When the school year opens, a notable absence


threenuns-webThe last three Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa to serve at St. James School, Ventnor, were, from left, Sister Joan Mary Baldridge, Sister Eduarda Makal and Marie Collette Ryan.

The coming academic year will mark a crucial transition for Catholic school students in the Ventnor area. 

Ever since St. James School opened between Atlantic and Ventnor avenues in September of 1931, it has been under the direction of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, Wis.  These dedicated teachers and administrators have impacted generations of students and will certainly be remembered fondly by the many people throughout the Diocese of Camden who have been touched by their ministry. 

The sisters recently ended their affiliation with St. James and moved on to other ministries, including educational missions in Mexico, Bolivia and Trinidad and Tobago. While the future of the South Jersey school and parish look bright, it is important that these devoted followers of the intellectual legacy of the Order of Preachers be acknowledged, applauded, and thanked for their service.

Ever since the day in 1931 that the Dominican Sisters showed up in the shore-town parish, with sheets on the train seats to protect their white habits, they have been a vital and vitalizing part of the Ventnor community. They had been recommended to then-pastor Father Gregory Moran for their outstanding work in other schools by Msgr. C. Joseph Quille of Chicago, who happened to have a sister in the Wisconsin congregation.

For over 75 years, the Dominican presence at St. James remained. After the 2008-09 school-year, principal Sister Joan Mary Baldridge and third grade teacher Sister Eduarda Makal decided to retire from the newly merged Holy Family Regional School, composed of students from St. James and Blessed Sacrament in Margate. 

Since no Dominicans were available to replace them, the parish has turned to Franciscan Sister Lydia Etter to take up the mantle of caring for and directing the school. Sister Joan Mary Baldridge relayed that “a lovely Eucharist was celebrated and reception held on June 7, 2009 to say goodbye.”