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Bill Connell was not going to let Mother Nature rain on his parade. Despite inclement weather on May 24, the sun finally showed its face and St. Mary Regional High School in Lynn broke ground on the William F. Connell Center.
Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley and Mayor Edward J. “Chip” Clancy, Jr., a 1968 graduate of the school, marked the milestone with pastor Msgr. Paul V. Garrity and principal Carl DiMaiti. Over 200 alumni, faculty and friends braved the storm and watched three years of hard work and labor reach fruition.
“Back in 1881, we began Catholic education here at St. Mary’s, and over the course of that long history hundreds and thousands of young people have come to St. Mary’s and received a Catholic education,” said Msgr. Garrity. “Today, we are taking a wonderful step forward in laying the groundwork to continue that tradition.”
Catholic education at St. Mary High provides each student with a moral compass and a roadmap on how to live their lives. St. Mary High construction provides assurance to the archdiocese that that these ideals will continue and remain a focal point in the school’s mission.
“We’re thrilled because we have many Catholic schools, but most of our buildings are very old,” said Archbishop O’Malley. “The sign of building this center is going to be a sign of hope in our future that people are willing to make sacrifices [and] to work hard to prepare a better building for Catholic education for the future.”
“[The Connell Center] is an opportunity to dream for the future,” said campaign co-chair Joan Luise Hill, class of 1971. “It represents the rebirth and the reaffirmation of the ideals and values that make us uniquely St. Mary’s.”
Connell’s eldest daughter, Monica Connell Healey, and the entire Connell family were in attendance to celebrate St. Mary High’s tribute to their late relative. The eldest Connell child believed it was her father’s passion for his alma mater that kept him so deeply invested in its well-being and future.
“I’m convinced this is where my dad’s passion was born, instilled in him as a child. But, it is equally clear that passion is alive in everyone associated with St. Mary’s,” said Healey. “The William F. Connell Center will be a tremendous tribute to the memory of my father and a living symbol of his vision and commitment to his alma mater.”
Construction on the Connell Center is the first to take place on the St. Mary High campus since 1967, when Monsignor McGlinchey Hall was erected. The new academic facility ensures that St. Mary High’s students receive the same education their peers are receiving in other private, parochial and public schools.
“I think that as I look at the Connell Center, I see a bright future for our students because I think the Connell Center will give us the tools, the know how and ability to ensure that our kids can compete on an equal basis,” said DiMaiti. “I think the Connell Center will provide our faculty and staff with the tools needed to compete in a very, very competitive 21st century.”