Catholic schools within the Diocese of Des Moines are constantly creating and evolving strategic plans to continuously improve our school system. Read our latest updates below.



Bishop William Joensen accepted a proposal from Des Moines area pastors to pursue a regionalization of the 12 schools in the metropolitan area. The proposal addresses a number of concerns while strengthening an already strong academic and spiritual educational experience for children and their families. Check out this website for a letter from Bishop Joensen explaining why the regionalization is necessary, a video explaining how the proposed system will make our schools stronger, and a Frequently Asked Questions section.   


Work on the strategic plan in 2020 focused on curriculum alignment across all schools, enhanced enrollment and marketing efforts for all schools in the diocese, exploration of a Diocesan Capital Campaign, and furthering regionalization efforts.  While much progress was made with these strategic initiatives, there were some unanticipated delays due to COVID-19 and its impact on Diocese of Des Moines parishes and schools.

  • The Catholic Schools Office launched a comprehensive marketing campaign and rebranding of Catholic education in partnership with Lessing Flynn of Des Moines. Targeted campaign ads began running in May 2020 and included digital display advertising, streaming radio and social media marketing. The campaign highlighted the core pillars of Catholic education in the Diocese of Des Moines including Faith, Excellence, Community and Value. 
  • The Catholic Schools Office hired a part-time position Director of Professional Development to coordinate efforts across the diocese to build highly effective school administrators and classroom teachers through collaborative planning, professional development, coaching, alignment of curriculum and assessment practices, data analysis to inform best practices, and the development of systemic responses to academic and behavior needs for all students to focus on curriculum development and delivery to address strategies outlined in the plan.
  • Explored a Diocesan Capital Campaign focused on developing an endowment for Catholic education, vocations and priest retirement, and parish renewal.  Steier Group out of Omaha, NE was selected to lead the campaign efforts following a RFP (Request for Proposal) process. The initial work plan was developed, but campaign efforts were halted in March due to COVID-19. Steier Group was reengaged in early summer to restart the planning study portion of the campaign.
  • St. Albert Catholic partnered with Steier Group of Omaha, NE for a school capital campaign.
  • Created brief monthly financial report form for each parish in Diocese to complete and send in to keep Bishop informed of financial picture of parishes due to COVID-19.
  • In September, individual meetings were held with 11 pastors of Catholic schools in Des Moines to restart discussion and work on regionalization of the Des Moines area schools. 
  • Held meetings with 11 pastors with schools in Des Moines area together in November and December to determine whether and how to start regionalization work.   
  • In December, the 11 pastors sent a letter to Bishop Joensen committing to further study to answer questions that would allow for pastors to work together to develop a plan to regionalize the 11 Catholic grade schools and Dowling Catholic High School.  A schedule of pastor meeting dates (2 times per month) was set for 2020 to work on regionalization. 
  • Planning study for the Diocesan Campaign was completed and presented to Bishop. Bishop began sharing results and getting feedback from governance/leadership groups to prepare for further communication when appropriate.  


March 7 — A diocesan Blue Ribbon Task Force unveils a strategic plan for Catholic schools in the Diocese of Des Moines. In addition, a separate plan called A New Approach for a Stronger Future envisions stronger collaboration among the 11 Des Moines Metro Catholic schools following a yearlong strategic planning process. Work now begins on implementing the vision of the strategic plan.


March 1 — The Diocese of Des Moines launches a strategic planning process for all 16 schools throughout the 23 counties of Central and Southwest Iowa with Milwaukee-based Meitler Group, which has conducted such research and planning across the country.

  • Video — Bishop Richard Pates thanks those who established Catholic schools
  • Video — We can't stay with the status quo, must work toward excellence
  • Video — Why do strategic planning now?
  • Video — Consultant Alan Meitler explains what we seek with a strategic plan

March/April — Consultants visit all 16 Catholic schools and interview school administrators, school boards, school pastors and the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

July 21 — Key findings are released. Consultants have visited with all schools, plus gathered demographic information and national data to put local information in the context of what's happening across the country in Catholic education. Meitler examines strengths and opportunities for improvement. The next phase is to determine a strategy that helps the diocese's 16 schools reach their full potential. The goal is to determine what the best Catholic schools in our diocese will look like and map out a strategy to reach those goals.

September — As a result of findings for the diocesan-wide strategic planning, it's decided that St. Albert Catholic School in Council Bluffs will undertake its own strategic planning process using Meitler. St. Patrick Parish in Perry will also do some strategic planning and launch a parish/school capital campaign.

For more information, contact Superintendent Donna Bishop.