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