From Cardinal Seán’s blog

Matignon High School

On Tuesday, I visited Matignon High School in Cambridge and celebrated a Mass.

It was a very encouraging visit because in its recent history Matignon has had great challenges, but we have set up a lay board there with Howard “Hap” Redgate as the chairman of the board. He has worked aggressively to turn it around.

They have made a lot of repairs to the buildings, which are beautiful. They did a great job with the library and all the labs as well as the wonderful sports fields, which have been completely refurbished. I also understand that they recently hired a campus minister.

Last year for the incoming class there were 300 applications for 100 places. It is an impressive turnaround.

I was very happy to be with them and grateful for the gifts they gave me.

Cathedral High

Just as at Matignon, Cathedral High School is a very good story in Catholic education. I visited there for a fundraising dinner Wednesday evening. They raised about $1.3 million. Much of the money came from corporations, but a good deal of the money and the work came from graduates of the school. Many of the alumni were kids from Irish and Italian families who lived in the cathedral parish area and are now successful business people who want to give back to the institution that gave them so much.

The beautiful aspect of the Cathedral School story is the many alumni who have come together and stepped up to the plate, beginning with John Remondi, the president of the board of trustees. They have built a gymnasium, which cost $7 million, and they just put a new roof on the school.

Many of the children who now attend Cathedral High also come from poor families and face great challenges. The students are mostly black and Hispanic, many of them from low-income families. In order to keep the tuition affordable, we have to raise a significant amount of money to keep the doors open.

During the speaking presentation at the dinner we heard from a graduate of the school and a current senior student. Both told very inspiring stories.

The graduate, Noel Dixon, and his siblings were raised by their older sister after their mother passed away. She sent him to Catholic school, and he went on to graduate from Boston College. He is now working in the world of finance, and is very successful.

The senior who spoke, Fatima Bowah, shared her very, very powerful story. Her parents were from Sierra Leone, but she lost both of them and ended up in foster homes.

She said the foster mother who took her in was wonderful and put her in a Catholic grade school. Then, the foster mother died when she was 16. Fatima talked about how the school is her family and that she feels safe there. She, too, has plans to go on to college. The beautiful thing was her testimony about faith -- how much God meant to her and she said that God always put the people she needed in her life.

The students who go to Cathedral High School are well prepared and many go on to be very successful. Ninety percent of last year’s graduates are enrolled in college. There are many people to thank for that, especially Christol Murch, the chief administrator there, as well as Sister Mary Black. They have both been there many years. Sister Dorothy Burns, the principal at Cathedral Grammar School, has also done a terrific job.

Also in this week’s blog:

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Boston Catholic Chinese Community

Celebrating Mass for students at MIT

Attending a screening for the movie “Bella”