St. Bede homecoming in the books

Football game, hall of fame induction, softball team honors among the weekend activities

The St. Bede Alumni Association presented a special award Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, to honor all women graduates of St. Bede in honor of the 50th anniversary of when St. Bede became coeducational. Accepting the award from Abbot Michael Calhoun, OSB 1989 (second from right)  where the first female graduates of 1973 Lissa (Harrison) Balda, Debb (Garncarz) Ladgenski and Rosemary (Kunkel) Wall.

St. Bede’s alumni and friends reunited over the weekend for the academy’s largest weekend celebration of the year.

The annual homecoming weekend was full of celebrations and recognitions – not to mention the Bruins football victory against Elmwood Park, 49-26.

The traditions kicked off on Wednesday with the annual girls’ powder puff football game on campus. Then, on Friday, St. Bede paraded downtown Peru before the annual variety show in the Abbot Vincent Gymnasium.

Saturday morning after the annual Jim Lattin 5K Run/Walk, the St. Bede Athletic Hall of Fame inducted posthumously St. Bede coach and teacher Ken Anderson, Emily (Arkins) Balestri Class of 2002, Caitlin (Gidcumb) Colling Class of 2006, Ralph Levaccare Class of 1973, Richard “Dick” Verruchi Class of 1966 and the 1972-73 football team.

The Class 1A State Champion Softball Team reunited on the Abbot Philip Davey Field where a recognition ceremony and ring dedication took place among friends, family, fans and former softball players. Four women alumnae, who were players on the first softball team at St. Bede, also were recognized and received an honorary state championship medal for being the trailblazers in the sport at the academy. Those women were Sam (Lijewski) Pump Class of 1979, Margaret Comiskey Class of 1977, Patricia (Perona) Collins Class of 1976 and Hilde (Luther) Grivetti Class of 1976.

Presenting this year’s game ball at the start of the varsity football game was 1948 graduate Eugene Kunkel, who was celebrating his 75th class reunion. His niece, Rosemary Kunkel-Wall, a graduate from the class of 1973 and one of the first females to graduate from St. Bede Academy, flipped the game coin.

The halftime show featured the Class of 1973 who were escorted by the St. Bede cheerleaders to acknowledge becoming the newest Golden Bedans and recognizing their generous 50th reunion class gift to the academy.

The Class of 1973 raised funds to renovate a classroom on the first floor of the academy in support of St. Bede’s Legacy Project.

“This generous gift fulfills a significant project.” said Julia Yaklich, director of mission advancement and major gifts. “We are blessed that our 50th reunion classes continue to honor their experience at St. Bede by ensuring that today’s Bruins have access to the same life-changing education and experience that they did.”

Alumni and friends had the opportunity to tour the newly-renovated academy building. St. Bede is raising funds to complete the final phase of the renovations. The project, which encompasses complete renovations of two floors within the academy, is on track to be completed in 2024 with about $700,000 of $13 million left to raise.

The popular seventh annual BruinsJam took place following the football game on Saturday, which included a lineup of performances by St. Bede alumni.

On Sunday, the St. Bede Alumni Association held its annual Bruins Brunch in the Perino Science Center and presented the Rev. Father Larry Snyder (1968) with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award. In addition, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of admission of women to the academy, the alumni association presented an award to all women graduates of the academy. Accepting the award were three of four of the first-female graduates of St. Bede Academy in 1973 – Debb (Garncarz) Ladgenski, Rosemary (Kunkel) Wall and Lissa (Harrison) Balda.

St. Bede’s 2024 homecoming will be Oct. 18-20.

Abbot Michael Calhoun, OSB 1989 (from left) presents the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award to the Rev. Father Larry Snyder, Class of 1968, during the annual Bruins Brunch on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023.