Message From Bishop Shawn McKnight:
A few months ago, Fr. Tolton Catholic High School’s President, Mr. Bernie Naumann, announced that he was resigning his position in order to be able to better assist with the care of his aging parents in St. Louis. With the vacancy coming at this time in the school year, our Catholic School Superintendent Sister Elizabeth Youngs, Associate Superintendent Sister Julie Brandt and I knew filling Bernie’s shoes was going to be a big task—especially for the dual role of president and principal, which is how the Tolton leadership position has been constructed since the high school’s creation.
Fr. Tolton High School’s Board of Directors and I decided that this is an appropriate time to separate the positions of president and principal. Under the leadership of Sister Julie, we conducted a search and are so very fortunate to have found a wonderful candidate for principal, Mrs. Gwendolyn Roche. She’s a native Kansas Citian who recently returned to Missouri with her husband’s change of employment. Gwenn and her husband moved in January to Columbia from Bloomington, Illinois, where she had been serving as principal of Corpus Christi Catholic School since 2013. Gwenn has a long history in Catholic education as a teacher and administrator, and we are happy to have her at Fr. Tolton Catholic High School beginning July 1.
In addition to her principal’s duties at Corpus Christi, Gwen served as principal for four years at St. Thomas Catholic School in Philo, Illinois and was a teacher for 12 years in Catholic elementary schools in Champaign, Illinois, Liberty, Missouri and Kansas City, Missouri. She has a M.A. in Educational Administration from UMKC and a B.A. from Avila University in Kansas City.
The position of president is going to require more time to fill, however, so I have asked Deacon Dan Joyce, our diocesan communications director, to serve as Tolton’s interim president for a year, effective July 1, as we conduct a broader search this fall. His communications director duties will be transferred in coming weeks and we will keep you informed as that process unfolds.
Deacon Dan came to the diocese as communications director in 2011 after serving nearly 32 years in Missouri state government working in budget, legislative, upper management and legal jobs with the Office of Administration, the Missouri Supreme Court, the Department of Social Services and the Missouri Public Service Commission. With a degree in communications from Marquette and a law degree from St. Louis University, his life has been formed by Catholic education. He attended parochial school (K-8) in the St. Louis Archdiocese, as well as Catholic high school, college and law school.
Join me in congratulating Gwenn and Deacon Dan in their new positions. They and I ask for your prayers and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they take on these important responsibilities helping to educate and form our Catholic youth at our regional high school in Columbia.