When Mater Dei Prep in Middletown closed at the end of its 2022 school year, its rising seniors faced attending a new school for their final year.
Red Bank graduates proud of welcome given to former Mater Dei students
But the Caseys of Red Bank Catholic High School welcomed them and worked to make them feel at home, so when the class donned green and gold robes for commencement ceremonies, the students were unified.
PHOTO GALLERY: Red Bank Catholic High's Graduation
PHOTO GALLERY: Red Bank Catholic High's Baccalaureate Mass
“This senior class has displayed two important attributes: kindness and resilience,” said Karen Falco, Red Bank principal. “Our students welcomed and embraced the seniors displaced by the closing of their school. The Casey family took in and tried to make comfortable students who, through no fault of their own, lost their intended senior year.
“Our newest Caseys showed resilience as they accepted new friendships, teachers, academics, teams and clubs. They worked hard to make the best of their situation. As we finished the year, we had one cohesive group of seniors who are all now a part of the Casey family,” she said, referring to the nickname derived from the late Msgr. Joseph T. Casey, a priest and retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, who served the St. James Parish and Red Bank Catholic community during his lifetime.
RBC president Bob Abatemarco shared a similar description of the class.
“The Class of 2023 is united and has persevered. If I had one word that described them, it’s undaunted,” he said.
Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass May 30 in St. Mary, Mother of God Church, Middletown.
“As your Bishop, it is a great joy and privilege for me to be here tonight to celebrate with your priests and those here present, the beginning of your graduation ceremonies. And we do so with holy Mass,” said Bishop O’Connell, who was joined at the altar by priests from St. Mary Parish and St. James Parish, and from the school’s other sending parishes.
The graduation exercises continued May 31 in the OceanFirst Bank Center at Monmouth University, West Long Branch.
When school officials honored recipients of the Bishop George W. Ahr Award for Excellence in Religion, they awarded one student who attended RBC for the four years and the other who previously attended Mater Dei Prep.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the newest RBC alumni proudly posed with their diplomas, taking pictures with family and friends.
“This is a tremendous milestone for my son,” Chris Marzo said of his son, Ethan. “This was actually his first year at Red Bank Catholic, and they took him in and treated him like family. He made friends right away and played baseball. It was like he had been here all four years.”
“I am so happy today. This is a great school and she worked so hard,” Robert St. Vilus said of his daughter, Lynsdora St. Vilus, a four-year RBC student. “It wasn’t easy. I thank God every day for her education.”