Alumni News

Catholic Schools Week and Our Holy Cross Heritage

In addition to celebrating our Catholic Character and our Holy Cross Heritage, the activities of this annual celebration focus our attention on our citizenship in the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached throughout his ministry.  This year, students had the opportunity to participate in a 5K run to support IRIS, a New Haven-based organization assisting refugees, or to collect non-perishable food for WHEAT, West Haven’s city-wide food pantry.  

On Monday, January 24, we welcomed Father Brogan Ryan, CSC, Director of Campus Ministry at King’s College, a Holy Cross College in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., as our celebrant of the Eucharistic Liturgy.  Fr. Ryan graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2010.  He entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2012 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2019.

For many years, Notre Dame students have raised funds for the benefit of Saint Joseph’s Hill Senior Secondary School, Kyembogo, Fort Portal, Uganda, a school sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross, District of East Africa.  Students returned to Saint Joseph’s Hill on January 10 after a two-year lockdown, the longest in the world. Brother Joseph Kaganda, CSC, Headmaster, and some students greeted the ND student body via a video posted on the school’s Facebook page.  A dress down was the incentive to contribute to our support of Saint Joseph’s Hill.

The Junior Ring Ceremony is incorporated into Holy Cross Heritage Week as another reminder to the members of the Class of 2023 that they will soon be stepping up to more responsibilities as school leaders.  The rings were blessed at the end of Monday’s liturgy and distributed at a prayer service on Thursday. The ring service complements the Junior Commissioning Ceremony that was inaugurated in October. 

In keeping with another long-standing ND tradition, the last event of the week was the much anticipated faculty-student basketball game. This article was prepared before the game was played. Any bets on who won this year’s contest?

Notre Dame’s Holy Cross Heritage Week events remind us of Blessed Basile Moreau’s counsel: We place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart. 

Engineering Speaker Series Brings Alumni Experience To Current Students

As the second marking period of the fall semester reached the midpoint, Dr. Yolanda Valencia, Ed.D, decided her students were well enough immersed in the basics to appreciate voices of experience.  Valencia joined the ND faculty in August as an instructor in the Engineering, Technology, and Design Signature Program.  She received her doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins last spring. Her specialization is Technology Integration K – 16. The November series featured Tom Komar ’17, Dave DeCaprio ’90, and Michael Quiello ’70.
 
Tom Komar ’17, graduated from Bentley University in 2020 with a degree in Marketing.  He is currently employed as a Marketing Operations Specialist at Veracode, a Massachusetts company founded in 2006 and specializing in cybersecurity.  His sideline is 3-D printing, and he promotes himself via Tic Tok as The 3-D Printing Guru.  His instructional Tic Tok videos have over 108,000 followers.  Komar presented a workshop on the use of 3-D printing technology for rapid prototyping in industries such as medical, automotive, and aerospace. 
 
Dave DeCaprio ’90, MIT ’93, is the Founder and Chief Technology Officer of ClosedLoop.ai based in Austin, Texas.  With degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, DeCaprio has over 20 years of experience transitioning advanced technology from academic research labs into successful businesses. His experience includes genome research, pharmaceutical development, health insurance, computer vision, sports analytics, speech recognition, transportation logistics, operations research, real-time collaboration, robotics, and financial markets.  DeCaprio presented a workshop on machine learning (AI) in the health field and the importance of grit and persistence to succeed.
 
With the arrival of Houston-based Avelo Airlines in New Haven, Michael Quiello, Vice President for Safety, Security, and Operational Excellence, took advantage of a recent trip to Tweed-New Haven Airport to visit ND. Quiello attended the University of New Haven (Civil Engineering – 1974) and followed that with a year at the United States Navy Flight School.  In 2007, he completed the two-year Aviation Safety and Security Certificate Program at George Washington University. Quiello captivated our young engineering students by sharing his personal story as a pilot, highlighting the qualities they should develop to be successful in any profession.
 
Dr. Valencia commented: “I am grateful to have our ND alumni connect with our students. Our students are truly encouraged and motivated when they meet professionals in the fields they are interested in pursuing.  I am excited to continue the engineering speaker series for years to come.”  Valencia is preparing to replicate the guest lecture series in the current semester with different speakers. 
 
The seniors in ND’s T/E/D program are the first cohort to complete the entire three-year curriculum.  Here is a list of their capstone projects:
 
 
Project Name: Prodigy Nautical
Project Description: Submersible vehicle kit made of PVC that students can assemble to learn about underwater robotics.
Jacob Bauer ‘22, Kenneth McGovern ‘22, and Justin Simoncek ‘22
 
Project Name: TraccFlite
Project Description: Hand-held GPS/ADS-B back-up device for pilots in case of equipment failure.
CJ Cicarella ‘22 and Cameron Urice ‘22 
 
Project Name: Automatic Chicken Feeder
Project Description: Chicken feeder (3D-printed prototype) automated by a programmed timer.
David Riccio ‘22 
 
Project Name: The Green Machine
Project Description: Indoor greenhouse for home use, automated by Alexa. 
Anthony Abbott ‘22 and Malachi Blatchley ‘22
 

Major David Houde '05, US Army

Major David Houde ’05 is a Civil Affairs Officer in the United States Army and is currently serving as the Commander of Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He has served as the Commander of this unit since May 26, 2021.  He began his military career upon graduation from Norwich University in 2009.


