March 14, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
Call it a gift from on high.
A renowned Catholic preparatory school in Fresh Meadows has received a $1 million check from an anonymous donor — the largest single donation in the institution’s long history, according to school officials.
St. Francis Preparatory School, located at 6100 Francis Lewis Blvd., was gifted the financial windfall from an unidentified former student to be used to fund a scholarship program at the 164-year-old institution. The prep school is considered the largest Catholic school in the country with around 2,400 students currently enrolled.
The huge gift was donated to help support the school’s Thomas J. Sheehan Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to current and incoming students, according to school officials. The scholarship was set up in 1986 to honor Sheehan who graduated in 1955 and still holds some of the school’s all-time track records. He was considered an exemplary student leader and role model, the officials said.
“This donation… is humbling and inspiring for the entire alumni community,” said Wally Bishop, President of the St. Francis Prep Alumni Board.
“The students who walk through the Prep’s doors can attest to the school’s unwavering commitment helping families facing financial hardships to have the ability to enjoy a world-class Catholic education that prepares young people for college and beyond.”
School officials said the gift significantly bolsters the school’s ability to provide a values-driven education to students of all backgrounds, despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
The $1 million bonanza follows a big fundraising drive by the school to raise money for students who experienced financial setbacks because of the COVID-19 crisis. St. Francis Preparatory School raised around $1.8 million that helped support more than 400 students who were in need of monetary relief, school officials said.
Ninety-nine percent of seniors who graduated from the school in 2021 ended up attending the college of their choice, according to school officials.
Some of St. Francis’ famous alumni include NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi, former Yankees manager Joe Torre, actor Peter Facinelli and NYPD whistleblower Frank Serpico.
Brother Leonard Conway, St. Francis Prep President, said the donation will support students for years to come.
“St. Francis Prep has provided generations of students a place where they can grow, learn and develop in a religious, joyful school environment,” Conway said.
“This [donation]… is representative of the generosity and service enshrined in the St. Francis Prep education.”