“The Shepherd and The Flock of ’71”

Louis A. “Lou” Rizoli ’71

Louis A. “Lou” Rizoli ’71
Louis A. “Lou” Rizoli ’71

If you research the life of Fr. Ambrose Mahoney, S.J., you will learn that he graduated from Boston College in 1940 and joined the Society of Jesus that same year. After serving as principal of B.C. High School for a time, Fr. Mahoney arrived on Mount St. James in 1963. He served as the College’s director of admissions until 1967, when he became an assistant dean. From 1971 through 1983, Fr. Mahoney served on the Hill as “administrator of the chapels.” He died in 1991.

Fr. Ambrose Mahoney, S.J.
Fr. Ambrose Mahoney, S.J.

All those job titles, however, don’t give you much sense of the man. For that, we turn to Louis “Lou” Rizoli ’71, a prominent attorney now living in Westwood, Mass. Lou, along with his classmates, remembers “Fr. Ambrose” as a warm, influential, caring mentor.

“The Good Shepherd said, I know my sheep and my sheep know me,” says Lou. “Well, the great class of 1971 had its shepherd – one of God’s greatest human beings, Rev. Ambrose J. Mahoney, S.J.”

Lou and his classmates feel so thankful for having benefited from the guidance, kindness and wisdom of Fr. Ambrose that they have established an endowed scholarship in the Jesuit’s name.

“Farther Ambrose was named the dean of our class when we arrived on campus,” Lou explains. “He was given an unruly flock of freshman sheep, but our shepherd went out of his way to know each and every member of the class. And by graduation, he wrote us the most amazing letters of recommendation as we were about to move from our safe and secure place at Mount St. James.”

Following Commencement, Fr. Mahoney made a point of staying in touch with his flock.

“After we graduated,” Lou says, “Fr. Ambrose became college chaplain and officiated at many of our marriages, including mine. My wife is Jewish, and Connie still talks about how welcoming and respected she felt at our Catholic wedding.”

In his final years, Fr. Mahoney suffered a long illness. Appropriately, one of his doctors at that time was a member of the class of ’71.

“Dr. Tom Piemonte was Father’s cardiologist,” says Lou. “Tom maintains to this day that the excellent, detailed letter of recommendation that Fr. Ambrose wrote for him is the reason he was accepted into medical school.”

After Fr. Ambrose died, Jim Sparkes, Jim Donahoe and I took up a collection in his memory. The class of 1971 named a chapel at Campion Center in Weston, Mass., in his honor. The number of personal notes from classmates describing the positive impact that Fr. Ambrose had on their lives was truly amazing.

Lou Rizoli '71

But it turns out the “boys of ’71” weren’t done paying tribute to the man who left such a meaningful mark on so many of their lives.

With their 50th reunion approaching, the timing of the honor could not have been better.

“I thought, what better way to show alma mater how much Fr. Ambrose meant to our class than to establish an endowed scholarship in his name?," says Lou. "The group that started out as an unruly flock of sheep dug deep into our pockets and raised more than $700,000 to honor Fr. Ambrose for all he did for us – for all the caring and help and encouragement and guidance.”

Lou Rizoli and the class of 1971 will never forget the man they call their shepherd, or the College that he served so well.

“We transitioned from childhood to adulthood at Holy Cross,” says Lou, “and we all have so many wonderful memories of those four years, the excellent education we received and the lifelong friendships we made. I have donated to the College every year since my graduation in 1971 as a way to say thank you to Mount St. James – and Fr. Ambrose Mahoney – for all that they gave me.”

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