The leadership at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School will change next school year with a new president stepping in.
The co-ed Catholic high school will say goodbye to its current president, Father Kevin Schmittgens, who will leave this summer to become pastor at Holy Redeemer Parish in Webster Groves. That appointment will begin June 25.
Father Kevin has served 30 years at Borgia High, beginning as a teacher and later joining the administrative staff.
The new president, Father Mike Boehm, is a familiar face to many in the community having served as pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and associate pastor at St. Francis Borgia Parish in Washington in the past. He also served as a volunteer fireman and chaplain for the Washington Fire Department, a role he hopes to step back into when he returns.
Father Mike currently is serving as vicar general/vicar for priests for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He will retain the position as vicar general while serving as school president and will serve as a priest in residence for a local parish which will be announced soon. He plans to move to Washington over the summer.
In a letter to school parents, Father Mike said he is “beyond excited to join the great family” of St. Francis Borgia Regional High School.
“I am very grateful to Archbishop Carlson for entrusting this role to me as the leader of this fine institution,” he said. “I have great respect for Borgia and look forward to working with the excellent faculty, staff, students, parents, pastors, parishes, benefactors and community partners who make up the Borgia family.”
Father Mike said “We are Borgia” is so much more than a slogan.
“It speaks of an active, committed, unified school community that brings people together to work every day with a focus on providing the best possible education and faith formation for our students,” he said. “I am thrilled to be a part of such a vibrant place.”
Father Mike also thanked Father Kevin for all of his work on behalf of Borgia over the years.
“Father Kevin is a great and dedicated priest,” he said. “Along with you, I wish him well and assure him of our prayers as he moves on and assumes the role of pastor. We sure hope he comes back often to visit.”
Borgia High Principal Pam Tholen said Father Mike will be a “huge asset” to the community.
“He comes in knowing what a special place Borgia is, and so many of our community members already know who he is and what he’s about,” Tholen said. “He is a model of faith and service, and we are blessed to have him join the Borgia family.”
Moira Vossbrink, director of marketing and admissions at Borgia High, echoed Tholen’s remarks.
“We are beyond excited that Father Mike will be taking over the reins as president of SFBRHS,” Vossbrink said. “Father Mike is a friend to our school and to our community, and he will be an inspirational leader to all of us.”
As president, Vossbrink said Father Mike will lead both staff and students to be strong disciples in a faith-based environment, while still offering an academically solid learning environment.
“We also welcome his role as a community leader,” she added. “He is familiar with the joy of volunteerism and will jump in feet first to help in whatever way he can.”
Tholen said saying goodbye to Father Kevin will be difficult. She said his impact is deeply woven into the Borgia tapestry.
“He has served faithfully as a teacher, chaplain, vice president and president, and so much of what we are is due to his dedication to our community,” she said. “His support of his faculty, staff and fellow administrators is admirable, and has built us up to be prepared to keep moving in a positive direction, even in his absence.”
Tholen added that the Borgia family is better because of Father Kevin.
Vossbrink added that Father Kevin has been a gift and blessing to so many families in Franklin County.
“He has made a difference in the lives of so many students throughout his 30 years at Borgia,” she said. “We are beyond grateful for his vocation and his ministry to us by daily bringing the presence of Christ to students, staff and our families.
“Father Kevin has baptized several current students, married many former students, and also, unfortunately buried students,” Vossbrink said. “Through it all, he always has the right words to say. But most importantly, his presence has brought comfort. He takes great pride and rejoices in the accomplishments of all, and he genuinely loves people.”
Vossbrink said the parishioners at Holy Redeemer are extremely lucky to have his energy, excitement and gift of wisdom.
Father Kevin also sent a letter out to Borgia High parents stating the school is a one-of-a-kind place with a talented and caring faculty, a support staff that gives its all, a student body of fun and inquisitive learners, parents who are always ready to serve, an alumni group which is dedicated and giving, and a wider community surrounding us filled with pride and tradition.
“It is simply amazing,” he wrote. “To paraphrase Mrs. Tholen’s catchphrase: Every day is a great day to be a Knight.”
Father Kevin said this year seemed like a good opportunity to move on.
“Borgia’s administrative team is strong — the faculty is topnotch, our staff is second to none and our new five-year strategic plan is in place,” he said. “We have completed our AdvancEd visitation and we have found someone equally committed to our school to take over as president. Now is the favorable time.”
Father Kevin said it was 30 years ago this month that Father Ted Wojcicki (then Borgia’s administrator and now a monsignor) asked him to come to Borgia to serve as both a priest and teacher.
“The day he called happened to be one of ‘those’ days at my former school and to be completely honest, I was considering getting out of education completely. For some reason, I said yes to his offer immediately, without thinking it all the way through,” he said.
But, he said, it turned out to be the best decision ever.
“Thirty years later, I have come to the conclusion that I am the luckiest priest in the Archdiocese,” he said. “I got to work with some of the most dedicated people ever. I got to laugh every single day I was at Borgia. I got to teach students who have gone on to do great things in our world. I have developed friendships that I know will continue even though I will be miles away.
It has been quite a ride.”
Father Kevin thanked all of his former students, all of the faculty, administrators and staff he has worked with, all the supportive parents and benefactors, and the four parishes and their parishioners he served over the last three decades.
“To anyone with whose life I have intersected since June of 1989, indeed to all of Franklin, Warren and the surrounding counties: thank you,” he said.