The Early Years (1988-2001):

With the establishment of the Mater Dei Foundation in 1988, the development of a comprehensive plan for the financial future of the school began.  Carol Hustedde through the newly formed Foundation began the Annual Fund Drive.  Norb Ottensmeier was hired to work to establish a development program for the school and discovered that the most overwhelming task to be faced was the establishment of a data base from the several sources that were in operation at the time and the beginning of a coordinated effort at the various fund raising activities and events.  In 1991, Catholic School Management was hired as a consultant firm by the Diocese and the schools were encouraged to sign on.  Mater Dei took advantage of the opportunity and after an audit by CSM a Development Office was in place by the 1992-1993 school year.  Fred Rakers was named Director of the office and developed the Phon-a-thon as an addition to the Annual Fund Drive.  He also began the VITA newsletter and Silver Knights helpers.  He ran a summer Softball / Volleyball Tournament for Alumni that ran for several years in conjunction with a BBQ.  He also instituted the Memorial Card which is still used at Funeral Homes in the area as a tribute made to the Mater Dei Foundation in memory of the deceased.  Prior to the establishment of the Development Office, Bill McTaggert was the person most responsible for organizing an Alumni organization as such and helping Classes to plan reunions.  In 1996 Kathy Huelsmann was hired part-time to help Fred in the Development Office and in 1998, Kathy’s position became full-time.  Kathy first began by doing data entry and gradually increased her involvement to include all she is doing now.

President/Principal Years (2001-2004):

Catholic School Management suggested the introduction of a new administrative approach in the President / Principal structure.  This structure had been found to be successful for many Catholic Secondary schools.  The role of the President was to be the connection between the school and the community it served, as well as to coordinate the fund raising and special events held by the school.  The Principal would be involved in the everyday on location school matters.  Ray Kauling also began working with the Calendar Drive, Bingo and several special events.  It was during this period that Mater Dei held a Capital Campaign which succeeded in the addition of a new practice gym, weight room, band facilities and updating of the science labs.

An Interim Year 2004-2005:

With the resignation of the President and no replacement, the work of development fell to Principal, Dennis Litteken and Kathy Huelsmann with the continued assistance of Ray Kauling with the Calendar Drive and Bingo and help with special events.  Kathy did a fantastic job holding the office together in the back small office of the Administrative Wing.

The Office of Institutional Advancement is Created:

Of the five needs which came out of the Strategic Planning process in the Spring of 2005, the hiring of a full-time director and the establishment of an Office of Institutional Advancement was the top priority.  On June 1, 2005, Fr. Chuck Tuttle was named Director and hired full-time for the position.  I had been teaching at Mater Dei over the course of twenty-seven years, beginning in August of 1975.  I spent three years at Gibault High School from 1982-1985.  I taught both full-time and part-time during those years in both the Religion and Social Studies Departments.  I was Class Advisor to the Class of 1981 for their four years and the Class of 1985, their freshman year. I was pastor of St. Augustine’s Breese and St. Anthony’s Beckemeyer, a position from which I stepped aside from the day to day administrative operations when I took the position at Mater Dei; but I remain as Pastor and provider of Sacramental ministry and remain in residence at St. Augustine’s.

The first thing that I found myself doing was attending a Graduate Program in Catholic School Development that was held at Notre Dame in South Bend.  This program introduced me to the various aspects of development and advancement.  It was a very enlightening learning experience put on by Catholic School Management. Upon returning Kathy and I put together the Golf Tournament Results Newsletter that was sent to all who participated in the 2005 Golf Tournament.  We thought it would be a good idea to let everyone know who participated what the results of the Tournament were.  The first big project, which is to be a yearly process, is putting together the Comprehensive Advancement Plan.  This multi-paged document gives an overview of the Office and the events and activities that the Office either conducts or helps with.

It is a working document that actually gets modified from day to day as we work on the planning and execution of activities.  It is basically an internal document that is reviewed by the Administration, School Board and Foundation.  Copies are available for review in the Advancement Office.

The Office Advancement has put together pages linked to the Mater Dei Home web-page (www.materdeiknights.org) and there is a special website for our Alumni and Friends to visit and keep in touch with and informed about each other at: www.materdeialumni.org.  From the Mater Dei Home page you can link to a Calendar of Events, Alumni and Reunion information, a copy of past and current VITA’s and the past school year’s Annual Report on-line (pdf format), and information about Planned Giving.

