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Linda Oppelt

Deacon Rob Rysavy to step down as SMHS president at end of school year

By Christine Baldwin

COLORADO SPRINGS. “Priorities are just a list until they’re tested” — this is the advice often given by Deacon Rob Rysavy while serving in leadership roles in the military, non-profit, and education arenas. It is also the counsel he is now following for himself with his decision to step down from the position of St. Mary High School’s president in the summer of 2023.

“As I reflected on all the ‘hats’ I’m privileged to wear, I realized that my own priorities were being tested,” said Rysavy. “I’m not sure I ever felt the kind of peace and fulfillment that I’ve experienced while exercising the ministry of permanent deacon, and I feel called to invest more of my life in that priority. And quite frankly, I also pondered quite a bit how little time I’ve given to my family over the last 30 plus years.”

After much prayer and discussion with his family, board chairman John Stinar and Bishop James Golka, Rysavy informed the school’s board of directors of his decision to step down next year during the board’s annual  retreat in October. A video message sharing the news with the broader Pirate community went out a few days later.
Deacon Rysavy said the decision was not easy.

 “We are committed to St. Mary’s. Of our six children, four are St. Mary’s grads; one is in the school now; and our sixth will be in the class of 2030. I’ve also had the privilege of serving the school as a coach and a board member in the years before I was the president. It’s the best job in the city, and serving as a deacon and being more present to my family are the only callings that could ever pull me away from this amazing place.”

Although leadership changes can be stressful, the next president will inherit an exceptional principal, faculty, and staff, Deacon Rysavy said. 
“Working with Principal Robyn Cross will remain a high point of my time at St. Mary’s. It has also been a blessing to work with the accomplished and joyful faculty team she assembled,” he said. 
Stinar said that he was confident of a smooth transition.

“Deacon Rob regularly reminds us that the school is bigger than any one person. We’re going to miss him, but he was the first one to push us to start the search for the next president now.”
In light of the need to have the new president in place next summer, the board immediately chartered a search committee. Board treasurer, alumni parent, business owner, and long-time Pirate family member Ed Wilcox will lead the committee.

“We’re well-positioned to attract high-quality leaders to a great school with 137 years of tradition. We also have excellent outside advice from experienced Catholic leadership consultants to help us conduct a thorough search,” said Wilcox.
“Catholic education changed the trajectory of my life, and I’m incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to serve this school and Catholic education,” Deacon Rysavy said. “That said, we have plenty of work to do and we’ll save the ‘goodbyes’ for next summer. Let’s get back to work!”
(Christine Baldwin is Vice Chair of the St. Mary’s High School Board of Directors)
 

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