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Malden Catholic receives $2 million gift

Regina and Gerard Doherty, accompanied by Lisa Cenca, principal of the School for Girls, and Brother Thomas Puccio, CFX, acting headmaster of the School for Boys, receive applause as they leave the Dec. 3 Mass. During the Mass, it was announced the couple is giving a $2 million gift to the school. Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault

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MALDEN -- Malden Catholic High School's annual Mass for the feast of St. Francis Xavier on Dec. 3 was followed by recognition of faculty anniversaries, the presentation of an award, and the announcement of a gift from one of the school's most distinguished alumni and benefactors.

Gerard Doherty, a native of Charlestown and graduate of Malden Catholic's class of 1946, has gifted $2 million to the school. Although he has long been a major benefactor of the school, it is the largest single contribution he has made, bringing his giving total to over $4 million.

Doherty is a longtime member and former chairman of the school's board of trustees. He has provided scholarship assistance to over 75 Charlestown boys, according to the school. The gymnasium is named in his honor, and the school's Our Lady of the Rosary Courtyard is dedicated to his late wife, Marilyn.

Multiple sources close to Doherty said he got the idea for the donation after attending a Malden Catholic football game earlier this school year. Doherty played football while attending the school and his coach encouraged him to apply to Harvard University.

"He was touched by it," his wife, Regina Doherty, retired Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court, recalled.

She added, "The school has meant a lot to him."

Gerard Doherty has dyslexia and was held back a year in elementary school, but learned to excel at Malden Catholic. After graduating from Harvard and Suffolk University Law School, Doherty was politically active at local, state, and national levels. He served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives for four terms and chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee from 1962 to 1965. He managed the campaigns of Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sen. Robert Kennedy, and President Jimmy Carter. Doherty is also a founding trustee of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Last year he published "They Were My Friends -- Jack, Bob and Ted: My Life In and Out of Politics," a memoir of his work with the Kennedy brothers.

"Life has been very lucky to me," Doherty said, speaking to the press before the announcement.

In a statement, Sen. Edward Markey, a graduate of Malden Catholic's class of 1964, congratulated Doherty and the school.

"As one of our great public servants, Gerard Doherty has been at the center of major moments in American history. But no matter the greatness of the moment, Gerard always recognized that his path to success began with the education and values he received at Malden Catholic. Gerard cherishes the gift that the Xaverian Brothers gave him. Now, he and his distinguished wife, Regina, are giving that same gift back to the students of Malden Catholic, so that they, too, can fulfill their potential and make their own history," Sen. Markey said.

Gerard and Regina Doherty attended the St. Francis Xavier Mass, which was held inside the gymnasium named after Doherty. The celebrant was Father Eric Cadin, assistant vocation director for the archdiocese.

After the Mass, Brother Thomas Puccio, CFX, acting headmaster of the School for Boys, recognized faculty members celebrating milestone anniversaries in their teaching careers.

Each year on St. Francis Xavier's feast day, Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools present the Theodore James Ryken Award, named for the founder of the Xaverian Brothers, to a faculty or staff member who exemplifies Xaverian values, such as humility, compassion, trust, and zeal. All faculty, staff and administration vote to select the recipient.

This year, the award was presented to faculty member Alexander Kissel, who teaches in both the boys' school and the new girls' school.

"It's about living the Xaverian mission," Lisa Cenca, principal of the School for Girls, told the Pilot.

Kissel, who previously taught English at Malden Catholic, now teaches Latin and coaches freshman basketball. He also moderates the 30 Day Challenge, a program in which students devise and discuss goals they attempt to accomplish in a 30-day timeframe.

Following the presentation of this award, Brother Puccio recognized Gerard and Regina Doherty. Brother Puccio invited board chairman Jim Donovan to help announce the Dohertys' $2 million gift to the school community.

Donovan noted that the gift comes at a time when many benefactors are withdrawing financial support from the Catholic Church and its institutions.

"Gifts like this don't just show up at your doorstep. Gifts like this are very carefully thought through. Gifts like this show tremendous confidence of Gerard and Regina in this school. It's a compliment to our administration, to our faculty, to our staff, to our students. They believe in Malden Catholic, they believe in this model, and they want to see this model sustained. With the gift comes a tremendous obligation. It's an obligation on the part of all of you students to do your very best," Donovan said.

"He's got great faith in this school," Regina Doherty told the Pilot during a reception following the Mass.

"He sees his money as a gift that keeps on giving, and he's going to do good things with it," she said.

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