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About Bishop Dwenger
•Opened in 1963 and is operated by the Fort Wayne-South Bend Roman Catholic Diocese.
•Named after Joseph Gregory Dwenger, the second bishop of the diocese, who served from 1872 until 1893.
•The Rev. Leo Pursley, bishop from 1957 to 1976, realized the need for new high schools after Central Catholic High School became overcrowded with nearly 1,400 students. Central Catholic closed in 1972.
•Starting with 210 freshmen 50 years ago, Bishop Dwenger is now one of the three largest Catholic high schools in the state with nearly 1,100 students.
•The school’s logo and philosophy reflect the goal of educating students in four forums – faith, academics, extracurricular activities and community service – producing “citizens of two worlds.”
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Bishop Kevin Rhoades opens the Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Dwenger’s festive spirit warms cold

Bishop celebrates Mass as part of 50-year celebration

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
About 200 Bishop Dwenger High School students and alumni, faculty and families attended the 50th anniversary Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin Rhoades.

Gusty winds and freezing temperatures did little to stop generations of Catholic school alumni and students from gathering Sunday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bishop Dwenger High School.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Roman Catholic Diocese presided over a celebratory Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Fort Wayne before the crowd made its way to a reception at the USF Performing Arts Center, formerly the Scottish Rite Center, at 431 W. Berry St.

Leanne Mensing, who was assisting at the reception, has longtime ties to the Catholic community.

A 1956 graduate of Central Catholic High School and president of the Central Catholic Alumni Association, Mensing also helps out at Bishop Dwenger whenever possible, she said.

Mensing’s grandson Eric is a student at Bishop Dwenger and granddaughter Lauren, who graduated last year, is now a freshman at Indiana University.

“The community is very blessed to have both Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers high schools,” Mensing said. “Both offer an outstanding education to students.”

“Not only are the students very good academically, but they do a lot of good in the community, as well,” she said.

Rhoades also commended the students on the virtues of their Catholic education and community service during Mass.

Drawing parallels between the Bishop Dwenger Saints – the school’s team nickname – and the disciples of Jesus Christ, Rhoades said, “Bishop Dwenger is all about educating disciples and forming saints.”

The school also has an unusually high number of young men who enter the priesthood, Rhoades said.

“What happens to students after they graduate is the real measure of success,” he said.

Although Sunday was the main celebration, Bishop Dwenger students and alumni have been recognizing the 50th anniversary at smaller events throughout the year, said Judi Ueber of Fort Wayne. “We did something at homecoming, held a carnival and there are more events planned,” Ueber said.

Ueber has managed the Bishop Dwenger Spirit Shop for the past nine years. Three of her four children are Bishop Dwenger graduates while the youngest is a freshman, she said.

Ueber also works as a special events assistant in the school’s Development and Alumni Relations office.

She gets a lot of help from the Catholic community as well as the Central Catholic and Bishop Dwenger alumni associations, which she described as “quite a family.”

Bishop Dwenger staff and students claim to do a lot of wonderful things, and they do all of that and more, Ueber said. “They walk the talk,” she said.