|Faustin Weber, the headmaster of Pope John Paul II High School, was introduced as the principal of St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Alabama, during groundbreaking ceremonies for the school. Weber announced last June that he would be leaving JPII at the end of this academic school year. St. Michael is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016. Photo by Larry Wahl, The Catholic Week
Faustin Weber is heading home to become the founding principal of St. Michael High School in Fairhope, Alabama, slated to open in the fall of 2016.
Weber, the headmaster at Pope John Paul II High School since 2008, was introduced as the principal at the groundbreaking for the new school on Sunday, March 29.
The new school, which will be the third diocesan high school in the Archdiocese of Mobile, is located in Baldwin County on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay across from the city of Mobile, where Weber was raised.
“It was a great moment when I called my mom and said, ‘Mom, I’m coming home,’” said Weber.
With the death of his father in 2014 and the youngest of their four children leaving for college, Weber and his wife Diane decided to try to move back to the Mobile area where they could be closer to family. Weber announced last June that he would step down as JPII’s headmaster at the end of this academic year.
The new job at St. Michael’s will allow him to be close to his mother and sister as well as his wife’s family. “So it’s a perfect fit,” he said.
Mobile Archbishop Thomas Rodi announced his approval to build the new high school last November.
“They’ve been actually talking about building this school since the 1980s,” said Weber, who started his career as an educator in the Archdiocese of Mobile at Montgomery Catholic High School in Montgomery, Alabama, where he served for 23 years as a teacher, principal and president before coming to JPII.
There are three Catholic elementary schools in Baldwin County and 15 parishes in the area. The area has a much larger Catholic population than in the Diocese of Nashville. “On the Gulf Coast, typically 40 percent or so of the families are Catholic,” Weber said. “There are some thriving, active parishes in that part of the county.”
Currently, students from the area who want to attend a Catholic high school must travel across the Mobile Bay to McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile or to Pensacola Catholic High School in West Florida.
About 100 students from Baldwin County now make the 35-45 minute drive to attend McGill-Toolen, Weber said. “There are some really dedicated parents there,” said Weber, who noted that about 800 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony. With the new high school, they will be able to avoid the long drive on the Mobile Bay Causeway into Mobile, he added.
St. Michael’s will be built on a 40-acre tract near Fairhope. “It’s a beautiful location,” Weber said.
The 55,000-square-foot school will accommodate about 400 students with the ability to expand. The school will open with freshmen and sophomores and add a class over the next two years.
Just as the Diocese of Nashville hired JPII’s founding headmaster Hans Broekman a year before JPII opened, Weber will have a year to develop the program, curriculum and staff at St. Michael’s.
Opening a new school offers “exciting possibilities,” Weber said. “I want to build it with the people of Baldwin County and the archdiocese.”
When he assumes his new position in July, Weber said, “I will take a lot of JPII and its elevated vision of what is possible from a Catholic school.”