This article is the fourth of a 10-part series that seeks to shed light on these and other tremendous things happening at Bishop Machebeuf High School. With the many rumors surrounding what Bishop Machebeuf is and isn’t, it’s essential to set the record straight. For more information about Bishop Machebeuf High School or if you are interested in applying, please visit machebeuf.org.
This week’s news regarding Dr. Anthony Bonta’s departure from his post at the top of Bishop Machebeuf High School comes at a pivotal time in BMHS history. While Dr. Bonta’s record may have been short lived, he can add a list of tremendous accomplishments to the school setting it up for a bright future.
Dr. Bonta explained the difficult personal circumstances that led to his resignation. “My family moved to Denver in August 2021. While we hoped to call Colorado our home for many years to come, unexpected chronic health issues for my wife due to the altitude here in Denver are requiring us to move to a lower altitude as soon as possible. While I have loved being part of the Bishop Machebeuf Family this past year and a half, my first commitment is to my wife, Adela, and my vocation of Marriage. Her health must be my primary concern. As such, I sadly must say goodbye to Bishop Machebeuf and Denver. Please keep us in your prayers as we relocate to Nashville where we will be closer to family and at an altitude that is closer to sea level. I have been truly blessed to have been named Assistant Superintendent of Schools in the Office of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Nashville.”
Dr. Bonta has accomplished much in his two years at Bishop Machebeuf
Dr. Bonta has done remarkable things to stabilize Bishop Machebeuf and get it to the strong position it is in today in a very short amount of time. Superintendent Moo recognized the context and circumstances in which Dr. Bonta was brought in two years ago. “Dr. Bonta was brought in for a particular mission: to take the vision and help us identify how to build a foundation for that vision to take off. This is not easy work. It requires a particular skill set and a set of specific gifts and charisms to do this. Dr. Bonta demonstrated an ability to do the difficult work of what I would call ‘apostolic messiness’— the ability to refine, remove obstacles, and take up the ‘cross’ that comes with that. As a faithful son of the Church, with a great heart and love for the Church, the mission of evangelization, and the mission of Catholic education, we saw the gifts we recognized were needed for Bishop Machebeuf at a time when it was trying to take a look at itself and critically come to terms with where it needed to go.”
Moo is proud of what Dr. Bonta has accomplished in his two years of leadership at Bishop Machebeuf. “The turn-around work he has accomplished in his time with the strong team he assembled, has indeed achieved forming the foundations that two years ago to some thought was almost impossible. Students are being brought to encounter Jesus in all aspects of the program. The academic program has been reinvigorated with a faculty dedicated to the Church’s timeless tradition and charter for the formation of young men and women, and the excellence of all their students. The school is in the strongest financial position it has been in for almost two decades, now debt free and having restored partnerships in the community that are key to vitality of Bishop Machebeuf. These are accomplishments made possible by the strength of the team present at Bishop Machebeuf and the leadership Dr. Bonta has provided. We are tremendously grateful for his service to the Archdiocese of Denver and Bishop Machebeuf High School. While his departure saddens us, we rejoice in knowing that his move to Nashville will ensure a better environment for his wife’s health and will allow him to be close to friends and family.”
Annie McBournie, a graduate of Bishop Machebeuf High School class of ’83, and President of the Schmitz Family Foundation, remains actively engaged in Bishop Machebeuf. “I have seen Machebeuf go through many ups and downs over the years, particularly the past few years. Education and schools, in general, have had a very rough time between the pandemic and the current culture. Dr. Bonta came into a difficult situation and created stability and a welcoming atmosphere. He has built a team of strong leaders who have enthusiastically taken on the challenge of bringing the school and its community back thoughtfully and healthily. As an alum, it is exciting to see Machebeuf students in the community and hear the amazing schools they attend beyond graduation and their impact on the world every day. It is empowering to be part of witnessing the next generation of leaders in our country and our church grow within the walls of the school building. We are very fortunate to have such a great school in our city.”
The strong leadership team in place at Bishop Machebeuf will further the high school’s mission. Keith Parsons, Chief Operating Officer at the Archdiocese of Denver, said: “I have great confidence in President Dr. Tony Bonta. At the same time, he’s only one man. The great thing about him is that he’s built a great team of great leaders around him. So, in that way, the school’s success is not dependent on one person. We have built great leaders around Tony that can help drive the success of the school as we move forward.”
