For Leominster’s Keatings, St. Bernard’s a Family Affair
LEOMINSTER -- For the Keating family of Leominster, St. Bernard’s isn’t just a school. It’s a family tradition.
Bob and Nancy Keating say their family has 45 members who attended St. Bernard’s, 48 if you count people related by marriage. The total includes their four children and relatives on both sides of the family tree.
“It was just a natural progression for them to go,” said Nancy Keating, a 1984 graduate. Her husband graduated in 1983.
They said sending their children to the school was an obvious choice, the only question was how they would fit it into their budget.
Bob Keating said taking a modest vacation to Florida once a year and staying with family were among the tradeoffs that were easy to make.
Keating said they wanted their children to have a Catholic education and are proud that religious lessons are taught daily. They also value the social aspect of attending classes with other Catholics in an enriching environment.
“I think it’s the community in the school,” said Bob of other advantages their family gets from St. Bernard’s.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot, you definitely get to know everyone and develop close relationships with your teachers,” said Tara Keating, 17, the youngest of their nuclear family. She’s the senior class president and plays on the field hockey team. She said with a student body of 40 to 45 students, it’s natural to form strong bonds.
The youngest of four siblings, Tara also has had numerous cousins in the school, as well.
Her maternal grandmother, Noreen Guartafierro of the class of 1960, said that closeness was intact when she attended St. Bernard’s in a class of about 200. She said with the popularity of the existing social events, students got to know each other and people from the other grades, as well.
“In a small school, you find ways to build community,” said Nancy Keating.
For example, each year almost 100 percent of upperclassmen went to the junior-senior reception, where the junior class would put on skits, sing songs and give roasts about specific seniors. It was a dressy affair, but is no longer in practice.
Hearing about it now, Tara Keating said it would have been a blast to have one.
Guartafierro said while a lot has changed about St. Bernard’s, the values and knowledge she gathered from the local Catholic school system have stayed relevant for her and others.
“The things I learned from those early years, they’re still there,” she said.