Four members of the Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton (SHS) community were honored with the school’s prestigious St. Madeleine Sophie Award, named after the founder of Sacred Heart schools globally. They join a distinguished group of past award recipients ranging from members of the RSCJ to parents, educators, staff, and SHS trustees.
The awardees—Anne Holloway, Virginia Boesen, Kathy Dolan, RSCJ, and Richard A. Dioli—represent a combined 110 years of service to the school. Holloway is a former chair of the SHS Board of Trustees and past parent; Boesen is a Sacred Heart Preparatory faculty member and current parent; Sr. Dolan currently serves in campus ministry for the Preschool – Grade 8 division; and Dioli is the current Director of Schools.
The awards were presented during a formal ceremony and reception for family, friends, and invited guests held Wednesday night, Sept. 18, at the school’s Campbell Center for the Performing Arts and Conway Court.
Introducing recipient Anne Holloway, son Michael Holloway praised his mother’s unparalleled leadership skills and emphasis on excellence, strategic thinking, and risk management—all of which greatly benefited Sacred Heart during the elder Holloway's tenure as chair of the school’s Board of Trustees. Sharing a humorous story about her response at having to spearhead the school’s capital campaign during that period—which ultimately led to an unprecedented fundraising close of $100 million and significant campus transformation—the younger Holloway quipped, “I wish we all could be as successful at things we don’t enjoy.”
James Everitt, SHS director of mission initiatives and institutional planning, shared remarks about his longtime colleague and friend Virginia Boesen. “Virginia’s work at Sacred Heart has been characterized by her love of our mission and our students, by her never-empty well of generosity, and her ability to forgive easily and generously. And, of course, her sense of humor. Sophie’s vision was that a school should be the extension of the home. You, my friend, have made SHS a home for so many….[so] thank you for being the gold standard of what it means to be a Sacred Heart educator. Thank you for modeling generosity and forgiveness for those of us who just don’t do it as easily or gracefully as you. And thank you for always making us laugh.”
Former SHS staff member Joan Eagleson delivered the introduction for her close friend Sr. Kathy Dolan, who is also celebrating her 50th Jubilee year as an avowed RSCJ, and who has spent her entire ministry in service to Sacred Heart schools in the U.S. Using a fictional letter from the school’s foundress St. Madeleine Sophie Barat as conceit, Eagelson extoled Dolan’s devotion, commitment, and body of work saying, “You have truly exemplified [Sophie’s instruction] to ‘be humble; be simple, and bring joy to others.’ You continue to give that grace and light wherever you are….and you have kept Sophie’s fire firmly alive [at Sacred Heart].”
Coming as a complete surprise to recipient and audience alike, a final Sophie Award was handed out to cap the evening, this time to Director of Schools Richard A. Dioli. Dioli has spent more than 30 years of his professional career serving on the Atherton campus—first as dean of students, then as high school principal, and for the last 12 years, as director of schools. With immense respect and awe, gratitude and praise, James Everitt delivered the special introduction on behalf of the entire community.
“It would be easy to reduce Rich’s contributions to Sacred Heart to the amazing physical plant that we enjoy today, to the fast growth of the endowment, and to the financial health of the institution—because all of these accomplishments are truly astonishing and they are important. But as each and every person who knows him understands, Rich’s real contribution to the Sacred Heart community is his single-minded commitment to the Religious of the Sacred Heart, to the students entrusted to his care, and to his employees.”
Quoting from a number of trustees, current parents, and faculty, Everitt continued, “When you hear parents talk about what Rich has done for their child it is incredible. He never takes credit, and his generosity is limitless. Rich understands what people need to be motivated and to be successful and then he figures out a way to get it for them. As employees, we are aware of his fierce loyalty to us as people, educators, and partners in mission; to have him as a boss is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The day following, all four 2019 St. Madeleine Sophie Award recipients were recognized at the traditional all-school Mass of the Holy Spirit—presided over by retired Bishop William Justice and during which Sr. Kathy Dolan also formally completed renewal of her vows before the entire school community.