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Spiritual Journey

Every spring, three Connell School of Nursing undergraduates are chosen to help affirm the school’s Catholic heritage by journeying to one of Catholicism’s most sacred sites.

The Connell School students accompany members of the Order of Malta – a worldwide Catholic lay religious order – on their annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France each May. The Order of Malta pilgrims bring the sick to Lourdes to wash with and drink the waters of the shrine’s grotto, and pray for spiritual and physical healing.

James O’Connor, a 1962 alumnus who has held several leadership positions in the order, points out that the students’ presence is not simply ceremonial.

“There are usually some 60 pilgrims who have significant medical needs. The BC students work as volunteer para-nurses, and are assigned to the doctors and nurses on the medical team traveling with our group,” explains O’Connor, former area chair for the order’s Boston branch and current president and board chairman of Malteser International, the order’s relief agency.  

This year’s CSON representatives, graduating seniors Kaitlin Hildreth, Colleen McGauley and Karlee Rajaniemi, more than lived up to the high standard of their predecessors, according to O’Connor.

“They provided wonderful care and comfort, and everyone there spoke highly of them,” he says.

The Connell School’s participation in the pilgrimage, made possible through generous donations, represents one of many ties between BC and the Order of Malta, adds O’Connor, who notes that over the years numerous alumni – such as trustees Peter Lynch, Robert Morrissey and Thomas Flatley – have been members.  

“There’s a very strong connection to BC, as befits a university that is so linked to the Catholic tradition,” he says.

Rajaniemi, in a personal reflection she wrote for the Connell School website, said the experience of going to Lourdes had profoundly affected her professionally, personally and spiritually.

“I learned how to be an advocate for my patients and even their family members, and how to address seemingly impossible discussions. I was introduced to truly fascinating people who give their life and their time to making the world a better place, parents of ill children whose kids remain as joyful as the next due to their sacrifices, and malades [French for “sick person”] whose outlook on life has challenged me to change my own.

“I strive to live with integrity, love, and perspective thanks to this trip. Many of my conversations with the malades of this trip have taught me the importance of taking time for your family and loved ones.”

Read the reflections written by Rajaniemi, McGauley and Hildreth at

–Sean Smith

Understanding Laudato Si

Boston College will hold a four-day conference this fall in response to Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change and the environment “‘Laudato Si’ (Praised Be): On the Care of the Common Home.” The conference, “Our Common Home,” scheduled for Sept. 28-Oct. 1, will take place in the wake of the pope’s addresses to the US Congress and the United Nations.

“Our Common Home” will begin with a keynote in Robsham Theater by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who has spoken frequently on the issues of global inequality and threats against the environment. Other scheduled speakers include theologian Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ (Fordham University), theologian and ethicist Willis Jenkins (University of Virginia), and Grant Gallicho (Commonweal).

The conference is being supported by a grant from the Institute for the Liberal Arts and is co-sponsored by several University departments and programs. More information will be available this fall.

–Office of News & Public Affairs

Making the Grade

For the third straight year, a graduate of the Carroll School of Management accounting program has placed among the top three in the Massachusetts Certified Public Accountant Exam.  Kevin Roberts ’12 recorded the second highest score among the nearly 900 who passed the test in 2014, according to results recently released by the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants.

“I’m happy to hear I can continue in the footsteps of previous Boston College alums and keep the streak going while shedding a positive light on our university,” said Roberts, who works at the Charlotte, NC, office of Ernst & Young in the Wealth and Asset Management practice.  

Roberts, who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in finance/accounting, joins fellow alumni Zachary Joosten ’13, who received third-place honors in Massachusetts in 2013; and Mark Stankevitz MSA ’12 and Ebben Hutchison MSA ’12, respectively, the top and second-place finishers in the Commonwealth in 2012 (Stankevitz and Anthony Salamone ’12 also received the Elijah Watt Sells Award for placing among the top 32 scores in the country).

“Kevin’s accomplishment is the culmination of a year in which our graduates passed the exam at the highest rate ever,” said Associate Professor Billy Soo, chair of the Accounting Department.  “Kudos to our faculty for their outstanding work in bringing out the best in our students.”

“The CPA exam is considered one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, of professional licensing exams,” said MSCPA Academic & Career Development Manager Barbara M. Iannoni. “Kevin earned the second highest score of the 886 test takers from Massachusetts who passed the exam in 2014 – that is certainly impressive.”  

Roberts, a member of the national business honor society Beta Gamma Sigma while at BC, cited his Carroll School education as a major factor in his success: “All of my accounting classes really prepared me well and gave me the proper foundation for these tests, which cover such a broad range.  Of all my time at BC, probably the most pivotal for the CPA was Professor Ed Taylor’s tax class my senior year.  I’m positive that no one else can make a tax class better than his.”

–Sean Hennessey