A Foundation of Shared Values Inspires Volunteerism

Reprinted from Traditions, Summer 2019
August 7, 2019

Derham Hall gave Bridget Manahan ’74 her first taste of leadership and service, and it made a lasting impression.

Coming from St. Luke’s Grade School (now St. Thomas More), she was one of just a few students who decided to go to Derham Hall. Most of the girls from St. Luke’s chose Our Lady of Peace. But, Manahan’s mother, Lorraine, wanted her daughters to have the same experience that she had at her beloved St. Joseph’s Academy. Derham Hall, under the leadership of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, was the next best option.

Manahan’s parents were deeply committed Catholics who were active volunteers in their church and committed to Catholic education for their children. They were parishioners at the Church of St. Luke, and the Manahan children attended St. Luke’s Grade School. Bridget and her siblings, Tim ’68 and Sheila ’75, then went to Cretin or Derham Hall. Bridget also received her college degree from the CSJs at the College of St. Catherine.

It was at Derham Hall that one of the driving forces in her life took root.

“The importance of service was modeled first by my parents and then reinforced by the Derham Hall experience,” reflected Manahan. The Sisters, whose diligent work on behalf of the marginalized in our region, as well as their commitment to providing excellence in education, cultivated an environment where the girls were committed to service. “At Derham Hall, I learned service can take many forms.”

“But, no matter what form it would take, I understood then that I have a responsibility to ensure that the opportunities I have had are available to others.”

Manahan has worked diligently to do just that for current and future Cretin-Derham Hall students. Currently the Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking at Western Bank, Manahan has a long track record of supporting Cretin-Derham Hall through her leadership on boards and committees.

Once the Chair of the Board of Directors and a member on the Investment Committee, she currently serves on the Advancement Committee. She is also a Domain Chair for the current Strategic Planning process, with particular focus on Advancement and Communications. Before the merger between Derham Hall and Cretin, she also worked on Derham Hall’s Annual Appeal.

“Working with CDH is important to me for many reasons,” Manahan explains. “I have the opportunity to work with incredible volunteers who all share the common goal of providing an exceptional educational experience for our students, and I am genuinely inspired by the work of our dedicated faculty, led by Frank Miley and Mona Passman, who positively impact our students every day.”

In fact, she points to the teachers she had at Derham Hall and those who teach our students today as her personal heroes. “When smart, dedicated people choose teaching and public service as their life work, we all benefit.”

As one might expect from a banking executive, she looks at the future of CDH from a financial standpoint, but realizes the unparalleled strength of the school is the legacy of the community who support it.

“CDH benefits from an extraordinarily devoted and generous alumni base,” she noted. “Our shared values live on long past the four years of high school.”

It is these values, and the opportunity to learn how to apply them in life, that have proven time and time again to be distinctive about CDH.

She is particularly impressed with the expanded opportunities CDH offers today’s students.

“CDH students have a much broader, more comprehensive slate of opportunities that support the academics,” she noted.

“When I think of Cretin-Derham Hall today, I think of a place where there is room for every student to excel — the academic, the athlete, the artist, the advocate, the leader and the follower.”

“Between the vast amount of service and justice activities and all the clubs and organizations, in addition to athletics and the arts, CDH students have so many ways to grow and excel and really hone in on those values in action.”

She also believes the shared values builds community and it is visible among current students, as well as within the bonds alumni share with each other and the school, even decades after graduation.

This drives her personal commitment to volunteer and serve in the spirit of the CSJs and all those who built the community that she experienced, and the excellent education she received at Derham Hall.

“I believe the greatest investment we can make as a community is an investment in future generations,” remarked Manahan passionately. “In an increasingly complex world where change is the norm, having a foundation that is grounded in our shared values as members of CDH community is empowering and reassuring.”


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