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Omaha school celebrates 40 years of Crimson pride

Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss presides at Roncalli Catholic High School's 40th anniversary Mass Sept 23. the celebration recognized the founders of Roncalli, including the Christian Brothers and the Notre Dame Sisters Photo by Lisa Schulte
By Lisa Schulte
The Catholic Voice

Roncalli Catholic High School was filled with pride last week – Crimson pride – as students, faculty and alumni celebrated the school's 40-year history of educating students.

Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss celebrated Mass Sept. 23 to mark the school's beginning as Archbishop Rummel High School (an all-boys school founded by the Christian Brothers) in 1964. Ten years later Rummel High merged with Notre Dame Academy, an all-girls school operated by the Notre Dame Sisters. The school was renamed Roncalli Catholic High School at that time.

Located at 6401 Sorenson Parkway, Roncalli continues to base its education on the rich traditions of the Christian Brothers and Notre Dame Sisters.

"This is a pride-filled day," Roncalli President Duane Gross told The Catholic Voice. "It's a day of celebration and recognition of people – the Christian Brothers, the Notre Dame Sisters, parents, pastors – who made Rummel and then Roncalli Catholic happen."

The school, named after Angelo Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII, continues to bring, as it did from its early days, a dedication to excellence in education, Gross said.

"The Christian Brothers instilled the LaSallean spirit with Roncalli Catholic High School, and that spirit continues this day," he said. "It is one of educational excellence, concern for the poor and promotion of a personal love for Jesus and the presence of God in our lives.

"The Notre Dame Sisters brought to Roncalli Catholic High School a love for the poor and an interest in the fine arts and a devotion to Mary," Gross said.

The Christian Brothers taught at the school from 1964 to 1991, and the Notre Dame Sisters taught at Roncalli from 1974 to 1998. The sisters continue to assist the school.

"It's a sharing of presence, talents, interest and prayer for the community," said Sister Margaret Hickey, ND, provincial of the Notre Dame Sisters and a member of the Roncalli Catholic School Board. "It's exciting that our Notre Dame tradition continues in the school."

Brother Robert Werle, FSC, who taught at the school from 1973 to 1976, said he is happy to see the traditions of John Baptista LaSalle, founder of the Christian Brothers, and those of the Notre Dame Sisters and Archbishop Rummel High School still alive and well.

"The founders are our heroes and heroines. They were people who did the ordinary things extraordinarily," he said. "It's a wonderful thing to think that today, the philosophy of someone who lived 350 years ago is still believed and still being carried out."

Currently, the school provides Catholic education for 314 students of all races, socio-economic backgrounds and faith traditions. Sixty percent of them receive some sort of financial assistance.

"I look at these 40 years, but I also look at the next 40 years," Gross said. "I want to keep Roncalli Catholic strong for generations to come."

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