Arch­bishop vis­its on first day at Mater Dei

North Penn Life - - ACCENT - By Linda Stein lstein@jour­nal­reg­is­

Prayer, song, smiles and ap­plause marked the open­ing day cel­e­bra­tion for the new Mater Dei Catholic School in Lans­dale Sept. 6.

Philadel­phia Arch­bishop Charles Cha­put led a prayer ser­vice to open the new re­gional Catholic school. Students from St. Rose of Lima in North Wales and St. Maria Goretti in Hat­field joined students from St. Stanis­laus to form the 547- stu­dent school, which is housed in the for­mer St. Stanis­laus school build­ing.

Ear­lier this year, a Blue Rib­bon Com­mis­sion had rec­om­mended that nu- mer­ous schools in the Arch­dio­cese of Philadel­phia close or merge due to dwin­dling en­roll­ment, fi­nan­cial chal­lenges and the need to present an upto- date cur­ricu­lum. Sub­se­quently, 33 schools ei­ther closed or joined other schools, said Meredith Wil­son, a spokes­woman for the arch­dio­cese.

Two students from the closed Catholic schools now at­tend Soud­er­ton Area schools and 26 go to schools in the North Penn 6FKRRO DLsWULFW, RI­fiFLDOs said.

With their hands folded for prayer, students walked in a pro­ces­sion from the school to St. Stanis­laus Catholic Church be­hind a ban­ner em­bla­zoned with the name of the new school. They wore white polo shirts with the Mater Dei logo and ei­ther khaki pants for boys or plaid skirts for girls.

Near the en­trance of the sanc­tu­ary, Cha­put knelt and greeted students and WHDFKHUs Ds WKHy fiOHG SDsW him. In his re­marks, Cha­put praised Prin­ci­pal Diane McCaughan for her lead­er­ship.

“We know form­ing a new school out of three schools is a for­mi­da­ble task,” Cha­put said. “I’ve heard you’ve done a great job. This is go­ing to be an ex­tra­or­di­nary school.” He also thanked teach­ers and par­ents for the finDnFLDO sDFUL­fiFHs WKHy DUH mak­ing to pro­vide their chil­dren with a Catholic ed­u­ca­tion.

“This is a very spe­cial event for our school,” said McCaughan. She was “happy to have so many par­ents and grand­par­ents here to cel­e­brate this grand open­ing. This is a glo­ri­ous day.”

Lans­dale res­i­dent Brenna Sweeney, 13, an eighth- grader, cited.

“There’s a bunch of new peo­ple,” she said. “You make new friends and it’s a new ex­pe­ri­ence. It’ll be re­ally dif­fer­ent from last year.”

“It’s ex­cit­ing and it looks like it’s a good year,” said Greg Cu­ta­jar, 11, of Lans­dale, a sixth-grader.

Jonathan Luecke, 11, also from Lans­dale, said, “I think it’s a good ex­pe­ri­ence. You get to meet new peo­ple and make new friends. It’s a new start.” He added that the new teach­ers are nice.

Kim DiMas­cio, who teaches 4-year-old chil­dren in the Mater Dei preschool, is also ex­cited. “It was a lot of work get­ting it to­gether,” DiMas­cio said. “But it all came to­gether in the end.”

Dur­ing the prayer ser­vice, Cha­put called sev­eral students up to the altar with him and posed ques­tions to them as part of his homily. The students knew that the name


ex- of their school means “Mother of God,” and that the school’s motto is faith, ser­vice and ex­cel­lence. When Cha­put asked six­th­grader Matthew Eck­ert how he knew the motto, he said, “I just looked at the ban­ner,” get­ting a laugh. Cha­put praised him for be­ing per­cep­tive.

To­ward the end of the ser­vice, priests from the three parishes each lit a can­dle at the foot of a statue of Mary in the church. The school also has a new statue of Mary hold­ing Je­sus in the front, nes­tled in a flRwHU EHG.

Out­side the door of the new Mater Dei, which was dec­o­rated with bal­loons and rib­bons, Cha­put prayed and blessed the school and sprin­kled holy wa­ter around the en­trance, be­fore the rib­bon cut­ting.

Then, students and teach­ers who had gath­ered to watch streamed into the school’s open doors to be­gin the new school year.

Students sing dur­ing the open­ing prayer ser­vice for Mater Dei School in Lans­dale.

Students head back to the school fol­low­ing the open­ing prayer ser­vice for Mater Dei School in Lans­dale.

Arch­bishop Charles Cha­put greets students fol­low­ing the open­ing prayer ser­vice and bless­ing.

Pho­tos by GE­OFF PATTON

Arch­bishop Charles Cha­put sprin­kles holy wa­ter at the front door dur­ing the bless­ing of Mater Dei Catholic School in Lans­dale Sept. 6.

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