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Stories of Fr. Mark resonate, while a scholarship is announced in his memory

Feb. 2, 2017

It’s only fitting that the man who structured St. Benedict’s Backpacking Project as we know it was the first to be feted at the inaugural Backpacking Legends Dinner.

The Rev. Mark Payne, O.S.B. ’69, who passed away last summer, was affectionately known “Big Bee” for coordinating the Backpack Project and the school's ever ingenious Group System in the mid-1970s. He was remembered by a crowd of more than 100 who turned out in Shanley Gym for the Legends Dinner on Thursday evening.

Fr. Mark, a licensed ham radio operator who turned many students on to the amateur radio hobby, went to Notre Dame after graduating from St. Benedict’s Prep before earning his Master’s Degree in Physics from Columbia University in 1976. He immediately returned St. Benedict’s to begin teaching and fine-tuning the Backpacking Project for the next 40 years.

“Stay Together,” was a phrase coined by Fr. Mark to keep everyone in concert during the 55-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail. On Thursday, the term reverberated in Shanley while reminding everyone in attendance the Rule No. 1 of the Backpacking Project.

Glenn Cassidy ’96, who took over the role of leading the Backpacking Project after Fr. Mark, and long-time Backpacking Commanders, Dave Carlo ‘99 and Jim Duffy H’16, took turns praising and telling their favorite stories of the long-time leader of The Trail and venerable physics teacher at The Hive.

Headmaster Fr. Edwin shared a few of his anecdotes of his confrere before concluding the evening by announcing the establishment of the Rev. Mark M. Payne, O.S.B. ’69 Memorial Scholarship Fund. You can click here to contribute to the scholarship, which will be awarded each year to a deserving student.

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