Wildwood Catholic

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NORTH WILDWOOD - Wildwood Catholic Academy will survive after all.

In a letter from Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan, of the Diocese of Camden, to Father Joseph Wallace, of Notre Dame de la Mer Parish, in North Wildwood, the diocese is approving the proposal to open the K-12 school next year, which will combine Wildwood Catholic High School and Cape Trinity Catholic Elementary School, in light of new, last-minute fundraising.

According to a statement from Wildwood Catholic High School Principal Joe Cray and Cape Trinity Catholic Elementary School Principal Sister Sheila Murphy, the two schools, housed in the same building, will combine to create Wildwood Catholic Academy July 1.

The Diocese of Camden previously announced that the schools were two of five that would close permanently following this school year (https://bit.ly/3cvt3ER).

They had finalized plans to become one school for the 2020-2021 school year when the closure announcement came from the diocese April 17, in the midst of the coronavirus school closure.

"The commitment from our families - past, present, future - was made abundantly evident over the last six weeks and we are elated to think about our opportunity to work together for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond," Cray and Murphy wrote in a joint statement.

The diocese told the Herald, in April, that it would take over $1.7 million to create a fiscally responsible budget for next school year.

Sullivan said, in his letter to Wallace, that the community had already raised over $1 million.

Cray and Murphy thanked the community for the support of the school and said the list of people is growing and "goes from A to Z multiple times." Wildwood Catholic High School was saved from closure in 2010 by last-minute fundraising efforts. Many of the same key players helped a second time.

In his letter, Sullivan warned that the acceptance of Wildwood Catholic's proposal to remain open "comes with a warning and a caveat." The bishop said it would be "unfair to the families of Wildwood and Cape May County for this to happen a third time," adding that the diocese is not going to bail them out.

Wildwood Catholic will have to open their books and notify parents and stakeholders if they are off track for more than two quarters, the bishop stated.

Sullivan also highlighted several reasons he was impressed with the plan to create Wildwood Catholic Academy, including an aligned curriculum, plans to increase enrollment, and the forward-looking nature of the proposal to save the schools.

"Please accept my deepest gratitude for the hard work you have done to develop a plan for Wildwood Catholic Academy. I am certain the school families, faculty and staff are truly appreciative of your industriousness and your dedication to Catholic education in the Wildwoods and surrounding communities," wrote the bishop.

To contact Shay Roddy, email sroddy@cmcherald.com.

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