Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Hundreds of alumni to return to campus for StFX Homecoming 2018 

September 26th, 2018
Hundreds of alumni are expected back on campus this weekend for Homecoming 2018

Close to 1,000 StFX alumni and friends are expected back on campus this weekend for Homecoming 2018.

Alumni are coming back to alma mater from all over the world, including from South Africa, Switzerland, Hong Kong and the United States. Alumni are also coming from a broad range of class years, including members of the Class of 1948, celebrating their 70th reunion. 

The Welcome Home Dinner, one of the weekend’s highlight events, on Friday, September 28 will honour some of StFX’s shining stars with the presentation of the Alumni Awards of Excellence. Andrew Howlett ’02 will receive the Young Alumnus of the Year Award; Anne Campbell will receive the Friend of StFX award; and Gerry McConnell ’67 will be presented with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award. The Chapter of Year Award will be awarded to the Edmonton Chapter.

The StFX Hall of Honour, held Saturday, September 29 at 11 a.m. in the Schwartz Auditorium, recognizes members of the StFX community who have carried on the StFX tradition of helping others. The Hall of Honour serves as an inspiration to current students and ensures the StFX tradition continues. The 2018 inductees are Allene MacPherson Goforth ’65, Joseph McGann ’68, and Morag Graham ’68.

Bios of the Alumni Awards of Excellence recipients and the Hall of Honour inductees follow. 

Alumni Awards of Excellence

Distinguished Alumnus - Gerry McConnell ’67 

Gerry McConnell has brought honour to StFX and the Nova Scotia community through leadership and service. After graduating from StFX in 1967, Gerry entered Dalhousie Law School. He was called to the bar in 1971 and was an associate and partner at Patterson & Palmer law firm from 1971-87. He received the Queen’s Counsel designation in 1986. In the 1980s and ’90s, his career evolved when he became involved in mining exploration in north eastern Africa, and then in the late 90s his entrepreneurial spirit led him to create the acclaimed winery Benjamin Bridge. During his time in Africa, he was struck by the beauty of the people and land but was affected by the extreme poverty. With friends, he set out on a social justice journey, investing in social programs to improve schools, infrastructure and medical programs in five countries. In 2004, Gerry was the recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Republic of Niger. Gerry has been a strong StFX supporter. He is the Class of 1967 lifetime president and a major contributor to the 1967 class gift at his 50th reunion. He was inducted into the StFX Hall of Fame as a member of the 1965-66 hockey team and is a lifetime member of the President’s Club. He’s been a key supporter of the Women of X-Cellence Fund and offers his support to alumni events with much commitment. 

Chapter of the Year - Edmonton Chapter

The StFX Alumni Association Edmonton Chapter is a dynamic, involved, and welcoming group who seek to engage all alumni, of all ages and interests. The chapter annually hosts a number of alumni events and helps StFX with recruiting efforts and bursary development. Among their community engagement activities, the chapter hosts a StFX Day dinner and celebration, an annual new student send-off and alumni bbq, an Alberta beef and East Coast lobster dinner night, a night at the races, three or four pub nights a year, and they host a president’s reception. The chapter has also volunteered at a local soup kitchen and supports several local charities with donations at their events. They also actively seek to aid in recruiting new students to StFX, help to arrange school visits in the area, and are in the final stages of establishing a $500 bursary for students from the Edmonton area to attend StFX. The Edmonton chapter has been in existence since 1970 and has a long legacy of bringing StFX graduates and their families and friends together in fellowship. 

Friend of StFX - Anne Campbell

Anne Campbell’s long association with StFX began in her hometown of Antigonish, NS, then continued with her late husband Michael A. “Diker” Campbell, a graduate of the StFX Classes of 1958 and 1959. Anne and Diker were a StFX team of their own, promoting and honouring the spirit of StFX in their home community of Halifax. As tireless volunteers, they were involved in the annual Father Kehoe Dinner in Halifax as well as alumni events near and far. Their love of StFX was evident in their commitment to alma mater. Anne has continued to serve as an advocate of StFX alumni in Halifax, spreading the word about alumni gatherings and ensuring people come out to attend. Her enthusiasm is an inspiration and contributes to the success of Halifax chapter events. She believes in the importance of giving back and established the Michael A. Campbell Scholarship to provide an annual award to a Citadel High School student in Halifax to attend StFX. 

