“Rudy Giuliani was a great kid,” says Brother Peter Bonventre, F.S.C., a charismatic octogenarian who has been a member of the Lasallian Christian Brothers for 70 years. He should know, as he was the assistant principal of Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School when Giuliani was a student there.
The only thing that’s been in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood longer than Brother Peter is the school itself, which marked its 165th anniversary last week with a festive reception.
“I’ve had every job in this school except chief custodian,” jokes Brother Peter, who came to Loughlin in 1954 to teach English. A graduate of Fordham University in the Bronx, Brother Peter left New York for a year to study in Europe, then returned as school principal in the 1960s. He was posted to another Christian Brothers academy during the 1970s, then ended up back at Loughlin in the guidance department in 1985. He’s still there.
Although he retired “a few years ago,” Brother Peter still comes in to work most days, ready to assist Loughlin’s students, 98 percent of whom are black or Latino. An impressive 97 percent of Loughlin’s graduates go on to college.
Brother Peter was honored during the anniversary ceremony with the school’s Lionheart Award for outstanding service. For the past three years, in addition to his guidance department duties, he has co-chaired Loughlin’s ambitious capital campaign, which raised $12 million, $2 million over its original $10 million goal.
Throughout his long career, Brother Peter’s first love has remained teaching in the classroom. “Students force you to be honest,” he says, “to remain young. It’s a joyful thing.”
There was joy at the anniversary event, attended by Loughlin administrators, faculty, staff, students, their families and friends. Auxiliary Bishop James Massa gave the blessing. He was introduced by senior Grant Robertson, who hopes to head to Yale University after graduation.
‘Second to None’
Several public officials also spoke, including State Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley, who said, “I want to commend Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School on the occasion of its 165th anniversary. As the oldest Catholic school in Brooklyn, it is an honor to serve you in the New York State Assembly, and as a parent I thank you for always setting a standard that is second to none. Continued success to one of the leading Lasallian schools in the greatest borough in our state.”
Other notables present were Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo.
Kenya Handy, a 2001 Loughlin alumna and the official representative of City Comptroller Scott Stringer, presented school president Brother Dennis Cronin, F.S.C., with a proclamation honoring the school for 165 years of service in Brooklyn.
Mike Murray, a 1963 alumnus and member of the school’s board of governors, also received a Lionheart Award in recognition of his service as a co-chair of the capital campaign.
Brother Dennis remarked on the selfless commitment of alumni from three different high schools, who jointly funded a legacy to ensure the blessings of a values-rich Catholic education for future generations. Those schools are St. Augustine, Bishop McDonnell and Bishop Loughlin.
“Although just this one building remains open,” he said, “the spirit of all three schools together is what drives our success.”