Linda Oppelt

St. Mary’s High School Foundation reaches $1 million in endowed funds

by Deacon Rob Rysavy

COLORADO SPRINGS. In 1885, when nine girls enrolled in the school that is today St. Mary’s High School, the Sisters of Loretto were not thinking about an endowment to support students 137 years in the future, they were simply trying to find land for the school they just opened.

It would be over 100 years before St. Mary’s had its own foundation with endowed funds to support the school and its mission. Three original board members, Leo Smentowski, Tom Kelly and Ralph Schulz, chartered the foundation to support the operations of the school as well as “to defer tuition, costs, books, or other school activity fees.”

The foundation operates by establishing endowed funds that pay a percentage of total assets each year without eroding the principal. Director of Development Joe Trechter spearheads the effort to both raise funds for the foundation and steward funds from estate gifts and generous benefactors to build assets.

 “The St. Mary’s community is very generous,” said Trechter, “and to be the best stewards possible of that generosity, we have to balance the short-term, immediate needs of the school with long-term stability. We want St. Mary’s to thrive for another 137 years and beyond.”

That commitment to thrive has taken on new life in the last two years. In 2006, a goal of $250,000 in foundation assets was established. With a myriad of other needs competing for resources, it took a dozen years to achieve that modest goal, and by 2020, there were $319,000 in seven endowed funds in the Foundation.

The school’s effort to grow the foundation then ramped up in the summer of 2020 during the pandemic. The community funded an Emergency Relief Fund, and several new family funds and new memorial funds were established. The foundation also benefitted from several generous estate gifts.

In addition to the new funds and estate gifts, the school raised funds during the 2021 gala to grow the Tom and May Kelly Fund in honor of the Kellys’ generous efforts in helping keep St. Mary’s open in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The St. Mary’s community also raised funds to honor JT and Grace Joyce for their 30 years of selfless service in maintaining the school facilities. Most recently, the foundation established a New School Fund to invest several gifts earmarked for a new campus.

The community responded with amazing generosity, and the foundation now has new life. How much new life? Just over two years after this renewed focus, the endowed funds in the foundation have exceeded one million dollars and are closing in on $1.1 million. During that same timeframe, the number of endowed funds within the foundation grew from seven to 15, with two more in the works.

“I could not be more pleased with the work of Joe Trechter and foundation president Randy Cloud,” said St. Mary’s President Deacon Rob Rysavy. “They set some aggressive goals, and then attacked those goals with thoughtful passion and energetic joy. Their work will benefit current students, future students, and generations of students yet unborn.”

The school owes a debt of gratitude to the handful of humble and visionary people who established and initially funded the foundation. In the past several years, another group of humble and visionary alumni, parents and community members re-energized the foundation.

“The St. Mary’s community has many faithful and generous family members whose commitment to our school and our students is inspiring,” said Trechter. “We couldn’t do it without them, and their generosity will change lives for decades to come.”

If you would like to participate in any of the St. Mary’s endowed funds, or establish a new fund to honor a loved one, please contact St. Mary’s Director of Development Joe Trechter, jtrechter@smhscs.org.

(Deacon Rob Rysavy is president of St. Mary’s High School.)

Previous Article THE CATHOLIC REVIEW: Our Beloved Pets and St. Francis of Assisi
Next Article Revive Alive - The Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Colorado Springs
82 Rate this article:
No rating

Linda OppeltLinda Oppelt

Other posts by Linda Oppelt
Contact author
Please login or register to post comments.

Contact author


Council for Black Catholics celebrates St. Martin de Porres feast day

By Aisha C. Young

Linda Oppelt 0 13 Article rating: 5.0

COLORADO SPRINGS. The Colorado Springs Council for Black Catholics celebrated their annual St. Martin de Porres Mass and dinner on Nov. 5 at St. Joseph Parish in Colorado Springs. The event is held each year in November to correspond with National Black Catholic History Month and St. Martin’s feast day on Nov. 2.

Tips for Catholic gift-giving this Christmas

by William J. Dagendesh

Linda Oppelt 0 8 Article rating: No rating

COLORADO SPRINGS. Christmas is the time of year when people exchange presents as a reminder of the gifts brought to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.

Since Jesus’ arrival more than 2,000 years ago, people have given gifts to re-confirm or establish their connection with others. Offering a gift to someone we care about allows us to communicate our feelings and appreciation for them.

St. Gabriel students benefit from innovative lunch program

By Shelley McGrail

Linda Oppelt 0 8 Article rating: No rating

COLORADO SPRINGS. Who says school lunches are boring and bland? Not the kids at the new St. Gabriel Classical Academy (SGCA), which opened its doors to preschool through fifth grade this year at St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish.

Hot chicken barbecue sandwiches, carnitas tacos, and homestyle macaroni and cheese are among their favorites, along with vegetarian options and delicious fresh vegetables and fruits. Partnering with Skills Academy, students receive freshly prepared, farm-to-table meals four days a week.


Linda Oppelt 0 40 Article rating: 1.0

Not all birds fly south! Watching beautiful birds during the winter months can be very entertaining. We are fortunate, in our diocese, to have birds year-round. This time of year, as the temperatures drop, they are busy foraging for food and seeking out water. Here are a few tips to help encourage our feathered friends to stick around for a while and survive the cold weather.