Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Apr
  • 12

Students get honors and scholarships

Posted By April 12, 2012 | 12:11 pm | Local

By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – A Catholic college must have the courage to speak uncomfortable truths if needed, Jack P. Calareso, president of Anna Maria College, said at the fifth annual Adopt-A-Student Recognition Dinner March 29 at Mechanics Hall.
He was using what he called his favorite statement from “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” Pope John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic universities which, despite its positive tone, drew controversy for things it said about the relationship between bishops and universities.
President Calareso was speaker for the Adopt-A-Student fundraiser at which students receive awards and scholarships. It featured music by the Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School Jazz Combo, directed by Stephen Thompson. It included prayers for and memories of Charles McManus and Bette Iandoli, two original steering committee members for Adopt-A-Student, who died recently.
“For me they were an inspiration in how to participate,” said Robert Kenney, dinner and development chairman. “We miss them dearly.”
Steering committee member Michael Coogan recalled being initially intimidated by Mrs. Iandoli’s strong personality, but then coming to admire her. She collected gift certificates at personal appointments, and one never knew what gifts she would have delivered to the Chancery, he said. She got to know personally the students she “adopted.”
Mr. Coogan said this might have been the first event she missed, but added, “Make no mistake, she is here.”
Margaret Kursonis, headmaster of St. Peter Central Catholic Elementary School, recalled how Mr. McManus, the diocese’s first lay superintendent of schools, lived his work and showed care for her and others.
“He even ‘adopted’ some of the kids on his own,” she said. “He gave them rides. He went to their basketball games.” She said after retirement he became “Grandpa” at St. Peter’s.
“Charlie truly put the skin on God,” she said, recalling a concept from this year’s day of recollection for parish and school leaders, a program he fostered.
Core values for Catholic education come from Church documents, President Calareso said in his prepared remarks.
“All Catholic education centers on the teaching of the message,” he said; the curriculum, programs, services, faculty and staff must “teach and model the message of our faith.” Community and service are other values, he said.
“We need to teach and model a commitment to the common good,” he said. In higher education, this includes research and speaking “truths which do not please public opinion, but which are necessary to safeguard the authentic good of society,” he said, quoting Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
Those in Catholic education need to convince people of its value, be clear about their identity and hold themselves accountable to their mission, he said.
Using points from Jesuit Father Richard McCormick, he said they measure their success by their graduates having a Catholic vision, thirsting for knowledge, and being articulate, open-minded, sensitive to injustice, able to think and listen, and willing to serve.
William R. Driscoll, chairman of the religious studies department and director of Campus Ministry at St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School in Fitchburg, talked about this year’s Catholic Schools Week theme: Faith, Academics, Service.
“We are people of faith and our schools exist because we view human beings as unique creations of a loving God,” he said in his prepared remarks. “For us, the students … are not just standardized test takers. … Our hopes for them transcend this world and keep their spiritual lives at the forefront of everything we do.
“It is from this fertile soil that academics are given life. … We expect our students to achieve according to their God-given talents and examine the academic disciplines through serious study.
“Service is the fruit of our schools … Once our students are empowered, we expect them to share their gifts with others. These three values are the foundation upon which the Adopt-A-Student program is built.”
Four seniors received awards, and videos about their activities were shown.
A longer film – “A Day in the Life of an Adopt-A-Student” – was also shown of Mirna Portillo, from St. Peter-Marian Central Catholic High School, who received the Charles and Beth McManus Award for Academic Excellence. She takes Advanced Placement courses and has participated in the Art Club, drama, yearbook and volleyball. She worked through the Worcester Community Action Council with youth in the housing development where she lives. She has taught religious education classes and altar servers at Our Lady of Providence Parish, where she attends Spanish Mass. She is interested in pro-life and global hunger issues.
Joseph Paolini, from St. Bernard’s High, received the Wilfred and Bette Iandoli Award for Service. He serves on the Student Council as a Senior Class Senator, guidance and office aide, was captain and member of the basketball, baseball and golf teams, and trained underclassmen to be altar servers. He has also been an altar server, religious education teacher and Lenten dinner volunteer at his parish, St. Anna’s in Leominster. He mentors an autistic student and served at Camp Sunshine for sick children.
Catherine Kooyomjian, from Holy Name, received the Paul and Dorothy Kervick Award for Leadership. As a member of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and the anti-bullying group SMASH (Stop the Madness And Severe Hating), she educated peers. She took many Advanced Placement courses, played field hockey, and contributed to service activities.
John Soltys, also from Holy Name, received the Bill and Kay O’Brien Award for Best Exemplifying the Values of the Adopt-A-Student Program. He also received the Assumption College Adopt-A-Student Scholarship – a full, four-year tuition grant. Mr. Soltys took honors courses and served in a soup kitchen, at breast cancer walks, in the school’s cleanup ministry and as soccer team captain. He has worked as a bus boy, life guard and swimming teacher.
President Calareso gave Lisa Martinez-Cape, a Holy Name senior, the Anna Maria College Adopt-A-Student Scholarship, a half grant for four years.
Over the past 23 years, the Adopt-A-Student program has given more than 1,000 scholarships totaling $3 million.


PHOTO: Mirna Portillo, from St. Peter-Marian Central Catholic High School, who received the Charles and Beth McManus Award for Academic Excellence, stands with Bishop McManus and Mrs. Beth McManus.