Mike Murphy, senior vice-president of operations for the NHL and a graduate of Toronto's Brebeuf College School. Register file photo.

Brebeuf has been making men out of boys for 50 years

By  Peter Ash, The Catholic Register
  • May 5, 2014

TORONTO - Brebeuf College School has been turning teenagers into men for five decades.

The Jesuits of Upper Canada opened Brebeuf College School to students in Grades 9 and 10 for the 1963-64 school year. Fifty years later, over the May 2 to 4 weekend, Brebeuf celebrated its 50th anniversary.

“A 50th anniversary celebration like this inspires many to share memories and reflect on some of the important ways Brebeuf has had an impact on their lives,” said principal Anthony Azzopardi. “No matter how long you’ve been a member of this school community, it doesn’t take very long to begin to appreciate how special this school is. I’m proud to say our school staff continues today to set high academic standards for all while at the same time working diligently on maintaing a faith-based, inclusive and welcoming community that maximizes the opportunity for all to succeed.”

Discipline and results have always been the focal point of the school.

“High grades, discipline, results, parents expected results, the administration expected results,” said Br. Henry Spencer, a chaplain at the school.

Brebeuf has had an impact on thousands of lives and has produced numerous high-profile alumni. Among these are National Hockey League senior vice-president of operations Mike Murphy, CTV News’ anchor Bill Hutchison, Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children, author Charles Foran, lawyer and board member of the Catholic Civil Rights League Philip Horgan and Fr. Eric Rodriquez, assistant to Cardinal Thomas Collins.

Brebeuf is responsible for many of the characteristics Murphy said allowed him to move through the NHL’s ranks as a player, coach and eventually the league’s senior vice-president.   

“(Brebeuf) cared deeply that their students become successful in life, that doesn’t necessarily attribute to financial success,” he said. “It means that they become successful in the way they treat people, successful in the way their lives have unfolded, successful in their relationship with God, those are all values that I feel have affected me because I went to Brebeuf.”

Murphy credits the virtues of awareness and perseverance which Brebeuf taught for getting him where he is today.

“My time at Brebeuf was one of the most enjoyable times in my life,” Murphy said. “The teachers were excellent, you had smart students, you had ambitious students who wanted to achieve, and I think that type of environment runs off on people.”

Murphy continued to praise Brebeuf and its various commitments towards students.

“It was hugely influential in my future life, and still is to this day. It was a pretty good deal to go to Brebeuf.”

Brebeuf offers an enriching experience for students and teachers in school and out, and that is what has kept Spencer at Brebeuf for the past 14 years.

“I considered it a really good Catholic high school,” said Spencer. “We have wonderful teachers at Brebeuf. It is a great school because our teachers are (great) women and men. Very dedicated, very devoted.”

But it is not just the academic and athletic features which Brebeuf harbours in students.

“From the incredible teachers who provided not only education, but mentorship as well,” said Kielburger. “To the coaches who taught the importance of teamwork on and off the field.”

Kielburger and his brother Craig founded Free the Children shortly after graduating in 1995. Their mission was to create a world where young people are free to reach their potential. Today, Free the Children has more than 2.3 million youth involved in its programs.

Brebeuf’s characteristics definitely transferred to Kielburger, who wanted to make an impact right away. He ended up doing much more than that.

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