As the campus of The Catholic University of America was awash in alumni attending Cardinal Weekend 2023 the weekend of Friday, October 13, graduates of The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (Catholic Law) came together to celebrate the reunions of twelve classes that had passed through its halls over the past half century. Graduates from 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013, and 2018 convened over the course of three days to commemorate the anniversaries of their respective graduations and to witness various generations of Catholic Law alumni bond over their shared alma mater. Graduates of the CUA-JU program also took part in the celebration, which included an acknowledgement of the twentieth anniversary of the program.
Cardinal Weekend 2023 at Catholic Law was not only an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with each other, but also a celebration of the strong supportive community of the Law School. Current Catholic Law student leaders, faculty, and staff were also present to take part in the celebration and share updates to the law school’s building, like the Centers and Institutes suite on the first floor. Alumni were able to build connections with the law students and hear first-hand about the work they are doing.
The weekend began the afternoon of Friday, October 13, with the dedication of the Joan Sheehan Vorrasi Suite. Named after the late Joan Vorrasi, whose five decades long career at Catholic Law saw her impact the Law School beyond her tenure as Director of Student Life & Special Events, the newly dedicated suite—located in Room 341—occupies her department’s former office space and marks Catholic Law’s recognition of her enduring legacy since her death in 2021. Welcoming remarks by Catholic Law’s Dean Stephen C. Payne began the dedication ceremony, which included a blessing of the suite by the Rev. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., University Chaplain, the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Vorrasi’s legacy, and closing remarks by Monica Rohner, former Director of Alumni Relations. This celebration of Vorrasi’s life and legacy concluded with a reception that itself initiated the evening’s broader welcome reception.
The dean’s State of the Law School address marked the beginning of the Law School’s numerous events for Saturday, October 14. Following the address, Professor Emerita Leah Wortham, director of Catholic Law’s cooperative program with Poland’s Jagiellonian University (JU), introduced the afternoon’s feature entertainment, “Polish Ways: A Musical Journey through the Golden Age of Polish Cinema.” This concert included a brief introduction of Polish cinema by Wojciech Jarosiński ’10 and a performance by award-winning Polish pianist Martin Labazevitch.
Saturday closed with the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards reception and dinner, hosted in the Louise H. Keelty and James Keelty, Jr. Atrium. Highlights of the evening included the surprise unveiling of the Joseph A. French Memorial Scholarship, an endowment dedicated to the memory of the late Joseph A. French ’83. Classmate John Devaney ’83 made the announcement on behalf of the entire Class of 1983. Moira E. Casey ’83, French’s widow, was presented with a check for $141,769.00 to fund the scholarship and shared her thanks to her classmates for honoring French’s memory.
Throughout the evening, attendees watched videos honoring each of the Distinguished Alumni award recipients. After each video, Dean Payne presented the honorees with their respective award: The 2023 Catholic Law Distinguished Alumni award recipients were Christopher Christian ’98, Jullian Brevard ’03, Brendan Koeth ’13, and Nessa Feddis ’83, and also included the presentation of a special Distinguished International Alumni award to Wojciech Jarosiński ’10, in honor of the twentieth anniversary of Catholic Law’s program with JU.
Aubri O'Connor, Associate Director of Leadership and Annual Giving, toward the end of the evening announced the class awards. The Class of 1983 won the Robinson Bowl for the most money raised out of those celebrating their 40th, 45th, and 50th anniversaries, as well as the Dean's Cup for the highest donation rate of all the classes. The Class of 1998 was awarded the Leahy Bowl for most money raised for a class, not in the Robinson Society. Finally, the Class of 2003 won the Alumni Cup for the highest attendance registration. Remarks by new Board of Visitors chair J.C. Boggs ’87 concluded the night’s festivities.
Photos of the weekend’s events are available on the Catholic Law Facebook page.