Responding to the call to serve their alma mater, Joan Demetriades ’69 and Fr. Gene Ritz ’00 have agreed to serve as co-chairs of The Marian Fund for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The goal of The Marian Fund is $500,000.
“Joan and Fr. Ritz are the ideal choices to lead The Marian Fund this year,” said Michael Brennan ‘06, Head of School. “Their enthusiasm, dedication and passion for Marian is contagious and I have no doubt that they will lead us to victory on June 30, 2024 with a record number of donors and a record amount raised, all of which benefits every student at Marian. With the continued increase in our student enrollment, more resources will be needed to continue to make Marian the outstanding Catholic school that it is,” Brennan concluded.
Gifts to The Marian Fund are added to the general fund of the school’s budget for use in meeting current operating expenses, providing over $400,000 in student financial aid, maintaining the physical plant, and ensuring the continuation of a quality Catholic education.
Joan Demetriades from Lake Hauto, originally from Lansford, graduated from Marian in 1969 and Fr. Gene Ritz, a Tresckow native, graduated from Marian in 2000 and entered Saint Charles Seminary after graduation.
In their roles as Co-Chairs of The Marian Fund, Joan and Fr. Ritz will be the key leaders and voice of the fund for over 8,000 Marian alumni, current parents, parents of alumni, grandparents, and friends of Marian Catholic High School.
“One of our goals this year for the Marian Fund is to grow the number of donors,” said Dr. Erin Marek, P ’28, Director of Advancement. “We would like to see a 100% increase in our donor numbers for The Marian Fund this year. Our goal is 1,500 total donors including a goal to have 100% staff, faculty and board member participation. This would distinguish Marian with one of the best participation rates of any Catholic high school in Pennsylvania,” Marek concluded.
Tuition and auxiliary income are simply not adequate to cover the operating expenses incurred at Marian, as is the case for most Catholic secondary schools in the country. The actual cost of education for each student is approximately $10,607 for the 2023-24 school year. Tuition and fees cover about 63% of the cost of a Marian education. The Marian Fund bridges the gap between tuition revenues and operating expenses.
After graduation from Marian, Joan Demetriades earned a BS in Medical Technology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh followed by an MBA from LaSalle University in Philadelphia. Joan’s career spanned executive and leadership positions at One Mind, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, AstraZeneca, Astra Merck, and Merck Research Labs. Now retired, Joan volunteers as a One Mind Ambassador, board member of the American Millennial Society and Lake Hauto Club, and a member of the Advancement Committee of Marian.
Her four siblings are all Marian graduates too: Jim ’71, Janet ‘73, George ’77 and Jean ’82. “Our parents were proud to have made it possible for us. They knew we would thrive with a Catholic education,” said Joan Demetriades.
“Thanks to the most recent and exceptional work of the Marian Board of Directors, Marian is positioned well for the long-term. The annual Marian Fund campaign gives all alumni, parents, and friends the opportunity to contribute to an institution which excels not only in education but more importantly imparts a foundation of ethics, morals, and genuine respect for all. If we give to Marian at a level comfortable for each person, we can ensure that all students with the desire and aptitude for a private, nurturing yet challenging high school experience can attend Marian regardless of their family’s economic situation. Our collective power is exciting and powerful,” she concluded.
After graduating from Marian, Fr. Ritz began studies for the Priesthood at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook. During his time in the seminary, he earned degrees in Philosophy and Theology. Fr. Ritz was Ordained to the Priesthood in 2009 and spent the next eight years in Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was blest to be the Assistant Pastor at Saint Catharine of Siena Parish, and Chaplain of Berks Catholic High School, Reading. He also spent four summers and the 2017-2018 academic year at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. where he earned a degree in Canon Law, or Church Law. He has since spent two years as Chaplain at Notre Dame High School, Easton, and spent five years as Diocesan Chancellor. In 2018, Fr. Ritz helped to launch and continues to serve as Director for Permanent Diaconate Formation, which currently serves 35 men who are preparing to serve the Diocese of Allentown as Deacons. He also serves as a Judge on the Diocesan Tribunal which principally serves to adjudicate proposed cases of Marriage nullity.
This past June Fr. Ritz was asked by Bishop Alfred Schlert to serve as the Vicar for Clergy of the Diocese of Allentown, an assignment wherein he acts at the primary contact between the Diocese and her Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians, as well assist Bishop Schlert in coordinating and overseeing the personnel needs of the Diocese of Allentown. Fr. Ritz currently calls Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, Orefield as his home, where he is a resident priest and sees several graduates of Marian each weekend!
When asked by Mr. Brennan to assist in leading the 2023-2024 Marian Fund, he first remembered his parents, the late Clare Ritz, and late John Ritz, who sacrificed to give his brother (John ’88), sister (Amy ’89) and him the benefit of a Catholic education.
“I thought of my family who are students, alumni, and faculty of Marian, spanning 61 years and until today. I recalled the dedication of the Priests, Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Lay Administration and Faculty who dedicated their lives to us, their students. I considered that my time as a student at Marian Catholic was an experience where the Catholic Faith was handed on to us, where life-long friendships were forged, and provided the environment where I was able to discern a calling to the priesthood, forever changing the course of my life, like so many alumni who came before me. Most of all, and most importantly, I thought of the current and future students who need and deserve our help in sustaining and promoting the Adventure of the Gospel that is Marian, the school where “Jesus makes the difference” and where Mary is honored as our Patroness and acknowledged as our Mother, as she unfailingly guides our footsteps safely home to her Son. Go Colts and Fillies,” Fr. Ritz concluded.
In addition to Joan Demetriades and Fr. Gene Ritz, members of the Advancement Committee who will assist with The Marian Fund efforts this year include Jim Beall; Janet Bonenberger; Patrick Boyle ’03; Paul Creedon ’80; Jerome Dvorak ’82; Larry Furey ’79; Dan La Bert ’93; John Lavelle Esq. ’81; Patrick McCall ’81; Sr. Rose Mulligan, IHM ’85; Erin O’Gurek, Esq. ’03; Jim Sauka ’66; Colleen Skrabak Scholl ’89 and Steve Sofranko ‘89
Marian Catholic High School is a Catholic secondary school under the ownership of the Diocese of Allentown and is governed by the Board of Directors under the leadership of Patrick Reilly, P ’99, ’02, ‘11. Other members of the Board for this school year include Dave Bielen ’69, P ’91, GP ’24; Patrick Boyle ’03; Rev. Robert Finlan; Larry Furey ’79; Dan La Bert ’93, John Lavelle, Esq. ’81, Leo V. Marzen ‘79, CFA, CPA, CFP; Maria Montero ’94, P ’13, Sr. Rose Mulligan, IHM ’84; Erin O’Gurek, Esq. ’03; Jim Sauka ’66, P ’93, ’94, ’96, ’00; Leo Schilling ’57, Ashley Shickora ‘03 and Bill Stulginsky ’69.
Marian Catholic High School opened in September 1954 and has graduated more than 8,000 students, now living in all 50 states and abroad. The school also calls alumni from the four predecessor high schools, Saint Ann’s High School in Lansford, Saint Mary’s High School in Coaldale, Saint Jerome’s High School in Tamaqua, and Mauch Chunk Catholic High School in Jim Thorpe as its own.
Marian Catholic High School opened its 70th school year in September with an enrollment of nearly 285 students in grades nine to twelve. The enrollment this school year increased by 14%.