After three years of planning, the De Sales Catholic School (Ossian) and CFS (Calmar, Festina, Spillville) Catholic School will officially merge into one organization at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
“It’s been a lot of hard work, but we’re excited about beginning this new venture,” said Rev. Robert Gross, past for the South Winneshiek parishes of St. Aloysius, Calmar; Our Lady of Seven Dolors, Festina; St. Francis de Sales, Ossian; and St. Wenceslaus, Spillville.
Gross explained since the fall of 2015, the parishes have been discussing how to keep both Catholic schools viable.
“It’s been a long haul and a lot of hard work,” he said.

Calmar closing
Rev. Gross explained at the end of the school year, De Sales Catholic School and CFS Elementary will cease to exist.
The Calmar center will close. Grades kindergarten through second and fifth through eighth will attend Ossian, and grades three and four will attend the school in Spillville.
As part of the consolidation, the school will eliminate four faculty positions.
“That was a difficult part of the process,” he said.

Hard decisions
Rev. Gross said throughout the planning process, the communities involved made it clear they saw a strong value in continuing to offer Catholic education through eighth grade.
“We wanted to make these decisions now, while we had the freedom, not later out of necessity,” he said.

St. Theresa
When asked how the committee decided on the name for the new school, he said they invited students at each of the schools to provide input.
“We then submitted several choices to Archbishop Jakels, and he picked St. Theresa,” he said.
“She said ‘Peace begins with a smile.’ We’re very blessed to have our as our patron. She’s one of the greatest saints of the 20th century.

Great support
Rev. Gross said while planning for the consolidation, there “have been some bumps in the road,” overall, there has been solid support for the effort.
“That’s shown by people expressing their intent to enroll their kids at St. Theresa. We’re currently looking at an enrollment of 190 students in the fall,” he said, adding he feels like “it’s really shaping up to be a very good school.”
In closing, he said he is encouraged about the future of Catholic education for South Winneshiek students.
“We just want to ensure we can provide Catholic education until Jesus comes again,” he concluded.