September 22, 2022, was a momentous day for St. Sebastian's School. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the West Campus Center, completed in 2018 as part of the Spirit & People Campaign, was officially dedicated and will forever more be known as The Burke Family Center. The naming of the facility recognizes Headmaster Burke’s visionary leadership and serves as an enduring tribute to the Burke Family and their extraordinary impact on St. Sebastian’s. This special dedication was fittingly part of a celebration to mark the conclusion of the Spirit & People Campaign, which transformed our school by blessing us not only with this magnificent new structure for athletics, performing arts and administrative offices, but also led to a significant increase to our endowment.
The festivities began in the afternoon with the unveiling of the Burke Family Center signage over the entrance and two beautiful new plaques installed in Martin Hall – one honoring the Burke Family and the other with the verse, 1 John 4:19 - “We love, because He first loved us” - along with quotes from Headmaster Burke. The plaques were revealed by Bill and Patty Burke following a blessing from Fr. John Arens.
As the Burkes entered the competition gym for the school-wide dedication of The Burke Family Center, they were greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation from the entire student body, along with faculty, staff and trustees. Fr. John Arens gave a prayer and blessing and Class of 2023 President Connor Dumouchel spoke on behalf of the student body. Assistant Headmaster Michael Nerbonne, trustee Jim Mooney P’18 and Dean of Students Brendan Sullivan each shared heartfelt remarks to honor Bill, Patty and their family. A picture of the immediate Burke Family, surrounded by a matte signed by every student, was then presented to Bill and Patty. Finally, both Bill and Patty took the podium to share their love of and gratitude for St. Sebastian’s, emphasizing that the word “Family” in the name of the facility represents the entire school community.
That evening, campaign and leadership donors, along with trustees and members of the Burke Family, gathered for the main event to celebrate the incredible impact of the Spirit & People Campaign and the dedication of The Burke Family Center. Guests arrived through Martin Hall, taking in the new plaques before making their way to the competition gym for a cocktail reception. Fr. John Arens opening prayer was followed by a speech from recent alumnus, Andrew Hahm '22, a freshman at Amherst College, who spoke about his experience as an Arrow and the many positive ways the Burke Family has touched his life. Assistant Headmaster Michael Nerbonne and campaign co-chair Bill O’Malley P'09,'10,'13 delivered remarks before Bill and Patty spoke and introduced their grandchildren that were in attendance.
The more than 300 attendees then moved to the Wrestling Room for dinner. After Board President Jim Elcock '77, P'08 welcomed the guests, a video about the Spirit & People Campaign was shown, highlighting the success of the Burke Family Center facility and how its spaces aided in continuing in-person learning during the pandemic. Campaign Co-Chair Jack Connors GP'20,'23,'24,'24,'26 and John Harrington GP'16,'21,'25, Chairman of the Yawkey Foundation, gave touching speeches and a second video was shown that specifically honored Headmaster Burke and his family, which included his five youngest grandchildren. Patty gave a wonderful speech, followed by remarks from Bill, with both receiving a standing ovation. Fr. Michael Drea closed the event with a prayer.
Despite the downpours and dreary weather, it was a bright day for our school that will be remembered in the annals of St. Sebastian’s.