Education | Places of Worship

Saint Jude Catholic Church and School

Creating a secure, welcoming church and school campus environment with Kisi access control

9 min reading time

Saint Jude Catholic Church and School logo
  • Before Kisi

  • Parish and school doors locked with traditional keys and one fob system for the daycare.

  • 25 years’ worth of keys in circulation with a considerable amount not returned.

  • Staff burdened with unnecessary administrative work, like signing off, returning keys, and making sure the doors were locked.

  • After

  • A modern access control system deployed on all entry points creating a frictionless user experience.

  • Remotely managed access system consisting of several dozen time-restricted user groups.

  • Cards and mobile credentials for convenient access experience based on user needs.

Saint Jude Catholic Church and School is a religious and educational organization in Indianapolis, Indiana. The parish and school are part of one campus covering five buildings. They also lease space to the nearby high school that runs a daycare.

Saint Jude Catholic Church and School campus map

Having a highly secure and welcoming environment is crucial when tending to kids ranging from babies through the eighth grade across three different buildings. This safe and stimulating atmosphere is also essential on the parish side for the nearly 1500 families registered at the church.

Given the commitment to the parish, staff, and students and the 25 years’ worth of keys going around, Kris Chaney, Director of Ministry Operations, applied for a security grant to deploy Kisi. ‘We did that to ensure school security and to make sure we’re opening the space that’s needed and making sure the place is taken care of,’ says Kris Chaney.

A quote by Kris Chaney about Kisi access control

Getting a school safety grant to enhance security and convenience with Kisi

For decades, the parish and school doors were locked with traditional keys and one fob system for the daycare. Many keys were in circulation. Some of them might have been copied, and a considerable number have not been returned. Not tracking who had a church or school key poses a significant security risk. There were challenges on the operational side as well. The staff was burdened with unnecessary administrative work, like signing off and bringing the key back after each meeting.

Security is always a priority, yet most non-profits don’t have the funds to deploy a modern access control system. Like many other states that want to contribute to safer schools, Indiana has the Secured School Safety Grant Program to protect Indiana’s students, teachers, and school employees. Saint Jude covered two-thirds of the initial Kisi deployment with the grant funds.

Choosing Kisi as the right access control system was the next step. “Most people have never seen an access control system, so the initial fear is I’m not going to be able to figure out how it works. We considered two other larger systems where it was going to be difficult for us to figure out how they worked because of the complexity. Once we were able to watch the videos on the Kisi website and had the demo, it gave us the confidence that we’ll be able to use this and the office administrators will be able to figure it out and make it work for us,” says Kris Chaney.

The advantages of managing access with Kisi

Saint Jude had a lot of places, children, and parishioners to secure. Besides the big school campus, there is the church building, including the Parish Office, a youth center, and a number of meeting rooms and Ministry spaces. To make the most out of the grant, they deployed Kisi on all primary exterior entry points. To ensure school security, they have also very selectively deployed Kisi on the interior doors, for instance, in the classrooms at the daycare where the very young children are.

With Kisi, Saint Jude Catholic Church and School enjoy:

  • Ease of deployment
  • Convenience for both users and admins
  • Group management for secure school and parish
  • Flexibility of access credentials
  • Automated door unlock schedules
  • Welcoming church environment

Let’s dive into the specifics.

Automatically unlocked church doors for a welcoming and secure parish
Automated door schedules and unlocks contribute to creating a welcoming church environment

Ease of deployment

The deployment ran pretty smoothly, especially considering it was the first Kisi deployment for both Saint Jude and the installers. The installers were in touch with Kisi's tech support to understand how the system works before getting on-site.

To prevent any unexpected challenges, they started with a door on a low-impact building in the youth center while the kids were in school. It was even easier than expected. They swiftly figured out the wiring, the controller, and how to set things up. Over the holidays while the spaces were empty, they moved to the other buildings and replicated the process from the youth center.