The Army was something of a natural choice for Major Houde. His father, William Houde Sr., served as an Infantry Officer in the Army National Guard. Upon graduation from Notre Dame, he chose to attend Norwich University because of its outstanding ROTC programs. “Looking for an opportunity to pursue an undergraduate degree, as well as volunteer for service in the Armed Forces, the U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Norwich University provided me with both. The Military College of Vermont is one the nation’s senior military colleges and produces an impressive number of Commissioned Officers.”  At Norwich, Major Houde studied Criminal Justice. If a military career did not continue to appeal to him as he progressed through college, his back-up plan was to return to Connecticut and join a local police force.


The Army won out over a career in law enforcement, and although Major Houde considered assignment within the Military Police Corps, he entered into Active Duty as a Chemical Corps Officer.


Upon completing Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Chemical Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 2010, he was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Fort Drum, New York. There, he served as the CBRN Recon Platoon Leader. The mission of the Army Chemical Corps is to protect the force and the nation from Weapons of Mass Destruction and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear threats. During his time at Fort Drum, from 2011 to 2012 he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a Security Platoon Leader.


From 2014 to 2019, Major Houde was assigned to the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Special Operations) (Airborne) and was deployed on multiple Civil Military Engagement rotations: 2015 Theater Civil Military Support Element for Special Operations Command - Pacific; 2016 team leader for Civil Military Support Element - Cambodia; 2017 at the U.S. Embassy - Phnom Penh as the team leader for PACOM Augmentation team.  


As elite members of Army Special Operations Forces, Civil Affairs Soldiers complete a minimum of 44-74 weeks of training to ensure their small team is equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to support the Joint Force across the spectrum of armed conflict. Over the course of this training, soldiers gain expertise in reconnaissance, combat, intelligence, negotiation, and more. While rigorous, it ensures soldiers can survive in unforgiving landscapes, quickly analyze threats under pressure, and develop solutions to complex problems. Those soldiers who are selected to join Civil Affairs join one of the Army’s most elite teams. 


In 2019, Major Houde attended the Command and General Staff Officer Course at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, followed by National Defense University’s Joint Special Operations Master of Arts program at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  From the latter institution, he earned a Master’s Degree in Strategic Security Studies.  Major Houde's military education also includes Airborne School, Air Assault School, and SERE-C, a training program in survival skills.
His 2021 appointment as a Company Commander at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School makes Major Houde responsible for training and qualifying Civil Affairs Officers, Noncommissioned Officers, and Sister Service and Allied Nation Officers. He exercises mission command of an 11-week course conducted three times a year, which is part of the overall Civil Affairs Qualification Course. He is also responsible for onboarding and certifying 14 instructors who train, coach, and mentor 300 students every year. 


 “My 13 years of service in the U.S. Army have truly been a personally and professionally rewarding experience. The valor and patriotism of those whom I have had the distinct honor and privilege of serving with is unmatched. I have been entrusted with the autonomy and authority to operate with my small team and on my own in foreign countries, where my nearest supervisor is over 3,000 miles and multiple time zones away. I am grateful for the unique opportunities I have had to serve God and country.”


Notre Dame High School is grateful to Major Houde and the many Notre Dame Alumni who have served our country in the United States Armed Forces. Thank you for your service. 
 

Theory of Knowledge

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a course that is at the heart of the IB experience.

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a course that is at the heart of the IB experience.  It is a unifying element among the various subject classes, meant to get students to think not only about what they are learning in their other classes, but, more importantly, about why they learn the things in the way that they do.  What drives a lot of the course are the questions that lie behind the content of the subject courses.  By utilizing elements of epistemology, philosophical inquiry, and methodological meta-analysis, TOK is a rare opportunity for ND students to engage their critical thinking at a level that many do not get until either late in college or even graduate school.  I am co-teaching this class with Mr. Ruben Valencia, our Vice President for Academic Affairs, and we have been thoroughly enjoying this intellectual journey with our pioneering IB cohort!


    We began laying the groundwork for TOK this past summer, where in lieu of the regular summer reading assignment, we asked the students to look at a variety of disparate media.  Within each medium, students had one or two required elements, as well as several additional options to choose from.  They all had to read a chapter from a book called Consilience, which provided a framework for the cross-disciplinary unification that TOK is ultimately aiming for.  After that, they could choose from readings that addressed linguistics, mathematics, social science, and poetry.  The music selections ranged from Gregorian chants and Beethoven to Miles Davis and Pink Floyd--all meant to capture some of the broad range that makes up “music.”  The required movie was The Matrix for its brilliant metaphor about epistemological awakening, while the options ranged from Contact, for its exploration of the relationship between science and faith, to both The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan for how they represent differing approaches to depicting the same historical event.


