All Saints Regional Catholic School in Manahawkin which has provided education to students for more than 20-years will move away from being a regional school and will re-open in July as St. Mary Academy under the administration of St. Mary's Parish in Barnegat.

Monsignor Ken Tuzeneu and pastor of St. Mary's Parish announced the change at the annual school Christmas concert last night.

"Our school is thrilled to begin this new chapter," Tuzeneu said. "I believe strongly in Catholic education, and I am very excited that our parish community will have a greater role with the school. We have a lot of students from our parish attending the school and are deeply invested in its success, so the transition makes sense."

Since 1997, ASRCS has been supported by St. Mary Parish, as well as St. Pius X Parish in Forked River, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Whiting, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Long Beach Island and St. Theresa Parish in Little Egg Harbor.

Beyond financial support, the pastors have continue having a presence in the school, celebrating Masses and enriching the spiritual life of the students.

Their transition to a parish model comes with the blessing of Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., JoAnn Tier, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Trenton and the pastors of the other four sending parishes.

School and parish officials say the designation of Academy is an acknowledgement of the school's many achievements and qualities, and the vision Monsignor Tuzeneu and others have for its continuing legacy.

"In St. Mary (parish) we twin with a parish in Uganda and have built a secondary school for them. They have adopted their motto as 'Ever the Best!' I like that and believe the same for St. Mary Academy," Tuzeneu said.

With the transition, strengthening tuition assistance will be a priority school officials said as will special attention needed to attract new students to the school, including families in all five participating parishes and involving the Latino community that now is served by St. Mary Parish in its role as the center for Latino ministry in Southern Ocean County.

"We love our school and know our children are growing in their Catholic faith, as well as being academically challenged," Barbara Vidal, a parent and teacher at the school, said. "As a parent and teacher, I welcome the transition because I know it will lead to our school establishing itself as the premier private Catholic school in Southern Ocean County."

The Catholic school development leaders feel the parish school model offers a more focused and dedicated line of support for the school community and enriches the life of the parish.

"Catholic education is an important part of our faith and I believe that incorporating the school into our parish will benefit not only the school but our entire community," Tuzeneu said. "From being named a Future Ready School to our remarkable philanthropic efforts, there are great things happening in our school. There's no better way to shine a light on them than to integrate the school's operations into our flourishing parish."

Tuzeneu is grateful to the other four parishes for the important role they've played in the school's strong foundation and for the ongoing support they will offer.

"They will still be associated with the new school as sending parishes and will continue to provide cosponsorship funding," Tuzeneu said. "They have all expressed their support for the new school and have offered their assistance."

Guiding these new developments will be a transition team, which will include members of the current school board of All Saints Regional whose goal is to have an informational meeting with the school community in January.

All Saints has been operating under diocesan administration since its opening as the first regional Catholic elementary school in the Diocese.

They've been offering a Christ-centered and Catholic based learning environment that excels in the areas of faith education, academics (particularly science and technology), and social service.

The students who come to class each day to learn about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church have also made educational headlines with top rankings in national, state and regional competitions for STEM-related projects and research.

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