This is the 47th edition of the Golden Burrs Quarterly Newsletter sponsored by the Events Committee members.  All the committee members wish you and yours a very..... 


Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year 




In this issue under the "West Catholic Prep Banner" you will find a letter from Andrew Brady Interim President of West Catholic Prep, a picture of the Burrs at the Beach Committee's check presentation to Andrew Brady, and an article gleaned from WEST NOTES about a gift of $1 million to West Catholic from the estate of a deceased member of the Class of 1952 and his wife.


In the "News Features" section you will find  an article about the closing of St. Gabriel's Hall and two Catholic High Schools


Sadly, we have learned of the passing of three classmates:  Gene Carroll who came to West from St. Clement Parish.  Until a few years ago, Gene was a regular attendee at Burrs at The Beach.  Also, he attended several of our annual class luncheonEd Gannon who also came to West from St. Clement Parish passed away after a long illness.  Doris Pavonarius wrote to advise that her husband Rich Pavonarius passed away after a short battle with lung cancer.  Rich came to West from St. James Parish.  His family moved into St. Carthage Parish when he was in high school.


May Gene, Ed and Rich Rest in Peace.


Rich Buzza once again closes the newsletter with his "Final Thought".






A Letter from the President

October 4, 2020

I am honored to be writing my first letter to you as the Interim President of my alma mater, West Catholic Preparatory High School.  I am fortunate and grateful that I have been able to serve this school and its students in a multitude of different roles for almost 12 years. Like many before and after me, my experience here as a student changed the course of my life.

While attending West Catholic, I wasn’t what you would call a model student. I had not yet learned   the focus and the discipline necessary to do well in the classroom. By the time I reached my senior year, I was coasting through life. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend college, and I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. One day, a young Christian Brother I had gotten to know, Brother Brad Flint, pulled me out of class to talk.  He asked me about my plans after college. I told him I wasn’t sure what I would do. He responded by saying, “You should consider being a teacher…I think you would be good at it.”

I always felt like becoming a teacher was for students who got better grades than I did, or followed the rules more closely than I had. But in the weeks and months following, I couldn’t shake what Brother Brad had said to me. He must have seen something in me that I had yet to see in myself- and that I couldn’t see on my own. I started to kick around the idea of going to college and coming back to teach at West Catholic. A year later, Brother Brad died in a tragic accident.  I remember how much hearing that news impacted me, and it made me realize the impact educators can have on their students. It was in that moment that I decided that I needed to follow Brother Brad’s advice.

Three months after I graduated from college I walked into the halls of West Catholic as a member of the school’s faculty. In that 45 second conversation with Brother Brad he was able to make me see something in me that led me to become a teacher. That is the power of education, it provides the opportunity to build bonds and connections with young people and to encourage them along their path.

As I contemplate the upcoming school year as president of West Catholic Prep, I recognize the year ahead will present a unique set of challenges. The stress and anxiety our students are dealing with as a result of the pandemic are at the forefront of my mind. I’m also concerned for our families, many of whom are dealing with financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19. The Lasallian mission of our school becomes even more critical during times like this. We must provide our students and families with the love and support they need during such a difficult and uncertain time. In a world that is filled with uncertainty, one thing that I know will remain constant is this incredible community of alums and supporters who are the foundation of West Catholic Prep. 

While Brother Brad started me on this path, I have stayed on this path because of people like you who love and support West Catholic Preparatory High School.  The continued loyalty and dedication of this community provides an opportunity for the next generation of students here to have a spark ignited in them that will change the course of their life. Thank you for your continued support, I look forward to serving this incredible institution alongside all of you.


Andrew Brady, ’02




submitted by:  TOM MCGINN 


Below is the photo of the Burrs at the Beach Committee presenting a $5,000 check to Andrew Brady.  This brings the total raised by B@B, over its 32-year history, to approximately $825,000.





Tom McGinn, Peggy Panichelli, Andrew Brady, George Light




Gleaned from the Fall/Winter Edition of WEST NOTES







Gleaned from




By Gina Christian • Posted September 25, 2020

A long-running Archdiocese of Philadelphia program that has served thousands of troubled youth over more than 122 years will soon be discontinued.

