Meet the Founders

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107 years old and still going strong.

Cotter Schools celebrated its fifth annual day of remembrance by recognizing two key founders: Bishop Patrick Heffron and Bishop Joseph Cotter.

The inscription on the gravestone of Bishop Heffron

Cotter students and staff were able to pay their respects by traveling to St. Mary’s cemetery to hear from the two bishops, who bore suspicious resemblance to Mr. Roeckers and Mr. McGlaun.  Sr. Judy spoke to the students about the history of the school then asked a few questions of each.

Bishop Cotter’s gravestone

The ceremony was concluded by laying a wreath on each respective grave. Students were to reflect upon three major questions: How would I like to be remembered by? If I were to name a school after someone, who would that person be?

Sr. Judy asks questions to Bishop Heffron at the Founder’s day ceremony

The Diocese of Winona, now Winona-Rochester, was formed under Pope Leo XIII in 1889. Bishop Joseph Cotter was the first presiding bishop of the newly formed diocese; under Bishop Heffron’s direction they established a Catholic school for boys in 1911. The school would be named Cotter, in honor of Bishop Heffron’s predecessor, Bishop Joseph Cotter.

Deb Becher, Coliin Cada, Hunter Ramsden, Anna Koopman and Lori Ortega portray characters at the Founder’s Day event

Cotter continues to live out the vision that Bishop Heffron imagined for young Catholics in the Winona area. Cotter became coeducational after the merger of the Cathedral Girl’s School and boy’s school in 1952. In 1993, generous benefactors purchased a large portion of the defunct College of St Teresa where Cotter Schools now resides.

















Bishop Heffron (Mr. McGlaun), talks about his vision for Cotter and its students in regards to leadership, service, and academic excellence.


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