By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Kevin Dietrich of Winsted has been Holy Trinity’s development director since January, but it became official July 1.
When Colleen Entinger left the position vacant six months ago, he was offered the job until the end of the school year. According to Dietrich, it gave him the opportunity to see if the job was right for him.
With little job training, he jumped into his new position with both feet as he began planning for one of Holy Trinity’s major fundraisers, the 26th annual Spring Fling.
Dietrich took on the challenge of the April auction, with his previous experience in medical sales helpful, setting his goal at getting 300 people (a sellout) to attend, and admits to being disappointed when he was only able to get 298. But the event was a “roaring success,” according to a recent Holy Trinity newsletter, grossing more than $43,000.
The Spring Fling dinner auction is just one of the many fundraisers for which Dietrich is responsible throughout the year, but he considers them to be just a small part of his job.
“Development answers the ‘how’ on the questions of financing and needs,” Dietrich said. “We match the right revenue source with the right need. Development is more than just fundraising. It is a way to involve people in our parish and school.”
With a number of months of experience behind him, Dietrich has found, on a day-to-day basis, he is enjoying his new job and the variety of tasks.
“My days are never the same; the job is always changing. I have many goals to work towards, and deadlines as well,” he said.
Once he was able to prove to himself that being a development director was right for him, he had to sell the idea to Fr. Tony Hesse, Holy Trinity parish priest and school superintendent; and to Holy Trinity administration, “because money is tight,” he said.
Julie Fasching, who does the marketing and recruiting for Holy Trinity School, worked with him to promote the idea to administration of bringing back a development director position.
Dietrich and Fasching have been working together as a team, and Dietrich said they work well together; their brainstorming has resulted in good objectives to work towards and positive ways to give Holy Trinity School a solid future.
Dietrich is quick to explain that everyone has done a great job in the past of maintaining Holy Trinity School, “but we (the school) are at the point where you either have to start reinvesting in growth and the future, or make some tough decisions because there is nowhere left to cut,” Dietrich said.
Both Dietrich and Fasching are confident that their efforts will make a difference to Holy Trinity’s future.
“The last thing that either of us wants to do is to hurt the school in any way, shape, or form. We both have four kids at Holy Trinity, and we both want them all to graduate from here,” Dietrich said.
One “linchpin” to Holy Trinity’s future, according to Dietrich, will be how the reorganization of the “area faith community” is going to be resolved.
Holy Trinity is to be part of a faith community sharing resources with two other parishes: Glencoe’s St. Pius X parish and Silver Lake’s Church of the Holy Family parish.
There are already several plans set for next year including Cathy Millerbernd, current Holy Trinity elementary principal, also serving as principal for St. Pius X Elementary School.
Two other big changes possibly to come could be the closing of Holy Family Catholic School in Silver Lake, and the three priests in the faith community might have one lead priest appointed with two of them becoming associate priests.
Dietrich sees the faith community as a definite “plus” for Holy Trinity.
“We can save on resources by sharing and it gives us a larger quota of people,” Dietrich said.
For now, Dietrich said, “I think I am answering God’s call to the best of my ability.”
He is hoping to keep the momentum of his last six months in Holy Trinity’s development office going as he begins planning for the new school year.
Dietrichs discover Winsted
Dietrich first learned about Holy Trinity five years ago when his wife, Andrea, was looking for a Catholic school for their oldest child, Anna.
They were living in Buffalo, where Anna was attending St. Francis Xavier Catholic School. Anna was in fifth grade, and because the school only went up to fifth grade at the time, they were looking for other options.
They had considered sending her to Buffalo Public School, which has graduating class sizes of about 450 students.
“It was a little daunting,” Kevin said.
Anna was a good student, so the Dietrichs didn’t have grades as a concern, but because the school is large, they were worried about extracurricular activities, and the difficulty of participating.
Andrea had been looking at other schools, when she discovered Holy Trinity in Winsted, and the Dietrichs came to Winsted and toured the school.
Holy Trinity was in the process of a capital campaign to raise funds to build a new elementary school and Kevin remembers the excitement surrounding that.
“Sarah Mielke gave us the tour. She was principal at the time and she is an impressive person,” Kevin said.
The Dietrichs found the school offered their children “a ton of pluses and I really didn’t see any negatives,” Kevin said.
The high school was the “linchpin piece,” and the reason the Dietrichs made the move to Winsted, according to Kevin.
“Where can you have someone with the public visibility of Tony Kielkucki teaching religion and government, and Marv Ebensperger with the ability to teach University of Minnesota college math classes to the kids right here?” he said.
Kevin was also impressed with the up-to-date technology which includes a smart board in every room.
They made the move to Winsted five years ago. Today all four Deitrich children are attending Holy Trinity: Anna, 16, is a junior; William, 12, is a seventh grader; Grace, 11, is a fifth grader; and Lilly, 8, is going into third grade.
It’s a small world
Moving to Winsted was like coming home for Kevin. It’s right next door to Lester Prairie, where Kevin spent his younger years.
He had attended Lester Prairie Elementary School and remembers his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Smyth. He thought his class might have been her first year of teaching at Lester Prairie.
Kevin’s mom died of Hodgkin’s disease in November 1976. He was in the third grade and his brother was just going into kindergarten.
Kevin’s father, who was a draftsman, decided to move his family from Lester Prairie to Rockford, to get a “fresh start,” in 1977.
Both Kevin and Andrea are graduates of Rockford High School.
Kevin graduated from St. Cloud State University, where he majored in communication, with a minor in business; and Andrea graduated from The College of St. Benedict, majoring in education.
Andrea is currently teaching at Holy Family Catholic School in Silver Lake.