Rockhurst Students, Alumnus and Staff Honor the Legacy of Fr. Thomas Curran


Courtesy of KCJC

Derrick Evers, Reporter

After 17 Baccalaureate Masses, 58 baptisms, 11,500 birthday cards signed, 11,700 written cards to donors, 12,586 diplomas signed, and 58 weddings celebrated, Fr. Thomas Curran’s time as president of Rockhurst is coming to an end.

Curran has touched the lives of everyone who has been a part of Rockhurst University since he took over on June 1, 2006. To honor the positive impact Curran has had on our student body, staff, and administration, the Sentinel and the Rockhurst marketing team has been collecting stories, memories, and kind words about him from those around Rockhurst.

Rockhurst student Tori Dickson told the Sentinel that she will remember Curran always greeting her with a “gracious smile and a warm hello.” Dickson, like many others, will also remember the many meals she shared with Fr. Curran in the Rockhurst cafeteria.

“After a while it became routine that my friends and I would be joined by Father Curran in the Caf after mass. The conversations that we shared were intentional, down to earth, and sprinkled with some jokes from Father Curran. I will always cherish those memories because in the simple act of eating with us, Fr. Curran demonstrated how servant leadership is so vital across all aspects of life.”

Rockhurst student Sariana Barbarotta also shared with the Sentinel that she also always feels Curran’s positive spirit whenever she sees him, “I will miss seeing Father Curran every day while walking my dog. He was an amazing neighbor and always greeted me with so much positive energy, as he does everyone he crosses paths with.”

Curran’s reach doesn’t stop with current Rockhurst students. Many alumnus from years past were willing to share their stories with the Rockhurst marketing department. Shelby Hennen, from the class of 2018, shared a memory from her graduation.

“At my graduation ceremony, I was asked to sing the national anthem. I was definitely nervous as the crowd would be by far the largest I had ever sung in front of. Father Curran could tell and spent his time backstage not talking to the high-profile guests but chatting with me. I had taken his course earlier that year and he remembered so many details about me- my family, the high school I attended, the papers I had written, my major, you name it.”

Many stories were testaments to the thoughtfulness of Curran. Bob Garagliola, from the Rockhurst class of 1974 shared a story with the marketing team of how Curran helped him through a very hard time in his life.

“When I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2018, one of the first friends I heard from was Father Curran. He sent me the Peace Prayer of St. Francis de Sales. I was unfamiliar with this particular prayer but was struck by its message. It gave me a perspective and a comfort to face my cancer. I said this prayer everyday during my chemotherapy and hospitalizations and continue to do so. Thank you Father Curran.”

Kelly Edmiston, former adjunct instructor and former Helzberg Advisory Board member shared with the Rockhurst Marketing department that, “Upon the birth of each of my four young children, Father Curran sent me a hand-written card. Few people are as busy as a university president, yet he took the time to send these cards. It’s emblematic of who Father is: a genuinely good and humble man with great deal of class.”

When the Sentinel reached out to Rockhurst Administration, stories flooded in about the kindness and generosity of Curran. Alicia Douglas, Director of Community Relations and Outreach at Rockhurst, shared a story that is representative of Fr. Curran’s great character.

“A few years ago, I ended up in the hospital. I was blessed to be one of the people to experience Father Curran’s generosity of spirit and kindness when he showed up at my hospital room unexpectedly. He offered to pray for me and left me and my sister feeling uplifted. Father Curran doesn’t make a big show of his position and title. He just quietly, intentionally shows up for people. That’s what I will always remember about his time at Rockhurst.”

For those wishing to read more stories and memories about Curran, Rockhurst is collecting stories on their website. Visit this link for more. In addition, if you would like to honor Curran and submit a story of your own, the Rockhurst marketing department is still collecting stories and would love to hear yours!