Friday, April 15, 2016
Archbishop Williams High School has just concluded one of the most difficult weeks in its 67-year history with a beautiful celebration of Kate McCarthy’s life. The outpouring of love and support from the entire community hit a crescendo last evening. The wake at McDonald-Keohane’s in Weymouth had to be seen to be believed. Thousands waited in line for hours (some as many as six) to offer their condolences to the McCarthy family, who stood and received them until after midnight. Our students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni were present in force, as they had been all week, in mourning our beloved student.
That incredible showing was followed today by a perfect funeral Mass at St. Francis Xavier in Weymouth. The Church was packed, with two-deep along the sides and back, to offer Kate a final farewell. The AWHS Chorus sang a touching rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow in tribute to their classmate and friend.
Kate’s brothers Liam (an AWHS junior) and Connor (a sophomore at Providence College) bravely shared their remembrances of their “little sister,” illustrating the wonderfully close relationship the McCarthy family shares. They managed a daunting task with great poise, love, humor, and respect. We were all blessed to know Kate that much better through their reflections.
Bishop Dooher gave the final blessing and made his usual warm impression. Then the congregation departed to Wind Beneath My Wings. The funeral procession stretched for more than a mile as it wound to Kate’s final resting place. The faith-filled graveside service ended with a reading of Why Do Some of the Best Die Young, written by Rabbi Aron Moss, which perfectly encapsulates how Kate affected so many lives.
During the whole week, our school was deeply touched by the overwhelming support received in the form of food, flowers, notes, cards and messages on social media. We thank everyone for the many outstretched hands of comfort, especially from our fellow schools and the Catholic community. The tribute stretched all the way to the Vatican as Cardinal Sean and Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Rome Tuesday for Kate and the Archbishop Williams Community. Thus, when we needed it the most, we were all truly “one body in Christ.”
We often say that AWHS is different than most schools in that we are a family. This week’s events have proven the fact. We went from the emotional high of a wonderful theater production Saturday night to the depths of despair mere hours later with the news of the tragic accident involving four of our children.
Through the grace of God, our community managed to stand strong and tall, providing the support needed even though we were tested as never before. In addition to remembering Kate, we also prayed for and sat vigil with our other three students involved in the accident. Their classmates and friends rallied around them as they begin to battle their physical trauma and emotional scars. Our faculty and staff worked tirelessly to provide and maintain a safe structure for all to process their collective grief.
Our difficult journey has only begun. We are, however, confident that we can and will face whatever comes our way as a unified, Catholic community.
In their eulogy, Liam and Connor quoted from Kate’s 8th Grade yearbook at St. Francis Xavier School. To paraphrase, as we move forward, let us not count the days, but rather make our days count.
We wish all of our students, faculty and staff a safe and restful April vacation.
May the love of Christ continue to urge us onward.
Dennis M. Duggan, Jr., Esq. '70
Michael R. Volonnino, Ph.D.