In a Sept. 25 statement, the archdiocese announced the closure of the St. Gabriel’s System (SGS), a multi-service agency of Catholic Social Services (CSS).

Currently, the SGS program comprises St. Gabriel’s Hall (SGH), an Audubon-based residential and educational program for Philadelphia court-adjudicated youth ages 13-19; the Mitchell Program, an intensive 120-day residential treatment program within SGH; and De La Salle Vocational (DelVoc), a day treatment center and educational program located in Bensalem.

The archdiocese said it will work with the City of Philadelphia over the next 60 days “to ensure a safe and healthy transition” for the 30 young men currently enrolled in the SGH and DelVoc programs. As part of that effort, the youth will receive six months of community-based aftercare services through SGS’s intensive Reintegration Services program.

Long-term social welfare trends, combined with the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompted the decision, according to the archdiocese.

Over the past decade, “public policy has been directed at reducing the number of youth committed to congregate care facilities such as SGS the statement noted.

A 2019 Youth Residential Placement Task Force convened by the City of Philadelphia identified a 72% reduction in the number of delinquent youth committed to such settings, from 867 in December 2014 to just 244 in April 2019.

Over the course of several recent meetings, the archdiocese communicated with Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) regarding the sharply decreasing census numbers at both SGH and DelVoc. Since March, the number of young men assigned by the Philadelphia courts to the programs has dropped by 70%.

In response to the decline, the archdiocese’s Catholic Human Services (CHS) division had contributed more than $3 million over the past five years to support the SGS mission.

However, the supplemental funding was insufficient to offset a “pandemic-related drop in census” that, along with an ongoing budgetary shortfall, threatened the program’s financial solvency, said the archdiocese.

At current levels, the SGS program is projected to sustain a $3 million loss for the first six months of 2020. DHS has not indicated the number of court-adjudicated youth assigned to SGS will increase in the foreseeable future.

Although “both DHS and CHS have worked collaboratively to find a viable financial solution said the archdiocese, “no pathway has emerged that is tenable for either party.”

The approximately 180 employees of SGH and DelVoc have been notified of the closure in compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), said the archdiocese, adding that it would work to provide staff with alternate positions or severance packages.

The SGS ministry was initially established in 1898, when Philadelphia Archbishop Patrick John Ryan invited the Christian Brothers to administer the Philadelphia Protectorate for Boys in Audubon, offering education and care for at-risk youth.

In 1960, the ministry was renamed as St. Gabriel’s Hall and extended under the SGS umbrella to multiple sites within the archdiocese, drawing its guiding principles from the work of St. John Baptiste de La Salle, founder of the Christian Brothers and a pioneering advocate of education for impoverished and at-risk youth.

Over the ensuing decades, SGS developed close, collaborative relationships with Philadelphia agencies such as DHS, Family Court and Community Behavioral Health, as well as state educational entities.

In particular, the ministry – along with all CSS outreaches — has focused on providing youth with trauma-informed care, a treatment modality that addresses the core reasons why clients engage in at-risk behavior. As part of the approach, staff focus on fostering communication skills, emotional intelligence, non-violence and a sense of social responsibility among students.




Gleaned from


By Matthew Gambino • Posted November 18, 2020

Citing declining enrollment and underutilized buildings, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Nov. 18 that John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School in Philadelphia and Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Montgomery County will close at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.

Faith in the Future Foundation, which operates the archdiocesan high schools and schools of special education, said in a joint statement with the archdiocese that a committee of business executives had analyzed the high schools last summer to gauge sustainability as part of a strategic planning process.

The group studied current and projected student enrollments, student retention, demographic trends, capacity of buildings and financial solvency for each of the 17 schools and across the system.

Faith in the Future leaders along with the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education and senior archdiocesan leaders recommended the closure of Hallahan and McDevitt, which Archbishop Nelson Pérez accepted.


Hallahan, located in center city Philadelphia on Wood Street between 18th and 19th streets, is operating at only 36% of its building capacity.  

At the end of the 19th century several wealthy individuals saw a need to educate Catholic young women, and they led the development of five small sites in Philadelphia in 1901.

