On May 17, 2023, the Dominican Sisters of Hope were inducted into the inaugural Gloucester Catholic High School Hall of Fame in Gloucester City, NJ. The event was one of three celebrations in 2023: 300 years since the founding of the City, 175 since the foundation of Saint Mary’s Parish, and 150 since the arrival of the first Dominican Sisters. A January celebration was held at Saint Mary’s Parish to honor the Dominican Sisters who served there for 150 years.
According to Gloucester Catholic High School principal Tom Iacovone Jr, the Hall of Fame serves to honor “select alums of our great school…as well as their contributions to the greater community in their post-graduation years.”
“I am very excited to announce the introduction of the Gloucester Catholic Hall of Fame,” Iacovone said. “The impact our alums have had on the hallways at Gloucester Catholic, the greater community and beyond, is something that should never be forgotten.”
Dominican Sister of Hope Lorelle Elcock, OP accepted the award on behalf of the congregation. Sister Lorelle is a graduate of Gloucester Catholic High School and a former teacher at the school. While she had previously been taught by a different religious community, she said that the spirit of the Dominican Sisters in Gloucester attracted her to enter the congregation.
“The community seemed very warm and welcoming,” Sister Lorelle said. “I really liked Sister Martha Mary very much. She had a good reputation with all the students: she was a very caring person.”
Watch the induction ceremony here:
Sister Martha Mary later became Sister Lorelle’s superior on her first mission after she completed formation and college.
As Sister Lorelle prepared to accept the hall-of-fame honor, she conducted research in the Dominican Sisters of Hope archives to learn more about the history of Gloucester Catholic.
Sister Lorelle was surprised by her findings. After establishing Saint Mary’s Elementary School, Dominican Sisters de Chantal and Sister Grace Electa created an academic high school structure, along with Monsignor Maurice Bric. Dominican Sisters Charitina and Rose Carmella expanded the popular commercial program that had begun earlier. Through their efforts combined, the high school was created.
Over the coming decades, ongoing growth saw the expansion of the school. The original convent, renovated and now known as the Dominican Center, houses the guidance department, technology labs, and the chapel. Sister Gertrude Mary was the last Dominican Sister to teach at the school, retiring at 95 years old.
“Today, Gloucester Catholic serves not only students from Gloucester City, but throughout South Jersey. This expansion was in no small part due to the ministry of over 80 Dominican Sisters serving as administrators, classroom teachers, guidance counselors, and support staff at the high school alone,” the alumni association read at the hall of fame induction. “The Gloucester Catholic Family has benefitted so richly from this dedicated service and we recognize these remarkable women with grateful appreciation, and with love.”
As Hall of Fame Committee Member (and first cousin once removed of Dominican Sister of Hope Marie DiCamillo) Kathy DiCamillo ’66 wrote, the sisters’ lasting impact on the wider Gloucester community lives on today.“They devoted themselves to the education of the youth of Gloucester City and the surrounding area,” DiCamillo wrote in an email. “They were immediately befriended by many parish families, thus making them an integral part of the community. Because of the faithful commitment of the sisters, generations of students have continued this legacy of commitment by proving to be successful citizens and positive contributors to our ever-changing world.”
“What better way to show our appreciation for the selfless work and dedication of these sisters than by inducting them into our First Annual Gloucester Catholic Hall of Fame!” DiCamillo added.
At the induction ceremony, held in Deptford, NJ, Sister Lorelle accepted the honor as the room applauded.
For her part, she hopes that students at the school will continue to espouse the Dominican tradition of prayer, study, ministry, and community.
“I hope that they have the same kind of spirit of community and service that was so evident even when I was there as a student and a teacher,” Sister Lorelle said.
After all, that spirit has enriched the lives of many, including her.