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Boston College’s (BC) Center for Catholic Education, one of the nation’s preeminent think tanks on Catholic education, will be called the Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education, following a $20 million gift from Patrick Roche, the co-founder of Roche Bros. supermarkets and a 1951 BC graduate, and his wife, Barbara, who are longtime benefactors of the college.
The Roches made the donation in support of Catholic education, which they said has made a profound difference in their lives. “Catholic education shaped who we are today, and when Boston College gave us an opportunity to help strengthen Catholic education through this center, we knew we wanted to help,” noted Patrick Roche.
He added: “Our mother died when my brothers and I were young kids, ages 6 to 12, and our faith and Catholic education helped with our upbringing. Catholic education was a great gift in my life. When Barbara and I saw the number of Catholic schools that were closing, we wanted to help, and BC gave us an opportunity to do so.”
The center, part of Boston College’s Lynch School of Education, trains graduate and undergraduate students to administer and teach in Catholic schools and universities across the country. It also conducts ongoing national research on staffing, student demographics and the structure of Catholic elementary schools; produces the journal “Catholic Education: A Journal of Theory and Practice”; and directs the Urban Catholic Teachers Corps, which trains teachers to work in Boston’s inner-city Catholic schools. Additionally, the center directs St. Columbkille Partnership School, a model Catholic elementary school that pairs the once-struggling school with the educational resources of Boston College.
Patricia Weitzel-O'Neill, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Washington and the former VP for academic affairs at Trinity Washington University in Washington, will become executive director of the center, beginning July 1.
Founded by Patrick Roche and his brother Bud, Wellesley, Mass.-based Roche Bros. operates 18 stores in the state.