Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blesses donors, grandparents, students and faculty who gathered for the final dedication of St. Francis Xavier's Etched in Our Hearts capital campaign Dec. 6. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blesses donors, grandparents, students and faculty who gathered for the final dedication of St. Francis Xavier’s Etched in Our Hearts capital campaign Dec. 6. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Generations of students have passed through Arizona’s only Jesuit elementary school. Today’s St. Francis Xavier students and those yet to come won’t be learning in the same place however.

Students, parents, grandparents and other donors joined Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted for a Dec. 6 blessing of what is now a wholly rebuilt campus. It’s the school’s third building to open since 2010.

Donors and grandparents file into the courtyard of the completely rebuilt St. Francis Xavier campus. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Donors and grandparents file into the courtyard of the completely rebuilt St. Francis Xavier campus. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Before that, St. Francis Xavier’s classrooms hadn’t been updated since the ‘50s. Now they’re two-story, energy efficient and technologically sound places of learning designed to last another 50 years.

The latest building phase opened the Faith and Education Center. Students led the bishop up and down the stairs so he could bless school and religious education administration spaces, the nurse’s office, art room, Spanish room and the E.L. Wiegand Music Center whose $134,000 grant funded the new Jesuit Music Program.

The program doubled the size of the music room and equipped it with a grand piano, an iPad Learning Lab and choir risers for school and parish use. Nancy Nemeth, music teacher is excited to finally transition away from both the old space and the music cart she traveled with last year when she went without a permanent room.

Liz Hansen, parish manager, sees the music program as the Jesuit Order’s strong commitment to the arts as a way to experience God.

Bishop Olmsted blesses administrative offices inside the Faith and Education Center at St. Francis Xavier (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Bishop Olmsted blesses administrative offices inside the Faith and Education Center at St. Francis Xavier (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

MaryBeth Mueller, superintendent for the Diocese of Phoenix, praised St. Francis Xavier’s new facilities.

“Use it well to become the best Catholic schools students possible,” Mueller told the school’s 600 students who filled the upper and lower level hallways during the dedication.

Know your faith. Know your facts. Know that the world is counting on you to love as Jesus did.”

Countless donors already showed their Christ-like love since 2005 when the school and parish kicked off its “Etched in Our Hearts” capital campaign. They’ve fulfilled $13 million of the $16 million goal.

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