By Nora Kerr
Tom and Sue Calcagno have been fixtures in the St. Robert Bellarmine community, both as parishioners and active school parents. They sent four kids through SRB that are all now enjoying success in college and beyond. I had the pleasure of speaking with Sue and her children about what St. Roberts means to them.
Close proximity to the school first led Sue to check out SRB.
“It was luck of the draw… it was the closest school to us,” said Sue. “But we visited and loved it.”
Even through the parish may have come into their lives as a lucky circumstance, SRB was clearly more than just a convenient schooling option. Sue and Tom both became active volunteers for the school. Sue served as school board secretary for eight years.
“I got to know Sr. Mary Lou and Carrie [Mijal] in a different way,” said Sue. “You had a hand in things that were happening at the school.”
Sue also organized two all-class reunions in 2009 and 2010.
“It was a lot of work but a great experience,” said Sue.
Kids Mark, Caitlin, Kelly and Wil all loved St. Roberts and each had a unique spin on their experience.
Mark, who graduated from SRB in 2005 and is now a teacher at Bateman Elementary, thanks his elementary school for some early teaching experience.
“SRB is where I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” said Mark. “Ms. Aylward gave me the opportunity to lead a math lesson. I realized while at the front of the classroom that this is where I want to be forever. It lit the flame.”
Caitlin graduated from SRB in 2006 and is now working in corporate finance. She has fond memories of great teachers from St. Roberts.
“Teachers were very open and honest. We were able to be honest with them. If you had a problem, you could always go to a teacher.”
Kelly graduated in 2010 and is currently studying nursing at Loyola. She has many favorite memories from her time at SRB but one of the best takeaways was learning the proper use of grammar.
“Going into high school, I would correct my friends’ papers,” said Kelly.
Though Kelly has been away from SRB for a few years, she enjoys staying involved by babysitting for current SRB families over the summer and spending a semester of her first year of college volunteering as a religious education teacher.
Wil graduated from St. Roberts in 2011 and is a freshman studying computer science at Northeastern. Like Kelly, he thanks the English teachers at SRB for instilling proper grammar.
“I learned a lot of things that I still use today, including how to write a good-sized paragraph,” said Wil.
“I always give the Sisters credit,” said Sue. “My kids were ahead of the crowd academically.”
In addition to schooling, Sue and all her kids mentioned that SRB provided a faith foundation that still remains today.
“I’m one of the few people I know who still goes to church regularly,” said Kelly.
Faith traditions formed during her time at St. Roberts include more than just mass. Kelly also recalls ice cream socials, Stations of the Cross during Lent or participating in the annual Christmas pageant.
This combination of faith, friends and academics creates what Wil called “a good sense of well-roundedness.”
Mark says SRB taught him the key values of “school work, academic honesty and self motivation.”
For all the Calcagnos did for St. Roberts, it looks like the parish gave it back ten-fold.
“It’s an extension of our family. It has always felt like a community,” said Sue.
Though all the kids are now young adults leading busy lives of their own, they enjoy returning to St. Roberts for mass on Sundays or holidays.
“In some ways it feels like I never left,” said Caitlin. I always see someone I recognize. St. Roberts is a community in the truest sense.”