From the Children of alumni to first-generation students, from locker rooms to the stage, at CM, families are made…and families make CM.
“My brother!” yells a student, echoing along the school hallway. “From another mother!” replies another. At CM, family is not defined by blood, but by binding ties found in the classroom and beyond. Together students celebrate victories but also persevere through defeat. They rely on each other to progress and on their faith to lead the way. Here, all boys are brothers.
Middle school, social studies teacher Barbara Flynn’s husband, brothers-in-law, father-in-law, and sons are all CM grads. She knows intimately what it means to be in a CM family.
Flynn has been a teacher to many generations of boys and sibling brothers who have passed through Donahue Hall.
“I thought I knew CM,” says Flynn, reflecting on the years of stories from her in-laws, “but it wasn’t until I actually stepped into this building that I really got a good feel for what CM represents.”
To Flynn, that can be summarized by two unforgettable words she heard in her earliest days on campus: ‘welcome home.’
“There was a day when some alumni came to school and I remember Brother [Jeffrey] Oxx approached them and said ‘welcome home.’ I was so impressed!” recalls Flynn. “When I asked him about it, he told me, ‘It is so important to let them know that they are home and that they’re family.’ At that moment,” she says, snapping her fingers, “I knew I wanted to be a part of this school.”
Someone joining the CM community finds not one right-or-wrong classroom elective, co-curricular club, or athletic team to join, but a variety of pathways for exploration. “CM has wide walls and high ceilings,” notes CM President Dr. Peter Folan. “Different boys can come here and have very different experiences. They can connect to different mentors and members of the community and find different passions.”
The path taken by Jayden Pean ’23 led him to roles as student body Vice President, student-athlete, peer minister, and member of the National Honors Society. “Each classroom, each club, and team is like a family,” says Pean. “The football team sticks together to win games and peer ministers stick together to plan service opportunities, but we’re all brothers.” Each individual family makes up the one total family that is CM. Peer ministers fill the stands at football games and football players serve alongside their peers; students on the hockey team cheer for their brothers in Speech & Debate, who cheer right back. When students come together for an assembly, Olympic Day, or all-school Mass, they share one spirit. “When we’re all in the gym singing Light Your Candle,” continues Pean, “you really feel that we are all one.”
For Chris Boensel ’24, his path began as soon as he set foot on campus and since then led him to the lead role of Felix in the fall production of The Odd Couple.
“I remember touring high schools and at one particular school, I got lost. I asked an upperclassman for help and was brushed off,” recalls Boensel. “When I toured CM, I sat at the lunch table and all the guys were absolutely welcoming like they had known me for years.
They struck up a conversation like we’d talked a million times before. It felt really welcoming like I was already part of a new family.”
But it is in the theater program where Boensel feels most at home, where new friends become a family within a family. “I didn’t know anyone when I auditioned my freshman year,” he says. “That was the first time I truly clicked into a community, especially with juniors and seniors. Theater is about expressing yourself, understanding each other, it’s a place to really be comfortable.” An only child at home, Boensel feels he has brothers in his classmates and castmates. “They lift me up when I’m down and teach me to overcome the idea that everyone expects you to be perfect. People are going to forget lines, things are going to go wrong. I’m human, you’re human, it’s okay. We’re united by service to each other and the mission of CM.”
Varsity hockey player Darragh Curran ’26 speaks about the impact of his teammates in his freshman year, saying, “There are guys I didn’t know before playing hockey, now I feel like I could never forget them.” Curran talks about the bonds between teammates thanks to frequent practices and a strong team ethic. “I can tell the guys here play for each other. I’ve played on teams in the past where people argued, didn’t like each other,” continues Curran, “that isn’t the case at CM. Here, we pass to each other, we communicate on the ice, and push each other to play the best game we can.”
The hockey team isn’t together only on the ice, says Curran. “The team really accepted me and we’re always together on campus, it’s like a second family.” After only a few months as a Knight, Curran looks forward to what’s to come. “I’m excited because next year when I’ve taken on more things and know more people, the whole school will be a second family.”
Dr. Folan sees these bonds with gladness, saying, “The students that are on this journey here come to really see each other for who they truly are. They accept each other. That’s a unique aspect of this institution. As an all-boys school, our students value authenticity, hard work, and passion, CM students are accepting and proud of each other and applaud success across the institution.”
Nurtured by a Catholic identity, boys are provided spiritual pathways to be open and supported. “If
we are people of faith, we have to have greater depth,” notes Folan. “We have to reflect and pray and have a relationship with God. When students pray together with someone every day, they’re being vulnerable. That makes for deeper relationships with each other and their faith.”
The connections fostered at CM carry on beyond graduation, adds Dr. Folan.
“You’ll see a line of CM boys at a wake or funeral. They are there for each other in times of need as well as times of celebration. I’ve seen many CM students as best men at each other’s weddings, godparents to each other’s children.”
Flynn recalls, “when my son was in a serious car accident, his CM brothers came to the hospital to support him. They did so much more than my husband and I could have.”
Classmates call one another brothers not because they share parents, but because they share trust, value each other’s genuine interests, and have each other’s back. They make up sub-families who care for each other, sharing one roof where they are brothers and where they are home.