SVD Alumni East Newsletter - Society of the Divine Word



SVD Alumni East Newsletter - Society of the Divine Word
SVD Alumni East Newsletter
Starkly beautiful, the mountain tops,
Bereft in the brown of the season,
Wear the bare trees at their crowns,
There are miles and miles
Of these Eastern Kentucky hills.
Enveloping the bottomlands
Without mercy.
The hills give the illusion of emptiness.
Yet, through every holler
Snake the small roads
That lead into someone’s homeplace.
It may be an unkempt trailer,
Or even a patched-up shack
Illuminated by a single light bulb, dangling dangerously,
And served weakly by water
Dripping from a wretched garden hose hook-up.
And yet, these mountain folk
Wear their bare lives
Nestled as they are, in the mountains,
Sleeping in sight of the graves of their ancestors
lying nearby in peace and
Respectfully attended by their kin,
How well they complement
The simple beauty of the hills’ shadows
Under which they live.
There, at the end of these dirt drives,
Live our neighbors.
Eileen McDermott
Volume 17, Issue 1
January, 2014
and classes were taught entirely in Latin. We were
Gerard Esser’s 50th philosophy class. That was
followed by four years in Theology, Scripture, Canon
Law, Church History and all the other subjects needed
to be a priest. I was involved in everything musical
and practical. I had access to the big workshops and
was always building something, e.g. snow plow to
clean off hockey rink and a speedboat for our summer
camp at Lake Gogebic.
Second iconic moment: December 1962: the news
went around that our appointments had arrived from
Rome. Some months before, we had submitted three
choices of where we would like to be assigned. The 22
of us in the ordination class lined up outside the
Provincial’s office as we went one by one into his
office to find out where we would be spending our
missionary lives. I had volunteered for New Guinea.
Four of us were actually appointed there. Two went on
to higher studies. The others were sent all over the
SVD Mission world. I felt a very keen urge to get
ready for Ordination, which was scheduled for
February 2nd, 1963, so that I could get to New Guinea
as soon as possible. After Ordination I spent the
following year in Washington DC getting my Masters
Degree in Education. This was to be a great help to me
in my future work. The family had a big send-off party
for me at Holy Name Parish Hall in West Roxbury,
Ma. Fr. William Ross, the founder of the Mt. Hagen
Mission, just happened to be passing through Boston
that night. He showed his slides so everyone had a
chance to see the native people and the circumstances
under which I would be working.
The third iconic moment was my arrival in Mt.
Hagen. Joe Knoebel met me at the airport. I met the
Bishop George Bernarding. Said hello to William
Ross, met Jim McDermott. Then, I went off to worj
with Arnold Steffen, one of our guys from Iowa. He
had already been in PNG for seven years. I was here
now, I thought to myself. My dream had come true
and so despite every hardship I would make it all
work. I had worked regularly in parishes around
Chicago, Washington, Baltimore and Boston. Now I
Iconic Journey
I am privileged beyond words to be celebrating my
50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood with
you, my family and friends. I can sum up my life as an
SVD priest and missionary in five iconic moments.
First, in September, 1949, I arrived at the minor
seminary across the road. I was 13 years, 8 months
old. Dad worked that day so I didn’t get here until the
whole community was coming out of the evening
Benediction at 9:00 PM. After a rushed goodbye to
Mom and Dad, the Assistant Prefect took me to my
cubicle in the dorm. Life as a seminarian began. This
life centered around going to class, studying, prayer,
work and sports. We had nine classes of Latin a week.
We got a good grounding in this important language.
Greek, German, and all the other liberal arts subjects
filled our days. My four years here were indeed
blessed. Twenty-two of us started. Seven graduated,
and five of us went on to Novitiate in Conesus in
September 1953, where we joined the guys who had
graduated from our two other SVD minor seminaries,
Bordentown and Girard. The two years of Novitiate
were filled with silence, prayer, and spiritual direction.
