NEW ROCHELLE, NY — His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, visited Iona Preparatory School on Saturday, June 10 to celebrate a special Centennial Mass to commemorate the school’s 100th anniversary year.
Nearly 500 Iona Prep students, alumni, families and friends were in attendance for the Mass at the school, Westchester’s only all-boys K-12 Catholic institution to make the “Best Catholic High Schools in New York State” and “Best Private High Schools in New York State” on Niche.com.
“We were blessed to have His Eminence join us to celebrate this special Mass at our school. It was a truly an unforgettable occasion,” said Brother Thomas R. Leto, president of Iona Preparatory. “The Cardinal is so generous with his time, bringing a unique presence to every event he attends. He routinely demonstrates his commitment to Catholic education, and his presence was a reinforcement of our 100 years of Christian Brother education in the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice.”
Cardinal Dolan was named Archbishop of New York by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. He had served as Archbishop of Milwaukee, appointed there by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2002. His Eminence last celebrated Mass at Iona Preparatory in March of 2012, at the invitation of a student who was altar serving at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On Saturday, the Archbishop mingled with the Iona Prep community before and after the Mass, which was streamed live and can be viewed by visiting youtube.com/ionapreparatory.
Iona Preparatory became the second Christian Brother school in the United States—and third in North America—when it opened its doors on Oct. 16, 1916, to 37 young men in grades 1-9. Like its namesake, the Isle of Iona off the coast of Scotland where St. Columba and a dozen followers gave birth in 563 AD to a monastic community and renowned learning center, the Iona School was to be a beacon of faith formation and educational excellence.
As enrollment grew, the Iona School moved from the seven-acre Benjamin Stern Estate the Christian Brothers were renting at the corner of Lockwood and Webster Avenues in New Rochelle, N.Y., to the 18-acre Hall Estate along North Avenue. Known as Mile Bridge Terrace, the property would eventually become the present-day home of Iona College. During a surprise announcement at the June 1940 dedication of what was supposed to be a new high school science building (Cornelia Hall), the first North American Christian Brothers college was established.
With the three growing schools developing distinct identities, Iona Grammar moved to its present site at 173 Stratton Road in northern New Rochelle on the 11-acre Stevens Estate in 1955. It was the summer home of Harry M. Stevens, a British food concessionaire sometimes considered to be the inventor of the hot dog, but unanimously agreed to have been America’s foremost ballpark concessionaire. A decade later, the high school would follow suit, moving to the 26-acre Matthew Carney estate at 255 Wilmot Road.
Iona Preparatory has been at the forefront of educational technology since 1984, when computers first arrived, along with a new curriculum and director for the freshly built D’Urso Technology Center. In 1997, Iona Prep began outfitting its freshmen classes with laptop computers. The school was one of the first in the nation to go wireless in 1999.
The new millennium witnessed the installation of SMART Boards, and recognition by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2002. The award was bestowed for leadership, teaching, curriculum, student achievement and parental involvement—all characteristics that have marked the school’s existence from its first class in 1916 to the present day, as evidenced by the nearly 20,000 students who have graduated over the past 100 years.
Iona Grammar reunited with Iona Preparatory in September of 2013, and the two once again became a singular educational experience. Today, Iona Preparatory School is home to the only Catholic, all-boys, K-12 program in Westchester. Future plans include the renovation of the Lower School Library & Technology Center, the addition of bleachers and a press box to the recently named Wellington T. Mara Field, and an expansion of the Paul Verni Fine Arts Center.
More than 200 years ago, Blessed Edmund Rice opened Mount Sion, a free school that provided food and clothing, as well as a sound education, to the poor of Ireland. Today, Brother Rice’s vision lives on as Iona Prep students travel the nation and world—New Orleans, the Dominican Republic, and Peru, to name but a few places—serving areas marginalized by poverty and injustice in the mission of the Christian Brothers.
Just as Brother Rice’s school was two centuries before, Iona Preparatory School continues to be a center for faith and learning. The 167 graduates in the Centennial Anniversary Class of 2017 earned more than $23 million in merit-based scholarships. The school’s 100-year anniversary celebration culminates this fall with the President’s Dinner Centennial Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on Friday, Nov. 17.