Called to be Catholic: 12-year-old is baptized in front of her entire school

Called to be Catholic

By Jennifer Miele, Beth Smith and Paul Paterra

Cassidy Vehar beamed in her white Communion dress as she walked down the aisle of Immaculate Conception Parish in Irwin June 10. The 12-year-old Queen of Angels Catholic School student was baptized into the Catholic faith and received her first holy Communion in front of her entire school, as well as her friends and family. The only person who was not there was her mother.

The baptismal and Communion Mass was the culmination of a school year for Cassidy filled with life-changing heartbreak. Cassidy’s mother, Jenna Maroadi, had been in addiction recovery for four years when officials believe she died accidently, most likely from a combination of her prescription medication and an enlarged heart. She was 34.

Cassidy’s mother’s death came during a brief time span that included the death of her great-grandfather, Bill Maroadi, whom she called “Pappy,” and 6-month-old puppy, Piccolo.

Cassidy, who lives with her grandparents, Bill and Lynn Maroadi, recalls the day she lost her mom vividly. Her grandfather picked her up at the end of the school day and brought her home, where people were gathering. She wondered what was happening.

“They told me and I just started bawling,” Cassidy said. “I ran out of my house, screaming and crying. I didn’t expect for her to go. I went to my room and started thinking about all of the things we did, how I would talk to her and how she would always be there for me.”

Cassidy knew her mom struggled with addiction, so she has strong feelings about drugs and alcohol.

“I hate it,” Cassidy said. “I just don’t like drugs and alcohol. I wish they were never invented. I don’t like seeing people smoking or using drugs. It takes me back to when I saw people that were using and what happened in my mom’s life.”

It was the loss of her mother that inspired Cassidy’s desire to be baptized and receive her first Communion.

“When my mom passed, I felt like I got closer to God,” Cassidy said. “I thought, my mom would want me to do this. My mom would want me to be Catholic. My mom would want me to be closer to God. She loved me so much and she wanted me to live a happy life. I woke up one day and went to school and said, ‘I’m thinking of being Catholic.’”

Father John A. Moineau, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, said Cassidy’s enthusiasm for Catholicism is an example of the benefits of a Catholic education.

“This is why we have Catholic education,” Father Moineau said. “I think Cassidy’s desire to be baptized and receive her first holy Communion and with her classmates, be confirmed later in the following year, is probably one of the greatest examples of Catholic education.”

Queen of Angels Principal Jennifer Filak said Cassidy, who was new to the school this past year and will enter seventh grade in the fall, started to express an interest in learning more about the Catholic faith during the school year.

“That led her to her journey here with us,” Filak said. “It speaks to what we do at Queen of Angels, the love that we instill for God and for our faith community. We wanted to be there for her. What a wonderful way for us to be together as a whole school community to wrap up this incredible year.”

Cassidy has enjoyed being a part of that “school community.” She said it has helped her through the roughest of times.

“Everyone is just so nice,” Cassidy said. “It was fun and exciting to have new teachers and new friends. My teachers are always there for me. Every time I have a question or a concern, they’re always there.”

Cassidy is always there for her classmates, too.

“I got that from my mom,” she said. “She was always happy, she was always loving. She was always caring. She was always there for other people when they needed them.”

Beth Smith is a contributing writer.

Queen of Angels Catholic School students were on hand for Cassidy Vehar’s first holy Communion at Immaculate Conception Parish, Irwin, with Father John A. Moineau, pastor.


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