Jan. 25, 2011

A Special Day for President Garvey's Family

Left to right: John Garvey's five children, Clare, Michael, Katie, Becky, and Kevin, serve as gift bearers at their father's inaugural Mass. View photo galleries.

As President John Garvey processed up the center aisle of the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a small boy balanced on top of the pew in the second row. With a little monster truck in one hand, he waved wildly with the other. Two-year-old Kevin Garvey had caught sight of his grandfather.

Dressed in khaki pants, a light blue oxford shirt, and a navy tie, the youngster had traveled from Concord, N.H, with his parents Michael and Katie Garvey and his two older siblings, John and Maeve, for the inauguration of John Garvey as CUA's 15th president.

He was joined by his cousins Lupe, Jack, and Bridie, who came with parents Kevin and Shannon Garvey of Silver Spring, Md. His youngest cousin, baby Clara, was also there with parents Becky and Corey Cressy of South Bend, Ind. Becky, the Garveys' second child and oldest daughter, left her older three children home with their paternal grandparents.

Katie Romero, the Garveys' third child, came in from London, leaving husband Michael home in England with their two small daughters. Rounding out the group was the youngest of the five Garvey children, Clare, who came in from Massachusetts, where she is a senior at Boston College.

More than 50 relatives filled the section reserved for the Garvey family at the front of the Basilica. They were easy to spot - they were the group with the big smiles and digital cameras. And they were the group that rose to its feet spontaneously, immediately, and in unison when Garvey was formally installed as President.

In addition to his children and grandchildren, Garvey's siblings were in attendance as well. His sisters Mary, Annette, and Margaret and his brothers Denis, Tom, and Hugh were there with their spouses and some of their children. Other extended family members completed the entourage.

Katie Romero said there was only one word to sum up the feeling of her family as the Inaugural Mass was about to begin: "pride." She said it was a feeling that was "overwhelming" all of them.

"To be here in this church with our family all together is a gift," said Garvey's sister, Margaret Condon, who traveled from Bergen County, N.J., with her husband and six children. "Today, John's brothers and sisters are standing with him. "

Jeanne Garvey, with grandson Kevin Garvey and daughter Katie Romero, outside the Basilica following her husband's inaugural Mass. View photo galleries.

"As we prepared for this day, I kept thinking how incredible it is to have faith. That was the gift my parents gave to John and to all of us. We were always taught that church is the center of our family. Today is a confirmation of our faith," said Condon.

She said that at a family dinner the previous evening, John Garvey and his siblings toasted their parents with tears. "If our parents were here today, they would feel proud, but more than anything they would be grateful," said Condon.

"John is a terrific brother," said Denis Garvey. And admitting his bias, he added, "The University made the right choice. He is very devoted to the Church and to the mission of Catholic University. He brings a strong moral background in Catholic faith to this position. And he is so thrilled and excited to have this job."

Referring to the family dinner the previous evening, Denis said Jeanne (Garvey's wife) made a toast that couldn't be more true. She said, 'John has been preparing for this job all his life without even knowing it.'"

By the time the five Garvey children headed to the back of the Basilica to serve as gift bearers, little Kevin had fallen asleep. And as each of them offered their gifts to Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington and CUA's chancellor, his grandmother, Jeanne Garvey, could be seen on large screens at the front of the church with tears in her eyes.

Becky Cressy later said that as she walked up the Basilica's center aisle, she had "flashbacks" to all the times she and her brothers and sisters had served as gift bearers as children.

Jeanne Garvey said she had the same thought. "I was overwhelmed with pride. I was thinking about them as children and I thought about what wonderful, fine young people they have all become."

Summing up the morning, Cressy said, "I was amazed at how natural it all seemed. It just feels right that our father is in this position."

"He used to read to us about the lives of saints at the breakfast table," added oldest son Kevin Garvey. "This is just the right fit for him and the University. We've never seen him happier."


More Inauguration News