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Torch of Loyalty Awarded at President's Circle Reception

December 07, 2023
By Lake Catholic

Pass on the Torch of Loyalty. 

It’s written right there in the Lake Catholic alma mater.

At this year’s President’s Circle Reception, the Torch of Loyalty was literally passed on to a Lake Catholic legend who has figuratively passed on that torch throughout his life – before, during, and since his time at the school.

President John Morabeto, in his first President’s Circle address, awarded Fr. Marty Polito with the Torch of Loyalty Award for his years of service to Lake Catholic and its entire community.

As Morabeto explained, “The Torch of Loyalty Award is the most prestigious award a Lake Catholic High School President can bestow upon an individual or family. This award is designed to honor extraordinary individuals demonstrating the core values of Lake Catholic and a commitment to the success of Lake Catholic for generations to come.”

Although Fr. Marty accepted the award to a standing ovation, he wondered aloud, “When Carla (Ronnebaum, Lake Catholic Director of Advancement) came to mass and told me that I would be honored with this award, I asked her ‘For what? What have I done?’”

From 1986-1996, Fr. Marty served as the Chaplain at Lake Catholic. His responsibilities included serving as the Spiritual Director, the key figure in faith formation for students through service, retreats, liturgical celebrations, and prayer services. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Excellence in 1992.

Before coming to Lake Catholic, he served at Holy Redeemer Parish in Collinwood, where he now serves as the parish’s pastor. He has married many Lake Catholic alumni, baptized others, and performed other milestone sacraments – First Reconciliation, First Communion, and/or Confirmation.

“I was honored to be sent here,” Fr. Marty said. “I was honored that the Diocese and Lake Catholic trusted me. I’m honored by the parents who provided the opportunity for such a great education to their sons and daughters. And there have been honors along the way even after I left. A lot of former students keep in touch, some have stopped by Holy Redeemer to say hello or even became part of the community there.”

He went to tell a story from 10 years ago when he had to have quadruple bypass surgery. He was recovering from the surgery at his brother and sister-in-law’s house in Mentor, where he would take daily walks as he rebuilt his strength.

One day he came across a high-school-aged boy, who was wearing a Lake Catholic shirt while playing basketball in his driveway. Fr. Marty said he stopped to talk to the young man and asked him if he went to Lake Catholic, which he did. He asked him to tell him about it, what he liked about it.

“This was well after I had left Lake Catholic, so he didn’t know me.” Fr. Marty said. “But he told me that he liked his teachers and his classes. He liked his coaches. And then he told me that ‘they would give the students whatever they wanted or needed,’ it’s just the kind of place it was. And that’s the wonder of the Lake Catholic community.”

He again thanked Morabeto, Lake Catholic and everyone in attendance, and then spent the rest of the evening greeting and reminiscing with the more than 150 attendees.
In addition to the engraved Torch of Loyalty crystal, Fr. Marty was also presented with a custom stole with the image of the chapel's stained-glass window embroidered onto each side.

Prior to presenting the award to Fr. Marty, Morabeto spoke about his first six months as President and a few important plans for the future.

He thanked those in attendance for the gracious welcome he’s felt since arriving, reiterated the good work Principal Tom McKrill (’07) and the faculty continue to do, and noted the many successes the students have achieved in the classroom, spiritually, artistically, and athletically.

He went on to promote the return of the Hall of Excellence, which recognizes distinguished members of the Lake Catholic community for their professional success and commitment to service. New members of the Hall of Excellence will be honored at the 40th Annual Gala on March 23, 2024.

Morabeto announced the plans to completely renovate the school’s locker rooms.

“Spaces that have received little attention for decades will be transformed into college-style locker rooms that are open concept and allow for a common space for teams to gather with coaches and yet private restrooms and shower facilities.

“The entire project will cost $1 million and thanks to the good work done by my predecessor, Mark Crowley, we have already secured a generous $500,000 lead gift.”
The hope, Morabeto said, is for the project to begin after this school year.

He finished his remarks by reminding everyone of the important eight-month Strategic Plan process that was started last week when an initial survey was sent out to current students, parents, faculty and staff, alumni, donors, and other Lake Catholic stakeholders. 
 

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