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Time of change for Hays Catholic community

By DIANE GASPER-O’BRIEN
dobrien@dailybnews.net

It was bad enough finding out they would be losing their junior high/high school principal they had all come to know and love.
But students and staff at Hays Catholic Schools learned less than two weeks later that they also will be without one of their favorite religion teachers, as well one of their chaplains, for the next school year.

When they returned from Easter break on April 2, students at Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School, learned that their principal of the past four years, Bill DeWitt, would be leaving at the end of this school year. He will move to Lawrence, where he will serve as assistant principal and athletic director at Lawrence High School.

Sunday, numerous changes for priests were announced at church services throughout the Salina Diocese.

Two of those changes involved Hays parishes — and Hays Catholic Schools.

Father Fred Gatschet, chaplain of the Comeau Catholic Campus Center at Fort Hays State University since 1999, has been assigned to be parochial administrator at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Hays. For the past 135 years, St. Joseph had been run by priests from the Capuchin Franciscan order, which announced in 2012 that it would be leaving the Hays parish this year.

Father Peter O’Donnell, chaplain of TMP-Marian Junior High and parochial vicar at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, will leave the diocese later this summer to pursue a degree in canon law at Catholic University of America in Washington, with the intention of returning in 2015 to serve in the chancery in a marriage tribunal in addition to his duties as a parish priest.

Gatschet will remain chaplain at the FHSU campus center in addition to taking over at St. Joseph, but he will have to give up his teaching duties at TMP, where he taught six religion classes a day to sophomores and seniors.

For more, see Friday's Hays Daily News.