A changing society and resultant decreased enrollment in the late 1960’s caused the Prep to close its doors in 1972. However, the words of Reverend John W. Newman, C.M., at a special mass of celebration on May 20, 1972, proved to be prophetic: “Of this fact we are certain- a vibrant force like St. John’s Prep never dies. It may change its name. It may cease to function as an academic entity, but St. John’s Prep lives on in the hearts and souls and memories of all who ever administered, taught, or were trained within its walls.
Mater Christi High School
Mater Christi Diocesan High School opened its doors to its first freshman class in September, 1961. It was built by the generous contributions of the parishioners of the Brooklyn Diocese-for the purpose of providing students with a Catholic education: an education of the whole person-the spiritual as well as the social, the physical as well as the intellectual. The major aim of the school was the development of the well-rounded person who would contribute to the society of the modern world in the greatest of Christian ways.
Bishop Brian J. McEntegart, fourth Bishop of Brooklyn, was primarily responsible for creating Mater Christi High School. In his letter to the first graduating class he stated that it was in the summer of 1959 that the idea of a new high school in Astoria was first conceived. He placed his plans and hopes and dreams for this new school in the hands of the Mother of God.
He mentioned the self-sacrifice, the dedication, the long hours of labor that went into building the beautiful, new building. But he hastened to add that the school was not built by human effort- it was built by prayer. He quoted the words he frequently prayed to the Blessed Mother: “Never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection was left unaided.”
Upon successful completion, the school was appropriately named Mater Christi and dedicated to the Mother of Christ-so she would bring to life the truth and love of her Divine Son in the minds and hearts of her students. Bishop McEntegart concluded his letter by asking the first graduating class to start a tradition-that they and all following graduates-“would always brighten and strengthen this world with the truth and charity of Christ.”
This tradition continued and grew with each graduating class. Bright young faces reflecting the goodness of God enthusiastically completed four years of Christian development. Basic structures and curriculums changed over the years but the overall goals of a Catholic education remained constant.
Mater Christi was originally co-institutional; it was staffed by Sisters of Mercy and lay teachers in the Girls’ Division and De LA Salle Christian Brothers and lay teachers in the Boys’ Division. In 1974, the two divisions were merged and the School became co-educational. It remained a diocesan high school until 1977 when it was turned over to a community-based board of trustees and became known as Mater Christi Catholic High School.
Through the years, Mater Christi’s motto: “That They May Have Life More Abundantly” emphasized Bishop McEntegart’s hope for the school. “Young men and women will come forth from this school prepared to carry into the world the example of Christ-like living. They will truly be Children of Mary...”
“here will be trained the leaders of tomorrow-the teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, writers, shapers and makers of a future and better America. Here will be trained mothers and fathers who will build the holy homes that will keep America safe and healthy.”
“dedicated to God and Country, Mater Christi High School will form ‘better people for better times’, Christian citizens enamored by truth and goodness of charity and freedom, citizens who will continue the characteristic contributions to American life made by millions of other graduates of Catholic high schools.”