St. Rose graduates remembered for sense of community

By Thomas Wiedmann | Correspondent

FINAL WALK • JoAnn Tier, diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools, presents a diploma to St. Rose High School graduate Emily DeFalco during June 5 commencement exercises at Monmouth University. Mike Ehrmann photo

The echoes of proud parents, friends and loved ones cheering, clapping and whistling filled the OceanFirst Bank Center at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, as the 126 purple- and gold-gowned graduates of St. Rose High School, Belmar, received their diplomas June 5.

The ceremony was preceded with a Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by Msgr. Edward Arnister, pastor of St. Rose Parish, Belmar, May 31, with Msgr. Leonard F. Troiano, diocesan episcopal vicar for planning, serving as homilist.

As valedictorian Alexandria Fazzari addressed her fellow classmates, she touched on the evening’s cornerstone topic: community.

That sense of oneness between the high school’s students, faculty and parents, she said, first touched their class when they were “shy freshmen” who appreciated the support of their upperclassmen in directing them to class when they were lost, assisted with the combination locks on their “pesky lockers” and helped them transition into the school community.

“It was little moments like these, which quickly formed a strong sense of community – a community firmly built on our faith in Catholic school,” Fazzari said. “From those first days in the St. Rose hallways, it has been our duty to foster this community, and we have done so successfully to some of our greatest memories.”

Before Fazzari left the podium, she encouraged her classmates to take several key elements of their St. Rose experience with them to college. “It is important to remember the faith, values, community and more that we have developed these past four years.”

Following her words, attendees were treated to a moving musical performance of “Irish Blessing” by the St. Rose High School chorus, as well as the conferring of more than a dozen awards and honors on both student and faculty recipients, who were acknowledged for excellence in teaching and service, and outstanding improvement.

The commencement ceremony’s keynote speaker, St. Rose alumnus Edward Freel, praised the school community, and with a nod toward his career in American politics over several decades – including nearly 10 years as secretary of state in Delaware – Freel encouraged the seniors to make a difference.

“I ask you to commit to engaging politically, seek truth and cherish and protect our freedoms,” he said.

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