By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. – For the love of Catholic education and the children they serve, officials from St. Stanislaus School in Lansdale braved the Atlantic Ocean in Sea Isle City on Valentine’s Day.

Participants in the New Jersey Shore site’s annual polar bear plunge, they raised more than $21,000 from sponsors who donated to the school’s tuition assistance fund. Sponsors included numerous families, friends and other benefactors of the parish and school.

According to officials in Sea Isle City, the ocean temperature was 39 degrees and the air temperature was 45 degrees during the 2 p.m. ocean frolic Feb. 14.

“As I ran into the cold Atlantic Ocean, I just thanked God for the gift of Catholic education and prayed for all the families who make the many sacrifices they do to give their children that gift,” said Diane McCaughan, the school principal.

“It was awesome. It was fun,” she added.

The principal said it was “phenomenal” that such a large sum of money was raised in such little time. In exploring how they might assist those most severely impacted by the country’s economic recession, school officials signed up for the plunge two weeks before the event.

Also representing St. Stan’s School were Father Robert F. Lucas, a parochial vicar of the parish assigned to the school, several teachers and the school secretary.

“I was very happy to be part of this, knowing that the money raised was going to assist our families,” Father Lucas said.

“Helping them made the water not so cold,” he added of his 30 seconds in the ocean.

“In these hard economic times, it is important to provide financial assistance to those who are unable to afford tuition,” Father Lucas said.

Providing for the Catholic education of children “is vitally important for the upbringing of those children in the faith,” he said, and demonstrates “how Christ’s love can be spread to our brothers and sisters.”

Sally Lister, a seventh-grade teacher, was also intent on taking the plunge. “We know times are not easy,” Lister said. “We are ready to do anything – even jump in the Atlantic Ocean in February – to help with the cost of tuition and expenses.”

St. Stan’s School is “like a big family,” said Maureen Kerr, an eighth-grade teacher. “In any family, it’s important to keep the members together.”

Before they reported for shore duty, school officials received a rousing sendoff from their students at an early afternoon pep rally Friday, Feb. 13.

There, students in the kindergarten through eighth grades contributed $477 from their pocket change for the plunge collection and $330 they raised during the school’s dress down day.

After weekend Masses Feb. 7-8 at St. Stanislaus Church, students in the sixth through eighth grades collected $1,200 for the cause from parishioners.

Eighth-grader Nicolette Petrusky, the school’s stewardship council president, said student body is proud of the participants and those who made pledges.

“It shows how much they really care,” Petrusky said. “They try their best so that we can have all our students stay here – recession or no recession. Stewardship means so much to our school.”

For more information about St. Stanislaus School, call (215) 368-0995or visit the web site

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or