John Knebels
Sports Columnist

BENSALEM – Holy Ghost Preparatory School’s lacrosse program plays one of the most challenging schedules in the area. The Firebirds win much more than they lose, and several players have already committed to compete at spanision I schools after they graduate.

But when first-year coach Tony Omrod talks about his players, their more-than-respectable 9-4 record and quite-possible inclusion in the PIAA state playoffs later this month isn’t why he feels so proud.

“We have a lot of really bright students who are also very good people,” said Omrod. “When they work their volunteer hours, they do it from the heart. So many of them really care about what it takes to benefit the community.”

Whether it be assisting the elderly or working as tutors, the local community of Bensalem and its environs have profited by Holy Ghost’s community service program. Last summer, however, it was volunteer service thousands of miles away that made the most profound impression.

Almost a year later, the positive effects continue.

“It was a life-altering event,” said senior Rick Beebe. “I don’t think it’s possible to ever really come back and be the same.”

Beebe was referring to a two-week stay last July in Tanzania. Summarizing all that Beebe shared with six classmates and teachers Father Chris McDermott and Kathy Posey is impossible to summarize in just a few hundred words.

But the vivid contrast of celebrating the Eucharist while in the midst of many poverty and disease-ravaged families and inspaniduals clearly left a powerful imprint on all who attended. This was vividly recorded in a blog ( written by Posey, a long-time English teacher at Holy Ghost.

“We missed our families but I don’t think we wanted to leave because of all the friends we made,” said Beebe. “We met so many amazing people. To see how they stay so positive and are so welcoming reminded us of how much we have to appreciate, and how we should never complain about things back home that, when you think about it, sometimes really are not that important.”

After returning home, Beebe and his peers formed a club titled “Ghosts Around the World.” The group’s intention is to offer continued support to Holy Ghost schools around the globe, but particularly, Tengeru Boys’ School in Tanzania.

“The Spirit moved Rick and some of the other guys on the trip, and when we made this club, Rick became the president,” said Posey.

“We had a book drive in the fall to benefit (the aforementioned Tengeru Boys’ School) and because of his leadership and hard work, we collected 2,900 books, 35 microscopes and procured 800 pounds of food.”

Although Beebe continues to be excited about playing lacrosse, a piece of his heart remains in Africa. His coach has noticed that since the beginning of the year.

“He has talked about what he saw and is very excited about it,” said Omrod. “He was obviously very impacted by the trip. It’s a great thing to see.”

Although not always mentioned as a Holy Ghost standout with the likes of spanision I stars Andrijko Andrusko (acrobatic goalie heading to Lafayette University), Andrew Cacchio (outstanding scorer who posted 42 goals and 76 points last season; bound for the University of Hartford) and Nick Moses (midfielder and attacker who perseveres despite some injuries and will take that toughness to the University of Michigan) on the roster, Beebe has earned his coach’s praise.

When not missing an occasional practice to join a group of volunteer firefighters near his home in New Hope, the graduate of St. Andrew School in Newtown has established himself as one of Holy Ghost’s most arduous workers.

“He is quite a player,” said Omrod. “We always put him up defensively against the other team’s most dangerous attackers. He is second on the team in ground balls, and he is an outspoken team leader who leads by example on and off the field. He makes good decisions, and he never comes off the field because he can play anywhere. He is quite a kid.”

That might be putting it mildly.

John Knebels can be reached at