We started wearing our long black cassocks with a
wide sash around the waist. We studied a little
Scripture, the church Fathers, some Latin. We took
our first vows as religious on September 8, 1955. The
novitiate class taking first vows on the same day as the
Techny novitiate, joined us for our first two years of
college. There were about forty of us altogether. These
were two of the nicest years in our whole seminary
career. We went more deeply into Latin, Greek and
German; we studied French and got a good reading
ability in it, and took all the other Liberal Arts
subjects. We got an AA degree from the University of
the State of New York. Not one guy left the seminary
during those two happy years.
September, 1957, saw us go off to Techny. It was a
big community of 450 men: beautiful grounds, chapel,
music and liturgies. Two years of Philosophy were
difficult because the seven textbooks were in Latin
Continued on page 2
had to adapt to very primitive conditions, work with seemingly primitive people. Most churches were built out of
grass. The first years were difficult. We worked with untrained Catechists, with uneducated village people, walked
long distances on foot, celebrating Mass and Sacraments. The village people have an innate sense of the spiritual.
But I had the distinct feeling that I was not accomplishing anything.
Fourth iconic moment: It was 1979. I had been doing parish work for 15 years, most of that time in my old parish
of Mun. I had a Catechist at each of my churches. I got them together for a day of retreat every month for spiritual
input. More was needed. It was at this time I invited the Movement for a Better World (MBW) to come. Fr. Jerry
Bus, a Dutch SVD, and two sisters came and started a program of renewal in the parish according to the ideals of
Vatican II. Ninety parishioners came and did a 5-day introductory course. Then we established a process of
establishing different ministries, getting all the lay people involved, setting up structures, and channels of
communication. The main effort was establish small ecclesial communities where our catholic people at the local
level can come together regularly to pray, share their faith, and have a catholic identity. We had regular meetings,
retreats, courses, and practical activities during all the seasons of the Liturgical year. We established different
ministries such as prayer leaders, Community Councils, and 100 Eucharistic Ministers. We established our Parish
Youth Council, and much more. Using the techniques of the MBW over the remaining 9 years the parish really
came alive. It was a joy for me. Then in 1988 I was transferred to Kiripia Parish where I did the same thing all over
again. On the strength of what I had done in the two parishes of Mun and Kiripia the Archbishop appointed me
Pastoral Vicar. So I started all over again at the archdiocesan level with a team to organize the MBW program in
all the parishes in the archdiocese. I held this post until the year 2000 when a new auxiliary bishop was appointed.
He took over as Pastoral Vicar.
The fifth iconic moment had to do with education: The SVD has from the very beginning established schools in the
whole of mainland New Guinea from the earliest days wherever they set up parishes. Nationwide the Catholic
Church runs one third of all educational institutions; the government runs a third; and all the other churches
combined run another third. Years ago the SVD established Divine Word University in Madang. In the
archdiocese of Mt. Hagen we run 160 catholic schools, a Teachers college, two catholic high schools each with
almost 1000 students (900 boarders each), as well as three technical schools, and numerous primary and elementary
schools. With my background and degree in education I had been very heavily involved in running my parish
schools, making them two of the top schools in the province. It involved working with teachers and improving the
quality of education. Five years ago the archbishop created a new position and appointed me Vicar for Education.
So now I have responsibility for the whole system. We are building a third catholic high school for 1000 students of
which 900 will be boarders. We have done all the planning and getting ready to get bids and hopefully have the first
intake of students in February 2015. This is a $25 million dollar project. We are doing the initial planning for
establishing a new campus for Divine Word University in the city of Mt. Hagen. Education is the key to the future
for the young people of Papua New Guinea. It has been a joy to see small children aged 6 come into our
Elementary Schools, and 9 years later graduate from Grade 8 sophisticated young English-speaking teenagers with
their cell phones and Walkmans.
Sixty-four years have gone by since I arrived at the Minor Seminary across the road. Fifty years have gone past
since my ordination. I have never regretted for one minute my decision to be an SVD missionary. I treasure my
happy seminary days. I treasure what the Lord has been able to do through me in my work in Papua New Guinea. I
treasure the prayerful and financial support given to me by family and friends all these years. I firmly believe the
best is yet to come.
