In 1962, the sixth year that Catholic Memorial School opened its doors to young men around Boston, a first-class stamp cost 4 cents. You could fill up the tank of your car with 30-cent gallons of gas or take home a gallon of milk for two quarters. And you could receive a Christian Brother’s education from CM for a tuition of $300 a year.
Tim Hegarty ’66 still remembers that figure. In many ways because he began paying for it himself, caddying on a local course around Boston. Later, the young entrepreneur co-founded a small lawn mowing business with his classmate, Paul Chisholm ’66. Together, the two boys used their names (“Chis” and “Tim”) to form C&T Lawn Service. The proceeds of mowing lawns around Jamaica Plain funded their education.
“Back then, it was easier to pay for your tuition than it is now,” Mr. Hegarty reflects more than 50 years later.
It isn’t just inflation that prevents two 14-year-olds from covering the cost of their classes in such a manner today. As the decades have passed and times have changed, Mr. Hegarty recognizes that there is no longer a team of 20-plus brothers to make up the majority of CM’s teaching and coaching staffs. Today, there are just three Christian Brothers out of more than 50 experienced faculty members.
This is something that Mr. Hegarty has been thinking about for a while — how can we help more students around Boston receive the benefits I did at CM?
The recently retired president and chairman of a 194-year-old insurance company, The N&D Group, recalls that he was proud to have attended CM and grateful for people he met. The school provided him with lasting camaraderie and a flexible foundation that he’s carried with him, first for a couple years in the seminary and then as an undergraduate student at Boston College.
Before he entered BC, he discussed his future with one of the admissions officers, a Jesuit priest. Most of the students who talked to him would study business, the priest said, and asked young Mr. Hegarty if he planned to do the same. Mr. Hegarty wasn’t quite sure, but mentioned his dad had wanted him to study liberal arts.
“Good,” Mr. Hegarty remembers the priest saying. “You’re an economics major.”
That decision turned out perfectly for him. He continued on to get a law degree from BC Law School and gained a few years of professional experience working for a small, minority-owned company called Malmart Mortgage. After that, Mr. Hegarty moved on to the Attorney General’s Office in Massachusetts, where he worked with real estate law.
One early morning when he showed up to work, his boss’ boss was waiting for him, and asked him to step into his office.
“Why’d you turn the promotion down?” he asked Mr. Hegarty.
“Exactly which promotion did I turn down?” he responded.
The Attorney General’s office had an insurance division, and Mr. Hegarty’s higher-up explained that all the lawyers in the division at the time were history, political science, or English majors — he was the only economics major in the bunch. Because of that, the office pegged him for someone who would be apt to take a bigger role in understanding and working with the insurance regulations they dealt with, even if his direct superior had thought he was happy staying with real estate and neglected to mention the promotion opportunity to him.
Mr. Hegarty jumped at the new opportunity. He wound up running the insurance division there, and several years later moved on to the private sector, solidifying his top role at Norfolk & Dedham — a point he may never have reached without his CM education and the push from that Jesuit priest at BC.
Throughout this professional career, Mr. Hegarty maintained an active role with Catholic Memorial. He served as the chairman of CM’s board of trustees around the late 1990s, and today is on the Sponsors Council, a group that coordinates with the councils from other Christian Brothers high schools across North America and provides oversight for the school’s governance.
Today he is more impressed then ever with the direction of the school, from its diverse student body to its dynamic curriculum to engaged students that participate in CM’s wide selection of offerings.
“Overwhelmed isn’t too strong of a word — I’m just dazzled by the terrific quality of the leadership at the school,” Mr. Hegarty says. “I think the kids are getting a terrific opportunity to be exposed to these types of people. The programs, teachers and coaches you meet, they’re all first-rate.”
From the time his son Mark Hegarty ’97 attended CM, to him attending his 50th reunion in the spring of 2016, to seeing his grandson now attend CM and participate in the Scholar’s Program, he has continued to think about how to help more students in need around Boston. This spring he put one of his ideas into action.
He decided to angle for a collective push, understanding that it’s harder for donors to individually cover entire tuitions. In association with classmates Mr. Ken Foscaldo ’66 and Mr. Ed Lenox ’66, Mr. Hegarty called for as many of his classmates as possible from the Class of ’66 to donate toward funding a scholarship — an effort they dubbed “Round Table ’66.”
“Unfortunately, some students are turned away because the existing level of financial aid just isn’t sufficient for all who need it,” they wrote in a letter sent to the class. “While we probably can’t provide for everyone, as a class, ’66 can do something positive by committing to a modest goal of helping just one more deserving student become a CM Knight.”
Mr. Hegarty hopes that the effort is successful in funding the cost of a CM education for one student every year. Then, his goal is to encourage other classes to do the same. Eventually, he hopes dozens of students may get the opportunity to attend CM because of the generosity of past Knights.
“I got involved because I value the type of school CM is and the diverse student body it serves,” Mr. Hegarty says. “Peter Folan reminds us that CM’s goal is to offer an elite program without becoming an elitist school. It is up to CM supporters to help make that happen so kids from all backgrounds get this special opportunity.”