St. Mary's Lynn receives $2M in donations

BRAINTREE -- St. Mary's School in Lynn has received $2 million in donations, the largest amount ever raised in the school's 142-year history, Head of School Dr. John F. Dolan announced at a fundraising reception on Oct. 4.

At the reception, held at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Dolan announced that the school had received $1 million from the Connell family and $500,000 from Thomas and Marill Demakes.

The Connell family received St. Mary's Cardinal Richard Cushing Award, which, according to the school's website, goes to "a vigorous champion of Catholic education whose personal and professional life mirror St. Mary's mission."

Dolan called William "Bill" Connell Jr. a "guardian angel," following in the footsteps of his philanthropist father.

William "Bill" Connell Sr., a St. Mary's alumnus who made his fortune from founding Connell Limited Partnership, donated $1 million to St. Mary's School in 1989. At the time, the school was in danger of closing. Upon his death in 2001, he left $5 million to St. Mary's, and his wife Margot and their six children continued to support the school.

Speaking to The Pilot on Oct. 10, Dolan said that he wasn't surprised by the donation itself, but how William Connell Sr.'s children are continuing his legacy.

"They still can't talk about their father without breaking up emotionally," Dolan said. "His capacity to love his family and his community... that was stunning."

The school presented its William F. Connell Service Award to Peter Lynch. Lynch, manager of the Fidelity Investments Magellan Fund from 1977 to 1990, has donated $10 million of his personal fortune to the Catholic Schools Foundation, of which he is president emeritus. His own foundation, the Lynch Foundation, has helped St. Mary's provide scholarships to Latino students.

"Peter's generosity is legendary," Dolan told The Pilot. "I think what made this award special was the special relationship between Peter Lynch and Bill Connell."

Lynch and Connell met when they were classmates at Boston College, and have had a lifelong friendship.

School officials are currently in talks with donors on how the money will be spent. Dolan would like to see the money go toward strengthening the school's pre-law, pre-medicine, and pre-engineering curricula, as well as "continuing to support our teachers."