Grade school class reunion inspires donation
Earlier this year, Tim Rooney and Matt Momper attended the 40th class reunion of St. Jude School in Fort Wayne. Mass was celebrated at 5 p.m. that day, with the reunion immediately following on the St. Jude campus, until 8:30 p.m. Soon, however, the reunion hall became more than a rented space in which to reminisce about times long ago. Many things had changed in the lives of the men since 1976. Both had become successful businessmen, for example.
Although Rooney’s mother and sister are still members of St. Jude’s, he, his wife and children moved to southwest Fort Wayne and became involved in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, where he coaches the boys’ basketball team.
It had been a long time since he had been to the St. Jude campus, which is why he decided to stop by for the reunion. “It was fun seeing people you once played sports with,” he remarked.
Rooney was surprised at how much the campus had evolved over the years. During a tour of the school, though, he noticed one thing that had not changed were the desks the sixth-grade students used. Perhaps they were the same desks he used when he was a student there, he thought. They were in pretty bad shape and needed replacing.
A few weeks after the reunion, Rooney enjoyed a round of golf with Momper — a St. Jude parishioner — at the Fort Wayne Country Club. The men found themselves talking about the condition of the desks, and agreed to split the cost of new ones for the sixth-grade class.
Rooney contacted Principal Mike Obergfell to write a check and to let him know that Momper would be contacting him soon with a donation of a similar amount. In the meantime, Obergfell contacted several companies to obtain bids for the project.
“It was interesting to see friends, but a great side benefit was to be able to help,” Rooney said. “It made me feel good doing it. I just felt like you’ve got to help,” he said. He encouraged other schools in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to hold grade school reunions for that reason: Maybe other alumni have been financially fortunate, will see a need and feel compelled to help improve their alma mater. “Good things can happen from it.”
“We are grateful for Mr. Rooney’s and Mr. Momper’s donation. Their gift speaks to their support not only to St. Jude School, but the great blessing Catholic education provides in our diocese,” Obergfell said. He plans to donate the old desks to charity.