St. Ignatius Award & Shields Medal

    The Saint Ignatius Award is given to graduates of Boston College High School who possess: high moral character, selfless dedication to service without expectation of material reward or public recognition, while adhering to the principles of honesty, justice, compassion and the preservation of human dignity.  The Shields Medal honors a non-alumnus of the BC High community for his character and service.

    The St. Ignatius Award Committee is pleased to recognize Reverend Richard “Doc” Conway ’55, Paul Sally, Jr. PhD ’50, Christopher Small ’62 and retired BC High faculty and administrator William A. MacNeill received the Shields Medal.

    On February 14, in front of an audience of more than 1,600 BC High students, alumni, family and friends these men were honored for their tireless work as “Men for Others.”
    Reverend Richard “Doc” Conway ’55 was introduced by Captain John H. Danilecki  of the Boston Police Department , a 1980 graduate of BC High and himself a winner of the Ignatian award in 2007. Danilecki told the crowd how Father Conway was ordained in 1963 and for more than 50 years he has committed his life to serving God and His people in several parishes throughout the Archdiocese. “He has always taken his priestly responsibilities seriously whether as a curate, coach, summer camp organizer, pastor, administrator, or as a community activist.

    “Father Conway” said Danilecki, “ lives his life for others and believes he was put on this earth to try to improve the lives of those less fortunate. For example, when he was a pastor in Lowell, he drove an old 18 wheel trailer truck, picking up used furniture by himself, to distribute to the incoming surge of Cambodian refugees. When he was a pastor in Brockton he immersed himself in a course in Portuguese so that he could serve the majority of his parishioners who were from Cape Verde.

    “Presently, even though he is retired, Father is still working daily along with Father Jack Ahern to serve three parishes in Dorchester. He is out on the streets 2 to 3 nights a week, traveling every street within the 60 plus blocks that encompasses Dorchester's Bowdoin/Geneva area. He wears his Roman collar to let the residents know that he is not a person to be feared. He wants the people to know, especially the young gangs, that he is there. He has won the respect of everyone, young and old, Catholic and non-Catholic.

    “Whether someone is sick, needs a job, has a problem in the home, is in jail, whatever, Father Doc, is always there to help.”

    Paul Sally, Jr. PhD ’50 was introduced by Dr. Martin Dunn ’53 who told the assembly how Dr. Sally was a legendary math professor and author of several math books at the University of Chicago. “Dr. Sally,” said Dunn, “produced 19 PhD students during his career in teaching mathematics. He received national recognition as the founding director of the University of Chicago's School Mathematics Project, known as 'Chicago Math', a curriculum designed primarily for grade schools. The teaching materials and textbooks tie math to everyday activities such as counting money and playing cards. Chicago Math is used in educating an estimated four million children throughout the U.S.

    “After a period of directing the Chicago Math project, Dr. Sally decided to go straight to the teachers inside the Chicago school system with the philosophy that if you want to teach math well, you must know math well.

    Dr. Dunn pointed out that Sally was not only an inspiration in the field of mathematics to the thousands of students he taught, but he was a role model for overcoming physical adversity. “Back when he was a student  and star basketball player at Boston College High, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. As his life progressed in mathematics, the diabetes took both legs and the sight in his left eye. Because of the black patch covering his left eye, his students affectionately called him 'The Math Pirate'. In spite of  his physical problems he continued to teach right up until his last days.

    “On December 30, 2013, just weeks after he was told that he was to receive the highest honor at BC High, the St. Ignatius Award, at the age of 80 he passed to his eternal rest. His alma mater is very proud of this 'Man for Others'. May he rest in peace.”

    Christopher Small ’62, was introduced by Michael Papile P’17,16 who told the crowd how for the past 44 years Chris has been an advocate for troubled children and their families, first working at the Home for Little Wanderers and the Robert J. Kennedy Children's Action Corps.

    “Presently,” said Papile. “Chris is the Executive Director of the Italian Home for Children in Jamaica Plain. The Home is a facility for children from all nationalities and backgrounds ranging in age from four to thirteen who have emotional and behavioral problems, and who are often victims of trauma.

    “At the Home Chris has implemented a religious education program because he and his staff strongly believe that the spiritual component helps the children in their therapeutic process. With parental or guardian permission, children can attend various services offered on a rotating weekly basis: Catholic Mass offered by Catholic priests, Baptist services offered by the Blue Hill Missionary Baptist Church, the Jubilee Christian Community, the morning Star Baptist Church and St. John Missionary Baptist Church and Non-Denominational services are also provided.

    “Should a child come into the Home who requires a special spiritual plan, the staff locates the appropriate place of worship and attends services with the child. Children can also receive the Catholic sacraments of Baptism, First Penance and First Communion. Altar servers are trained, there is a children's choir, and Bible study classes are held four times a week. The Italian Home is the only child welfare organization in the region to have a spiritual program with so much prominence in its organization.
    “Chris has been a Keynote speaker throughout the U.S., he has conducted many workshops and training courses, and provided consultation to agencies and organizations on issues related to the residential treatment of vulnerable populations, especially children of trauma. He has been recognized by many child welfare organizations and was the recipient of the George Washington Honor Medal presented by Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for his work with children at Italian Home. Chris Small is truly a 'Man for Others'.”

    The Thomas & Mary Shields Medal recipient - William A. MacNeill
    Bill was introduced by Jack Dunn, BC High '79, Director of Boston College's Office of News and Public Affairs, introduced Bill, his former teacher and mentor.

    Dunn told how MacNeill served under General George Patton in WW II and how he had a second tour of duty in Korea. “Entering Boston College in 1952 on the GI Bill was his first encounter with Jesuit education,” said Dunn, “and was it an eye opener with a heavy dose of philosophy and religion and unique individual teachers. In 1956 he graduated magna cum laude and received an offer to join the BC High faculty as a replacement for legendary teacher-coach Charlie McCoy who was entering St. John's seminary to study for the priesthood.

    “For the next 35 years, Bill served BC High as history teacher, track coach and later vice president for development. He was teamed with Father Larry Corcoran SJ, as BC High's track teams won several state and Boston City Championships. He was honored by induction into the BC High Athletic Hall of Fame.

    “In 1971 Bill established the first development program unique among Catholic schools in that era. The development program evolved in collaboration with the alumni office headed by Father Frank Mahoney SJ. Together they initiated a variety of programs making BC High a model for Catholic schools in the area.

    “During his tenure the STAR Complex was built, giving BC High its first home fields since 1918 and later, under the leadership of Father Ray Callahan SJ and the generosity of alumnus John McNeice, the McNeice Pavilion was built.

    “After retirement in 1991, Bill served as a consultant to Catholic schools and organizations throughout the U.S. He was founder and first president of the New England Association of Catholic Development Officers that has provided support to Catholic schools for over forty years. He was cited by the National Catholic Education Association for his leadership in development.

    “Boston College High is grateful for everything that Bill has done to make this school what it is today and proudly awards him the Shields Medal.”