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As we end one school year and begin to make preparations for the start of the next, I want to update you on some notable changes occurring at Our Lady Star of the Sea School.

Thank you to the Sisters of Mercy

In 1908, the Sisters of Mercy began their ministry of education in Atlantic City at Our Lady Star of the Sea School.  Over the next 10 years, they also staffed the schools of St. Nicholas of Tolentine and Holy Spirit.  They have been part of the city’s Catholic backbone ever since.

On May 18, we offered the rites of Christian burial for Sister Mary Ann.  She was not only the school’s guidance counselor; she was also a great source of counsel to me.  May she rest in peace.  Now, only Sister Shamus and Sister Christine remain in the convent.  Sister Christine decided to retire from teaching this spring.  In August, she and Sister Shamus will leave for Mt. St. Mary’s in Watchung, New Jersey.  Sister Shamus will live in McAuley Hall and Sister Christine will work at Gabriel Hall, an assisted living environment for older Sisters.  Before they return to their motherhouse, we will honor the Sisters’ 111-year history of Catholic education in our city.  The event is tentatively scheduled for Monday, August 5 at 5:15 PM.

I am personally grateful to the Sisters for their support since I arrived to unite the city’s churches into a single parish.  They supported me by their prayers, their words of encouragement, and their presence at events, particularly those they understood were my part of my efforts to energize the new citywide parish.  Although their ministry was in the school, they completely supported the parish and me.

While we will miss the Sisters of Mercy in our school, I am encouraged that the presence of women religious will continue with the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, who regularly lead the students in prayer.

Thank you, Mrs. Tarrant

In 2014, Susan Tarrant became our school’s first lay principal.  When I arrived a year later, we shared our opinion that the school, already distinguished as the island’s last Catholic school, must be positively set apart from other local schools.  Mrs. Tarrant drew upon her expertise in curriculum and transitioned the school to a “Blended Learning” curriculum, a cutting-edge approach that allows all students to work at their individual instructional level to ensure maximum growth.  We are now a model school in the diocese.

With the transition complete, Mrs. Tarrant decided to retire this summer.  I pray that she and her husband Jerry, himself newly retired, will enjoy rest and more time together.

A search for a new principal has already begun.  The new principal inherits a great deal from her predecessors: a strong Catholic identity, thanks to the Sisters of Mercy, and a strong curriculum, thanks to Mrs. Tarrant.  The new principal’s charge will be to boldly promote the school throughout Absecon Island.  She will have the help of a new five-member school board including alumni and local leaders.  The board will meet monthly beginning this summer.

Renovations are underway

I hope you read the May 28 article in The Press of Atlantic City about this summer’s renovations to the school’s main entrance and lower grade classrooms.  These renovations will bring at least part of the school building up to speed with our modern curriculum.  They are made possible by funding from our parish’s Catholic Strong campaign and parishioner Tom Sykes, SOSH Architects, and John Mirenda Construction.

You and I have witnessed a lot of change in the last several years.  What has not changed is our commitment to a strong Church in Atlantic City, including its parochial school, and our devotion to the eternal God.  May his Providence continue to chart our course.

Fr. Jon Thomas, Pastor