Dr. Hugh McGowan’s Remarks to the 8th Grade Class of St. Kevin Catholic Academy:
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to offer our heartfelt congratulations to the 2016 Class of Saint Kevin Catholic Academy. Special thanks must go to all the teachers and staff and our Principal, Dr. Tom Piro. We are most appreciative also to your parents and families for their love and support during your time with us.
When we transitioned from a parish school to an academy, the Board of Directors decided that we should sponsor an award for presentation at Graduation. As you can see in our ceremony program the Rosary and Holy Name Societies, Seniors Club, Faculty and Staff, and the Academy Parents Association donate awards and the Board felt that it was proper that we also participate.
What we sponsored was labeled the Humanitarian Award and this was an acceptable title. However, it seemed to be almost generic sounding and not connected to the long and proud tradition of our St. Kevin community. By generic I mean that it lacked any particular distinctive quality. This was not true of the recipients but rather the award title.
So this year we decided to rename the award in memory of two wonderful humanitarian members and role models of the St. Kevin family:
Nancy McKiernan and Henry “Hank” Doherty.
Nancy was a lifelong Parishioner of St. Kevin having been baptized, and receiving her first Communion, Penance, and Confirmation here. She was married to her wonderful husband Michael in this Church and tragically she was taken from all of us just a short distance from here much too soon. In 2005 her funeral Mass was celebrated here.
Mrs. McKiernan taught in our school, first as a “permanent” substitute for grades 1 through 8 for 10 years and then as a full time 6th grade teacher. She retired after 20 years for health reasons but the Class of 1999 asked her to be the Commencement speaker at their graduation. When she finished she was given a well-deserved standing ovation. Teaching was her life and her passion.
Many of our parishioners knew her best as a member of the Folk Group that enhanced the liturgy at the 10:15 Mass. This lively and spirited trio consisted of two other St. Kevin teachers, Marianne Stolfi and GeorgeAnne Kotowicz. Many of their students would jump at the opportunity to join the Folk Group for any of the special occasions they were asked to perform. I believe the last time they played together was Nancy’s Funeral Mass.
Henry Doherty or Hank has he was best known to all of his friends came to our Parish after 30 years of ministry in the priesthood. He was ordained in Rome in 1959 and upon his return to the Brooklyn and Queens Diocese he was assigned to St. Gabriel in East New York. A few years later he was transferred to Cathedral Prep where he served in many capacities for over 16 years as a teacher and assistant principal.
After Hank left and was laicized he married the love of his life Patricia Larkin Doherty which brought him to St. Kevin’s. After a period of unemployment he took a position at Daytop Village, an organization that does wonderful work with substance abusers.
This position at Daytop Village was no easy task but he saw each and every client as worthy of love and respect and a child of God. His years of teaching and pastoral work were put into the service of God in a different calling. He spent 15 years at Daytop and retired in 2007.
At St. Kevin he was first enlisted to help with our Lectors ministry but soon he was asked to serve on, among others, the Parish Pastoral Council, RCIA, and the newly formed School Advisory Board which later became the Academy Board of Directors. Hank was always available for advice, guidance and encouragement when set backs occurred or there was a need for scholarly research. He had a vast wealth of knowledge but it was always offered in the form of “wise counselor”.
He passed away a few short years after his retirement but he faced his death with a wonderful strong belief in his Catholic faith and the promise of life everlasting.
I wish I had more time to tell you about Nancy and Hank but it would take hours to touch on all the ways their kindness, benevolence and wonderful Catholic faith was shown to all of us. I have read that St. Francis of Assisi once said “preach the Gospel and sometime with words.” Nancy and Hank gave of their time, talent and fortunes to the betterment of our community. They preached the Gospel with their lives and enriched all of us so it is good that we remember them today.
It is our hope that our recipients Madison Rosario and Thomas Moy and all our graduates will know that they are blessed to have two true St Kevin humanitarians to emulate.
Thank you and God speed. Enjoy today and all the days to come.