By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
The Notre Dame High School community continues to pray and search for one of their own, 18-year-old Nicholas Pratico, missing since Sept. 20.
A member of the of the Lawrenceville Catholic school’s 2017 graduating class, Pratico, a Hamilton resident, was last seen at 3 p.m. on the campus of Mercer County Community College, West Windsor, by surveillance camera footage as he enrolled for classes. His family, members of St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton, reported him missing about 10 p.m. that night and searches have been ongoing.
“They’re all trying to stay optimistic and hopeful,” said Father Jason Parzynski, chaplain for Notre Dame High School.
Police in three states are on the lookout for Pratico, who is just over six feet tall. He is about 155 pounds and has brown eyes and black hair. He was last seen wearing a light blue shirt and black pants and carrying a blue backpack. Pratico has a driver’s license but no car.
While at Notre Dame, Pratico played on the soccer and baseball teams, was a member of the campus ministry and participated in various school musicals as well as the madrigals choir.
According to Pratico’s older sister, he had already been offered a scholarship at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, Manhattan, and planned to start classes there in the spring. No reports of a disagreement, history of drug use or psychological issues have surfaced.
At the request of the family, Notre Dame High School held a prayer service Sept. 24 in the grotto for Pratico, which was attended by more than 50 close friends and family.
Father Parzynski represented the Pratico family at a news conference held by Hamilton police Sept. 28, calling him “a very kind kid” who was “laid back and didn’t take things overly serious.”
Police had no viable leads at the time of the press conference. “We don’t have enough information to call it suspicious right now. We don’t know what to make of it,” Hamilton Detective Sgt. Brian Shroeder said, according to media reports. “It’s a straight-up missing persons case at the moment.”
Social media posts have prompted search parties and outreach for leads, and garnered over 14,000 followers to the “Find Nick Pratico” Facebook page. A Sept. 27 post attributed to the family thanked the public for “kind words, prayers and wishes for Nicky’s safe return home” and beseeches their help in finding their son.
“And to Nicky, wherever you are,” it continues, “As you know, we love you infinitely. You are the light in our lives and in everyone’s life that you come across. We hope that those big, wondrous brown eyes of yours are still filled with wonder and magic. We want to know that you are safe... We just want to know that you are okay. And we want to know that you are fighting, if you need to be. Every hour of every day has been spent thinking about you and praying for you.”
As befitting a family whose son was deeply involved with the dramatic arts, it closes with lyrics from the song, “The Prayer,” from the soundtrack of the Warner Brothers 1998 film “Quest for Camelot.”
“Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way: Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace, to a place where we’ll be safe.”
Hamilton Police ask anyone with information about Pratico’s whereabouts to call 609-581-4000.