CM Salutes Its First Responder Community at Friday Night Lights
At halftime of the CM – Saint John’s football game, Dr. Peter Folan and Mrs. Alison Crowther led a school-wide tribute to the Bavis family, Cahill family, and the school’s community of first responders.
West Roxbury, Mass.-- A hushed silence fell over the hundreds of spectators standing in the bleachers of James R. O’Connor Stadium during halftime of Catholic Memorial School’s “Friday Night Lights: A Salute to First Responders” football game on Friday night.
Together, the crowd turned its attention to midfield where, instead of football players, they watched family members representing the late Mr. Mark Bavis ’88 and late Mr. John Cahill ’62 take the field at the 50-yard-line.
Meeting them on the turf, CM President Dr. Peter Folan, Mrs. Alison Crowther, and representatives from various Greater Boston first responder agencies joined them, side-by-side. Again, silence.
In unison, those on the field bowed their heads. And, as if on queue, everyone else in the stadium followed suit. Then, for two-and-a-half-minutes, the silence hung in the cool, September air.
On a night that saw Mr. Todd Angilly of the Boston Bruins sing the National Anthem and former New England Patriot Mr. Joe Andruzzi address CM’s football team before their game against Saint John’s High School, the moment of silence at halftime punctuated a profound tribute to Mr. Bavis and Mr. Cahill, who both died on 9/11, and for CM’s entire first responder community.
“It is hard to be a young man in today’s world,” said Dr. Folan, addressing the crowd afterward.
“It is important for us to help provide role models and guides on this journey. Tonight, the heroes on this field and in the stands provide great examples.”
The tribute proved quite timely.
After all, Mrs. Crowther, the mother of “The Man in the Red Bandanna,” had helped CM launch their“Character Matters” campaign earlier that day.
In the summer, she agreed to visit campus and speak to the student body after learning about the school’s all-school read of Tom Rinaldi’s book The Red Bandanna, which chronicles the heroic actions of her son, Welles, on 9/11.
“In the midst of tragedy, the heroism of Welles and the legacy that first responders carry forward today continue to inspire our community, our city, and our country,” said Dr. Folan.
Using Welles’ story as a model of courage and integrity, Dr. Folan began the “Character Matters” initiative for students to identify the right role models to look up to.
He used Welles’ example of bravery and service to turn his attention to the families of Mr. Bavis and Mr. Cahill, both prominent figures of the CM community who boarded United Flight 175 before it crashed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower.
Mr. Bavis grew up in Roslindale. At the time of his death, he worked as a scout for the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL. He and his twin brother, Mike, played for CM's first State Championship hockey team in 1986.
Mr. Cahill grew up in Brookline and lived in Wellesley with his wife and two sons. He worked as a senior executive for Xerox.
Reflecting on their tragic loss, Dr. Folan reminded the crowd of how our nation and community kept the memories of those lost in mind while responding with strength and resilience. Those first responders proved the mightiest of role models.
“We must never forget the bravery and heroism demonstrated on 9/11,” added Dr. Folan.
“We must also never forget how our country stood together. People put their hands on their hearts. We sang God Bless America, donated blood, and worked together.”
Before Dr. Folan spoke, CM’s a capella group The Baker Street Boys sang a rendition of God Bless America. It set the perfect tonefor the rest of the night before the CM football players,who received their own escort on to the field from the Greater Boston Firefighters Pipes & Drums at kick-off, returned for the second half dressed in their commemorative uniforms.
The team proceeded to finish off an impressive 35-20 victory over their Central Mass. Rival after halftime. Running back Darrius Leclair and quarterback Barrett Pratt each scored a pair of touchdowns.
However, regardless of the final score, both teams left the field knowing that they played for something bigger that night.
They played to honor lives.
They played to honor community.
Better yet, they played to honor their role models in the hopes of, one day, emulating their same sense of character and courage as the first responders in attendance display every day.
Catholic Memorial, the Christian Brothers School of Boston, prepares boys for college, manhood and a world full of unknown challenges, ambiguity and complex problems and the importance of relationships.