mater dei father osbornPHOTO: Father Richard Osborn offers mass at St. Mary, Mother of God Church.

NEW MONMOUTH – More than 150 graduates, parents, and friends of deceased graduates of Mater Dei High School last month attended the annual Mass of Remembrance honoring more than 325 deceased graduates. administrators, faculty, staff and boosters who have died since the four-year high school’s first graduating class in 1965.

The Rev. Richard Osborn, parochial vicar of St. Mary, Mother of God Church, offered the mass, gave the welcome and addressed the crowd in a stirring homily about togetherness and friendship. Father Osborn highlighted the importance of friendship, quoting from the Biblical passage, “And Jesus wept,” when He learned of the death of His  friend, Lazarus.



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Readings during the mass, at St. Mary’s Chapel, were read by John Anderson, former head of Mater Dei, Joe Rapolla, a graduation of the Class of 1979, and Christin McCarthy, Class of 1987. Beth Ann Akin Watkins and Ann Kellogg, daughter and niece of the late Ann Greany Askin, Class of 1967, offered the gifts during the mass, and Muriel Smith, mother of the late Kathy Smith Palamara, Class of 1974, served as Eucharistic Minister.

Jim Keating, class of 1976 served as cantor and Pam Bilotta was organist. Jim Shaw, Class of 1965, welcomed guests to the mass with musical renditions on the bagpipes.

mater dei bagpiper jim shawPHOTO: Bagpiper Jim Shaw plays as guests enter the church.

The names of each of the deceased honored at the mass were read by Ellen Poole, Class of 1972, Stephen Muscarella, class of 1968, ,and Jim Courtney, class of 1976. Included among administrators were founding principal Mother Bede, OSF, and principals Rev. William Lynch,  S.J,  John V. Lonergan, Sr. Mary Hugh and Assistant Principal Frank Outwater.  Sixty-five faculty, staff and booster members were also recognized.

Between 1965 and 1969, no fewer than 72 Mater Dei graduates died and were honored at the mass,  another 107 died during the 1970s , 52 in the 1980s, 13 in the 1990s, and 11 in the 21st.century.

Mari Campanella Kovach, class of 1978, chaired the annual event along with Cathy Daniels, 1979 and Ellen Poole, 1972.

The idea of the annual memorial mass was first introduced by history teacher and author Thomas Murray, who called on Kovach and Daniels to help organize it ten years ago. Murray was present for the first Mass of Remembrance but died that year and was one of the faculty members remembered in the second mass the following year.

Graduates attending the mass were profuse in thanks to the chairmen of the event for arranging it, with Keating terming it “special and moving,”  Rapolla thanking the committee for having him play a role in it, and others terming it a beautiful remembrance and memorable, “a touching mass and ceremony.”

Kovach also issued an invitation to all who have updates to the list to contact her with information at [email protected] to ensure inclusion in next year’s program and mass.


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Muriel J. Smith

Muriel J Smith

Muriel J Smith an award-winning journalist, former newspaper editor, book author and historian, Her newest venture is her blog, in...