Admin and user convenience

"It's the right complexity system. It does what we need it to do, but it doesn't have 12 dashboards and a hundred automatically generated reports, and it's not setting off alarms every time somebody scans in the door. We can get the information we need, and the interface is very user-friendly. It's significantly more cost-effective than those more complicated systems, which is simply more than we need.", says Kris Chaney.

The software is very convenient for the few primary admins who learn more as they move along. It's very clean, and it's very easy to program a door remotely from the convenience of the phone. If somebody leaves their wallet in the room, Kris or the other admins can open the door for them remotely with a click of a button. Much more convenient than sending someone back to campus with a key.

The users easily adapted to a new process for getting in. Some of the older folks were most nervous about using their phones to unlock doors. According to Kris Chaney, "Once we sat down and got the app on their phone and showed them how it worked, even they loved it. And it's much easier for them than fumbling around with keys. They know that it's secure, they can get where they need to, and they know their kids are now more secure in their classrooms."

parishioners attending an event in Saint Jude Catholic Church

Group management for secure school and parish

Kisi's user group management makes access easier to manage while enhancing the security of the parish and the school. "We shouldn't be giving credentials just to individuals. There should be a reason if I put them in a group. This helps us not to go crazy with the credentials the way we used to with the keys.", says Kris Chaney.

What started as two separate groups for the school and the church turned into a powerful management system consisting of "several dozen groups we've been able to time restrict, but get everybody exactly what they need with just a few button clicks," according to Kris. For instance, only the teachers and the aids need to have access to the back door in the morning, while the food delivery people need access only to one particular door between 4 and 7 am.

Flexibility of access credentials

Saint Jude Catholic Church and School utilize Kisi's access method flexibility and issue both mobile and physical credentials (keycards) depending on the user's needs.

For more constant users, they're using the app access. For example, teachers who will be teaching for another tenure or parishioners who have attended church for years get the app and Kisi's mobile functionality.

They tend to issue a card to a third party. For instance, they issue a credential to the milk delivery company, so in case the driver changes, they still have the same credential and can access the space they need during specific hours.

school door locked and secured with Kisi access control
The school door is locked and secured with a Kisi access reader that supports mobile unlocks

Door scheduled for safer school and church

Assigning users in a group and scheduling the time fence makes the parish and school safer, considering the door locks itself down if the access requirements are not met. Most Saint Jude users are parish staff, school staff, and parents. For instance, at the daycare or preschool, parents get access to the entry door for pick-up at the beginning and end of the day. The access schedule enables parents to unlock the entry door only during pick-up times.

The access schedules make it easier to manage the youth center, the ministry spaces, and the church for meetings. "It takes us five minutes a day to review the parish calendar and program those doors. We have processes for how we get our Athletics teams into the gym. We have our Kisi-secured back door they can access. Everybody else floods through the front. It's open. It's the most useful for us administratively. That's the feature that has helped us. We have some recurring stuff for the meetings we know about, and we've got it down to five minutes a day to get the campus locked and unlocked for every need.", says Kris Chaney.

Saint Jude Catholic Church and School

Creating welcoming church environment with Kisi

"We want people on our campus participating in Parish life. The school wants that, too. The school's more interested in securing the children, and when they have things going on in the school, the administrators are all there. Our Parish staff and clergy do not have to be here.", says Kris Chaney.

Kisi helps Saint Jude provide services by enabling parishioners, students, staff, and visitors to be there without worrying about additional things. Knowing that when they show up, everything will be ready, the door will be open, and the door will lock itself on their way out motivates parishioners to participate in parish life and support their missions of enhancing their relationship with God. At the same time, Saint Jude doesn't have to hire extra staff or worry about having staff present all the time and making sure the doors are open and shut.

Secure your school or parish with Kisi access control

Given Saint Jude's instant success, one of the most prominent schools in the area also deployed Kisi using the same school safety grant. Besides creating a secure and welcoming environment, Kisi is a scalable, future-proof solution, offering tailored deployment options based on your setup, needs, and budget.

Want to see how Kisi can work for you? Contact our security experts for a complimentary consultation.

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