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April 23, 2024

SSNDs Enjoy ‘Angelic’ Tribute

The School Sisters of Notre Dame, Holy Angels’ foundresses and sponsors, were the stars of the Academy’s 26th Annual Angelic Evening (April 12). The lively, heartfelt celebration drew 225 attendees to the Edgewood Country Club to pay tribute to the intrepid women who have educated, counseled, and mentored AHA students for nearly 145 years.

All proceeds from Angelic Evening are devoted to AHA’s financial aid and scholarship programs.


SSNDs in attendance included S. Kathleen Dunham, retired full-time faculty member and active substitute teacher; S. Patricia Murphy, president emeritus; S. Maria Iannuccillo; S. Mary Roy Weiss, trustee; S. Mary Foley, retired school social worker and current director of auditorium services; S. John Vianney; S. Eileen Reilly, trustee; S. Mary Maher (AHA ’68), trustee; and S. Sharon Slear, former trustee.

Standing: S. Kathleen Dunham, S. Patricia Murphy, S. Maria Iannuccillo, S. Mary Roy Weiss, S. Mary Foley, S. John Vianney. Seated: S. Eileen Reilly, S. Mary Maher, and S. Sharon Slear.


“Tonight we are honoring the School Sisters of Notre Dame for their 145 years of service and support for the Academy of the Holy Angels,” AHA President Melinda Hanlon stated in her words of welcome. “While I can certainly attest that education is a very different business than it was in 1879, I can also assure you that the mission that began in 1879 to transform the world through the education of women remains the same today.


“The success of this evening will directly impact our students and their futures. All proceeds from Angelic Evening will support scholarship and financial assistance programs. To say you are making a difference is not enough; you are changing the lives of young women and impacting all our futures with your gifts. Every day, I see the value of a Holy Angels education as I watch our young women grow into the leaders our world needs most.”



Angelic Evening was hosted by the AHA Parents’ Guild, led by President Sarah Melone.

Viorica Cifelli, Mia Petrou, Sarah Melone, AD of Advancement — Events Barbara Burklund, Lisa Boncaldo, Krystina Wisniewski, Karan Ardizzone, Mary Ellen Rizzo, Theresa Howard, and Edna Rueda (far right, inset).

“The evening was a huge success!” AHA Advancement Director Patricia Brussel observed. “Our new auctioneer, Tom Stebbins, brought such great energy to the evening.”

Auctioneer Tom Stebbins and AHA President Melinda Hanlon.


Assistant Advancement Director — Events Barbara Burklund (AHA ’77), organized the celebration with assistance from Brussel and AAD – Gifts Lori Sillari, and the dedicated Parents’ Guild volunteers.


Burklund described this year’s event as the best and liveliest Angelic Evening she has experienced since she began organizing this key fundraiser. Guests relaxed with friends, caught up with SSNDs who were their teachers way back when, enjoyed fine fare, and danced the night away.


Vocalists Nora Giannantonio and Gigi Ochs, both members of the Class of 2024, delighted everyone by performing a few of their favorite songs.


Angel participants also included Olivia Papp (’24), who expressed her gratitude for the ways the AHA community was there for her when she experienced challenges and loss.


“I never needed to share this emotional struggle because I was already surrounded by a community that fit all my needs — a community that provided the support they didn’t know I desperately needed: a loving environment, filled with accepting people and rooted in the charism of the School Sisters of Notre Dame,” Papp said. “Each day, I was greeted with a smile in the morning, surrounded by compassionate teachers, attentive coaches, and loving friends. In each person, I looked for strength in my time of need, and in each person I found the face of God. His goodness and love flooded from the people around me…I needed love, and I could not have imagined turning anywhere other than to the people here at Holy Angels.”


Papp thanked the School Sisters for creating an empowering environment for young women of every background. She also expressed her gratitude to the administration, AHA families, and teachers who never let her lose her smile.

Angelic Evening guests danced the night away.


The evening also included opportunities for supporters (at home and in-person) to bid on fabulous prizes. Erika Cali, the front office manager at AHA Middle School, beamed when she received the Winner’s Choice prize: a trip for two to one of four exciting locations.


“Congratulations to Barbara, Patricia, and Lori for a wonderful Angelic Evening celebration!” AHA President Melinda Hanlon said after the event. “It was a great evening and lots of fun. The SSNDs were most grateful for the honor. I appreciate the help from all who work on AE. Many thanks to so many of you who attended and supported this important fundraiser for our school.”


Event sponsors included Barrel Roll; Bergen Catholic High School; ConnectOne Bank; Bal and Sharon Baelis Dail (’87), parents of ’22 and ’25 Angels; Wayne and Melinda Hanlon; Lexington Independents; Paul and Sarah Melone and Family, parents of ’22 and ’26 Angels; School Sisters of Notre Dame – Atlantic-Midwest Province; Toufayan Bakeries; Vanas Construction, Inc.; Keith Wacker and Geraldine O’Shea Wacker (’88), parents of ’16, ’20, and ’23 alumnae; and Watershed Partners, GBC.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from many backgrounds. AHA’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential.