Indeed it began, as a breakthrough of thought, elements, belief and then young minds in September 1966.
Some fifty years later … the tradition continues. Welcome Home! Welcome to St. Paul Catholic High School’s
50th Anniversary Gala!
What a gift it is to be with all of you! What a special evening it promises to be, as it always is when students, alums, current and former faculty, staff and coaches, parents, grandparents and friends gather in the name of St. Paul Catholic High School. But tonight is different. In fact, we had to wait 50 years to be called to this celebration.
It’s an honor to welcome our founding principal, Rev. Edmund M. O’Brien. As the first yearbook stated, “because of this man, a vision of bringing Christ to young minds was spearheaded and became a reality. That’s why we called him father.” How fortunate we are!
In the beginning, Fr. O’Brien was joined by the religious order, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, represented this evening by Sr. Marjorie Fish, Sr. Dolores Fitzgerald, Sr. Jeanne Paulella and Sr. Sandra Shaw, each of them wonderful women and St. Paul giants in their own right. Oh, the stories they could tell.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge, Elaine Lewandoski and Joy Vibert Holsing, who along with Dom Perno were the first lay faculty members hired by Fr. O’Brien.
Together, this original pioneer team enthusiastically welcomed 160 hesitant but excited freshmen on that very first day of school, September 7, 1966. They would go on to become the first graduating class of St. Paul Catholic High School in June 1970 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, where commencement exercises continue to be celebrated to this day.
I’d like to welcome from the earlier years, Fr. Thomas Griffin-Smolenski ’71 and my classmate, Fr. Edward Przygocki ’72. You will hear from both of them later. A warm welcome to Fr. Gary Simeone, co-chaplain, member of the St. Paul school board, and pastor of St. Gregory the Great Church, Bristol and Msgr. Thomas Ginty, pastor of St. Matthew Church, Forestville.
For the last several years, we’ve been truly blessed to have representation on our faculty from the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. Welcome Sr. Regina Cochran and Sr. Marie Benedict Elliott. They are a gift.
I’d like to ask all former and current faculty, staff and coaches here this evening to stand and be recognized. I’m specifically indebted to my administrative team, faculty, staff and coaches and can’t thank you enough for your unselfish commitment and dedication to our mission in serving our students and contributing, in countless ways, to our unprecedented growth and transformation.
St. Paul has been blessed over the years with an extremely caring and professional school board that has served as a reliable volunteer partner providing the necessary leadership to help navigate both good and challenging times. I’d like to ask former or current school board members to please stand. Tom Kulig ’85 is currently serving as our board chair.
And tonight we have many alums in attendance ranging from the first class, John Potvin ’70 to the last graduating class, Tom Norton ’16 and everywhere in between. Will all St. Paul alumni, please stand.
From this group, welcome and special thanks to Steve Lippia ’74 traveling from Las Vegas who will serve as our Master of Ceremonies, Tim Stella ’71, live from Broadway, NYC, who will for accompany Steve later this evening, to our dependable DJ and friend Bryon Daley ’77, and the Mazzarella Brothers, Tony ’73, Tom ’76, and Mark ’78 for producing our special anniversary video that you will enjoy later.
A grateful thanks to our events sponsors, the Roland Dumont Agency, Farmington Bank, Thomaston Savings Bank, Webster Bank, the Margaret Haberman Memorial Fund, Tom & Diane Peloquin, John and Sandy Potvin, Superior Network of Companies and all our advertisers listed in your program for supporting this event.
I can’t thank enough Melissa Linquist and Shelley Mendoza in our advancement office and their 50th Anniversary Committee for their efforts into the night in planning this event. What a marvelous job they all did!
Finally, thank you to the Aqua Turf and the Calvanese Family.
We fondly remember our past and those that have tirelessly paved the way for this night. Let’s take a brief moment in silence as we remember those alums and former faculty, staff, coaches and all members of our St. Paul faith community that have gone before us. Their memories remain in our hearts and thus they will be remembered forever.
Like many institutions, we have experienced our share of peaks and valleys but our resiliency along this journey is a living testament to the unique and determined spirit of those who call St. Paul Catholic High School home.
As we reach this milestone in our history, St. Paul is truly experiencing an exciting period of growth and renewal. Our targeted enrollment of 450+ high school students remains at its highest level in over twenty-five years. But our renaissance goes well beyond numbers. The documented success of our students in the classroom, on the athletic fields, on our performing arts stage and in the external community is inspiring. Our core values of faith, character, community, excellence and service are embedded in our mission and have become the living fabric of our daily lives.
“They conceived a school … in a breakthrough of thought … minds opened as the ground broke … and spirit grew.”
St. Paul wasn’t created to be ordinary … not then, not now. We were created to be great. And we weren’t created to just survive … not then, not now. We were created to thrive … created to thrive and be great!
And that is evident throughout this room tonight … as collectively we represent the parents and grandparents who for generations, now, have made the human and financial sacrifices necessary to send their sons and daughters to St. Paul; through the faculty, staff and coaches who have dedicated themselves to serve these sons and daughters, as if they were our own, because they are; and through the nearly 7,000 Falcon alumni who today are soaring from coast to coast across this country making a difference in all disciplines in this world.
In celebration and thanksgiving for all of this, may God continue to watch over us and may His spirit shine upon and guide St. Paul Catholic High School for generations to come. Happy Anniversary!