Following is a reflection and prayer on the life of Bill Ahearn, '75, P'01, the late chairman of Prep's board of trustees, given by Matthew Bernardo, '13 last December.
Good Evening, Father Reiser, Mr. DeAngelo and members of the board. My name is Matthew Bernardo and I am a senior here at Prep. It was only a year ago on Kairos 17, that I got to know Mr. Ahearn. When I found out that he was my Kairos small group leader, I didn't know what to expect. Being that he was in such a position of authority, I had reservations opening up to him. He made sure this was not the case. His quick wit, engaging stories and down-to earth nature made us feel like we were talking to one of our Prep brothers. He explained that the reason he wanted to attend a Kairos was to reconnect with Prep life and get to know the students. He helped us see beyond a title and appreciate him for who he was. He too, saw us for who we genuinely are. He was never afraid to share a personal story and took great interest in listening to ours.
Before I went on this retreat I seemed to have been just passing through my first two years at Prep. Prep was was still "school" for me and not yet my home. Bill helped me realize that Prep was not a temporary place. The experiences I have here, the memories I make, and the relationships I build, will follow me throughout my life and form me into a Prep man.
At the time I was a quiet, shy, and rarely expressive person. The retreat, my Kairos brothers, and Bill helped me shed my fears and self-consciousness enough to allow me to be my genuine self. It was then that I felt safest and well loved. Since my Kairos retreat I have become more active in Prep, I participate in more activities and have taken numerous leadership positions in and out of Prep. Bill has helped me work through personal challenges and I am eternally grateful for all he has done. Bill has been an important part of my Prep life and he remains my motivation to be a better Prep man, as I allow the faculty, retreats, and activities here in school to educate me as a whole person.
You often hear Prep students saying how much they love Prep. It's one thing to love Prep, and it's another thing to live Prep. Bill lived Prep as he immersed himself into the school even after he had graduated. From his time as a student to his dedication to this institution as Chairman of the Board, he lived Prep with all his heart. He is the exemplar of Prep spirit, and I hope that years from now, Prep will continue to be as much a part of my life as it was for him.
Dear Lord, we pray today in thanksgiving for the many blessings you have given us. We thank you especially for granting us the opportunity to know Bill Ahearn and for allowing him to influence our lives in the ways he did. Grant us the ability to continue working with his level of enthusiasm and give us the strength to remain as committed to Prep as he was. We ask for this as we ask for all things through Christ our Lord. Amen