Five years ago St. Raymond of Penafort began an annual tradition of inviting anyone and everyone to revisit our parish and school. Each year since 2012, organizers of the Alumni Mass have invited anyone who had ever graduated or attended the school to celebrate Mass with current parishioners on the third Sunday of October for Hospitality. Alumni celebrating 50 years of graduating are given special acknowledgement. After Mass the Hospitality Committee serves refreshments to visitors as they fellowship with each other.
In December of 2016, a few members of the Class of 1967 formed a planning committee to organize a reunion celebration that could raise funds to help the school. They remembered that tuition was not charged when they attended school here. The committee consisted of Joseph Ventresca, Maria Elaina Yanni Hill, Paul Coughlin, Kathy Wilkinson Van Sciver, Richard Magyar, Regina Bonnaci-Kane, Charles (Chuck) Boyle, and Kenneth Wolf. It was decided that their 50 year reunion celebration should be held at the school (which is still a beautiful campus with plenty of parking) the night before the Alumni Mass. The result was a wonderful night of friends reconnecting and reminiscing about their time at St. Raymond School over great food, a variety of beverages, and music that brought back so many memories. All of this, in addition to decorations and custom maid lanyards, were provided by the committee.
A special guest to the event included Sr. Deb Farwell, who is a 1967 alum currently working as a missionary in Brazil. Thanks to modern technology, Sr. Deb joined the party via Skype. She was able to see everything going on the school and classmates took turns talking to her through the laptop.
Joe Ventresca made every effort to contact two very special teachers who taught him and his classmates. At that time, Sr. Visitation and Sr. Christopher were Sisters of Mercy in their early 20’s. Both having left the vocation, are living vibrant lives in the suburbs. Today these two dynamic women refer to themselves as Mimi Woodeshick and Joan Skivo, respectively. Their presence made for a very special addition to the party of over 60 guests.
The next day we were blessed to have a beautiful morning for the Alumni Mass. Our wonderful parish (which has been operating for over 75 years) welcomed visitors to worship with us in a lively and uplifting service, as we do every week. Richard Magyar delivered a touching commentary on behalf of the Class of 1967 at the closing of mass. Then, many gathered on the front steps of the church for an updated rendition of the class picture.
After Mass, current school faculty hosted an open house, allowing visitors to stroll through the classrooms where they once sat as students. Alumni were able to show their spouses, children and grandchildren where they learned to read and write. Guest were also invited to a reception in the newly renovated School Hall. Lunch (provided by the Class of 1967 and the Parish Hospitality Committee) was served to visitors and parishioners. People gathered around the display of class pictures dating back to 1954 and up to 2016. The room was filled with laughter, smiles, and hugs.
Some attendees stopped by the Giving Tree and took a leaf to support the school. Those who were not able to attend sent their donations to the school in advance and received information on how to follow the service online. The combination of tickets sales for the Class of 67 Reunion party, Alumni Apparel sales, donations made at or before the Alumni Mass, the total amount raised for the school was over $6500.
St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic School, IMS is very grateful for the commitment and passion of all those who participated in making this event successful. Donations made to the school are essential to making a Catholic education accessible and affordable to the families in this community.