Using lyrics from “Won’t You be My Neighbor?” by Fred Rogers, Sister Mary L. Murphy, CSJ, set the tone for Regis College’s annual Founders’ Day celebration on Thursday as an opportunity to serve the dear neighbor.

“You represent what it means to reach out to the dear neighbor without distinction,” she told a crowd of hundreds gathered on the main quad for the day’s kick-off event. “I can assure you the original founders would be thrilled to see the view that I have this morning of a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community. They would be thrilled to see their dream come true.”

The Regis community gathers at the steps of the Learning Commons for Founder's Day 2021Founders’ Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Boston on October 2, 1873. The order founded Regis College in 1927 as a higher education option for women in the area.

This year, more than 750 students, faculty, and staff, including those at Regis North and in Regis’ online programs, participated in 27 service opportunities such as making blankets for the Waltham Day Center, building flower boxes for Advocates, Inc., and sorting donations and creating “bags of love” for girls and women transitioning into a safe house after being saved from human trafficking.

Stephanya Mendes ’25 and Madison Stevens ’25 put together school supply packages for children through Bethany Hill Place, which provides housing and learning opportunities for the community’s poorest and most marginalized individuals.

Regis volunteers prepare food on Founder's Day
Photo by Steve Sedman

“I am studying education and love working with kids so it was a wonderful opportunity,” said Mendes. “And we also got to write little notes that we put with the packages, which I really enjoyed.”

There were also opportunities to write letters for the American Association of Care Giving Youth, an organization that supports youth who care for chronically ill, injured, elderly, or disabled family members. Andrew Mazzola ’25, wrote two letters to high school seniors.

“It has been a great day,” said Mazzola, who also walked around the Regis Stadium track at as part of the Honors Program’s Walk for the Regis College Hospitality Center.

The keynote speaker for Founders’ Day was James Morton, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston. His moving remarks not only highlighted the values of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, but also explored how challenges he faced as a child, and the eventual support he received from others, helped lead to his successes today.

“None of us do anything we do alone,” he said. “At times challenges do present themselves and we need to rely on the help of others to ultimately be successful. Let’s make the world a better place. We can do it and we can do it one person at a time and one day at a time.”

Regis volunteers rest after clearing weeds on Founder's Day 2021
Photo by Walt Horner

Regis College President Antoinette Hays, PhD, RN, closed the day’s program offering her and gratitude for the community’s participation.

“Together we have been servant leaders,” said Hays. “Doing what the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston have been doing since the 1600s, meeting the needs of the times with love, compassion, and intentional action.”