Notre Dame de la Mer Parish honored two women for their service to the school system and the community, and for perpetuating Catholic education.

By way of recognition, the Early Education/Pastoral Life and Conference Center in Wildwood was named the "Sister Sheila Murphy, SSJ Gymnasium" and the Wildwood Catholic High School and Cape Trinity Catholic Schools gymnasium was named the "Sister Mary Ellen Ford, SSJ Gymnasium" in two ceremonies March 16.

Sister Sheila Murphy currently serves as the Administrative Director of Cape Trinity Catholic High School; she has held this post since 2010. Murphy was principal of St. Ann Regional School from 1985-2010.

Sister Mary Ellen Ford was principal of Wildwood Catholic High School from 1987-1997. She passed away on Sept. 2, 2013.

Both women are from the Sisters of St. Joseph's order in Philadelphia, distinguishable by the "SSJ" that follows their names.

"I think it's nice that not only are we only going to be dedicating the gyms, but their names are emblazoned with logos of St. Josesph's," said Kevin Quinn, director of development of Wildwood Catholic High School, a few days before the ceremonies. "That could potentially be forever, it's not just a little plaque somewhere on the wall."

Each gymnasium had an unveiling and blessing of a specially designed, permanent "floor art" arrangement at center court. Each nuns name is framed with the logo of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Plaques commemorating the dedications are hung at the entrances of both gymnasiums.

Quinn said the dedications highlight the order of St. Joseph's, which has made Catholic education, especially in the Wildwoods, a priority since 1847. The parish also wanted to recognize two women who are and were respected leaders in the Catholic school community.

"We've never dedicated anything of this magnitude to anybody," Quinn said. "We do have rooms in the building in memory of people, but actually going and dedicating facilities such as a gymnasium, where you have thousands and thousands of people in and out of them during the school year, I think is something that won't necessarily happen often."

After a 10:30 a.m. Mass, participants walked down to the former St. Ann Hall in Wildwood. There, the basketball court was named for Murphy. The group then proceeded to the Wildwood Catholic High School gymnasium, which was named for Ford. Both ceremonies were presided over by parish priests.

The Wildwood Catholic student council, family members of the sisters, the leadership of the Sisters of St. Joseph, local politicians, alumni, and parish families were in attendance.

"I think the spirit of both women will be a part of those gyms for eternity," Quinn said. "They were and are both very well respected women, and I think it's a great opportunity to recognize that."

Contact Devin Loring:

609-463-6713