Towell named Associate Director of Alumni Leadership
The Prep Alumni Leadership Network is at an exciting moment of growth and we are thrilled to welcome Brendan Towell as the new Associate Director of Alumni Leadership. With over 60 years of tradition and more than 4,100 alumni, the Prep community is pleased to appoint Brendan as the first non-alumnus to serve in this role. His presence highlights the true spirit of the Hermit Brotherhood as a tight-knit community that includes our esteemed alumni but also the parents, grandparents, benefactors, and friends of the Prep who join them in living the school’s mission.
Arriving at St. Augustine in 2010, Brendan has been an integral part of the faculty most recently serving as the Associate Director of Admissions (a role he will retain). His experience as a proud member of the Theology Department and subsequent positions in Campus Ministry and now the Alumni Office makes him uniquely qualified to add new life and vision to the day-to-day operation of the Prep’s alumni network. This will assist the school in building upon the recent progress of the alumni program while working in conjunction with the deep connections he has made as a teacher, mentor, and also as the Head Coach of the school’s rapidly growing Rugby Program.
Shortly following his appointment to the alumni leadership position, we sat down with Brendan for a special edition of “Hermit Pride in Five.”
Q: Tell us about the journey that led you to St. Augustine Prep. Were you aware of the school prior to arriving in Richland and has your experience met or exceeded your expectations?
A: I was aware of the school before arriving in Richland but I must admit that I didn’t even know where Richland was! I remember driving down for my initial interview and my GPS lost service and I went right past the campus. However, once I found my way – I never left. I had come from a strong Augustinian Educational background, having attended Msgr. Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, PA and Merrimack College in North Andover, MA. Following my graduation, I returned to Bonner and, hence, to Augustinian Education. It was while I was at Bonner that I received word from the Headmaster at the time, Fr. Frank Horn, OSA, that a full-time Theology teaching position was open. With the Augustinians leaving Msgr. Bonner, I saw this as a chance to remain in Augustinian Education and to continue to discern my vocation at that time. I met with Fr. Horn, a few other Augustinians, and the Dean of Academics, Mr. Vince Martino before returning home with my fingers crossed. Just after dinner that same night I received a phone call from the Head of School (or President as it was called then), Fr. Paul Galetto, O.S.A., who invited me back to campus the next day to interview with him and give me a private tour of the full campus. By the end of that second day, I was offered the position of a full-time Freshman Theology teacher and I happily accepted. My first classroom was Room 39 and since then I have had full-time classrooms in 42, 35, and 62. I have taught every academic offering in the Theology course catalog as well as several additional Independent Study courses over the years.
Q: What do you love about the Prep and do you have a favorite memory through your time in Richland?
A: Traveling with Mr. Casolaro to Italy for the first time on a Christmas 3rd Semester is definitely one that sticks out. Being able to visit the center of the Catholic world and to kneel and pray with my students for the first time at the tombs of men and women like Ss. Peter, Paul, Catherine of Sienna, and Robert Bellarmine (just to name a few) was/is so special. I would also be remiss if I didn’t state the obvious – that first Spring Rugby State Championship in 2017 was something sweet. I was named Interim Head Coach in the Fall where we ended up finishing 2nd in the State by 1 pt (a heartbreaker for a great team) and where we had made it to the Spring Finals two years in a row and lost. I felt all eyes were on me and my new assistant, Mr. Greg Conover, but with a very special group we were able to secure our first Spring Title and that team went on to propel the whole program forward to two more subsequent Spring Titles since (2018 and 2019). These are just two great memories that come to mind but there are countless more!
Q: In taking on your additional role as the Associate Director of Alumni Leadership what excites you the most about your new position?
A: I feel as though I can bring something to the table that is unique. Because I am not a member of the Hermits Alumni and yet I am an alumnus of Augustinian Education (a few times), I believe I can help our graduates see that their Augustinian Values transcend Richland and are shared by a much wider network of Augustinian educated men and women all over the world. I believe too, that my genuine passion for the Prep will help to reignite the fire of enthusiasm of our Alumni, especially those who have perhaps lost touch with us or who have been consumed with undergraduate and graduate school. I feel blessed and honored to work with a man like Coach Paul Rodio ’70 and I hope to learn from him all I can so as to better serve the Prep as a whole. With so many questions surrounding the future of Catholic Education, it is imperative that we stay connected (and reconnect) with our Hermits Alumni so we can secure another sixty years in Richland’s Proud and Peaceful Glen.
Q: In ten-plus years at St. Augustine, what has been your most rewarding moment as an educator at St. Augustine and why?
A: I would say I have “moments” that stick with me, but they are all of a similar vein. My first function at the Prep is a teacher of the Catholic Faith – everything else is secondary. The happiest times of my life at the Prep (and subsequently of the life as a whole) are not the Rugby State Championships or the number of students I’ve had who gain admittance to their top school of choice. The most rewarding moments of my career are when young men of questioning faith come to me (or come back to me as alumni) and tell me that I had some positive part to play in their faith formation or even in their conversion. I am so proud to admit that I have been a Confirmation sponsor for several of my students who have come into the Church and it has been my honor to assist so many more navigate the deep questions of life, death, sin, salvation, happiness, and the like. I feel my work helping to create the Senior Kairos Retreat is another rewarding experience that will live with me always. Our faith is not about dogmas and creeds and rules and regulations as much as it is about a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. If I can help young men with that – I have lived my vocation well.
Q: Finally, what does the Hermit Brotherhood mean to you and how has its significance evolved in your life over your decade of service at the Prep?
A: I heard this phrase as soon as I arrived on campus in 2010 and it didn’t take long for me to come to see how alive and strong it was. I believe the strength of the Hermit Brotherhood comes from the physical example of our Augustinian Friars who live on campus. These men take vows and make certain commitments to one another and to the community. They live together, work together, eat together, and pray together. If that sounds familiar it is because that is exactly what Hermit Brothers do too! They may not “live” full-time on campus but it can feel that way after four years. They certainly do work together, eat together (cookies!), pray together, and even compete together! On the first day of school, at the famous Brotherhood Ceremony, every young man approaches to sign his name into the Book of Brotherhood before receiving his blazer from an upperclassman or a member of the alumni. As Head of School, Fr. Murray, O.S.A. often says, signing one’s name is a “conscious action” – it has purpose and intent. That day all Hermit Brothers take vows and make commitments to attempt to live the life of a Christian Gentleman with a passionate search for Truth, Unity, and Love. I have seen this Brotherhood in action and time-and-time again they prove they are much more than just a slogan on a t-shirt. I have seen this Brotherhood firsthand as they assembled at my Grandmother’s Funeral Mass to support me in my time of grief. I have seen this Brotherhood raise funds for charity and collect canned goods, foodstuffs, toys, and the like for the underprivileged – not because they had to but because they understand they have a Gospel mandate to do so. I have seen this Brotherhood defend the weak and promote justice, and I have seen this Brotherhood on its knees in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The only thing I haven’t seen is another community quite like it.
With this in mind, we are proud to offer a range of alumni apparel that will be offered for a limited time – click the button below to view this season’s merchandise which includes the “SA” alumni logo!
Most importantly, we want to stay in touch, click below to access the Alumni Contact Information Update Form to update your information.