Corpus Christi Catholic School was the first Catholic school to open in Colorado Springs in 1921. As Colorado Springs grew, Divine Redeemer and Pauline Memorial (now named St. Paul, Pauline Memorial) opened in 1956 to meet the needs of a larger Catholic population. Holy Apostles Preschool followed in 1976 to provide programs for Colorado Springs’ youngest students. In 2000 Ave Maria Catholic School was founded to serve the growing population of Parker, in Douglas County, and by 2004 St. Peter Catholic School was opened in Monument to serve families in northern El Paso County. St. Katharine Drexel, a Catholic preschool sponsored by and on the campus of Pax Christi Catholic Church in Highlands Ranch, opened its doors in September 2013.
Holy Trinity was established in 1966 and served three generations of families in what was once the geographical center of Colorado Springs. It closed in 2007 after a decade of sharply declining enrollment due to demographic shifts over the span of its 41 years' presence in the community. The majority of Holy Trinity students enrolled in nearby Divine Redeemer and Corpus Christi Catholic Schools.
Unified Catholic Schools
In 2004, Bishop Michael J. Sheridan proclaimed the viability of Catholic schools a top priority in the diocese, and challenged school and parish leaders to bring forward a model for the future. As a result of this diocesan-wide initiative, Unified Catholic Schools began to take shape in 2005. The “unified” model is a response to multiple factors which threatened to erode the financial viability of parish-based schools in the region, and throughout the nation. These factors included a reduction in families with school age children in older, inner-city neighborhoods where most of the schools were located. This demographic shift resulted in lower enrollment, which in turn increased the per-pupil cost. The increased cost was borne by the sponsoring parish. Other challenges included a dramatic decrease in the number of Religious teachers and increased competition from public charter schools. The unified model established a mechanism to achieve greater cost efficiency by centralizing certain key functions, such as marketing, planning, tuition financial assistance, human resources, database and website management, and planned giving.
In his 2008 visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the importance of Catholic education. In his address to Bishops, educators and lay leaders, the Holy Father stated that educators have a responsibility “to evoke among the young the desire for the act of faith, encouraging them to commit themselves to the ecclesial life that follows from this belief.” With these values in mind, UCS strives to create viable, sustainable schools that will provide excellent academics in a faithful, Catholic setting. As Pope Benedict said in his address, “the loving truth of the Gospel is creative and life-changing,” Unified Catholic Schools seeks to honor tradition and inspire change.