By Tanya Connor
Preparing for “eulogy virtues.”
Showing God’s answer to the pope’s prayer.
Mary Lou Retelle, president of Anna Maria College, credited those involved in the Adopt-A-Student program with doing these things.
She was speaker for the ninth annual Adopt-A-Student Recognition Dinner Monday at Mechanics Hall. Students and supporters were honored and the Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School Jazz Combo provided music.
The dinner and silent auction raise money for the Adopt-A-Student program to provide financial assistance to students in the diocese’s central Catholic schools: St. Bernard Central Catholic High in Fitchburg, and Holy Name, St. Peter-Marian Central Catholic Junior-Senior High and St. Peter Central Catholic Elementary, all in Worcester.
This year about $70,000 was raised, said Robert R. Pape, steering committee chairman. Now in its 27th year, the program has given more than 1,200 scholarships totaling more than $3,600,000, he said.
New this year was an opportunity for graduating seniors to give a certificate of recognition to someone who has inspired them.
Lexie-Paige Boucher of Holy Name recognized her father, Richard Boucher. She told The Catholic Free Press she chose him “just because of how much of a hard worker he is and how he never fails to show how much he loves his family.” She said she wants to be hard-working like him in college.
Francesco Cesareo, Assumption College’s president, gave her the college’s eighth consecutive, four-year, full tuition scholarship. She also received the Bill & Kay O’Brien Award for Best Exemplifying the Values of the Adopt-A-Student Program.
Kaitlyn Roberts of Holy Name received the Paul & Dorothy Kervick Award for Leadership. She recognized family friend Timothy Jones.
Brittany Gibbons, a St. Bernard’s junior, received the Charles & Beth McManus Award for Academic Excellence.
Rebecca Gilchrist, a St. Peter-Marian junior, received the Wilfred & Bette Iandoli Award for Service.
These students were featured in videos made by Stephen Kaufman, of the diocesan TV Minsitry.
Others recognizing inspirational people were Jacob Marino of Holy Name, who honored teacher Michael Fleming, and two St. Bernard’s students who honored their parents, but didn’t come because of the snow storm, Mr. Pape said. Daniel Valera, recognized Peter Valera and Hailey Brennan recognized Gail Brennan.
Introducing the dinner speaker, Adopt-A-Student steering committee member Francis Larkin recalled how people lept up and cheered when President Retelle was installed at Anna Maria last September. He said it showed they love her.
She’d come there in 2011 as executive vice president and was named interim president in 2014. She’d previously served at State University of New York, Potsdam, and Merrimack College in North Andover.
President Retelle said Catholic education framed her beliefs, relationships and career choices and helped her value learning and service. She said the teachings of religious who educated her embodied what Aristotle believed: “Educating the mind without educating the soul is no education at all.”
“All of the students here tonight are preparing themselves for what David Brooks, author of the ‘Road to Character,’ refers to as eulogy virtues, which are very different from resume virtues,” she said.
She described the “traits associated with eulogy virtues” as “behaviors which will ultimately develop the strong character and wise heart that individuals truly need to lead a meaningful and purposeful life.”
Quoting Brooks, she said, “Moral improvement occurs most reliably when the heart is warmed, when we come into contact with people we admire and love, and we consciously and unconsciously bend our lives to mimic theirs.”
She suggested the best place to find such role models is in Catholic schools, which emphasize living by Christ’s example of love. To describe this love, she quoted Saint Augustine: “Love has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.”
President Retelle praised educators present for being wonderful role models, helping students embrace morality in a society where the “ethical core” is eroding. She praised families who sacrificed for students to attend Catholic school, and told the students this opportunity “has given you the ability to change your life and the world.”
She quoted the Scripture: “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
She also quoted Pope Francis: “Let us ask the Lord that our work today makes us all more humble, meek, more patient, and more trusting in God so that the Church may give beautiful witness to the people.”
“I would say that the Lord has heard that prayer by witnessing the fine young men and women we honor tonight, through the outstanding work that has been done through the Adopt-A-Student program, the countless teachers, administrators, religious at the Catholic schools and the many contributors who continue to