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Catholic school principal earns Bishop Kaffer Award from Lewis University

Colleen Domke, principal of St. Joseph Catholic School in Manhattan, came to the school in ‘financially challenging times’

Colleen Domke, principal of St. Joseph Catholic School in Manhattan is the 2021 recipient of the Bishop Roger L. Kaffer Outstanding Principal Award from Lewis University in Romeoville.

Domke will be honored at a Mass on Tues., Nov. 9 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Manhattan. The St. Joseph community surprised Domke with the award earlier in the fall.

The award, which is granted by Lewis University’s Institute for the Advancement of Catholic and Lasallian Education granted, “recognizes a Catholic school principal in the Diocese of Joliet for visionary leadership based on a nomination from his/her pastor and recommendations from peers,” according to a news release from the Diocese of Joliet.

In the release Rev. John Lindsey, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church and School, noted how Domke began her tenure at the school in 2014 “during financially challenging times” and commended her for “implementing new programs for teaching math and language arts,” the release said.

“She brought together teachers, school board members, key parents and community leaders to join forces to reverse our school’s decline,” Lindsey wrote in his recommendation.

Domke attends St. Boniface parish in Monee. She previously served as principal and teacher at St. Damian School in Oak Forest. She also previous taught at St. Christopher School, Midlothian; the former St. Isidore School, Blue Island; and St. Linus School, Oak Lawn.

The St. Joseph Catholic School website said Domke graduated from Saint Xavier University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and in 2008 with a master’s degree in administration and supervision.

Kaffer served as rector of the former St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Romeoville for five years, principal of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox for 15 years and as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Joliet from 1985 until his death in 2002.

For more information, visit sjsmanhattan.org.