It was a new venture for the Marianist Province of Meribah. In 2004, the pastor of St. Martha’s Church in Uniondale asked the Brothers to consider assuming operations for his parish school; it was the only Catholic elementary school serving one of the most disadvantaged areas on Long Island, and low enrollment meant it was in danger of closing. More than a decade later, what became St. Martin de Porres Marianist School has become one of the largest Catholic elementary and middle schools in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
The Long Island Catholic, the monthly diocesan magazine, featured St. Martin’s in its January 2018 issue coinciding with Catholic Schools Week – an annual celebration of Catholic education sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association.
The Marianists on Long Island have owned and operated Chaminade High School in Mineola from its founding in 1930. In 1987, Bishop John McGann invited the Society of Mary to assume responsibility for St. Agnes Cathedral High School in Uniondale. It was named Kellenberg Memorial – in honor of the first Bishop of Rockville Centre.
“We had no experience with elementary schools,” Bro. Timothy Driscoll, S.M., Provincial Superior and St. Martin’s Chaplain, told The Long Island Catholic. “But when the opportunity came about, we felt it would be necessary to take on the school.”
Immediately, the Brothers got to work on renovating the school, enlisting the help of Chaminade and Kellenberg students. Today, young men and women continue to support St. Martin’s, volunteering for after-school programs, concerts, field days, and spiritual activities. Graduates of both schools are on the faculty and staff of St. Martin’s. In fact, St. Martin’s alumni have also come back to teach at their primary alma mater.
The Long Island Catholic writes, “Something remarkable is happening at a school in Uniondale. Enter this building and get a sense of joy, of enthusiasm, of energy. More than that, there’s a sense of true community – a school that has to be experienced.”
That community spirit, a family spirit, is central to the Marianist philosophy of education. Today, nearly 400 students in grades K-8 are part of the St. Martin’s family.
“Fr. Chaminade, our Founder, said our main objective was to be formation in faith,” Bro. Timothy told the magazine. “That we were to form communities of faith and that we do it in a family spirit.”
Read the full Long Island Catholic article here. (The article runs on pages 12-15)