St. Michael the Archangel Regional School History
Saint Michael the Archangel Regional School first opened its doors in September, 2008 as the result of a merger of St. Bridget Regional School, Glassboro, NJ and St. Catherine of Siena School, Clayton, NJ. The creation of the school was the result of declining enrollment and financial concerns in the schools located within the Diocese of Camden. Bishop Joseph Galante put forth “The Faith in Future” initiative which was a call to create vibrant, premier schools. In November 2007, after extensive research and careful review of each school, the merger of St. Bridget Regional School and St. Catherine of Siena Regional School was announced. Qualified, degreed and certified teachers who brought a wealth of experience and dedication with them joined together to staff St. Michaels Regional School. The newly merged school was housed in the St. Catherine of Siena School Campus where a modular building with ten additional classrooms was added to accommodate the increased enrollment o students in grades Pre-K to Eight. Committees of administrators, teachers and parents spent countless hours planning various other renovations to provide a facility that would meet the needs of our academic, athletic and extra-curricular programs provided to our students and the surrounding communities. We have a collaborative PTA board and fundraising committee who are devoted to providing the funding necessary to keep tuition affordable.
We are blessed with supportive parents who believe in the value of Catholic Education. The traditions established at St. Bridget Regional School and St. Catherine of Siena have been implemented at St. Michael, and new traditions are being incorporated to ensure we develop, grow and create our own unique identity.
The History of St. Catherine of Siena School
Fr. Paul J. Maguire, with great dedication and personal sacrifice, established St. Catherine of Sienna’s first parish school in 1962. The first through third grade classes were housed in the church basement and other churches in Clayton. The school staff consisted of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from South America. In October of 1968, the groundbreaking ceremony for a new $150.00 parish hall for St. Catherine of Siena School was held. The officiators of the ceremony included Bishop James J. Schad, auxiliary bishop of the Camden Diocese and Rev. Paul J. Maguire, pastor of St. Catherine’s. Several other priests, clergymen, and parishioners from the surrounding area also attended.
In September f 1969, St. Catherine School opened its doors to the students of Clayton and surrounding communities in 1971 Fr. Maguire, for health reasons, left St. Catherine’s and Fr. Stanley E. Kloskowski became the new pastor. St. Catherine’s first graduating class was in 1972. The class consisted of 22 students.
Fr. Stanley was notified in 1975 that the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus would be sent back to South America, The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi of Syracuse, New York agreed to become the new staff at St. Catherine’s. Sister M. Marise became the principal. On March 30, 1978, Father Patrick’s Chiarelli became the new pastor. As enrollment increased, an addition of three more classrooms, an office, and library were made in 1979. The principal at that time was Sister Elena. Three years later Fr. Thomas Ploude replaced Fr. Patrick as pastor.
By the time Sister Rose Alice became principal in 1987 the school had established not only a reputation for having an excellent educational program, but programs enveloping religious, cultural, social, and athletic activities. In 1988 Fr. Quentin Walsh replaced R. Poude as pastor. At this time the school housed grades from Kindergarten to Eighth, with a staff of Sister Rose Alice as Principal, Sr. Margaret Christi as a teacher, and eight lay teachers. Unfortunately, in 1989 the Franciscan Order advised St. Catherine’s that their sisters would be withdrawn at the end of the school year. On June 24, 1990, the Order of St. Francis of Assisi, from Syracuse, N.Y., withdrew their sisters. As a result, on May 8, 1990, St. Catherine of Siena School welcomed Miss Janice Bruni as its new principal. Miss Bruni immediately took measures to increase enrollment at the school and update the curriculum.
On May 22, 1993, Fr. Walsh, who had been sick for some time, passed away. Fr. John Follett, who was then Associate Pastor, took care of the responsibilities of running the parish. On August25, 1993, Fr. James F. Barry became the new pastor of St. Catherine’s. In 1994 the Kindergarten Annex was added as an extension of the school. Currently, there are over 200 students on the school. Improvements have been made both to the exterior and interior of the school. In 1999, renovations began to make the school handicapped accessible and to market the school as such.
History of St. Bridget School
St. Bridget School was established in 1944 by Msgr. Jerome Pionkowski. This was the first Catholic Grade School to Gloucester County. Fr. Jerry requested a group of Felician Sisters from Lodi to staff the new school. He purchased two houses on Ellis Street; the small one was made a convent and the large one, which is the present convent, became the school. These buildings were totally inadequate for the number of Sisters that were sent and the number of students being educated. The Felician Sisters’ dedication to Catholic education and to the parish helped them overlook the inconveniences they had to endure. In 1946, after the location of the public high school was moved across town, Fr. Jerry bought a former high school building on Lake and High Streets. It was a grand old red brick building with wrought iron gates at the entrance. A cross was placed on the top to designate its new owner.
Fr. Charles Kuhl succeeded Fr. Jerry in 1969, and set himself to the task of building an entirely new school, replacing the 1912 structure. The cornerstone was laid and the student body adapted to their new school in 1971. The cost of the construction was $300,000. Bingo helped pay off the school building.
In 2006, Sr. M. Bernarda Riberio, Sr. M. Gemma Procopio, Sr. M. Rita DeFlavia, Sr. Janice Marie Novak, and Sr. Stacie Marie Gagnon, Franciscan Sisters, came to St. Bridget and occupied the old convent until 2009. Their Franciscan Order purchased a house next to the Parish Convent for their future expansion and growth. Currently the Sisters participate in the St. Michael the Archangel School activities as well as St. Bridget Parish as needed.
St. Bridget Regional School, a parish landmark for many, many years in Glassboro, closed at the end of the school year June 2008. A new regional school was formed from the closure with St. Catherine School in Clayton NJ. This school merger formed the new St. Michael the Archangel Regional School in Clayton NJ.
Information was obtained from www.churchofstbridget.com/about-st-bridget and St. Bridget Parish 100th Anniversary Booklet.