Mission and History
In the early 1960s, the parish priest of Saint Mary Church, Monsignor Robert T. Bulman had a vision for Catholic secondary education. The only neighboring Catholic high school was overcrowded, and the newly founded Catholic Academy was beyond the reach of many young families with growing children. Supported by parents and parishioners, Monsignor Bulman made the daunting decision to establish a Catholic high school in the parish. In March of 1961, his vision became a reality when the parish purchased the sixty-acre James Grigg Farm on Cherry Tree Road in the New Monmouth section of Middletown, New Jersey.
“Mater Dei”—Latin for Mother of God—was chosen as the name of the new high school. Mother M. Bede from the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Holy Name Province, Stella Niagara was appointed the first principal of Mater Dei. Working closely with Monsignor Bulman, she laid the foundations of discipline and learning which continue today as the hallmarks of a Mater Dei education.
In July 2010, the name of the school was changed to “Mater Dei: A Catholic Preparatory School.” The new name reflected the long tradition of challenging academic programs. It also spoke to the innovative leadership development and community service opportunities offered at the school. With the name change, the school began a partnership with Seton Hall University and other colleges, enabling students to graduate high school with transferrable college credits.