 percent go on to attend college.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix was established Dec. 2, 1969, by Pope Paul VI. Led by the Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, more than 1.1 million Catholics make this diverse, vibrant and faith-filled diocese their home.

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