Lourdes Academy in midst of major expansion

By Jaye Alderson | For The Compass | January 25, 2022

Oshkosh Catholic school system will bring all grades onto one campus

John Dinegan, left, president of Lourdes Academy in Oshkosh, is pictured with Jason Wendt, Ganther Construction Project Manager, Jan. 13. The Oshkosh Catholic school system is undergoing a major renovation which will bring all Catholic schools together in one location. (Michael Cooney | For The Compass)

OSHKOSH — The vision of bringing all grade levels of Catholic education together on one campus in Oshkosh is coming to fruition on the Lourdes Academy grounds.

The expansion and renovation for the Lourdes Academy campus was launched in December 2020 as part of the Diocese of Green Bay’s one by One campaign. Less than a year later, in November 2021, it reached its initial goal of $10 million. 

According to the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Green Bay, the one by One campaign “works to transform and enhance Catholic parishes, strengthen Catholic education, broaden social services, enhance all vocation efforts, support evangelization and discipleship, and improve technology and communication.” 

“Our project is uniting our 4-year-old kindergarten through grade 12 students on one campus,” said John Dinegan, president. “Our vision to expand Catholic education and strengthen the Catholic faith in the Oshkosh community for generations to come will now become a reality.”

Work began on Nov. 22 for the first part of the expansion project and will add about 30,000 square feet to the facility. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the original campus (Lourdes High School) took place on Sept. 19, 1958.

Dinegan said the campaign is a partnership between Lourdes Academy and the Oshkosh parishes — Most Blessed Sacrament, St. Raphael the Archangel and St. Jude the Apostle.

The capital campaign continues through early June. Additional funds raised will go toward unforeseen needs  and unbudgeted improvements to the existing Lourdes building, said Dinegan. 

The ongoing pandemic has affected the timing of construction and the availability and costs of materials. “The more funds we’re blessed with, the more we’ll be able to do. We want to build momentum in the campaign,” he said. 

With all 4K-12th grade students united under one roof on the Lourdes Academy campus, the goal is to increase school enrollment. Some grades are already at capacity. 

Having all grade levels near each other will foster collaboration opportunities, and students will be better able to build partnerships and grow as leaders and role models, Dinegan said.

“This is the next step of the evolution of Catholic education in our city,” he said. “This is a group effort among three parishes in our system to connect our parishes with our school system. To provide the great springboard from youth into adulthood in faith is really important.”

He added that this will enhance consistency in Catholic education and keep students within the school system through their high school years. “Teachers will be able to provide seamless education in terms of our curriculum, work closely with colleagues and provide a strong curriculum through the years,” he said.

Physical changes to the campus are also designed to enhance education. Two new sections will be constructed on the north side of the building in the former parking area. 

A new high school wing — featuring 11 classrooms, administrative space and a faculty lounge — will be constructed on the east end. 

On the west end,  a new elementary addition will result in updated technology capabilities for students that are not available at the current decades-old elementary schools. The elementary addition will also include a cafeteria, worship space, administrative offices and playground.

“For a long time, there has been the desire for a new elementary building, and that has now become a necessity,” Dinegan said. “The cost of a new stand-alone structure was prohibitive. With the creativity of using the resources that we have and the systems we have in place in our current structure, we’re being good stewards of those monies. We spent a lot of time thinking these through.”

In addition, as a result of the one by One campaign, improvements at the three parishes will enhance religious education and worship experiences through technology, security and engagement.

“We’ve been really blessed,” Dinegan said. “With gratitude for our generous donors, their faith in our efforts, and the prayers that inspired their kindness, we celebrate this overwhelming accomplishment and give glory to God.

“People have really been generous. We’ve had great support within the Catholic community and the greater Oshkosh community at-large,” he added. “The generosity of the parishioners at the three parishes and the partnership with the three priests to get this done has just been phenomenal. We’ve also had great support at the diocesan level. We need it all to get this project done. This is the right time.”

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