Bishop O'Connell, principal celebrant of the Mass is joined by the parish priests from both St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, and St. Veronica Parish, Howell.
Bishop O'Connell, principal celebrant of the Mass is joined by the parish priests from both St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, and St. Veronica Parish, Howell.

It was truly a celebration of family. That was the sentiment expressed by Kathleen Blazewicz following the Mass Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., celebrated Sept. 13 to mark the opening of the Mother Seton Academy, Howell.

Photo Gallery: Bishop celebrates Mass with Mother Seton Academy community.

“To have Bishop O’Connell celebrate our first Mass as a new academy was very inspiring,” said Blazewicz, academy principal, noting that students in grades pre-K through eight were in attendance, as well as families, friends, faculty members and guests including staff members from the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools.

Blazewicz said she was happy to be on the ground level of a merger of two former schools – St. Aloysius, Jackson, and St. Veronica, Howell. “This school year opens with many new opportunities for our students,” she said, explaining that much s being done to enhance education offerings. For example, updates are being made to the network and infrastructure to accommodate new devices, and an engineering lab is being created to accompany the already existing labs for technology and STEM/STREAM labs.

Highlights of the Mass, which was held in St. Veronica Church, Howell, included the presentation of special gifts given to the new academy. Filippini Sister Elizabeth Dalessio, principal of St. Jerome School, West Long Branch, presented the school with a relic of Mother Seton and a monstrance, while prayer cards were distributed by Dr. Margaret Boland, diocesan associate superintendent of Catholic Schools.

Resurrection Sister Cherree Power, academy president, said she was heartened to hear Bishop O’Connell talk about Mother Seton and how she started the first Catholic school in the United States.

“We are glad that is the name of our school because Mother Seton is the patron of Catholic schools,” noted Sister Cherree.

Sister Cherree and Heather Robinson, eighth-grade homeroom teacher, shared Blazewicz’s enthusiasm in how Mother Seton Academy has evolved in the first few weeks since it opened.

“From the very first day of school, there was a sense of excitement throughout the building,” said Sister Cherree. “Students went on tours with other students familiar with the building, teachers embraced the students; there was laughter in the air, smiles on faces and everyone was excited about meeting new friends.”

“I feel so blessed to be part of Mother Seton Academy and the experiences I will undergo during the awesome beginnings,” Robinson said. “I hope to provide all my students with the hope and faith of God, and I hope to give them the guidance and education necessary to be successful in the high schools of their choosing,” she said.

Students, too, shared their excitement.

“It’s interesting to have things new – ideas, ways of learning and a new beginning. It’s adventurous-like going into something blind, but it’s exhilarating,” said eighth grader Christina Medina.

“Change is exciting!” she said, to which Sister Cherree added, “This is an exciting time for everyone involved in MSA and something new gives us much hope for the future.

“The Bishop confirmed what we are about here at MSA, and his very presence helped increase our faith in this endeavor,” said Sister Cherree. “Of course everything is still very new and we are trying to find our way. God is walking this journey with us, and we trust that he will lead us in the right direction.”