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ICSF leads annual Bus Tour of Dorchester Catholic school

Guests visit a classroom of the Lower Mills Campus of St. John Paul II Catholic Academy, May 5 during the Inner City Scholarship Fund's annual "Bus Tour" to a local Catholic school. Pilot photo/courtesy John Gillooly, Inner City Scholarship Fund

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On May 5, 52 professional men and women left their workplaces, boarded a bus in downtown Boston and headed to school.

This year's annual bus tour, sponsored by the Inner City Scholarship Fund (ICSF), took the attendees, most of whom are donors to the ICSF, to the newly renovated St. John Paul II Catholic Academy-Lower Mills Campus.

"On the bus tour we had graduates who attended the school 70 years ago, 50 years ago and 30 years ago and their affection for the school was still strong," said Michael Reardon, director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, the organization that oversees the ICSF.

He noted that although the school's name has changed, and the building has been completely renovated, the alumni shared their love of the school with current students.

"Catholic education was vital to this neighborhood 70 years ago and it is as vital today," Reardon said.

Among those in attendance were philanthropist and investment banker Peter Lynch, together with two of his daughters and his son-in-law. For over 25 years, Lynch has been an integral part of the ICSF, spearheading the fundraising for over 20 years.

As guests arrived, they were treated to student-led tours of the new classrooms. After the tours were finished, everyone was led to the front of the school where principal Lisa Warshafsky addressed the attendees.

"We have planted two special silver blue evergreens in honor of, and with great love to, you Peter and to Carolyn (Lynch)," Warshafsky said. "The spruce trees are symbols of nobility, generosity and peace, all qualities that the two of you have demonstrated in abundance through the many years."

"We intend to install a small plaque with your names on the planter so that we can remember both of you and all you mean to us as we enter the doors of learning each day," Warshafsky continued.

Two students then performed "Hallelujah."

Following the dedication, a lunch was served to all the participants.

Students were then asked to speak about their experience at St. John Paul II Catholic Academy.

"This is not rehearsed or planned," explained Principal Warshafsky. "The students are speaking from their hearts."

One parent also offered some words on how important the support she has received from the ICSF has been on her life.

"Love. This is what the student and parent speakers shared with us as being the secret to the success of the school," Reardon said. "Students are deeply cared for and seen as gifts from God who deserve love and opportunity."

According to the Catholic Schools Foundation, the ICSF provides nearly $1 million in scholarship and programmatic support to the four schools that make up the St. John Paul II Catholic Academy.

"Our donors saw first-hand the real impact their support has on the lives of young people," Reardon said. "It is one thing for us to tell our donors of the importance of their support, it is another for them to meet these students and teachers."

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