Our Catholic Schools in Vincennes began as Central Catholic for the gentlemen and St. Rose Academy for the ladies and funding the schools was getting tougher each year. In 1955, Mr. & Mrs. Bob Speth organized the Central Catholic Booster Club to help financially with sporting events. In 1961, the Speth's, along with Carlton & Emily Gerdon, began "Friends of Central Catholic". During the difficult years leadings to the consolidation of the schools, the Speth's interested Mr. & Mrs. John Zanetis in the schools, now known as Flaget Elementary and Rivet Middle/High School. This is where CEF began. In 1971, over 50 years ago, the Christian Educational Foundation of Vincennes (CEF) was started to provide scholarships to students and to pay for equipment and special programs. The founding members of this organization included, the Speth's, the Zanetis', Dr. Louie Dayson, Leona Conn, Charles Shircliff, Robert Tresslar, Bernard Niehaus, Carl Joice. Bernard Guerrettaz, and Joseph Ostendorf.
CEF has played an important role in the survival of the Vincennes Catholic Schools. In the first ten years, CEF held major campaigns, which raised funds of one half million dollars for the schools. By the 20th year, CEF had provided $1.5 million dollars to our schools, all with the help of Bernie Niehaus, the four presidents Zanetis, Tresslar, Don Hedstrom & Dr. David Grundman, their wives, members of the Board, executive secretaries & many active volunteers. Alongside the fundraisers, CEF started an annual Arts & Antique Auction at Doc & Mary Herman's with an outdoor country western setting. It eventually became the Arts & Antique Auction at the Elks with the help of several board members (especially the Grundmans, Gehrings, Zeiglers, Carpenters, and Hedstroms). This event continued through the years with other fundraisers, such as the Germanfest (head up by Mr. Ralph Ruppel for many years), the "Adopt a Student" program (head up by Mr. Ruppel, Jim Zeigler, and Jim Gislason), the Lucky Bucks Calendars (donated by Mr. Zeigler & Ewing Printing), the Emeritus Dinner (head up by the Zeiglers, Grundmans, David & Susan Carpenter, Francis & Mary Halter, Mike & Carla Rusch, Dr. Brad & Janie Keller, and Bob & Linda Murawski), the CEF Rendezvous Patriot Sausage Booth, the Gift Card/Scrip Program (head up by Mary Kathryn Kunkel), Estate Planning & House Clean Ups (with Dr. Walt Rinderle), and generous donations and support from so many wonderful alumni & supporters.
Many parents also gave much of their time as their children went through grade school and high school. As a result of the efforts of many people and organizations, the Catholic schools have remained open in Vincennes.
Unity is strength.......where there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. --Mattie Stepanek