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Buffalo High School Marks 70th Anniversary

The founders of Bishop Timon High School.

Claude Kean, center, and the friar-founders of Bishop Timon High School. (Photo courtesy of Kevin McLaughlin)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — This year, Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School is commemorating the 70th anniversary of its founding as Bishop Timon High School by the friars of the Holy Name Province.

The school began in 1946 when Bishop John O’Hara, bishop of Buffalo, had the vision to provide an affordable Catholic education to boys living in the First Ward and adjacent South Buffalo neighborhood. Named in honor of John Timon, the first bishop of Buffalo, the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province were invited to staff the school.

Claude Kean, OFM, was Timon’s first principal and he, along with Eugene Shea, OFM, Gerard McDonald, OFM, Dennis McGurkin, OFM and John Vogel, OFM, were assigned to the school. Claude and other friars spent the summer of 1946 going door to door in the First Ward recruiting students. For seven decades, the Franciscan friars have left an indelible imprint on the Timon community.

Several events are planned to celebrate the school’s 70th anniversary. A few days after this year’s academic year begins on Sept. 7, an All-Year Reunion Picnic will be held on Sept. 10 at River Fest Park in Buffalo. The following month, on the feast of St. Francis, the Timon community will participate in a liturgy celebrated by Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone. Later in the year, school assemblies honoring Timon’s alumni veterans as well as a presentation by alumni serving in public office are planned.

New

President Kevin McLaughlin, ’79

Fortes In Fide
Crossing the threshold to enter the school’s main entrance, students, alumni and guests walk under Timon’s motto, Fortes In Fide (Strong In Faith), and the image of two hands holding up the Cross, demonstrating the school’s strength. For 70 years, boys have come to Timon and have been transformed into young men who are strong in mind, strong in character and, most importantly, strong in faith.

Earlier this year, Timon’s board of trustees — following best practices of secondary and higher education institutions on a regional and nation level — decided to initiate a president-principal model as part of a transition in leadership. In April, the board appointed Timon alumnus Kevin McLaughlin as president.

In his new role, McLaughlin provides professional, institutional and educational leadership and is responsible for integrating the Franciscan charism through the overall administration of the school. He works in collaboration with the board of trustees to oversee the school‘s academic programs, advancement and alumni relations, marketing and enrollment management, finances, facilities, and the overall spiritual and communal well‐being of Timon’s students, faculty and staff.

“I look forward to serving the Timon community in this new capacity,” McLaughlin said. “Timon has played a significant role in the life of the South Buffalo and Southtowns communities. We have great potential to realize profound growth and renewed energy. I am grateful to the board of trustees for their expression of confidence in my ability to lead at this pivotal moment in Timon’s 70-year history. I believe we are ushering in a whole new era for Timon and I look forward to leading the way.”

McLaughlin, a 1979 graduate, previously served as Timon’s director of advancement and, most recently, as chief operating officer. McLaughlin has been profoundly influenced by the Franciscan charism and the friars of Holy Name Province through his education at Bishop Timon and Christ the King Seminary. “I have been blessed to know the friars of Holy Name Province and consider many to be lifelong friends.”

In an essay titled “Simplicity, Peace and Joy,” McLaughlin discusses how the Franciscans have influenced his life.

He holds a master of divinity degree from Christ the King Seminary in nearby East Aurora, and worked within pastoral ministry in parishes throughout the Diocese of Buffalo until entering the field of development in 1995.

A search committee, which included Jud Weiksnar, OFM, as well as academic and committee professionals, recently selected Michele Battin to serve as Timon’s principal. Battin, who had been an English and history teacher at Timon since 1995, is responsible for implementing the academic strategies of the school. She will oversee and coordinate the school’s improvement planning process and development of a plan for growth in student performance and preparation of the mid-term report.

"The Blessing of the Brains" at Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School (Photo courtesy of Kevin)

“The Blessing of the Brains” at Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School (Photo courtesy of Kevin)

Continuing the Franciscan Tradition
While Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School does not enjoy the benefit of the ministry of a friar, the board of trustees — which includes Francis Pompei, OFM — and leadership of the school are deeply committed to perpetuating the Franciscan charism, said McLaughlin. A Franciscan Committee of the board explores creative ways to foster the spirit and legacy of the Franciscan friars.

The school lives its Franciscan charism through sprirituality, service, fraternity and Franciscan studies. Recognizing that prayer is the foundation of life as a Franciscan community, the community gathers to pray as brothers and sisters throughout the academic year. Students participate in annual class retreats, weekly Communal Morning Praise, frequent Eucharist, Advent Morning Praise and Lenten Morning Praise. The Blessing of the Brains is an opportunity for students to be prayed over and blessed before final exams.

Annual board retreats and faculty-staff retreats provide opportunities for the school’s governing body to gather to reflect on the school’s mission and call upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Eleven years ago, a scholarship was established in memory of a Franciscan. Since then, the Fr. Joel Campbell, OFM, scholarship has raised more than $1.2 million and helped more than 600 students, said McLaughlin. The scholarship, named for Joel Campbell, who worked at the high school for 17 years, is awarded each year at Timon’s Kaleidoscope dinner, which the Province supports.

Committed to Service
Following the example of Francis of Assisi, “the Timon community places great emphasis on seeking to find God in our sisters and brothers, and providing assistance to those in greatest need,” said McLaughlin.

Franciscan Men of Service is an extracurricular club committed to creating opportunities for ongoing community service for the entire student body. Projects include the annual food collection at Thanksgiving, Christmas For Others gift collection and work at local food pantries and soup kitchens.

Timon Day of Giving provides an opportunity for the entire Timon community, faculty staff and students, to go out into the neighborhood to provide service. Projects have included park clean-ups, painting of a local community center and reading to young students at local schools.

A group of young alumni committed to fostering the Franciscan charism is called the Franciscan Mentors. The members interact with students to share what being Franciscan means to them.

In the area of Franciscan studies, Franciscan art is prominently displayed throughout the building in order to acquaint faculty, staff, students and guest with the life of Francis of Assisi. Students are provided ongoing instruction in Franciscan spirituality and history throughout their four years at Timon. Senior Guided Reading enables a small group of seniors to examine the Franciscan perspective on life, spirituality, work and education.

Each year, a select group of eighth grade students is invited to participate in the Franciscan Leadership Seminar. These students meet four times throughout the school year to understand leadership and service from a Franciscan prospective.

Information about Timon High School’s events and people can be found on the school’s website and Facebook page.

Karen Karaszewski is a freelance writer based in Western New York.

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