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New affiliated ministry

The newest affiliated ministry of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) is Catholic Central High School (CCHS), in Burlington, Wisconsin. Affiliation describes a relationship between the SSND and the ministry where staff and administration demonstrate a commitment to the congregation’s charism and educational vision and choose that charism and vision for the future. CCHS became an affiliated ministry in January 2021.

Ms. Hoeppner is an Art Teacher at Catholic Central High School in Burlington, Wisconsin.

“SSND value these relationships by providing a supportive service role through the Ministry Commission and Ministry Office,” said Sister Carol Jean Dust, Chairperson of the Ministry Commission. “While there is no formal governance relationship with SSND, a written agreement specifies the roles and responsibilities along with benefits and expectations which enable the relationship and the ministry to flourish. These relationships include schools, education centers or ministries that are or were once staffed by SSND.”

Another advantage of being an affiliated ministry is the opportunity to network with other ministries of SSND. For example, during the pandemic, CCHS was able to network with Marian Middle School, a co-sponsored ministry in St. Louis, to collaborate on how to meet the needs of students and continue their educational missions during difficult, ever-changing times.

“Affiliation is a gift to the community and a way to share SSND gifts,” said Sister Joan Andert, Director of the Ministry Office. “Sisters put their hearts and souls into their ministries and ministries want to stay connected to the heart and soul of SSND.”

Founded in 1920, CCHS is dedicated to providing a Catholic education through the teachings of Jesus Christ, while offering respect to all faiths. With a student-centered approach to learning, CCHS develops students’ abilities and creative talents. They are a passionately committed college preparatory institution, implementing a rigorous, holistic academic curriculum, while instilling life-long Catholic values. CCHS is a diverse, family-like community built on faith, knowledge and tradition. In addition, CCHS is one of 16 high schools affiliated with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“Students who come to Catholic Central High School learn not only how to think, but also how to live,” said principal Bonnie J. Scholz, NBCT. “They will participate in a myriad of experiential and educational opportunities in a small, family atmosphere that fosters exploration and growth. While maintaining the highest academic standards, students are encouraged to try new things, meet new people and travel to new places.”

Following in the footsteps of the SSND, CCHS’ mission is to educate students to become leaders who will serve the world by addressing the human needs of their time. The school is dedicated to the charism of the SSND and strives to uphold the SSND mission, aspiring to embody Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger’s longing for the oneness of all in God through the Eucharist. St. Augustine’s desire to form a community of one heart and soul grounded in the Trinity, and Mother Caroline Freiss’ courageous leadership in offering an innovative response to the needs of a new world.

Students who come to CCHS participate in a myriad of experiential and educational opportunities in an atmosphere that fosters exploration and growth while maintaining the highest academic standards. Students are encouraged to try new things, meet new people and travel to new places.

Since its founding in 1833 in Germany, the SSND have been called to be provide innovative responses to basic and urgent needs, always educating with a world vision. Since the first SSND came to the United States in 1847, the sisters have educated generations of men and women and ministered to the urgent needs in a variety of capacities.

“Sisters, associates and lay colleagues work to fulfill the SSND mission by supporting and directing services through ministries, organizations and institutions,” said Sister Joan. “SSND has a special relationship to these ministries as well as a role and responsibility in the governance of sponsored and co-sponsored ministries.” With the guidance and support of the Ministry Commission and Ministry Office, formed in 2019, ministries founded and supported by the Central Pacific (CP) Province continue to serve urgent needs, carrying on the SSND legacy. As sisters’ transition to new roles, more lay people are taking leadership positions in these ministries, assuring faithfulness to the heritage and evolving charism of SSND.

Learn more about our ministries.


History of Catholic Central High School

On December 7, 1860, three School Sisters of Notre Dame arrived in Burlington, Wisconsin, to start a school at St. Mary's Parish. This first school building was located at the corner of McHenry and Jefferson Streets and had 110 students in two classrooms.

A historical black and white photo of a School Sister of Notre Dame teaching students at Catholic Central High School.

By 1919, St. Mary's grade school had grown and expanded; as a result the need arose for a Catholic high school. St. Mary’s pastor, Father Van Treeck, held several parish meetings to present his plans. Though small in number, the opposition was vehement and persuasive. Even though his pleas to then Archbishop Messmer went unheeded, Father Van Treeck did not give up.

In 1920, Father Van Treeck established St. Mary’s High School in the original parish church that had been used as a meeting hall by the St. Eustachius Benevolent Society. Father Van Treeck moved forward with ordering desks, books and other equipment. He opened the school as a two-year commercial course school with an opportunity for the second-year student to take sophomore subjects in English, Latin and math. In the hectic days after World War I, equipment was slow to arrive, and the situation of the school looked bleak. But by the grace of God, Sister Mary Michael of the SSND arrived to teach. A person of fainter spirit or lesser faith may have given up that first morning. According to Sister Michael, they were, “quite poor as the Savior, having barely a roof over our heads.” Sister Michael was an outstanding educator from the best schools in her order, and with a true missionary spirit and unshakeable faith, she set about making an exemplary school out of nothing.

In 1925, St. Mary’s High School graduated its first class: Florence Bieneman, Loraine Heck, Marie Rueter and Raymond D. Bieneman. In 1926, St. Mary’s High School moved to a new building. According to L. E. Randall’s WTMJ broadcast in October 1927, St. Mary’s High School was outstanding among the schools in Burlington, having been constructed in the St. Sebastian building for $100,000.00.

There was a steady increase in enrollment from then on, peaking at more than 350 students in the late 1960’s. In 1970, the high school built a new gym. Growth continued, and in 1989, the high school was renamed CCHS to reflect its joint partnership with 16 area parishes and grade schools. In 1993, the Marian Activity Center was constructed, and in the fall of 1995, a second floor was added. The Marian Activity Center is home to two gyms, the Topper Hall Theater, classrooms, library, computer lab and fitness facilities including a weight room, locker rooms and a multi-purpose room.

Today, CCHS is known as a premiere college preparatory school that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020. Although the original books and desks have been replaced with state-of-the-art technology that including one-to-one iPads and use of Apple TV, CCHS is proud to continue in the mission of Father Van Treeck and Sister Michael to form students in the Catholic faith, arm them with rigorous academic knowledge and steep them in CCHS’s 100-year tradition of excellence.

Learn more about Catholic Central High School.


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