Aurora Parents Hear Academy Plans
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
February 15, 2018
AURORA—About 200 parents gathered Feb. 7 at Aurora Central Catholic High School’s auditorium to hear more details of the newly formed Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy.
Father Jerome Leake led the group in prayer before Father William Etheredge, chair of the Faith Forward Aurora Task Force, provided an overview of the task force’s work on addressing the challenges facing Aurora area schools and how the new school came to be formed.
“Tonight is a special night,” Father Etheredge began. “This (new school) is not an end, but a step along the way,” he said. 
Enrollment is open
To register children for enrollment in Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy, contact the office at any of the four combing schools:
 Our Lady of Good Counsel,
(630) 851-4400;
 St. Joseph,
(630) 844-3781;
 St. Peter,
(630) 892-1283; or
 St. Therese of Jesus,
(630) 898-0620.
The challenge faced by the Task Force was to figure out how to provide Catholic education that is “affordable, academically competitive and prepares students for the Kingdom,” he said.
Even though the new school represents a change, it will certainly meet the needs of families by offering excellence in curriculum, instruction, identity and safety, he added.
“Catholic Education is not static. It is centered in Christ and must change and move forward,” Father Etheredge said as he set the stage for an overview of what the new Academy will offer.
Parents watched a slide presentation of the mission and vision of Pope St. Paul II Catholic Academy along with a review of its academic program that will include an emphasis on multiple languages, community service and participation and STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education.
Father Timothy Mulcahey, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish and now executive pastor of the new school’s council, provided an explanation of the new governance model for the academy.
He explained that the executive  council will be comprised of the pastors from each of the seven supporting parishes: Our Lady of Good Council, Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, St. Mary, St. Nicholas, St. Peter and St. Therese of Jesus Parishes. Vice executive pastor is Father Jerome Leake of St. Joseph Parish. 
Each parish will also have a lay representative on the council. All pastors of the supporting parishes will be involved with the school academically and spiritually. 
Mike Neis, principal of St. Therese of Jesus School and Karen Behrns talked about other new features of the school including before and after school care programs, athletics, fundraising, summer camp and how parents could participate.
Students will be invited to wear their current uniforms for the first two years as a contest is held to determine schools colors, mascot and logo.
All presenters at the meeting stressed the importance of honoring the traditions of the current schools while forming the new traditions for Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy.
“John Paul II gave us the great example of reaching out to the world. This school will certainly reflect that attitude,” said Annalisa Musacchio, member of the Task Force.
Parents were told that an announcement regarding the new administrators would be forthcoming and on Feb. 12, a letter was sent to teachers and parents announcing Sister Ann Brummel, O.P. as the new Head of Schools for Pope St. JPII Catholic Academy with Karen Behrns as principal. 
In a letter to parents, Father Mulcahey said “From 2002 – 2013 Sister Ann served as the principal of St. Peter School in Aurora and then went on to become principal of Rosary High School from 2013-2017. She is currently completing a sabbatical year of spiritual and professional renewal but is excited and looking forward to the new challenge of leading the students, staff and families of Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy.”
Sister Ann’s duties at the new school will include promoting the Catholic mission and vision of the school, supervising and evaluating the principal, overseeing both campuses, managing the budget, coordinating the marketing plan and implementing a strategic plan.
Karen Behrns has been the principal at Our Lady of Good Counsel since 2012. Her duties will include ensuring that the Catholic Faith is integrated into all academic areas, supervising and evaluating the teaching staff, developing and assessing the curriculum and coordinating student services.
After the formal presentation the principals pastors and Michael Kagan, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Rockford Diocese answered questions submitted by parents along with some questions from the floor. Comment cards were collected and parents were encouraged to visit various tables set up to ask more questions, sign up for committees and get more information on tuition and the Financial Aid Process (including the new Tax Scholarship Program in the State of Illinois).
“I’m impressed,” said Aurora parent Marisela Rodríguez “Personally I think there were more answers (than) I was expecting. “
She said there were still some uncertainties abot the new school, “But I think that’s normal. Even when we are in a school before the new school year start, there is  always uncertainty, of what is going to happen. There are always things, changes.
“I understand there are people that still have that uncertainty but also if we are people that send our children to Catholic schools it is because we have faith and we have the values of ... being a Catholic. We need to put that in action and have faith,” she said.
Anyone wishing to register for Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy can do so at Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Joseph, St. Peter or St. Therese.