St. Peter’s 122 graduates stand tall amid ‘times of challenge and controversy’

Special from Staten Island Advance /

Published on Jun 12, 2020

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — St. Peter’s paid homage to its 122 graduates during its 103rd commencement via a virtual ceremony on Friday evening.

The ceremony was emceed by John Reilly Walsh, St. Peter’s Dean of Academics. St. Peter’s pastor, Rev. Michael Cichon, delivered the opening prayer, while Bishop John O’Hara, the Episcopal Vicar of Staten Island, also addressed the graduates.

St. Peter’s president John Fodera (Class of 1962) also spoke a few words before announcing the Academic Awards while Walsh announced the Special Awards. Vincent Innocente, who graduated from the New Brighton school in 2008, led a rendition of ‘Alma Mater,’ during the virtual ceremony.

Principal Michael Cosentino, a 2003 St. Peter’s graduate, reminded his seniors about one of his favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his speech: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Cosentino marveled over the way St. Peter’s newest graduating class responded to the challenges and adversity it encountered during the coronavirus pandemic the last three months.

“As tragic and unfair as it is, I can only see the valuable life lesson of perseverance and overcoming adversity,” said Cosentino. “This is a perfect example, of the strength that faith and love will give you, in order to persevere through the most difficult times in life. I have heard stories, watched videos, and looked at pictures of so many of you and your families coming together and growing stronger through faith and love in order to overcome this terrible situation.”

Cosentino’s message was a common theme throughout the ceremony, including from valedictorian Luke Whalen and salutatorian Ryan Heming.

“At the start of this pandemic, we found ourselves with a new slogan: ‘Eagles Endure.’ I started to think of endurance and how it relates to us — not just our act of enduring, but how we visualize where it will lead us,” said Whalen. “The Scottish Author, William Barclay, said it best when he stated, ‘Endurance is not just the ability to endure a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.’

“As we face this challenge together, it is what we choose to do with the lessons we have learned throughout these four years. Lessons such as appreciating time spent with those most dear to us; being grateful for all that God has provided us; helping others through their most difficult situations and lastly, pushing ourselves to be the best we can be.”

Heming, meanwhile, believes the pandemic only strengthened the Class of 2020′s bond.

“These moments are less about the events themselves and more about the people we share them with and feelings of love, accomplishment, brotherhood and sacrifice that we associate with them,” said Heming. “Our memories can never be taken from us. The great thing about true friendship is that it remains constant at all times, not just the good times. It is helping a friend when he’s short money for lunch, coming together after a tough loss on the court or on the field or checking in with one another during this pandemic.

“President Woodrow Wilson once said, ‘Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold this world together.’ These friendships we have forged are unbreakable and will help us through life’s challenges, no matter how big or small.”

Cosentino, who is in his third year as principal, gushed while addressing St. Peter’s newest alumni.

“I am filled with tremendous pride for the accomplishments of the 122 graduates,” Cosentino said. “Whether it be spiritual, academic, athletic, artistic, social, or civic accomplishments, these graduates have soared to heights they never thought possible and have grown, in front of our eyes, from boys — into young men.”

Class of 2020

Candidates for graduation:

Sharif Abdelkader, Jack Albertson, Anthony Andreone Jr., Matthew Aprile, Louis Angelo Arellano, Sean Elijah Badon, Victor A. Baez, David J. Barrett, Matthew Joseph Bedford, Brandon James Bligh, Aleksis Boniface, Andrew James Burt, David Joseph Buss, Cesare Cali, Raffaele Antonio Carone, Anthony Casillo Jr., Daniel Nicholas Castellano, Christopher James Catalano, Ryan Michael Chambers, Daniel Chen, Rehman Choudhary, Daniel Cipollone, Aiden Cobovic, Salvatore Carmine Daleo, Stephvon Dames, Michael Datello, Michael DeCanio Jr., Daniel DeFranco, Nicholas Delli Paoli, Sergio DePinto, Jamie DeRoss Jr., Peter DeSantis, Lorenzo Jovito DiMaio, Bowen Ding, Vincent DiPalo, Jonathan Steven Eagle, Miles Ellis, Erik Paul Eppinger, Kyle David Feis, Peter R. Freeman, Frank James Friedman, Justin Augustine Gambardella, Eshann Gandhi, Deleon S. Gashi, Dominik J. Gozdz, Liam Grapes, Connor Patrick Halloran, Liam Kiel Hannon, Sean James Hartnett, Patrick Hayes, Ryan C. Heming, Mysan C. Hinds, Julian Iacono, Nicholas Rocco Jay, Nicholas Sean Jordan, Matthew John Kalikas, Jack Kelly, John W. Kenny, Brandon Salvatore Laino, Ryan Vincent Laino, Brandon J. Lombardi, Daniel J. Lopez, Cameron Love, Daniel Mahon, Josh Thorton Mannix, Joseph George Manzella, Peter Marotta, Joseph Andrew Marsillo, John Martello, Matthew Martinez, James Matthies, Jacob William Meeks, Joseph Brandon Minio, Joseph James Montalvo, Terence J. Moore, Christopher Mullen, Arman Muratov, Liam Thomas Murphy, Nicholas Murphy, Jaden Robert Nelson, Tochi Nkemakolam, Matthew James Oliva, James Jesus Orellana, Michael E. Perlaki, Hunter Peters Jr., Michael Politi, Vincenzo Quinzi Jr., Drew Thomas Reems, Devin Reilly, Nicholas Reynolds, Joseph Thomas Riccardelli, Francis A. Rivera, Andrew Victor Rodriguez, Thomas Anthony Romano, Michael Rotunno, Nicholas J. Russo, Dylan Sandberg, Isaac M. Santiago, Andrew Sarra, Andrew Ryan Sercia, Daniel Browning Sheridan, Thomas Sipp Jr., Tyler Steven Skidmore, Joshua Soler, Alexander Spinard, Michael James Stauffer, Patrick Tansey, John Thomas Toto, Andrew M. Valentino, Ryan Roy Varughese, Nicholas Venditti, Robert E. Vidal III, Joseph D. Vinci, Lear Walker, James M. Wehner, Christopher Wessels, Luke Alan Whalen, Mickel Junior White, Wayne Wildrick III, Justin Thomas Wisniewski, Thomas Michael Woods Jr., Raied J. Zahriyeh

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