By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor
Filippini Sister Angelina Pelliccia smiles when she refers to St. Jerome School as being “my big corner of this world.”
Now as she looks to retiring from the West Long Branch school where she served as principal for almost 40 years, she reflects on the joy it has been to “observe the families emerging before me.”
“I watched three generations pass through our doors,” she said. “What an absolute blessing it has been, not only to welcome them, but to share in their joys, their sorrows, their expectations and their greatest hopes and achievements. I will miss being such an integral part of all those lives.”
With retirement on the horizon, Sister Angelina gratefully acknowledges people and significant events in her life that fostered her desire to pursue Catholic education. She credits her upbringing by two loving parents, her Catholic schooling – which inspired her own vocation as a member of the Religious Teachers Filippini – and her former assignments in schools in New Jersey and New York.
As a young student in Our Lady of the Assumption School, Bayonne, which was staffed by the Filippini sisters, Sister Angelina recalled being impressed with how the sisters showed genuine concern for their students.
Sister Angelina entered the Religious Teachers Filippini in 1953, was invested in the habit in 1955 and made her final profession together with 19 other aspiring sisters in 1958. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in education from Georgian Court College (now University), Lakewood, and a master’s degree in education with a concentration in student personnel services from Seton Hall University, South Orange, Sister Angelina served in schools in New Jersey and New York, including Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Schenectady, N.Y.; Holy Family, Nutley; Villa Victoria Academy, Ewing; St. Jerome School, and Holy Innocents School, Neptune, where she was principal. She was then reassigned to St. Jerome School, where she taught for another four years before becoming principal in 1980.
During her tenure as principal, Sister Angelina speaks of many notable changes and advancements, especially in technology. She also speaks with great pride of the dedicated work of the teachers, students and parents, whom she credits as having an impact on the school’s receiving Middle States Accreditation, AdvancED Accreditation and most noteworthy, the National Blue Ribbon of Excellence.
Yet, beyond all the meritorious academic achievements, Sister Angelina said it is her greatest hope that her “daily teaching of the Law of Love: to love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, has been instilled in the hearts and minds of all our students.”
“Each situation can be elevated to a spiritual level, as I tell the students about how special they are in the eyes of God because he loves each and every one of them,” she said.
JoAnn Tier, diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools, praised Sister Angelina for her service and leadership to St. Jerome School saying, “Sister radiates a beautiful smile, which is reflective of her love and acceptance of all. She is an advocate for students in her care, a staunch believer of the benefits of Catholic education and a tireless worker committed to its ideals. Sister is not one who seeks to be in the limelight. She is gentle and humble, only seeking to do God’s work. Her leadership was celebrated in 2018 with the recognition of St. Jerome School as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.”
Sister Angelina speaks of how in retirement, her “big corner of this world will be reduced to a little corner” as it is her hope to remain at St. Jerome School and work abbreviated hours. “Hopefully, from my little corner, I can continue to remind the students, as I always have in the past, to be the very best that they can be.”