Our History


On September 15, 1962, Saint Joseph’s Parish, Toms River, under the direction of Pastor Lawrence Donovan, opened the first Roman Catholic high school in Ocean County. Dominican Sisters served as members of the original staff of Saint Joseph High School. The initial freshman class consisted of one-hundred fifteen students. The faculty of eight included four sisters, two lay classroom teachers and two athletic instructors.

Until the high school building was ready for occupancy in November, faculty conducted classes in Saint Joseph Grade School's Holy Family Hall.

The first class graduated in 1966.

The original physical complex contained twelve classrooms, office facilities, library, cafeteria, and a medical suite. As the student population increased, work began on the second phase of construction in 1965. The new three-story wing provided additional classrooms and facilities for the Science, Business, Athletic, and Home Economics Departments. In 1970, the building was completed, providing a lecture hall, additional classrooms, and storage areas. Under the direction of Mr. Steve Gepp, Athletic Director from 1963 to 1994, the original wooded tract of land developed into an attractive campus containing athletic fields and facilities. Athletes now enjoy the benefits of a 26 acre athletic complex on Whitty Road, which opened in 2000.

On August 14, 1983, Bishop John C. Reiss of the Trenton Diocese renamed the school in honor of its founder and director, Monsignor Lawrence Donovan. After a lengthy illness, Monsignor Donovan died on January 21, 1987. Monsignor Donovan’s successors include: Monsignor Casimir Ladzinski (1987-1996); Monsignor Sean Flynn (1996-2008); Father John Bambrick (2008-2012); Father Scott Shaffer (July 2012-present).

In 2014, Monsignor Donovan High School became known as Donovan Catholic. This enhanced name boldly represents the school’s tradition and mission. Since its beginning, this outstanding high school has experienced sustained growth through the leadership of pastors committed to Catholic education.

Many other administrative changes have occurred during the school's history. In July 1988, Mr. Edward Gere replaced Sister Carmella DiMatteo who served as Principal for seventeen years. In 1989, Mr. Gere expanded the administrative team to include the Office of Campus Ministry.

In January 1993, Saint Joseph’s Parish celebrated the dedication of its new church. The Class of 1993 experienced the privilege of being the first class to graduate in the new worship space.

In September 1998, the school implemented a block-scheduling format. As of September 2006, all students have access to tablet PCs operating in a wireless environment. Thus, students engage in active, “hands-on” learning. In April, 2008 a Visiting Committee from the Middle States Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges concluded its evaluation of the school. Following this visitation, the school received notification of its renewed accreditation for the fourth time. In 2013, under the direction of the Diocese of Trenton, all diocesan schools received accreditation under the auspices of AdvancEd.

Throughout its history, the school has continued to flourish. The original staff of eight educators has increased to over 80 staff members.

More than 9,000 students have graduated from this school. Since 1962, Ocean County’s Catholic High School has continued to make a difference in students’ lives.


Contact Information

711 Hooper Avenue
Toms River, NJ 08753
Tel. 732.349.8801
Fax. 732.349.8956

Mission Statement

The high school community of Donovan Catholic educates its students to live their faith, respect and serve others in a global society, and pursue academic excellence in a college preparatory environment.

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