Young Alumnus - Andrew Howlett ’02

Andrew Howlett embodies the spirit of StFX. He has done this from his days as MacNeil House president to fulfilling the role of StFX national Alumni Association president. He tirelessly promotes StFX, including serving as the Toronto chapter alumni president to delivering an inspiring speech to hundreds of students on the Feast Day of StFX during the iconic X-Ring Ceremony. After graduating from StFX, Andrew completed his medical doctorate at Dalhousie University, and a residency in psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He is a psychiatrist in the Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Program at St. Joseph’s Health Centre where he also works as an educator, administrator and researcher. He is the co-founder of the Fathers’ Mental Health Network, and the creator of the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Project, a campaign to engage men in talking about their health. He is the first to provide a Fathers’ Mental Health Consultation and Treatment Program in Canada. Despite a busy family and professional life, he has steadfastly remained committed to StFX. This focused, driven, and energetic man has always found a way to put his family, friends and community needs ahead of his own. 

Hall of Honour Inductees

Allene MacPherson Goforth ’65

Allene MacPherson Goforth is recognized for her trailblazing achievements, including becoming what is believed to be the first deaf woman in Canada to graduate from university. The Sydney, NS native contracted tuberculosis meningitis at age seven. As a result of medical treatment for it, she became deaf, and later had to leave her siblings and parents to attend the Halifax School for the Deaf for about three years. A bright and eager student, she returned to her home area to complete her schooling, eventually graduating from Holy Angels High School. She was awarded a scholarship to pursue university studies and attended StFX where she thoroughly engaged in and enjoyed student life. She graduated in 1965 with a BSc in home economics, and subsequently obtained certification as a dietician from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, all the while overcoming new challenges and convincing sceptics of her ability in a hearing world. In 1978, she changed careers and returned to studies, graduating with a BA in liberal arts and sciences from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and then with her master’s in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her working career was mainly spent as a librarian. Although deaf, she never allowed the hearing disability to hold her back. She is described as a person with insight and strength, always positive, always engaged. Her talents, scholarship and achievement, as well as her contributions to her community, embody the StFX motto, a life of thought and service. 

Joseph McGann ’68

Joe McGann is a person focused on making a difference in the lives of others. He graduated from StFX in 1968. His time at StFX exposed him to a social consciousness framework that he has embraced. His life’s journey has been characterized by service to others, driven by a deep respect for individuals and a conviction that each of us should share our blessings. A key moment of service in his work life occurred as part of the U.S. Government Crises Management Team supporting the Pentagon and World Trade Centre recovery after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. In his personal life, his efforts have been centred on youth, the needy and homeless both locally and in Cuba, his church, and the StFX community. Within the Westford community he spent many years working with youth, coaching baseball and hockey. Beyond athletics, he focused on helping each child gain confidence and appreciation for fair play. For over 40 years, he has shared his time too in his Westford Parish of St. Catherine, teaching religious education and volunteering with the Knights of Columbus. Extending beyond his home community, he is also involved with two groups helping marginalized individuals in Cuba and in Lowell, Massachusetts. In the early 1970s and ’80s, he served as head of the StFX Boston alumni chapter, and was the New England representative for the capital campaign led by the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney. He also served two terms on the StFX Board of Governors. Joe McGann has truly embraced the spirit of StFX and the tradition of giving back to the community. His life is a positive legacy of impactful service. 

Morag Graham ’68

Morag (MacDonald) Graham is an example of a life lived with integrity, strength and determination served by a keen intellect and desire to serve others. While a student at StFX, she was actively involved in organizations running the gamut from X-Project to the Debating Team. She was a member of the field hockey team and wrote a weekly column for the Xaverian Weekly. In her final year, she received the Marimar Trophy (today called the Carmel Loisier Award) as the outstanding senior female graduate. She has been a promoter of StFX all her life. She spent six years serving on the StFX Board of Governors and has also been actively involved in alumni chapter activities and has been a frequent presence at StFX Homecoming. Morag spent almost 40 years as an educator, taking on roles from classroom teacher to principal. Many students credit her with giving them the courage to aim high. She has been an exemplary community volunteer and has served on many boards from L’Arche Cape Breton to the Judique Community Centre, from the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre to Inverness County Small Options. She has worked tirelessly for the advancement and promotion of her local area and has dedicated herself to the enrichment of the lives of others in her community. In all capacities, she has shown leadership and dedication.

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