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Stella Maris, Mater Dei to operate ‘as-is’ for coming school year while exploring possible future collaboration

By Deacon Kyle Eller 
The Northern Cross 

A January letter signed by Bishop Daniel Felton, Stella Maris Academy President Andrew Hilliker, and Mater Dei Apostolate Executive Director Marie Mullen, and issued by Bishop Felton’s office, indicates that “on-going conversations” have been taking place “exploring opportunities for collaboration and cooperation” between Mater Dei and Stella Maris. 

Stella Maris Academy, the diocesan Catholic school formed in the city of Duluth, has been operating on three campuses in the city offering elementary and middle school education with plans to expand into offering high school education. Plans for high school classes are coming to fruition this fall, with the addition of a new campus which was recently purchased. 

Mater Dei is an apostolate formed before high school offerings were available at Stella Maris. It uses a hybrid model of education, with elements of homeschooling and elements of a more traditional school experience. It uses facilities at Holy Family Church in Duluth. 

The January letter indicates that “for future explorations to take place,” each organization had some priorities to work on while both entities continue to operate “as-is” for the coming school year. “… Stella Maris needs to concentrate on establishing their new high school and Mater Dei needs to focus on the establishment of a governance board and internal administrative planning,” the letter said. “This will allow for strength and stability in future discussions.” 

The letter indicates that Bishop Felton wants a serious conversation to continue exploring if there is a feasible and sustainable model of cooperation between the two entities. “If there is such a model, it could possibly serve as a model elsewhere in our diocese,” it said. “In the meantime, Bishop Daniel would like to affirm both programs and the families they serve in the greater Duluth area.”