SBP Marks Fr. Ed’s Birthday, Virtually

75th Birthday Brings Lauds


Krithik Rajasegar

Part of an SBP-wide celebration for Headmaster Fr. Edwin Leahy’s 75th birthday included a keepsake video featuring congratulatory messages from eminent figures, alumni, fellow monks, students, faculty and staff.

The morning of Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 may have seemed like any other ordinary day for a random person around the world, but for the Benedict’s community, it was a deeply cherished one. Gathered together at Convocation, students, faculty and alumni joined together, virtually, in digital fashion, to celebrate the 75th birthday of Headmaster Fr. Edwin Leahy, O.S.B. ‘63.

Fr. Ed is joined on a special birthday Zoom call broadcast Wednesday night on YouTube with SBP Community members including Mr. Mike DiPiano H’82 and Mr. Hank Cordeiro ‘72. (Krithik Rajasegar)

The gathering ran as any other Convo would until Agnes Aghanwa, Senior Group Leader of the Girls Division, wished the man of the hour a happy birthday and proceeded to present a compilation of cherished memories the Senior Class of 2020 had put together for him. Even though the pandemic had prevented students from being together in-person at school, it did not stop the Seniors from upholding the beloved tradition.

As a birthday surprise, students showed a student-produced video highlighting clips of the antics of the school’s high-spirited Headmaster — including the times when Fr. Ed entered Convo in the auditorium rocking a bright red durag with airpods in, when he made a clean 3-pointer while facing backwards, and when he stood in the “Box” and flaunted his self-described “peak physical condition.” While student leaders on the Zoom call smiled, the entire SBP community watching Convo took in the joy. Following the video, Science Teacher Dr. Dennis Lansang H’18 sang a strong rendition of “Happy Birthday,” brightening the atmosphere even more.

Fr. Ed gave a reflection of his life thus far, “I didn’t get into Benedict’s. I got rejected. I got in because the pastor at my church wrote a letter, saying that he thought I could do it if they let me in. And he also said that he thought I may be able to be a future priest. I’m thirteen years old, this old man sees that, right. How? I don’t know. So I get in, because somebody interceded for me. I could take you into the spot outside Room 12, outside the kindergarten, where I was standing the first or second day I was here and I knew I was home.”

After Convo dismissed, the morning portion of the celebration was over. However, unbeknownst to Fr. Ed’s knowledge, another live celebration was in the works for later.

At 7 p.m., those waiting for the livestream watched as a Zoom call broadcast live on YouTube filled with boxes bearing the images of Dr. Lansang, Associate Headmaster for Community and Leadership Dr. Glenn Cassidy ’90, Director of Technology Mr. Dexter Lopina ’98, as well as Mr. Mike DiPiano H’82 and Mr. Hank Cordeiro ‘72. It was clear Fr. Ed was in for a treat. Some minutes later, he finally joined the call, as he was attending a birthday celebration in Newark Abbey with fellow monks. Mr. DiPiano and Mr. Cordeiro opened with a bit that put a grin on Fr. Ed’s face. 

This was followed by a video presentation made in Fr. Ed’s honor by eminent personalities, alumni, monks, students, administrators, as well as faculty and staff members. Faces of loyal Benedict’s community members from throughout the decades appeared on the screen, wishing their beloved headmaster and classmate a gracious happy birthday. As wonderful as it was, this was not an easy task to enact.

Susan Kronberg, Executive Assistant to the Headmaster, led the effort and said she started thinking about the project last year, at the end of Fr. Ed’s 74th birthday. “At the time, COVID-19 wasn’t a thing, and there were all kinds of possibilities to have a grand celebration and invite alumni and friends to be together,” Ms. Kronberg said. “75 is a big deal!”

She knew of someone else who was planning a so-called “keepsake video” for a relative and she thought it would be a perfect approach for Fr. Ed’s milestone birthday. “We sent out requests to alumni and friends, and in all we received 74 videos to create a video montage that’s 45 minutes long,” she said. “No matter how big or small the task is around here, it never fails that I am in awe of how this community works together, with great care, to make things happen. It’s a beautiful thing.”

With the help of Dr. Cassidy, Mr. Lopina, Dr. Lansang, Mr. DiPiano, Mr. Cordeiro, and Chief Advancement Officer Mr. Michael Fazio, along with countless others, Ms. Kronberg and others believe Fr. Ed’s 75th was an amazing one and definitely one for the books! 

Happy birthday, Fr. Ed, and here’s to many, many more!