New successor named for Bishop Machebeuf High School
The good news is that Dr. Bonta’s successor has already been announced. “Upon hearing that Dr. Bonta would be departing, the Bishop Machebeuf Board of Members, composed of Archbishop Aquila, Vicar General Father Randy Dollins, Keith Parsons, COO of the Archdiocese, and I, as Superintendent of Schools, began to discern next steps for the leadership of the school. We quickly realized that it would be disruptive to the great work underway at Bishop Machebeuf to leave the question of ‘Who will be President?’ unanswered at this time and would take a lengthy search process. The mission of Bishop Machebeuf is too important to the Archdiocese of Denver, and it is why we were led in prayer to begin to actively recruit the quality leadership Bishop Machebeuf needs for the continued flourishing of its mission. In his great providence, the Lord had already brought someone to our Catholic schools’ community in the Archdiocese of Denver with the expertise, experience, and love for the mission needed to build on what has been accomplished these past two years and to work with the great team that has been put together to bring the mission to greater heights. Therefore, it is with great gratitude to the Lord that we announce that Mr. Erich Hoffer, Principal of Christ the King Roman Catholic School, has been appointed President of Bishop Machebeuf High School.”
Mr. Hoffer has served as Principal of Christ the King since 2019. He has nearly 20 years of combined experience as a teacher and administrator, with all but three years of it at the high school level. A graduate of St. John’s University and the University of Notre Dame, Mr. Hoffer served as a history teacher, coach, and then administrator at Saint Stanislaus College, a 7th-12th grade all-boys Catholic, day and boarding school, located on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. In his time at Saint Stanislaus, Hoffer assisted his community in rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He has a proven track record both in Mississippi and locally, of providing a Catholic education rooted in the best of our tradition to young men and women.
Moo expressed his confidence in this new appointment and ensured a smooth transition in collaboration with Dr. Bonta during this change in leadership. “Archbishop Aquila and the Board of Members have the utmost confidence and trust that Mr. Hoffer is the right person to lead Bishop Machebeuf High School. He will be completing his work at Christ the King through the end of the academic term and begin transitioning as President of Bishop Machebeuf over the summer. It is a blessing to be able to have someone taking on the Presidency who knows our Catholic Schools community well and who already has connections to Bishop Machebeuf.”
Dr. Bonta also expressed his excitement in Mr. Hoffer’s appointment as Bishop Machebeuf’s new President. “I am extremely confident that under his leadership, Machebeuf will continue to thrive. He’s an incredible man of faith with great leadership skills and experience at the high school level.”
Bonta noted the Holy Spirit’s guidance in bringing Mr. Hoffer into leadership at Bishop Machebeuf. “One exciting note is that while I’m physically leaving, I will remain connected. Mr. Hoffer and I have already visited about me serving in a position on the future Board of Trustees at Bishop Machebeuf. Ironically, before making the decision that it would be necessary to move due to my wife’s health struggles, I had visited with Mr. Hoffer about joining the board because of his passion for Catholic education along with his vast experience and knowledge of high school education and administration.”
The Office of Catholic Schools and Mr. Hoffer are already working together to begin a search for a new principal for the school, as well as the reforming of Bishop Machebeuf’s Board of Trustees.
Dr. Bonta is grateful to the Bishop Machebeuf community
Dr. Bonta expressed his personal gratitude to the community in a recent letter, saying, “As I reflect at my time at Bishop Machebeuf, I am overjoyed with the progress we have made in so many areas, as well as the strong commitment of our faculty and staff. I am extremely grateful to Archbishop Aquila, Superintendent Moo, the Board of Members, the Office of Catholic Schools, and the Bishop Machebeuf Team, who welcomed me and helped implement the vision to make BMHS the school that God calls it to be. I am so appreciative of the partnerships we have strengthened with the Archdiocese, so many of the Catholic feeder schools, the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia from Nashville, the Servants of Christ Jesus, ACE Scholarships, the Schmitz Family Foundation, the Augustine Institute, and so many more. Their steadfast support of Bishop Machebeuf has been an inspiration. It has been an honor to serve in the Archdiocese of Denver, and BMHS will always have a special place in my heart.
“I have found so many people, parents, alumni, stakeholders in the Denver area who love Bishop Machebeuf and want the school to succeed,” Dr. Bonta continued. “This love and great potential, which is coming alive each and every day, is what drew me to come to Bishop Machebeuf from Indiana to serve as President. Along with Mr. Hoffer, the strong leadership team here at Bishop Machebeuf High School will continue to carry out the mission and vision that was set forth when I arrived, and the team will continue to pursue comprehensive, wholistic, and life-giving Catholic education and formation. Be assured of my prayers for you and your families, and I humbly ask that you keep my family in your prayers as we make this unforeseen transition. God bless and GO Buffs!”