RBC graduates saluted for spirit, service and faith
By Lois Rogers | Correspondent
A day of prayer for the future and thanksgiving for four, well-completed years of study, service and faith unfolded seamlessly June 5 inside the vast reaches of the Monmouth University Activities Center for Red Bank Catholic’s Class of 2017.
Photo Gallery from Red Bank Catholic's Graduation
Photo Gallery from Red Bank Catholic's Baccalaureate Mass
There, in the presence of thousands of parents, family members and friends, 227 graduating seniors heard themselves praised for completing four years of rigorous study even as they excelled in sports, the arts and most importantly, generosity to the less fortunate.
The day began with a Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and concelebrated by Msgr. Philip A. Lowery, RBC director and pastor of St. James Parish, Red Bank, and RBC chaplain Father Mark Nillo, St. James parochial vicar.
The Red Bank Catholic Chamber Choir, directed by Shawn Mack, an RBC alumnus, bathed the 4,100-seat arena in soaring sacred music throughout the Mass.
In his homily, Bishop O’Connell shared his pride in the students, noting that on a visit to an area coffee shop, wearing an RBC T-shirt prompted someone to ask whether he had kids enrolled at the school.
“I said yes, 850 of them!” Bishop O’Connell said. “I am so proud of the school and so proud to be here on this special day,” he added.
As would be noted in remarks during the graduation exercise later in the day, the students’ academic, athletic, community-minded and religious accomplishments speak for themselves in the $32.5 million scholarships awarded by colleges, corporations and organizations, according to the 178 students who reported their amounts.
Bishop O’Connell challenged the young people to keep alive after graduation the faith that had been conveyed to them by their parents and burnished by RBC. A Baccalaureate Mass is the “perfect time to make a commitment” to faith, he said.
Drawing from the Solemnity of Pentecost the day before, he urged graduates to “keep faith in the things you hope for, the things the Church offers us and, most importantly, in our relationship with Christ” as well as the Savior’s eternal pledge not to leave his people orphans but to be with them until the end of time.
Addressing the young people during commencement, RBC principal Robert Abatemarco reflected on the merits of the class. He spoke of the students’ individuality, adaptability and enthusiasm as members of the RBC community.
“Once a ‘Casey,’ always a ‘Casey,’” said Abatemarco, adding that Caseys in general would be watching after this class. “They exceed in scholarship and academics. They have excelled in a variety of ways … perhaps the most important way of all, they have dedicated themselves to the less fortunate. … We love them.”
Those sentiments were echoed in the remarks of valedictorian Isobel Roisin Murrer and Carolyn Anne Davin, the salutatorian. Best friends in RBC, they will be going on to Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind. Davin will study computer mathematics and statistics while Murrer will major in computer science.
Both said they chose Notre Dame because they wanted to continue their faith-based education.
In their remarks, the young women summed up their feelings for the school and their classmates and expressed their love for their parents. Each offered bits of advice to their fellow graduates.
Murrer recognized the “incredible accomplishments” of her classmates who “can do a million things that I can’t do,” ranging from scores of pushups to music and the arts. She urged them to go out and make the world a better place and, as they hold onto their passions, do more for others.
Davin urged the Class of 2017 to “be true to yourselves and do your job with love, courage and dedication. … The key to success is being kind and having faith in God and yourself.”