By DIANE SCHLINDWEIN
After nearly a two-decade career as a leader in Catholic Dominican secondary education, Sister Katherine O’Connor, OP, is stepping down as president of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield. She announced her retirement earlier this school year and will leave her post this summer. She noted that her decision came after much prayer, discernment, and discussions with her family, friends, and congregational leadership.
Sister Katherine took on the school’s presidency in 2005, and before then, as a member of the Dominican Sisters’ Leadership Team, served as council liaison on the SHG advisory board. The role of the president in the president-principal leadership model is crucial when building a future for a school; and Sister Katherine has taken her role very seriously.
“Sister Katherine has been a steadying and visionary force at Sacred Heart-Griffin for 18 years,” said Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, prioress general of the Springfield Dominican Sisters.
Sister Katherine has also accomplished much in her tenure. She successfully led SHG through two capital campaign projects that raised millions of dollars for renovation of the school’s west campus and Dominican Hall. To ensure that SHG remains an affordable option for families in the community, Sister Katherine, along with the board of directors, made the decision to freeze tuition and offer more financial assistance to families who are seeking a Catholic Dominican education. During the COVID pandemic, Sister Katherine was a tireless advocate of safe and in-person education. She has always been a positive presence both in the school and at school and sports events.
Sister Katherine has a lengthy background in education. Before she took her position at SHG, she spent 20 years educating students and serving as principal at a variety of schools. She worked in California before moving back to Illinois, taking on the roles of principal, assistant principal, and interim principal at schools across the state. In 1994, Sister Katherine moved to Springfield to become the principal at St. Agnes School, which was her last job before she became president at SHG.
“The SHG Board of Directors congratulates Sister Katherine O’Connor on her 18 years as president of SHG,” said board president Chris McDowell, M.D. “We are grateful for her installing the Dominican values of community, service, study, and prayer across the administration, faculty, and student body.”
“The last 18 years have been filled with many challenges and opportunities,” Sister Katherine said, adding that her heart is filled with love and gratitude. “It has been a privilege to lead SHG during this time. Many changes have taken place but our focus on academic excellence in a community of faith has remained the same. I will leave Sacred Heart-Griffin feeling extremely blessed.”
Dr. Moredock hired as new SHG president
When Sister Katherine O’Connor steps aside as president of Sacred Heart-Griffin, she will hand the leadership of that high school to Dr. Bill Moredock. He was recently named to his new position by the Member Board (the elected leadership of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield) and the Sacred Heart-Griffin Governing Board of Directors.
Moredock currently serves as the principal of Little Flower School in Springfield, where over his last six years as principal the Catholic grade school’s enrollment increased from 180 students to 305.
He also has a rich history with SHG. A 1972 graduate of Griffin High School, he served as the director of student and family services at SHG from 2002 to 2017. From 1990 to 2002, he served as a guidance counselor at SHG.
Moredock completed his undergraduate education from the University of Notre Dame and his graduate work was at the University of Dayton and the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego, where he received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
He and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and one son, all graduates at SHG. He will begin his work at SHG on July 1.