Mater Dei Prep to Remain Open After Approval by Diocese of Trenton
After a furious fund-raising drive that raised more than $1 million in two months, Mater Dei Prep announced on Thursday that it has cleared the final hurdle in keeping the school open.
The Save the Seraphs fund-raising group that has been behind the drive to save the school announced that the Diocese of Trenton has approved Mater Dei Prep's plan to open in September as a private Catholic school separate from St. Mary's parish. In February, Fr. Jeff Kegley, the pastor of St. Mary's parish, announced that the school would close in June after 50 years of existence due to financial difficulties.
However, an extension was granted, giving the Mater Dei community two months to raise $1 million, which was achieved. The plan approved on Thursday allows Mater Dei to re-open as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that will have a board of trustees to oversee the school's finances. Mater Dei Prep will now be financially independent from St. Mary's parish, while St. Mary School, the elementary school adjacent to Mater Dei, will still be run by the parish.
"I am excited that the mission of secondary Catholic education will continue on the Campus of Saint Mary’s at Mater Dei Prep,'' Fr. Kegley said in a statement. "This is great news for our parish community and all who have worked and prayed so hard to secure the future of Mater Dei Prep for generations to come. I want to thank Bishop David O’Connell for his approval of the new model for Mater Dei Prep, Jim Shaw who chaired the 'Save the Seraphs' campaign, Randy MacDonald for chairing the steering committee, the Saint Mary’s parishioners for their support and, most of all, our students who never gave up believing in Mater Dei Prep."
The Seraph's Fund will now become an endowment fund for the school.
“We have moved from tragedy to triumph because people believed in our students, our school, our family,'' Jim Shaw of Seraph's Fund said in a statement. "The work of The Seraph’s Fund has not ended, it has just begun. We are ready for the mission ahead.”
Athletic director Dennis Tobin said the school has "50 potential freshmen" looking to enter the school next year. Beginning on May 29, the school will have its 50-year celebration with the knowledge that its 51st year and beyond are secured.