Get to Know: Chris Uttecht, Principal at Holy Trinity Elementary and Cedar Catholic Jr./Sr. High School

We periodically bring you profiles of the great administrators and educators from all around our Archdiocese of Omaha Catholic schools, and we think you’ll enjoy getting to know what drives their passion for serving others.

Get to Know…

Chris Uttecht, Principal–Holy Trinity Elementary School and Cedar Catholic Jr./Sr. High School

Q: What led you to become a Catholic school principal?

A: My wife had a great influence on my decision to pursue a position in a Catholic school system a she has been involved in Catholic education for about 12 years.  I was drawn to the faith experiences she was able to share with the students in her schools, that were not available to me in the public school system.

About four years ago, I applied for a position at another Catholic school.  During the application and initial interview process, I wasn’t sure if moving to a Catholic school system was the right decision for me or my family, as I had spend 15 years at the same public school and had no reason to leave.  However, while driving to a meeting on the morning of the Immaculate Conception, I was listening to Spirit Catholic radio and the resounding message was to say yes to God.  I then attended Mass that morning before my meeting and the homily also contained a similar message: say yes to God, even if we’re not sure it’s something we want to do, we need to say yes to God.  These messages prompted me to move forward with the interview process, and although I wasn’t offered that position, my interest in Catholic education grew.

During the next few years, my wife moved from St. Wenceslaus in Dodge to St. Mary’s in Wayne and we had two sons move to Hartington.  When the Principal position at Holy Trinity/Cedar Catholic opened, I again felt God calling me to serve in a Catholic school system.  With my wife now working closer to Hartington and having two sons in Hartington, I felt more confident about God’s plan for me.

Q: What surprised you about working in a Catholic setting? Did you envision anything differently than it is?

A: The primary difference at Cedar Catholic in comparison to my previous school is the integration of our Catholic faith in everything that we do.  It’s more than just starting each day or each class with prayer; it’s the collaborative effort of our faculty, staff, students, and families in developing the next generation of disciples for our church.

Q: How do you define the value of Catholic education?

A: Strong Catholic schools are a vital component in strengthening the Catholic church as a whole.  Although we focus on providing our students with a high-quality education, our primary emphasis is helping our students growth in their faith.  With a strong Catholic faith foundation, our students are more likely to be active Catholics in the future, are more likely to enroll their children in Catholic schools, and a greater percentage of our students will commit to a religious vocation.  The combination of these elements will ultimately help strengthen our church in the future.

Q: What makes a RURAL Catholic school different?

The great thing about rural Catholic schools is the sense of community.  Our families are involved not only in schools and parishes, but in all aspects of our community.  Because of the smaller number of students and families, I believe there is a stronger sense of commitment and accountability to each other.

Q: Favorite memory of being administrator in Hartington so far?

A: My favorite memory thus far was my first, First Friday Mass.  On first Friday’s, all of the students and faculty  from both Holy Trinity Elementary and Cedar Catholic High School come together to participate in Mass with a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  During my first, First Friday Mass, I was in awe of the genuine beauty of the music, tradition, and majesty present in the Mass; and felt the true sense of being “one church.”

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Thank you for your commitment to Catholic school and for being such a great role model for the students you encounter.