Archbishop Williams High School Rededicates Former Convent, Nazareth Hall Classroom and Fine Arts Building

Archbishop Williams High School Rededicates Former Convent, Nazareth Hall Classroom and Fine Arts Building
Honors School’s founding Order and Dedicates Conference Room to Fallen Vietnam War Hero Alumnus

On Veterans’ Day the Archbishop Williams community gathered in celebration with a memorial Mass and dedication ceremony to mark the renovation and reopening of Nazareth Hall, its former convent. The home of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, the school’s founding order, was recently remodeled and repurposed after significant flood damage to give AWHS Students new learning spaces and an impressive new fine arts center. In addition to the building rededication, a separate ceremony was held to dedicate the "1/Lt. Robert E. Ryan, Jr. ’65 Conference Room”, intended to become a central meeting venue.

The day’s events brought together many constituents of the AWHS community, past and present. Former School Chaplain Rev. Walter Keymont celebrated the Mass, which was attended by many special guests, including present and former members of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth: Sister Tess Brown, Sister Shirley Nugent, Sister Martha Walsh ’63, Sister Miriam Corcoran, Sister Ann Susan Villa, Sister Eleanor Martin ’63, Ms. Susan Downey ’62, Margaret Ryan Henderson ’62, and Ms. Dorothy Lynch; members of the Robert E. Ryan and Barbara Ryan Guest families; current and former faculty; Board of Trustees members; alumni and current students. Also in attendance, joining President Duggan and Dr. Volonnino were past AWHS Principals Ms. Mary Ellen Barnes (1990-2002), Mrs. Mary Lou Sadowski (2002-2012) and Dr. Carmen Mariano (2012-2014). 

AWHS alumna, former AWHS Board member, and former SCN Vice-Provincial of the Western Province Sr. Eleanor Martin ’62 brought greetings from the Mother House and spoke eloquently about the Sisters’ enduring ties to AWHS. Indeed, between 1949 and 2006, 113 Sisters of Charity of Nazareth served, led, taught and molded Archbishop Williams’ students.

Principal Michael R. Volonnino, Ph.D. commented, “As an institution, we owe all that we are today to the contributions, traditions and service of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.  In fact, the theme of this 2015-2016 school year, “The Love of Christ Drives us On” comes directly from the Sister’ seal and motto.”  Dr. Volonnino continued, “We honor the Sisters and thank them for their service to our school in recognition of what it means to be connected in our faith through Catholic education.”

Robert E. Ryan ’65, one of Archbishop Williams “Fallen Heroes”, was honored through the dedication of the “1/Lt. Robert E. Ryan, Jr. ’65 Conference Room” at the heart of Nazareth Hall. Ryan joined the U.S. Air Force after graduation and served valiantly in Vietnam for 8 ½ months before losing his life on a combat air mission.  To forever remember and honor his ultimate service to our Country a framed etching of Ryan’s name from the Vietnam Wall Memorial was placed on the conference room wall.  The dedication was also done in recognition of generous support from Ryan’s widow, Mrs. Barbara Linnane Ryan Guest and her husband, Chris, Ryan’s sister Carol Ryan Norton ’62, and Ryan’s fellow classmates (who also honored Ryan during their 60th reunion in June).

“How very appropriate on this special day to recognize the immeasurable contributions of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and to honor those, like Robert Ryan, who have so bravely served our country,” commented President Dennis. M. Duggan, Jr., Esq. ’70.  “It meant so much for our current students and faculty to connect with our proud history as it provides a unique and invaluable context to be able to learn about those upon whose broad shoulders we are so fortunate to stand.  Understanding the sacrifices and contributions of those who came before us allows us to celebrate even more joyfully and thankfully our new academic space and arts center at Nazareth Hall.” Duggan added, “I would be hard-pressed to think of a better way or a better day to gather together and celebrate Archbishop Williams.”

After Mass, Sr. Mary Andrea, SCN, Sr. Eleanor Martin ’63 SCN, Fr. Keymont, President Duggan, Principal Dr. Michael Volonnino and Assistant Principal Jean Marston cut through the ribbon officially re-opening and blessing the new building some 57 years after it was originally opened and nine months after it was nearly destroyed.  All guests were invited to a brunch reception in the school cafeteria, where the celebration and reflections continued. 

To view more photos from our day of celebration, click here