'The world needs you' - Red Bank Catholic graduates called to put talents, knowledge and faith into practice
By David Karas | Correspondent
Robert Abatemarco, principal of Red Bank Catholic High School, Red Bank, looked out onto the floor of the Monmouth University Activities Center, Long Branch, at the school’s senior class just minutes before they would receive their diplomas.
It was the 18th commencement ceremony he had presided over at RBC, but that wasn’t what struck him the most about that moment.
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“You are at once struck with awe when you realize we have been doing this as a school for over 100 years,” he said, adding that students dating back to the 1800s sat in the same position as this year’s graduating class when preparing to embark upon their life journeys.
The 249 young men and women comprising the Class of 2013 will be taking a variety of paths after high school, Abatemarco said, including those attending colleges and universities, and those pursuing careers or serving in the military.
But whatever they might do, they can be assured they are likely following in the footsteps of fellow Caseys from graduation years passed. One particular case comes in military careers.
“Caseys have been serving our country in every major military conflict in the 20th century, and now the 21st century,” Abatemarco said.
He bragged about the accomplishments of the class, including service to the community and involvement in school programming and activities, adding that they are each ready to assume responsibility in the world.
“The world needs you,” he said. “And you are prepared and ready.”
A similar message came from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who celebrated the school’s Baccalaureate Mass earlier in the same day, and also delivered a homily to the graduates.
He began by mentioning the sheer volume of high school students graduating from schools across the country, and posed a question to the young men and women as they sat attentively.
“What makes you so special?” he asked. “What makes your graduation unique?”
He quickly provided an answer: “What we are doing right now, for one.”
The inclusion of Mass in the school’s commencement proceedings highlights the unique elements of education at Red Bank Catholic and in other schools across the diocese, he said, underlining the true elements of celebration.
“God’s presence and gifts – that is what we recognize today,” Bishop O’Connell added.
He discussed the benefits of Catholic education and the long-standing tradition of faith and teaching at RBC.
“You came to Red Bank Catholic because you wanted to learn; you wanted to see; you wanted to grow,” he said.
The bishop also included a reminder for the graduates as they prepared to turn their tassels and move on to the next chapter of their lives.
“Today is your graduation from high school, but it is not your graduation from your Church, your faith,” he said.
Valedictorian Jenna Pellegrino, in her address, trumpeted one of the things each graduate received that bode him or her well in the next steps in life.
“We have each developed a moral compass that will separate us from most,” she said, adding, “let us be guided by our own identity.”
Orlando Mainero was proud of the identity his grandson, Steven, had developed while at RBC, and the central role of faith he has maintained in his life. Along with attending a Catholic high school Mainero noted that his grandson graduated from a Catholic elementary school and will be heading to a Catholic college in the fall.
Michael Vitale was another proud face in the crowd, as he watched his daughter, Brianna, graduate.
“I can remember the day I drove her to kindergarten,” he said. “It has been so wonderful watching her grow and mature.”
He proudly shared details and memories of his daughter’s days at RBC, including her focus on performing arts and her work with the school choir. She will be attending the Mason Gross School of Performing Arts at Rutgers University next year.
“She absolutely loved it (at RBC) from the first day she walked in the door,” he said.
The occasion marked a family affair for the Hepburns, supporting Kiana as she turned her tassel.
“I cannot believe she is graduating from high school – it is unbelievable,” said Clarice Hepburn, her great grandmother.
Kiana will be attending Albright College, Pennsylvania, in the fall.
Her grandmother, Gail Hepburn-Bey, was also happy to be in attendance, and to brag about her granddaughter’s academic success.
“I have always told her she is my Rhodes Scholar, and she has been exactly that,” she said. “She will go a long way.”[[In-content Ad]]