Of course we have an Office Personnel Section to introduce visitors to the Office and to Kathy, Ron and myself.  It’s a way of getting to know us and how to reach us.

In the Calendar of Events Section, we are attempting to list all the special events and their dates, as well as some pictures from those events which have already taken place.  It is a good resource to help you plan your calendar, so we can see you at our school’s fund raising and promotional activities.

You will find in the Reunion Section that we are trying to list the information concerning 5 year increment reunions.  If you are planning a Reunion, please let Ron Schadegg know so the information can be placed on the school’s website, as well as, the Alumni website.

Did you misplace that last VITA, well you will find it on-line.  It is our attempt to further spread the news of who we are and what we are doing as a school community.  You can also find Past Issues of the VITA on line as well.

The Annual Report for the past year can also be found on-line.  This lists all the alumni (by class) and friends of Mater Dei who contributed to the Fund Drive the previous year.  The Annual Fund Drive is a great source of revenue for three areas:  general school expenses for the year; tuition assistance for our students and contributions to the Foundation which is the endowment that helps to secure the future of the school and for Capital Improvement.

We have begun an historic giving and legacy society which is called “The Mother of Perpetual Help Society.” A link to that information can also be found on the Office’s web-page.  The historic giving will be calculated from 1988, back from when records can be found in the data base.  There is also a link on the Mater Dei home-page to information regarding different types of Planned Giving.  This information can be very useful when doing your Estate planning.

During the 2008-2009 school year an Alumni Web site was introduced:  www.materdeialumni.org that individuals can register with and log on to stay connected with each other and what is happening at Mater Dei Catholic High School.  Also with the 2008-2009 school year we were happy to share the services of Carol Fritch with the Guidance Office.  Carol will be helping in our Office of Advancement with data entry and the Calendar Drive data entry.  Carol will be working approximately 16 hours per week with our Office.  A further “Job Description” can be found in a separate section.

An Historical Giving Society, The Chaplet of Mary”, was finalized at the end of the 2008-2009 school year and the process of getting all the information and a recognition display is on-going.

With the 2009-2010 school year we welcomed Mr. Jim Stiebel as the Director of Enrollment Management.  He was involved in the Student Ambassador and Shadow–a-Knight programs, parish visits and the Open House and Freshmen Welcome events.

With the 2010-2011 school year, we changed our name to Office of Advancement and continue the process of developing a single brand for identification.  That school year also saw the school further implementing of the Strategic Plan proposed in the Spring of 2010 by developing a feasibility study led by Partners in Mission in preparation for the 2011-2016 Capital Campaign that brought about the construction of the Lampe Commons, cafeteria renovation, repair of two roofs, new windows in main corridor and new entrance doors, new sidewalk in back of school and artificial turf on field, new stadium stands and a new track.

In the 2013-2014 school year, Ron Schadegg took over the responsibilities of Alumni Relations, Website management, Social media (including establishing an official Facebook presence) and Communications.

In the 2014-2015 school year, Maria Zurliene took over the responsibilities of Junior Knights (former Little Knights and Ladies), the Student Ambassador program, Shadow-a-Knight program, parish visits, the Open House and Eight Grade Parent Information Night and Freshmen Welcome events.

The Office of Advancement has been hosting a Golden Knight Recognition in conjunction with the Homecoming Game since 2008. It has held a Memorial Mass since 2009 in November to remember all those for whom a donation was made to the Foundation the previous school year.  It has been planning and hosting a Grandparent’s Day Mass since 2011 in conjunction with Campus Ministry and the Religion Department also in November.  It has been planning and hosting a Major Gift Donor Mass and Recognition Reception since 2014 in September.

In February, 2016, Mater Dei began accepting on-line giving for the Annual Fund and for donations made in honor of or in memory of individuals.  Additional on-line opportunities will be expanded over time.

We hope that you find this overview to be both interesting and informative.  Perhaps it is the Social Studies influence, but I think an historical overview is always important since you can only understand the present by knowing the past.  It is my desire during my tenure as Director to continue to build upon the excellent foundation of the past to help secure a brilliant future for Mater Dei High School.