Upon returning to ND in August, we began by introducing the students to the concept of gestalt, or learning to see a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.  This became the basis for synthesizing their summer sources, taking what on the surface were seemingly unrelated things and making a coherent whole out of them.  We had no set answer we were looking for, instead letting the students work together and then present their findings to us.  The results were fascinating, but more importantly, the entire process served as a model for what TOK is and how it relates to the overall IB experience.  The course is a way for our students to work together to take everything they are learning and transform it from a set of disparate classes to an even greater unified intellectual whole, and both we and they are excited for what lies ahead!
 

David Riccio '88: A Sacred Career Path

When chunks of plaster began to fall from the walls and ceiling at Saint Mary Church on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven in 2019, the parish found a helping hand in John Canning & Company of Cheshire, an architectural restoration contractor with over 45 years of experience. When it came to restoring the beautiful artwork that adorned the plaster walls of the 147-year-old structure, the parish found itself in the expert hands of Notre Dame Alumnus David Riccio ’88. 
 
Riccio is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works with more than 25 years of experience at Canning. He is an industry-recognized expert on historic flat and ornamental plaster, decorative painting techniques, gilding, and glazing. He has developed multiple innovative solutions for complex restoration conditions. (Canning & Co. website) 
 
Riccio graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Marketing. He explained what led him to the conservation of historic and artistic works. “I am the youngest of five brothers who attended Notre Dame. My four older brothers all majored in business, so I assumed that was my destiny.” Riccio’s first job was with Subway. At the corporate headquarters in Milford, he was instrumental in helping the company set up its franchise system, the fourth largest in the world. Explaining further, he commented, “My Italian immigrant great-grandfather and grandfather opened a furniture store in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven where I lived. Undoubtedly, I inherited something from them because as a boy I liked to use tools to try to make small items like boxes. When I was about ten, my parents purchased a house in Westville that had some fire damage. I loved to watch my father doing the restoration work and would help as much as I could.”
 
Ricco’s introduction to John Canning came about in Milford where Canning owned a studio for specialty decorative painting. After offering to assist Canning with marketing and management matters, Canning invited him to become part of the enterprise. Ricco started 26 years ago with an intensive five-year apprenticeship. Today, Canning is retired, and Riccio owns John Canning & Co.  
 
Riccio acknowledges that he struggled academically during his first three years at ND. “In my junior year, I was working with Mrs. Stone in the guidance department, and testing revealed that I suffered from dyslexia. Everything completely turned around for me. I was able to tell myself, ‘You can do this.’ To the point that I made the honor roll in my senior year. My involvement in athletics has also served me well. The coaches consistently lectured us on the importance of teamwork and attention to the execution of the play at hand. Teamwork and attention to detail are essential in any restoration project. Michaelangelo might get all the credit for the Sistine Chapel, but he did not work alone.” 
 
At Saint Mary, the team researched each of the church’s restorations dating back to the dedication of the historic structure in 1874. Their goal was to find and replicate the decorative art of the period when Blessed Michael McGivney was pastor at Saint Mary. “I recall the day Father John Paul Walker, OP, St. Mary’s pastor, came into the church, climbed the scaffold, and told us that the Vatican had just announced the beatification of Father Michael McGivney. We stopped our work and gathered for a prayer of thanksgiving at McGivney’s tomb. That event provided even more inspiration for our work.”  On October 9, 2021, Canning & Co. received the 2021 Award in the Craftsmanship/Artisanship category for the Decorative Finishes and Artwork completed at St. Mary Church in New Haven.  
 
Canning Liturgical Arts is a branch of John Canning & Co and the personal project of David Riccio. The Canning Liturgical Arts website sums up his personal beliefs and passion. Through a pure expression of beauty, there is the visual manifestation of truth and goodness. Canning Liturgical Arts is passionate about ecclesiastical art and decoration, as well as the historical role of sacred art as a way of handing on the faith and engaging the soul. Preserving the integrity and splendor of sacred buildings across America is our mission and beauty is our goal. 
 
David Riccio is the son of Ann Linda Apicella Riccio and the late Andy Riccio. Mrs. Riccio managed the Notre Dame cafeteria in the 1980s. He is the nephew of the late Brother Raymond Apicella, CSC, ’61. His siblings are Andy, Jr. ’79 Edward ’81 (deceased), Robert ’84, Raymond ’86, and Maura ’90 St. Mary’s HS. David and his wife Jackie live in Cheshire and are the parents of four. Isabella is a recent Berklee College of Music graduate; Zoe is an artisan baker; sons John and James are students at Cheshire High School.