The #SaveTheSeraphs campaign to raise funds to prevent Mater Dei Prep High School from closing received a big ray of light from the school's leadership on Thursday afternoon.

Rev. Jeff Kegley, the pastor of St. Mary Parish, which oversees Mater Dei Prep and St. Mary Elementary School, said in a news release on the Mater Dei website Thursday that "encouraged by a tremendous outpouring of support from the school and parish community" that a two-month period of time will be granted to raise the $1 million needed to keep Mater Dei Prep open. Mater Dei supporters had felt blind-sided by Tuesday's announcement because they weren't given any warning or time to raise funding before the decision was announced, so the latest decision gives them a window of time.


Kegley had originally announced on Tuesday that the school of 340 students would close in June after 50 years of existence due to a million-dollar shortfall for the current school year. Father Kegley has asked Jim Shaw to spearhead a "Save the Seraphs" committee that will organize on Friday at 7 p.m. at the school.

The release concluded with, "Quoting Canon Law 800.2 that reads: 'All Christ’s faithful are to promote Catholic schools, doing everything possible to help in establishing and maintaining them,' Father Kegley encourages everyone to work together in unity to help keep Mater Dei Prep open."

Immediately upon getting word on Tuesday of the announcement that the school would close, the students jumped into action with the Twitter hashtag #SaveTheSeraphs and began raising money online through "Save the Seraphs" donations and through the sale of T-shirts while staging a 90-minute protest in the school's cafeteria on Wednesday and followed by making a big show of support at Wednesday's home boys basketball game.

Several Mater Dei students have cited the case of Wildwood Catholic, which was in a similar situation in 2010 when the Diocese of Camden announced its impending closure, and the school's students and supporters raised nearly $500,000 in two months. Also, the Diocese of Trenton announced on Jan. 27 that St. Paul School in Burlington would not be closed in June after its supporters raised $250,000 to stay open.

However, that has been tempered by the impending closings of three Catholic elementary schools, including two in the Shore area, St. Denis School in Manasquan and Holy Family School in Lakewood, that are scheduled to close at the end of this school year.


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