Fr. Kieran Kleczewski, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Sedona, presents a check to preschool students at Immaculate Conception School in Cottonwood. (Lisa M. Dahm/CATHOLIC SUN)

COTTONWOOD — When Fr. Kieran Kleczewski, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Sedona, learned there was a monetary deficit for the preschool program at Immaculate Conception School in Cottonwood, he decided to see if his parishioners wanted to help.

Related story


The Sedona parish immediately joined together and organized a fundraising dinner and silent auction, raising $13,088.96, which was presented to the school Aug. 29. The amount abolished the deficit and left the preschool with a little extra.

Fr. Kleczewski said he understands the importance of a preschool education in preparing students socially, academically and spiritually for a successful elementary education.

“Immaculate Conception grade school is the only Catholic school in the Verde Valley,” Fr. Kleczewski said. “We have about 13 kids (from St. John Vianney) every year.”

St. John Vianney parishioners also donate CEA tax credits to the school.

Both Fr. Kleczewski and Fr. Alphonsus Bakil, SOLT, pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Camp Verde, are on the school’s board with Immaculate Conception pastor Fr. David Kelash.

“Fr. David, along with Fr. Kieran and Fr. Alphonsus, all support the school mission of providing a Catholic education to children in the Verde Valley,” said Jackie Kirkham, principal of the Immaculate Conception School. “Our school is blessed to have them. The preschool fundraiser, hosted by Fr. Kieran, is an example of how neighboring parishes pull together and support Catholic education.”

Immaculate Conception holds their own schoolwide fundraiser, Wings and Dreams, which raises approximately $50,000 each year for the preschool through eighth grade. The event is on Oct. 14 in the school courtyard and is organized by the Merrily Pychinka, business manager.