Local Schools

Bishop Ward kicks off $7.5 million campaign

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, with assistance from Father Anthony Saiki, rector of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas, blesses the new Cyclone Center at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas. The blessing was part of the school’s capital campaign kickoff event. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Moira Cullings

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — While speaking at a capital campaign kickoff event at Bishop Ward High School here on March 7, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann spotted Msgr. Stuart Swetland, president of neighboring Donnelly College, in the crowd.

“This is Vatican Hill here for Kansas City, Kansas,” exclaimed the archbishop, “with Donnelly at the top, Ward right in the heart and the Sisters, Servants of Mary holding it up.”

“This is a very, very special place,” he continued. “So much good has happened here.

“But greater good is going to happen in the days ahead.”

Since 1908, Bishop Ward — one part of the terrific trio on 18th Street — has provided a Catholic education for students in the urban core of Kansas City, Kansas.

It will continue to do so with a boost from the St. Joseph Campaign for Bishop Ward:  Build. Repair. Sustain.

The campaign has a goal of $7.5 million that will go toward renovations, infrastructure repairs and the school’s endowment.

It’s been going on silently for around 18 months and was made public during the campaign kickoff event held at its new Cyclone Center.

Msgr. Stuart Swetland, third from left, prays during a blessing at Bishop Ward’s Cyclone Center. Msgr. Swetland is the president of Donnelly College, which neighbors Bishop Ward. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Attendees included members of the school’s advancement team, campaign leadership team and trustees.

Two Bishop Ward seniors — Jessica Serrano and Noah Nevels — shared with those gathered how the school has impacted their lives.

“For starters, I’m going to graduate in May,” said Serrano, “and I feel ready because Bishop Ward has made me confident, resilient and has built me into a leader.

“It’s because of my teachers that I have no fears entering this next chapter in my life.”

Nevels transferred to Bishop Ward at the start of his junior year but has felt at home there since he was a child.

“I, just like anyone who has spent time with our thoughtful and dedicated community, hope to one day send my kids to Bishop Ward,” he said, “knowing that they will get just as much out of high school as I did.”

“We want to make sure that Noah’s kids get to go here,” added Jay Dunlap, president of Bishop Ward. “That’s what we’re working on.”

Jessica Serrano, a senior at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas, speaks to those gathered at the school’s capital campaign kickoff event while Father Anthony Saiki and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann applaud. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Bishop Ward is about halfway to meeting its goal, which was broken down into three phases.

The initial $3.5 million allowed the school to convert its library into the Cyclone Center — now a modern academic learning hub — as well as upgrade classrooms and improve infrastructure.

Bishop Ward is in the process of renovating 17 classrooms on its second and third floors, adding features like central heating and cooling, LED lighting, fresh paint and dropped ceilings.

The $5.5 million goal will allow the school to renovate its chapel and Dorney Field at Stump-Werner Stadium.

The update to the chapel will include adding three archways with natural light coming in over the tabernacle; increased seating capacity; and cosmetic work.

The stadium, which is home to many of the school’s athletic programs and used by the wider community, will update its lighting and replace its grass field with turf.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Father Anthony Saiki walk the halls of Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Finally, the third phase of the campaign will help the school grow its endowment, which is critical in providing tuition assistance to students.

“So many of you were able to attend this school thanks to the human endowment of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth,” Dunlap told attendees.

“They were here working essentially for free because of their answer to God’s call,” he continued, “and that made this school incredibly affordable for a working class neighborhood.

“This is still a working class neighborhood, and we still need this school to be incredibly affordable.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann listens as Jay Dunlap, president of Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas, speaks during the school’s capital campaign kickoff event. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

That’s something near to Archbishop Naumann’s heart.

“My greatest desire is that our schools never become elite — only accessible to the wealthy — but that they’re accessible to all families that desire Catholic education,” he said.

Dunlap believes exciting things are ahead for Bishop Ward.

“But it’s going to take everybody,” he said. “It’s going to take the whole community.

“It’s going to take people understanding that this is an expression of our commitment to bringing the Lord’s Gospel to the urban core of Kansas City, Kansas.

“The question we leave you with is: Can you help us?”

To view more photos from the kickoff event, follow us on Facebook.

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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