Mater Dei Catholic School Celebrates Its Beginning
St. Stanislaus Elementary is now Mater Dei. Thursday morning saw the opening prayer for and blessing of the new school - not to mention the welcoming of students from St. Maria Goretti and St. Rose of Lima
It’s still St. Stanislaus.
No matter how you look at it — Mater Dei Catholic School, formerly St. Stanislaus Elementary until the St. Rose, St. Goretti and St. Stans Archdiocese merger — will always be St. Stans.
It’s not blasphemous to say: it’s the people, not the building. After all, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said it too — “The most important part of the parish is the people.”
New school was old school Thursday morning as Chaput and the Mater Dei faculty, students and parents, blessed and dedicated Mater Dei Catholic School.
New faces, same faces, different places, familiar places. Thursday was the collection of students from St. Stanislaus, St. Maria Goretti Elementary in Hatfield and St. Rose of Lima Elementary in North Wales.
It can be compared to when the school districts in Lansdale, Hatfield, North Wales, Upper Gwynedd, Montgomery Township and Towamencin all consolidated to one big North Penn in 1956.
The day began with an opening prayer ceremony at 9:15 at St. Stanislaus Church, proceeded by Monsignor Joseph Tracy, vicar Rev. Philip Forlano and Rev. Andrew Brownholtz of St. Maria Goretti in Hatfield.
Monsignor Daniel Murray of St. Rose of Lima was not present due to an illness.
After a hymn, Tracy welcomed Chaput and the priests in establishing Mater Dei Catholic.
“I am excited at the new beginning we are making today,” said Tracy. “Mater Dei Catholic School represents the best of three parish schools … sharing a legacy of over 200 years of Catholic education.”
“We are the concept of ‘change’ as a worthy challenge to be used as a springboard to a successful future,” Tracy said.
Tracy said Mary will be the school’s guide into the new year.
Chaput’s Homily touched on the history of what made St. Stanislaus great, its current purpose, and what will make Mater Dei successful in the future.
He brought up four students from the kindergarten-to-eighth-grade school and asked them about the purpose of Mater Dei and its motto “Faith, Service and Excellence.”
Mater Dei, in Latin, is “Mother of God.”
“The purpose of the school,” Chaput said, “is to help become like ‘Mater Dei’ and say yes when God needs you.”
The purpose of Catholic school, he said, is twofold: education and formation.
“It gives you the skills to move on in life,” Chaput said. “The second reason for Catholic school is to form you. Education is about becoming a better person than they were. Formation is about forming yourself. You can have all kinds of skills and not be a good person.”
Chaput said Mater Dei is a wonderful place of education and a community of formation.
“You are extraordinary women and men, and you can change the world and make it a better place,” Chaput said.
Faith, he said, means to trust God. “We know He exists. Do we trust Him? If God is on your side, who can be against you?”
Service, he said, builds Christian character.
Excellence, one student said, means exceeding in everything we learn.
“In Mater Dei school,” he said, “we help all our students to desire excellence and they will be excellent.”
He told the students the teachers, excel in leadership at the historic school. The teachers, he said, are important in leading the school into the future.
The parents, he told the students, pay for Catholic school because they love them.
“They are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to do that,” Chaput said.
Chaput said he was delighted to visit the St. Stanislaus Parish.
“The most important part of the parish is the people,” he said.
In the closing of the ceremony, each priest spoke on the three missions of the school, which were attributed to Mary, Mother of God.
“Faith is God’s special gift to us,” said Furlano. “Mary, help us to grow and spread this gift of faith to all those we touch in our daily lives.”
“Excellence is the ability to use all our gifts with wisdom and perseverance,” Tracy said. “The future of our world depends on faith-filled people who are committed to the good of others.”
Service, Brownholtz said, is doing God’s work, which isn’t easy, but necessary to spread the “good news.”
“Mother of God, help us to be aware of the needs around us and to respond with the strength of your assistance to those needs,” he said. “Let us remember that in all things, the Mother of God deferred to her Son. Like Mary, may we ‘Do whatever He tells us.’”
Students, parents and faculty then proceeded to Mater Dei Catholic, where Chaput oversaw the blessing of Mater Dei and the new statue of Mary."
"God's goodness has brought us to bless this new school," said Brownholtz. "May all who gather here be steeped in Catholic identity, be rooted in Gospel values, centered on the Eucharist."
"We pray parents and teachers will deepen their commitment to live as Christ has taught us," he said.
Chaput, Tracy and Principal Diane E. McCaughan then cut the blue ribbon across the front doors of Mater Dei.
And, with a snip, McCaughan said three little words: "Here we go."