Discover the Difference: Bishop's Celebration raises funds for programming

by Diocese of Des Moines | September 12, 2023

Supporters surround the Teacher of the Year at the Bish

The Diocese of Des Moines hosted its second annual Bishop's Celebration of Catholic Schools on Aug. 26 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in West Des Moines. This event united the Diocese of Des Moines community to celebrate the life-changing impact faith-centered education at its schools has provided for over 150 years.

The event kicked off with a special Mass concelebrated by Bishop William Joensen and 12 diocesan priests including Fathernull Patrick, Father Bob Chamberlin, Father Larry Hoffman, Father Ed Hurley, Father Chris Reising, Father Alex Kramer, Father John Acrea, Father James Downey, Father Matthew Luft, Father Ken Gross, and Father John Brobbey. After Mass, attendees enjoyed a dinner and awards ceremony honoring three individuals for their contributions to Catholic education. Hundreds of supporters of Catholic education were in attendance that evening, and the event raised nearly $56,000 to support programming for students attending diocesan Catholic schools.

The event's success was a collaborative effort by the Catholic Schools Office, Office of Stewardship and Development, and the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa. Event chairs included Tracy Deutmeyer and Matt Edwards, Stephanie and Spencer Cox, Annie and Andrew Salgado, and Sara and Dan Huegerich.

The event also featured a keynote address by alumna Anne Nizzi-Clark '87 and her husband Brent who chose St. Francis of Assisi and Dowling Catholic for their three children: Blake '18 (Iowa State), Caitlin '20 (University of Iowa), and Colin '23 (Creighton University). The entire family shared their experience with the Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools and how catholic education helped position their children for success in the classroom and beyond.

"Catholic education above all has given our children the courage to keep learning, courage to keep practicing their faith, courage to accept the sacrifice and the wisdom to use the gifts they are given," shared Nizzi-Clark.

nullEducation Savings Accounts (ESAs) were a topic of conversation throughout the event. Bishop Joensen acknowledged the benefit ESAs provide to families across the diocese. "ESAs empower families to choose a school for their children by providing funds to pay tuition. However, tuition does not cover the cost of educating a child at our schools," he said during his address at the event. "Funds raised tonight will help support the curricular, programming, and classroom needs of our 16 schools - benefitting ALL of our students."

ESAs contributed to an enrollment increase of more than 400 students across the Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools for the 2023-2024 school year. Enrollment growth coupled with funds raised during the Bishop's Celebration will help the schools expand their program offerings. The increased resources also support a move toward ensuring equitable teacher pay at all diocesan schools.

Plans for next year's event are already underway. For more information on the Bishop's Celebration of Catholic Schools, visit our website.

The Diocese of Des Moines Catholic Schools includes 16 schools in 23 central and southwest Iowa counties. Catholic schools in the Des Moines Diocese build Christ-centered, collaborative, inclusive partnerships with parents, students, and parishes to provide students with innovative academic excellence and inspirational faith formation. To learn more about Catholic schools in the Diocese of Des Moines, visit or email

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.