In 1911 they had grown into Catholic Girls High School, on the corner of 19th and Wood Streets just one block north of what today ins the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 

Credit to founding what would be the first all-girls diocesan high school in the United States goes not only to the aegis of then Father Philip McDevitt, the superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, but especially to benefactor Mary McMichan. Upon her death and at her request, the name of the school was changed to John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School in honor of her brother.



Bishop McDevitt, located at 125 Royal Avenue in Wyncote, is at 40% of capacity.

McDevitt was founded in 1958 and saw its first graduating class in 1961. Traditionally it has been one of the more modest archdiocesan high schools. Its peak enrollment in 1968 was 2,086, at a time when Cardinal Dougherty High School, not far across the Montgomery County line in Philadelphia’s Olney section, boasted more than 4,700 students. That school closed in 2010.

As a point of fact, Bishop McDevitt High School shares a historical link to Hallahan High. The former was named for a Philadelphia priest who would go on to be bishop of the Harrisburg Diocese (where another high school named for him still operates today), and the latter was begun through his encouragement.




Ann Cahill former teacher at St. Gabriel's Hall:  Hi Rich, For me, the Christian Brothers' presence was the heart of that very successful program. 


Jim Maynes:  Another wonderful newsletter just brings back so many good memories of  West Catholic and the great brothers and teachers we had who molded us into men.  God Bless West Catholic.


Joe Grimley:  Thank you.


Charles Porrini WC '49:  Thanks Frank for sending this to my Dad!  Have a great day!  Karen


Joe Semeister:  Frank, First of all, you have done another great job.  I do have, I think all or most of the Sr. Class Cards.  Now, I have to locate them.  As soon as I locate them, I will try to send them off.

Stay well, Joe


Andy Thompson:  Thank you Frank for producing and sending the 46th edition which is thoughtfully written and very much appreciated.  Andy (Don) Thompson


Andrew Brady:  Frank, I just wanted to send you a thanks for all of the hard work that goes into this newsletter.  What is happening here at West Catholic would not be possible without our committed and loyal alums!                                             


Andrew Brady ‘02
Interim President
West Catholic Preparatory High School 

George Light:  Frank, you have again put out a great news letter.  Thank you for all your hard work.  George

Frank Murphy WC '56:  Just came across your newsletter, really enjoyed the read thanks.  I graduated West in 1956 went to Our Mother of Sorrows in Philly, we moved to Drexel Hill in '52; St. Bernadette parish.  We lived at 1229 Bryan St. right off Township Line; enjoyed growing up in the area from 7th grade.  Enjoyed some conversations with your classmate John Gallagher when we could communicate over West email.  Understand he passed?  Thanks again, can you add me to your list if continued?  Best Regards,  Frank Murphy '56

:Brother Steve Casale:  Frank, Thank you for publishing the newsletter.  I appreciated having it and reading about what is going on as well as former classmates.


The Lord's blessing on you and yours.  Steve Casale FSC

Joe Murphy:  Frank, As always another great and informative edition.  Thank You.  Joe

Tom Hughes:
  Hi Frank,  Great info on the last newsletter, your team always does a great job in collecting interesting info for the newsletter.

Missy Light Dougherty:  Thanks, Frank!  Hope everything is good with you during these crazy times.

Stay well,



Brother Kevin Stanton:  Dear Frank,  Thanks very much for the Fall issue of Golden Burrs.  I thought I would let you know that its arrival coincided with the death of Brother Thomas Caldwell who served at West as Vice Principal from 64-66 and Principal from 68-70.  He died at 93 after 75 years as a Christian Brother, 30 of which were at St. Gabriel's Hall (the former Catholic Protectory for Boys).  He was there with your recently deceased classmate, Brother Lawrence Dempsey, who also worked with the boys there for 25 years.  May they rest in the peace of our Risen Lord.


Blessings on all your good work.  Brother Kevin









Joe Semeister:  Frank, I have found the cards.  I  have over 40 of them.  It may take me a little more time to send pictures.  My wife, Elaine has had open heart surgery for six different procedures.  After 7 days she has be sent from CCU to a Step-down unit.  She had a rough time.


