When Rory Redmond arrived at CM for his Knight for a Day visit six years ago, he met the school’s music instructor. His host student introduced the two before class. They spoke one-on-one, discussing their favorite music genres and instruments. For about five minutes, they went back-and-forth. Then, the instructor mentioned that, for 15 years, he commuted two-hours back-and-forth from CM every day.
Rory paused. This caught his attention. When Rory asked him, “Why?”, the instructor explained his dedication to each student in the room. That dedication extended to Rory, too, the instructor insisted.
As if to further validate his answer, the instructor allowed Rory to perform the guitar in front of his class. On cue, Rory picked up the instrument and began playing one of his favorite songs in front of the class.
Just a 6th grader at the time, he had no idea what to expect from the crowd of high school students. But, to his pleasant surprise, they greeted his performance with a warm acceptance.
“It was my first time on campus and I remember standing in front of the whole class playing Stairway to Heaven for a couple of minutes,” said Rory.
“Everyone nodded their head and let me perform. It was incredible and I’ll never forget that moment. I just felt accepted from the get-go.”
That next year, those same students and their music instructor recognized that fearless 6th grader now sitting in the CM middle school. Remembering his musical talent, they encouraged him to try out for the school musical, an area that Rory never considered exploring before arriving on Baker Street.
He tried out that year and received a supporting role. That next year, he tried out again and earned the lead role in the musical Bye Bye Birdie.
“To know that you can grow so much when someone pushes you to do something motivated me to do more,” said Rory.
“Everyone at CM wants to see you succeed and for you to be pushed at your best level. They make you step out of your comfort zone and make you do things you normally wouldn’t do on your own.”
His success in theater caught him by surprise. He realized his talent as a live performer and soon recognized the many opportunities available to showcase his talents. Aside from joining the speech and debate team, one other opportunity presented itself during his freshman year. That fall, he knew that the students who played guitar at Mass would graduate that upcoming spring. So, he asked Director of Campus Ministry Kevin Durazo, if he could perform at one or two of the Masses.
With Mr. Durazo’s approval, Rory eagerly prepared for his first school-wide performance.
“The first time I got up to play in front of the whole student body at Mass, it was really scary,” said Rory, only 14 years old at the time.
“It wasn’t because it was necessarily a performance, but rather because it was a necessary part of the Mass that needed to happen. But, from this, it really helped me grow a sense of accountability. If I was able to put my nerves off to the side and perform, then I’d be able to share my gifts with the world.”
While Rory embraced the spotlight, health issues threatened to take it away from him. During his junior year, he sustained six collapsed lungs due to a mysterious underlying health condition. The collapsed lungs occurred sporadically throughout the school year and forced him to miss over 50 days.
Heartbroken and in physical pain, Rory found plenty of motivation to recover and return to Baker Street.
“To be honest, it was really difficult for me,” said Rory.
“But I think one of the biggest things that helped were all my teachers at CM. They were all understanding of the situation and it was very easy for me to bounce back because I had their support instead of telling me that I needed to get all this work done.”
Rory said that, while he wished he could be performing at Masses, he missed the opportunity to perform in front of his classmates above all else. In the hospital, he even tried to run for the National Honors Society (NHS) President position by performing an election speech for his classmates via Skype.
“Everyone here is honestly a brother,” said Rory.
“When I came back, everyone was routing for me and hoping that I could succeed.”
When he returned to school, Rory finished his junior year strong. At the CM Awards Night, he won the Dartmouth College Book Award. At the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Dallas, he competed alongside Brendan Julian in the Duo Interpretation Category. He even realized the handiness of his Skype speech when his classmates voted him as their NHS President.
“I’m definitely passionate about most things and I always do things to the fullest,” he said.
“I love CM. I love helping and doing everything I can for this school. I think it’s amazing to have so much opportunity and to have these platforms to be a leader.”
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.