The Rev. George Winzenburg has been named the next president of Red Cloud Indian School replacing the Rev. Peter Klink, who will take a year-long sabbatical after 12 years as the school’s president.
“It’s a little bit of mixed emotions,” Klink said. “ … My heart is here.”
The new appointment, made by Fr. Tom Krettek, SJ, provincial of the Wisconsin Province of Jesuits, and in consultation with the Red Cloud board of directors, was announced to teachers, staff and students Monday.
Klink said he is unsure of his sabbatical plans, but will return to the reservation in a year. He could return to the school in a different capacity, he said.
“I’ll have some time to rejuvenate,” he said. “If there’s something I can do to advance the cause and the effort here, I would do that.”
That could include travel, visiting friends and family, or working on research to become a better resource on campus for when he returns.
Klink said that Winzenburg will be a valuable addition to campus.
“He comes with great background and experience.”
Winzenburg served on the institution’s board of directors from 2003-2009. In addition to his service as the director of the Sioux Spiritual Center, he leads the Ministry Formation Program for the Diocese of Rapid City, which develops men and women for ministry in their parish as lay ministers or deacons.
As president of Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, Wis., he began the school’s Alumni Service Corps. After a 10-year tenure as president at Marquette University High School, he became pastor of Gesu Parish in Milwaukee.
“I am ready to follow in the footsteps of an outstanding leader -- and believer -- in the importance of faith and education on the Pine Ridge Reservation,” said Winzenburg in a written statement. “Red Cloud is a strong institution with an outstanding track record of success, and I look forward to continuing the momentum led by Fr. Klink.”
Klink became president in 1998 and has led Red Cloud through what administrators call one of the most ambitious decades of growth in the organization’s 125-year history. He increased funding more than 70 percent for the Catholic parishes around the reservation, nearly 300 percent for The Heritage Center and over 90 percent for the schools.
He also took part in recovery and healing efforts after a tornado destroyed homes and Our Lady of the Sioux Catholic Church in the Oglala community. When fires destroyed the historic Holy Rosary Church in Pine Ridge and Christ the King Parish Hall in Porcupine, school officials said Klink led the effort to ensure both would be rebuilt.
Klink leaves the institution, which is less than 10 miles from Pine Ridge on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, during a time of continuing change at the school including an overhaul of the school’s language program and additional capital outlay plans following the recent renovation and addition to the high school.
Klink said he is prepared for the change.
“I truly believe this is a great move,” he said.
For more information, visit www.redcloudschool.org.