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Principal's Welcome

History of Notre Dame Elementary

Reverend Harold G. Durkin, third pastor of St. Matthew's Parish in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, had succeeded Reverend John T. Butler who died in 1943. It was Father Butler who had led the parish in building St. Matthew's Church, school and convent over the years 1932-1934. (268)

Having inherited this imposing physical plant, Father Durkin's thoughts turned to building a parish high school. This was an eighteen-year dream that never reached fruition before the September 8, 1961, death of this beloved pastor. (269)

About a month later, on October 12, 1961, Right Reverend Monsignor Thomas J. Cawley was appointed pastor of St. Matthew's. There must have been more than a dream left behind by Father Durkin, since important background planning for a high school was underway within seven months of Monsignor Cawley's arrival. On May 2, 1962, Monsignor Cawley met with newly elected Mother Beata about the possibility of procuring IHM Sisters for the proposed high school. She promised sisters for 1967. By September 11, 1962, Monsignor Cawley had also obtained Bishop Jerome D. Hannan's permission for a fund-raising drive for the new school. 

Anticipating that additional space would be needed for the sister-faculty for the high school, phase one of the total building project became the renovation and expansion of the existing convent. On March 3, 1963, Monsignor Cawley presented the sisters with the first draft of the new addition to the convent. The plan included a remodeled kitchen, enlarged community room, new chapel, sacristy, sewing room, an all-purpose room, six bedrooms, lavatory facilities, and a garage. 

With plans advancing rapidly, it was time for Monsignor Cawley to share more widely with the parishioners of St. Matthew's. The first meeting was held in the parish auditorium on July 21, 1963. One hundred seventy-two men of the parish attended the meeting at which spirited talks were given by Monsignor Cawley and by the parish assistant priests, Fathers Barrett and Essef. After lengthy discussion, the men unanimously agreed that a high school should be built. 

At subsequent meetings, the men addressed the issues of size of the school, location, fund-raising and costs. It was projected that the school would serve students from a radius of 200 miles, including St. John's Parish, Bushkill, St. Mark's, Delaware Water Gap, St. Luke's and St. Matthew's, East Stroudsburg. They estimated a twenty-five year goal of one thousand students. The structure envisioned, with large library, cafeteria, and gym facilities, was estimated to cost $1,300,000. 

The addition and renovations to the convent were to begin in the summer of 1964. After school closed in June, the sisters dismantled the entire convent, covering furniture, packing dishes, removing pictures and clearing the way for the workers. On June 22, 1964, the doors were locked and the sisters all left for other residences for the summer. No surprise to those who had experience with construction delays, upon the sisters' return in August, nothing was done except a back wall removed and plaster torn from the ceiling in the kitchen.  Yes, things were at a standstill because the Diocesan Building Committee had not approved the plans and new plans had to be submitted. 

The sisters adjusted, setting up a temporary kitchen and refectory in the basement laundry. Construction continued through the winter months and by May 1964 they were able to say, "Nothing is wanting to make the convent home comfortable and attractive. Everything is in excellent taste and will be a monument to our worthy pastor, Monsignor Cawley." 

Amazingly, the total cost of the addition and renovation was only $103,750 including furnishings—and it was entirely paid for by October 1964. 

A forty-acre plot was purchased in East Stroudsburg, about two miles from St. Matthew's Rectory, as the site for the new high school. The site had easy access from several main streets and a view of the Delaware Water Gap. Ground was broken on April 22, 1966, with priests, sisters, officers of parish organizations and pupils from St. Matthew's grades five through eight in attendance. Monsignor Cawley, pastor, conducted the ceremony. 

The IHM faculty for this opening year of Notre Dame High School were Sisters Immaculee Cavanaugh, principal and English teacher, St. Genevieve (Joanne) Pickard, mathematics, Helaine O'Dea, history, and Antonina Williamson, librarian.

In 1968-1969, Sister Mary Frances Krystofik was added to teach science classes for grades seven through ten. 

The high point in IHM staffing of Notre Dame High School was reached in 1971-1972 when ten sisters were assigned. Sister Mary John (Jean) Conaty was appointed principal with the following IHM faculty: Sisters St. John Ortner, Elizabeth (Edwarda) Collins, Marinus Krumenacker, Teresa O'Malley, Helene Fee, Jean Leonard, Margot Worfolk, Kathleen Joy Steck and Marylin Grosselfinger. 

From the beginning of the school, art and music classes were offered by Sisters Joanne Pickard and Mary Frances Krystofik. A lay teacher, Mr. Allsworthy formed and directed the band classes. Sister Marie Lourdes Vanston, prinicipal of St. Matthew's Elementary School, assisted with the glee club. Dramatic and musical productions were an annual event at the high school.

In addition to these involvements, the sisters from both Notre Dame High School and St. Matthew's were engaged in religious education in St. Matthew's Parish, in music ministry at St. Luke's Parish, in interfaith activities in Stroudsburg, and in campus ministry on the East Stroudsburg State College campus. 

The new ten million dollar Notre Dame High School was completed in time for the 2005/2006 school year. Notre Dame Elementary moved from the Saint Matthew’s parish property on Ridgeway Street to the newer facility on Spangenburg Avenue for the 2011/2012 school year. This move completed the 40 acre Elementary / High School campus and is where Notre Dame Elementary is now located under the leadership of Sr. Dorothy Kibler, IHM.

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