PROVIDENCE — For Anthony Ciampanelli, a graduate of La Salle Academy’s Class of ’71, being asked to serve as one of the marshals leading alumni and other guests into the Mass celebrating the school’s 150th anniversary was a special honor.
He considered it even more of a privilege considering the fact that at first he really didn’t want to go to a Catholic high school after attending public schools for the first eight years of his education.
“But by the time I graduated it meant so much that most of my family, my two sons graduated from La Salle, along with my nephew, and my niece was the first girl in the family to graduate from La Salle. My wife Connie ended up working there, first in Admissions and then in the Guidance Department,” from which she retired he said.
It took him the better part of the first year to acclimate to La Salle, but once he did, he flourished there.
“I had the freedom to express myself and just to be myself,” Ciampanelli said.
“There was academic competition and athletic competition but we were all brothers — and we still are. We just had our 50th reunion a couple of weeks ago.”
Ciampanelli’s longtime friend and fellow Class of ’71 alum Dave Amaral also served as a marshal.
Unlike his classmate, Amaral attended Catholic school through grade eight.
“A bunch of us from St. Francis Xavier ended up going to La Salle so we remained friends the whole time and we got to meet great people while we were there and the Christian Brothers and the teachers really taught us how to use our minds, how to think,” Amaral said. “It’s our turn to give back now.”
He said that he and Ciampanelli have not just supported the school financially with their donations through the years, but also through acts of service, including serving on the Alumni Board and other committees in support of La Salle.
“This is an honor for us to be asked to serve as marshals tonight,” Amaral said of the Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin on Thursday, Oct. 21 at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.
Bishop Tobin began the celebration by welcoming all who had gathered for the evening Mass at the cathedral.
“Tonight, as we pray together, we thank God for all the gifts and blessings he has bestowed upon La Salle for 150 years. We pray that God will continue to bless La Salle and all the members of the community today and in the years to come,” Bishop Tobin said.
Diocesan Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia Msgr. Albert A. Kenney, who served as the chaplain at La Salle Academy for 13 years, delivered the homily.
“It is truly an honor to be here tonight gathered as people of faith to celebrate the many blessings God has given us through the gift of La Salle Academy,” he said.
He told a humorous story that he had carried down through his years as chaplain in which students of three local Catholic high schools aspire to be blessed with the wisdom of a La Salle student who knew how to chart a path over a bridge to bypass perilous raging waters while hiking in the wilderness.
“The bridge is an image often used in spiritual writings,” Msgr. Kenney said.
“As the bridge becomes the way by which we can safely cross the raging waters of our complicated and challenging lives, it is the mission of our Christian vocation to find that bridge so that we safely cross from this world into the next to be with our God in Heaven.”
Following the Mass, there was a collation downstairs in the cathedral hall.
Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC ’66, who offered the Call to Worship before the Mass began, said he very much enjoyed the 150th anniversary celebration at the cathedral.
“I love it, it’s like a reunion. It’s wonderful,” he said.
Brother Mueller graduated from La Salle in 1966 and entered the Christian Brothers order.
He would come back to La Salle and serve as principal from 1987-1995, when Brother Jerome Corrigan, FSC, served as the school’s first president. Nine years later, in 2004, Brother Mueller returned as La Salle’s coordinator for Lasallian Mission, a position he held until 2019 when he retired.
“La Salle has been so good to me at many different points in my life,” Brother Mueller said.
Brother Dennis Malloy, FSC, president of La Salle Academy, in offering final remarks at the end of the Mass, thanked all who had gathered for making the celebration a rich witness in Christ the Teacher.
“While much has changed in these 150 years, the mission of our Lasallian educational community has not wavered in its commitment to give a human and a Christian education to young people of diverse backgrounds, with a special concern for the working class and the underserved, in the footsteps of John Baptist de La Salle,” he said.
Three members of the Class of ’58 spoke to Rhode Island Catholic at the collation about the way their education prepared them for the lives they would go on to lead. All would become known for their writings in one form or another.
Tom O’Connell, an author of four books on local history in Westerly, said La Salle Academy’s “loyalty to the faith and a good, sound education in Latin and literature prepared him well to be a writer.
Father John A. Kiley, author of “The Quiet Corner” column in Rhode Island Catholic for about the past 47 years, attributed his strong foundation in Latin at La Salle with putting him on the path to the priesthood and all that has followed.
“It was a great honor to go there,” Father Kiley said. “I went from there to the seminary and followed right through.”
Bob Chiappinelli, a former Providence Journal reporter for 37 years, also had fond memories of his early days at La Salle. He said he is very impressed with the work ethic and desire to do service exhibited by its students today.
“As I’ve grown older and gone back to the school I’ve always been so impressed with how the students have been so active in their own communities. I remember my time there and I was trying to think if I could ever make such an impact in my community like they do now,” Chiappinelli said.
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