On Sunday, December 4, Regis High School hosted a program and reception celebrating the Timothy F. Beckett, Jr. Award. Established in 1997 by the Class of 1966 in honor of their late classmate, the award is given annually at the Fall Academic Convocation to the Regian who in his first three years best exemplifies the ideals of Christian service to others, leadership, the promotion of justice for all, and the pursuit of excellence that Beckett displayed while at Regis and throughout his life. The gathering brought together alumni from the Class of 1966, many members of Beckett's family, a number of past and present award winners, and several parents of awardees.
During his time as a student at Regis, Beckett excelled in and outside the classroom, serving in student government and leading social justice efforts in underserved communities. His commitment to Christian service inspired others. His continued pursuit of excellence took him to Harvard College, Harvard Medical School, and Stanford University. During a pause in study Beckett’s desire to serve others took him to Bangladesh and India to eradicate smallpox with the World Health Organization and later to Afghanistan, Egypt, and Mexico as an itinerant physician. After his residency at Stanford, where he served as chief resident, the opportunity to help direct the Walk-in Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and teach at Harvard Medical School brought him East again.
In 1981, Beckett was diagnosed and treated for malignant melanoma. Undeterred, he returned to the Walk-in Unit that sees 25,000 to 30,000 patients a year with renewed purpose and also got married. Two years later, on July 29, 1983, Beckett died at age 35, leaving a rich legacy of service and leadership in the pursuit of justice and excellence.
John Nonna '66 served as the emcee for the reception and celebration, which was planned and spearheaded by Tim O'Connor '66. In addition to Nonna, three other members of the class -- Peter Colasante '66, Jim Periconi '66, and John Van Name '66 -- offered moving reflections on their beloved friend.
"The last time I saw Tim was at our 15th reunion. We were all moving forward with our careers, but Tim was sprinting," Van Name said. "I can count on my fingers the people I wish I could spend one more day with. One of those fingers belongs to Tim."
Beckett's family also was well represented at the event and during the program, with his sister Pattie, his brother Bob, and his widow, Dr. Diana Bianchi, MD, sharing memories of Beckett and testaments to his character and inspiring life.
"Today’s event with many award winners present and future ones still to be named ensures that the memory of Tim will live on," Bob Beckett said. "But more importantly that the ideals and principles of how he led his life will continue to be visibly recognized in future award winners. This is an incredible legacy and a welcomed challenge."
Jimmy Simmons '09, one of the numerous Beckett Award winners in attendance, spoke on behalf of all of the recipients. He paid tribute to Beckett as well as to Timothy McCormick '07, a fellow Beckett Award winner who tragically passed away in an ambulance accident while working as a paramedic.
"Today’s Beckett Award ceremony is ultimately a celebration of optimism," Simmons offered. "It’s a recognition that though it may be difficult or risky or even illogical, we should still strive to emulate Tim Beckett and Tim McCormick by making the conscious choice to embrace hope instead of cynicism. As Regians, we are united to one another because we are people of a shared faith. And faith, as St. Paul wrote, 'is the substance of things hoped for.'”
Dean Minello and Luke Dolan, the two Regis seniors who were presented with the Beckett Award this fall, also attended and led the group in the singing of the Regis alma mater.
At the conclusion of the program, Regis President Rev. Christopher J. Devron, SJ, blessed the plaque that displays the names of each award winner and now hangs outside of the Campus Ministry Office.
"Bless this plaque and the young men who read it," Fr. Devron prayed. "May they be inspired by the life and witness of Timothy Beckett to follow his example and become Men for Others who dedicate their lives to God's greater glory."
The full recording of the program is available below.