September 13, 2019

Roncalli High School president announces retirement after 41 years

Criterion staff report

Dr. Joseph HollowellCalling it “one of the greatest blessings of my life” to lead Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Dr. Joseph Hollowell announced on Sept. 6 that he will retire as its president at the end of the school year.

Hollowell has served as the first and only president of the school for the past 25 years. During his 41-year tenure at Roncalli, he has also held positions as a chemistry teacher, football and baseball coach, dean of students and principal.

“The work of our staff, teachers, parents and parishes lies at the heart of the gifts God has given our students to help guide them on their journey to Christian adulthood,” Hollowell noted in announcing his retirement plans. “It has been one of the greatest blessings of my life to walk alongside our students on that journey for the past 41 years.”

Hollowell made the announcement as Roncalli begins the celebration of its 50th year—a time when the school is also completing the fundraising and construction phases for a new gymnasium under his direction.

“Now that this project is nearing its completion as Roncalli celebrates its 50th birthday, it seems appropriate to prepare for the next chapter in the growth and advancement at Roncalli,” Hollowell noted. “Our work of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with our students and their families remains critically important.”

That focus on the Catholic faith and a life with Christ form the essence of Hollowell’s leadership, said Gina Fleming, superintendent of Catholic schools for the archdiocese.

“The steadfast leadership of Dr. Hollowell has positively impacted tens of thousands of lives,” Fleming said. “His deep desire to serve God and his people is evident in all he does.

“We are most grateful for Dr. Hollowell’s service and leadership, and thank him for growing Roncalli High School into such a wonderful home where students are educated and formed in the Catholic faith.”

Under Hollowell’s leadership, the campus has expanded from 14 to 45 acres to meet the growing enrollment at the school, which is now the largest private school in Indiana with 1,125 students.

During his time as principal, Roncalli established the nationally recognized STARS program (Students That Are Ready for Success) to address the needs of students with learning and physical challenges.

As president, Hollowell has led efforts to raise more than $35 million, primarily for capital improvement additions to the school and campus, including a chapel, administrative wing, fine arts center, auxiliary gym and the addition of 30 classrooms.

Renovations to the media center, classrooms, stadium and all athletic fields and courts have also been made during Hollowell’s leadership. He has also stayed connected to students, families and the greater Catholic community.

“It has truly been a blessing and privilege to serve as the president of Roncalli High School for the past 25 years,” Hollowell noted. “I will forever remain grateful to God for this opportunity of a lifetime.”

The Roncalli community is also grateful for his leadership, said Dr. Jeff Amodeo, chairperson of Roncalli’s board of directors.

“Dr. Hollowell’s dedication and commitment toward the growth, success and long-term viability of Roncalli is unparalleled,” Amodeo said. “On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Hollowell for his lifetime commitment, not only to Roncalli, but also to furthering Catholic education. We offer prayers and best wishes as he prepares for the next phase in his life.”

Hollowell and his wife, Diane, have 11 children and 13 grandchildren and are members of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis. He is a graduate of Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School and Butler University, both in Indianapolis. He earned a doctorate in education from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., in 2016.

Hollowell noted he will stay in his role as Roncalli’s president until June 30, 2020. He also offered to help as needed in the transition. Roncalli and the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools have begun the search for a new president of the school. †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!