BENSONHURST — Members of Bishop Kearney’s Class of 2020 reunited at St. Athanasius-St. Dominic Church for a special Mass on August 16.
The students — who weren’t able to graduate from the all-girls Catholic high school due to its closure in August 2019 — completed their first three years at Bishop Kearney and transferred to other local high schools this past year to complete their senior year.
Msgr. David Cassato, pastor of the St. Athanasius-St. Dominic parish and recently appointed vicar for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn — who often presided over Bishop Kearney’s Masses while the high school was still open — bestowed a blessing upon the 12 capped-and-gowned graduates in attendance, praying for them as they begin the next chapter of their lives.
“When they go out, they will make a difference because they were given a Catholic education,” Msgr. Cassato said during his homily. “Parents, thank you. I know you were disappointed when Kearney closed, but thank you for continuing to support Catholic education because Catholic education teaches values, teaches inclusive love.”
Also in attendance were members of the Sisters of St. Joseph (who previously sponsored the high school), former Director of Institutional Advancement Sr. Virginia Lake, and former faculty members Elena Gentile, Maria Giarracca, Maureen Griffin, Sharon Keller, and Lisa Molnar-Juliano. The Mass concluded with the singing of the school’s song, “O Kearney, Hail to Thee,” one last time.
“For me, today meant everything because Kearney was my second home,” said Stephanie Iacono, who attended Fontbonne Hall Academy this past year. “To be with everyone again and to see all the teachers excited and happy to be here, honestly, feels like I’m home.”
Isabella Lieto, who also attended Fontbonne this past year, echoed Iacono’s sentiment, remarking on how this was a full-circle moment.
“It’s a good feeling to come back where it all started when we were all freshmen,” she said.
Judy Schnibbe, whose daughter Stephanie graduated from Fontbonne earlier this month, was glad that fellow parent Sarah Iacono helped organize the Mass so the Bishop Kearney girls could have a sense of closure. The high school’s famous slogan for alumnae was, is, and will always be, “Once a Kearney girl, always a Kearney girl.”
“They had their first blessing here, their Ring Day ceremony here, and now their last blessing together. It was very nice and just so beautiful,” Schnibbe said.
This fall, some Bishop Kearney graduates will be attending Brooklyn College, the College of Staten Island, and Pace University, as well as St. Francis College, St. Joseph’s College, and Marist College.