Father Francis Bitterman, Pastor
Father Francis Bitterman is a native of Chicago and was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 12, 2012 by Cardinal Francis George. Father Francis served at St. Norbert Parish in Northbrook for one year before being asked by Cardinal George to be the Vocation Director for the Archdiocese. He served as Vocation Director for four years helping men discern God’s call to the priesthood and religious life. Father Francis was appointed as Pastor of St. Josaphat Parish by Cardinal Blase Cupich on July 1, 2017.
Father Francis loves being a pastor and is especially happy to be the pastor of a parish with a school. Prior to becoming a priest, Father Francis was a high school teacher and he enjoys spending time in the school, interacting with the students, and teaching them about God and prayer.
Father Francis is the youngest of seven boys! He enjoys spending time with his family and going out for dinner and a movie with his friends. For fun, Father Francis likes to golf!
Mrs. Nel Mullens, Principal
Mrs. Mullens graduated from Loyola University Chicago with both a bachelor's degree and master's degree in education. She has over 20 years of educational experience in both parochial and public schools, which includes over 15 years in an administrative role. Most recently she served as deputy principal at Pope Francis Global Academy, where she managed an evolving environment of four schools merging into two campuses. Prior to that, she was the assistant principal at St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge and an assistant principal in the Skokie public school system. Mrs. Mullens began her teaching career in the Evanston School District 65, where she taught both middle school and elementary students. As an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago, she served as the Coordinator of the Professional Development School for the School of Education.
Mrs. Mullens is part of the University of Notre Dame's Center for Transformational Educational Leadership program. The program includes a weeklong study at the University of Notre Dame over the summer, as well as scheduled immersion trips to other schools across the country. CTEL coaches visit St. Josaphat School regularly to observe the implementation of best practices.
Mrs. Mullens grew up in Park Ridge with her parents and seven siblings. Now, she
lives in Park Ridge with her husband and three sons in Park Ridge and is an active member of St. Paul of the Cross Parish.
Jennifer Kowieski, Assistant Principal
Ms. Kowieski began her career in education with Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). Upon graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Ms. Kowieski joined the ACE program to serve an under-resourced school in St. Petersburg, FL and earn her MAT. For the past 13 years, Ms. Kowieski has enjoyed being a member of the St. Josaphat School faculty. From teaching fifth grade self-contained, to teaching junior high math, science, and religion, to being the assistant principal, Ms. Kowieski most enjoys the opportunities to build relationships with students, colleagues, and families.
Currently, Ms. Kowieski is pursuing a master's degree in educational leadership through the Remick Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame. When she’s not working or studying, you can find Ms. Kowieski coaching cross country and track at Wrightwood Park, running along the lakefront, or walking her dog in the neighborhood.
The St. Josaphat School Board provides consultation and advice to the leadership of St. Josaphat School. The school board’s role is to support the mission of the school, assist the administration with projects and programs as requested, evaluate and review policies, promote and facilitate communication among parents and the administration, and receive and evaluate feedback from various sources.
In addition to the principal, assistant principal, and pastor, the school board consists of twelve elected members who are either parishioners and/or parents of children at St. Josaphat School. Elections for new members are held each spring. Board members choose their leadership and committee responsibilities for the next year in May of the prior year.
John Marafino, President
Heather Dunkel, Vice President
Kate Wythers, Secretary
Donna Sims, Finance Liaison
Caryn Del Preto