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Evansville, Indiana
November 11, 1994     The Message
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November 11, 1994

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Jim Deneen Former superintendent of education remembers bulging classrooms, new By MARY ANN HUGHES Message staff writer superintendent of schools in the diocese, following in Father Roman Heerdink's footsteps. He was a graduate of Memor- ial High School, Evansville, and he also attended St. Mein- rad, the University of Inns- bruck, and Catholic University of America. One of the first things he did as superintendent was start a diocesan board of education, something he remembers as having a "rather difficult be- ginning." The dimensions of the board were rather confused at first, as everyone tried to figure out "what the board When Jim Deneen is asked about his days as diocesan su- perintendent of education, he remembers a boom time of bulging classrooms, new school construction, and an influx of lay teachers. Deneen, who served as head of Catholic schools in the Dio- cese of Evansville from 1958 to 1967, led a school system that peaked in enrollment in 1966- 67 with 16,500 students en- rolled. Deneen was only the second should be doing. Then, when Father (William) Lautner came on the board, he helped the board get focused." The board was unusual for its time, De- neen remembers, because it was made up "mostly of lay people." Bishop Henry J. Grimmels- man didn't have much to say about it, but his successor, Bishop Paul F. Leibold, was "very supportive," Deneen said. He remembers his tenure as head of Catholic schools as a time of "tremendous building. New schools, two, three or even four, opened every year. And there were many addi- tions" to buildings. During his leadership term, lay teachers were also being hired in large numbers. "In 1958, there were 10 percent lay teachers and by 1967, there were 25 percent lay teachers." By the 1966-67 school year, enrollment peaked, with 16,500 students enrolled in ele- mentary and high schools throughout the diocese. "It was a large system, an expanding system, with a lot of financial problems. In retro- spect, those financial problems were just beginning." He' said he was challenged by the tremendous enrollment, as classes became huge, and classrooms held as many 50 students. "It was a very diffi- -cult time, because parents were demanding that their children be admitted to our schools, and the teachers were getting stressed out" because of class size. "My challenge was getting enough classroom space and enough teachers." In retrospect, Deneen be- lieves his two successes as su- perintendent included opening Marian Day School in Evans- ville, a school for special needs children, and opening Rex Mundi High School. He left a position with Catholic tion. He subset sitions with the New York and the: dation, before joining cational Testing Princeton, New now retired and Jersey. Jim Deneen, left, visits with Phyllis Be Director of Schools and Father James Lex, a san Superintendent of Schools. -- Message photo The Catholic Community of / Washington celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Diocese of Evansville ST MARY CHURCH Founded 1874 Pastor- Rev. Ronald Zgunda Pastoral associate -- Mrs. Yvonne Evans Total families: 536 Total parishioners 1.250 ST. SIMON CHURCH Founded 1837 Pastor- Rev. David A. Martin Deacon -- Michael Morris Associate Pastor w Revo Gordon Mann Total families: 920 Total parishioners: 2,202 Ministry Day presentation : Nathan Mitchell, from the Center for University of Notre Dame, makes a point tured presentation at Ministry Day 1994, Oct. is an author, lecturer, teacher, and regular Worship Magazine. Minstry Day was held at 1 Center, Evansville. I Peoples Trust Company SOUTH MAIN STREET P.O. BOX 191 LINTON, INDIANA 4744"1 II m=== i ii Vincennes Bicknell Sandborn Monroe City. Princeton. Patoka Member F.D.I.C. = =l FOR ELECTRICAL - ii