My sister informed me that Gene Carroll past on Sept. 26.  One more of us checking out.  I hope ALL IS WELL, Joe

Joe Gavaghan:  Hey Frank, The Phillies offered these cutouts all around the ballpark to fans for a $40 donation  to Phillies Charities.  You supply the picture and they do the rest. 





My niece Peggy had a picture of me wearing a t-shirt from the Eagles Super Bowl win in 2018.  The shirt pictured the famous "Philly Special" and was a birthday gift last year from my nephew Jim in Atlanta.  Their mothers and my wife Jeanne were sisters.  Peggy gave the cutout to me for an early 80th birthday gift.  It was displayed in the outfield to the left of the right field fair pole in the back row.  I never saw it watching the games but a friend of Peggy's did see it.  I think they were out there for about 25 of the 30 games played this year at Citizens Bank Park.  My friend Kathy, a Phillies VP, called me last week telling me that she had my cutout and this morning we met for breakfast and she gave it to me.  Kathy said the Phillies were very happy with the response to the program which added more funds for Phillies Charities.  Joe Gav 


Bob Dowd:  Frank - I don't know if this is what you were asking for in the past newsletter or if I am late in getting it in...? If so just ignore.


Anyway this is the Bronze medal (3rd place) I received still in its original box from Jewelers row in Philadelphia. 



I was in my junior year and was on the track team.  Brother Luke said anyone on the team who had not earned their letter was eligible to participate- !  Never did earn it (strict)....! 


Anyway the story was the kid that beat me and earned the silver was wearing his school shoes and kept his tie on....he later told me he always wanted to participate in track but had to work in-town after school.  But just this once told his work that he would be coming in late that day.  The race he decided on was the 110 low hurdles....I was humbled-I always thought I was the fastest kid ever-but it was my neighborhood that I hung in with some of the slowest guys on the block....until I got to WC and I became the slowest sprinter on the team. !  I never found out who the kid was who got the Silver!






submitted by:  FRANK ADOLF






Misericordia Hospital - Circa 1950's






Captain and Mrs. Noah, Larry Ferrari, Al Alberts, Chief Halftown






Dick Clark on ABC's Bandstand




The Wanamaker Monorail








1956 - Demolition of the El at 30th and Market Sts.




The Wanamaker Christmas Display






Care for the Sick -Transfiguration Church


WE REMEMBER and ask for your prayers for those who are ill, especially Dave Crines who is recovering from a stroke, Tom Henry who is battling Hodgkin Lymphoma, Brother Robert Sentman who is dealing with back problems, Father Richard McAndrews who has Parkinson's disease and now resides at Little Flower Manor Nursing Home, and Barry Carey who suffered a heart attack in May.


Our Webmaster Jim Prendergast completed Chemo and Radiation treatments in February.  A post treatment Cat Scan and other test revealed that the cancer has spread.  Jim is receiving additional chemo treatments and is in  need of your prayers.


Two former teachers from West are in need of prayers; Brother Gregory Cavalier has moved to the nursing home in Lincroft, NJ, and former Brother Gratian Joseph (John Gardiner) is in the beginning stage of Alzheimer's disease.


WE REMEMBER and pray for all of our deceased classmates who have gone to their eternal reward, especially Gene Carroll, Ed Gannon and Rich Pavonarius.
















submitted by:  RICH BUZZA


I saw in the news that Kevin Dobson has passed away on September 6,  2020.  Who was Kevin Dobson?  You might remember him as "Crocker" on the old Kojak TV series.  I remember our John Gallagher telling me that he was best friends with Kevin.  One day when John and I were swapping war stories about our time in the Army, he told me that he and Kevin were MP's together and after they got out of the Army, he and Kevin traveled Europe via MATS staying at different Army installations.  A good memory of John and Kevin. 


As this is our Christmas newsletter my thoughts of Christmas' past become more precious every year, and I cherish these later in life Christmas's more and more.  I have a friend who lost his wife a few years ago, and every time we talk on the phone he tells me to hug my wife and appreciate her love.  I do!  


We at the Golden Burrs appreciate your loyalty and supporting of our Newsletter and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 



God Bless WEST CATHOLIC!   Live Jesus in our Hearts.  Forever.