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Alumnae, staff celebrate Bishop Kearney High School at street renaming

students and staff at the bishop kearney way street renaming
Former students and staff of Bishop Kearney High School gathered on Oct. 16 to celebrate the co-naming of Bishop Kearney Way.
Arthur de Gaeta

The intersection of Bay Parkway and 60th Street got a new name this weekend to celebrate the memory of the beloved Bishop Kearney High School, an all-girls Roman Catholic School that educated thousands of south Brooklyn women between 1961 and 2019.

Dozens of former students and staff, including Sister Helen Kearney, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph and niece of Bishop Raymond Kearney, for whom the school was named, gathered on Oct. 16 to declare the intersection “Bishop Kearney Way.”

helen kearney with a street sign that says bishop kearney way
Sister Helen Kearney, niece of Bishop Kearney High School’s namesake, spoke at Saturday’s street co-naming. Arthur de Gaeta

When the school announced that it would be closing in the summer of 2019 after years of waning attendance and financial struggles, the school’s enthusiastic alumnae stood true to their motto, “Once a Kearney girl, always a Kearney girl,” and rallied to commemorate their school with a street co-naming.

“When I heard that Bishop Kearney High School was closing that summer of 2019, it was heartbreaking, heartbreaking,” Mary Ann Liotta, a 1977 graduate of the school, told Brooklyn Paper ahead of the renaming. “Of course, you instantly recall your school days, your high school days, but it was more than that. It was a family.”

Liotta likened the bond she had with her schoolmates to one between college sorority sisters. The fact that future generations of Bensonhurst girls wouldn’t experience the friendships and education she and her friends had, she said, was “the biggest loss.”

Sister Virginia Lake, a longtime Kearney faculty member and a favorite among students, said she wasn’t surprised by the vigor her former students showed toward properly remembering their alma mater.

sister virgina lake at the renaming of bishop kearney way
Sister Virgina Lake, a longtime Kearney faculty member, said “Kearney girls” never surprise her with their enthusiasm.Arthur de Gaeta

“You always know you’re at a Kearney event because the girls scream when they see each other. It’s just wonderful,” she said. “It’s not something that you teach at the school, but it’s something that they felt and that they’ve kept going.”

crowd of former students at bishop kearney street renaming
Dozens of former students, staff, and others gathered to celebrate Bishop Kearney High School. Arthur de Gaeta

“The influence of a great school like Bishop Kearney never really goes away,” said local Councilmember Justin Brannan, who authored and passed a bill to bring the co-naming to life. “We here in South Brooklyn and beyond will continue to feel the positive impact of the lessons learned there for generations. I’m proud that this street sign will help remind people where it all came from, and I’m grateful to the friends, neighbors, leaders, and alumni who helped push this effort over the finish line.”

Update (Oct. 19, 9 am): This story has been updated to include comment from area Councilmember Justin Brannan.

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