Over the years I have kept in touch with Sal Farina
(11-22-12, 1925-2012), Bob Stiller, Henry Baker,
Art Friedberg, and Fr. Walter Ostrowski SVD (Pat
Bridge). I gave my history of Girard to Mike
Cousins for archives at Techny. The mission cross
was to go to a young missionary headed to a mission. .
Oh yes, I updated photos of the Class of “46”. Picture
wheel of Sal, Art, Bill Crowley, John Hessman, and
Now for the end of the story, Girard gave all of us the
best education available, readied us to be men of the
world. Judge not but give us the spirit and courage to
accept direction. I had three daughters—Brenda,
Janice PHE, Amy Jo. They gave me eight
grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. I am
now the oldest living child of Helen and Marshall
Mansfield and the nine of us have all done well in
life. Helen and Marshall taught all of us to work
hard and know the difference between want and need.
Thanks for listening!
To the Class of 1946 at Sacred Heart
Mission House, Girard, PA:
My mother, Helen Mansfield, had her 12th child
August 30, 1942. Note: At this time she had to sew
my laundry #949 in all clothes (what a lady). I
received my admission to Sacred Heart Mission
House starting September 8, 1942. Bob Stiller and I
arrived at the Erie Avenue Terminal met by students
of 1945 class, Ed “Tad” Flinn (brother of SVD Bob
Flinn) and the now Fr. Scanlon, SVD who is now at
I enjoyed the two years at Girard with all the priests
and brothers. I saw Fr. Kim Kelleher at St. Joseph’s
Church in 1953 and had a two-hour visit. It was good
seeing him out of English class or hockey on the iced
pond. He was good at both, plus basketball and
I didn’t return to Girard in September 1944 because I
volunteered immediately for induction into the U.S.
Army (November 30, 1944) and was processed at
New Cumberlin, PA and arrived for training at
Camp Blanding, Florida (heavy weapons) then off to
the Pacific.
I returned to the USA July 4, 1946, and as we passed
under Sir Francis Bridge the fireworks were set off.
I was discharged August 14, 1946, and stayed in
reserve for six years. By the way, my mother had her
13th baby June 26, 1945, while I was overseas. When
I arrived home in August of ’46 I realized that I still
needed education; however, I had four jobs waiting for
me. I took a job at the telephone company for .65
cents an hour and retired 41 years later with GTE
(now Verizon) as Data Sales Manager for
Ohio/Pennsylvania. I was active in many civic and
professional organizations and accepted the job of
District Governor for Rotary International 1989 to
1990, as I needed this to fill the void after 41 years of
T.G. Mansfield, Girard, Class of 1946
The Wall
It looks easy, that wall of love
stones held together not by mortar
but by each other,
hugging and caressing,
snuggling up to each other
for warmth and togetherness
unaware the earth can shake or freeze
enough to tumble them
from their cozy beds
many of them too large, too heavy
to be restored to former intimacy
by the likes of Frost
and his ice-cold neighbor.
Rich Daigle
Fr Joe Bisson, SVD
Papua, New Guinea
and Critique from a Postmodern Perspective.”
Bill Burrows is one of our featured
speakers at SVD East Annual Meeting on
Thursday and Friday, October 9 and 10,
After a year of adjunct teaching in two Chicago
universities, Bill went to work in the Allied Health
Accreditation division of the American Medical
Association (1986-87), editing the Allied Health
Newsletter and serving as liaison to the AMA’s young
physicians’ division. In 1989, Bill became managing
William R (Bill) Burrows was born in Belle Plaine,
editor of Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, where
Iowa, in 1942. His father and two brothers published
he supervised acquisitions and production of over 300
several weekly newspapers, including the Belle Plaine
books in the areas of interfaith dialogue, faith and
Union, which Bill’s grandfather purchased in July
cultural adaptation, history, ecology, ecumenism, and
1910. Bill was a student at Divine Word Seminaries
Christian mission. He was President of the American
in East Troy, Wisconsin (1958-61) and Duxbury,
Society of Missiology (2008-09) and retired from full-
Massachusetts (1961-63), before spending two years
time work at Orbis in 2009 In February 2009, Bill
in the novitiate of the Divine Word Missionaries in
was appointed Research Professor of Missiology at
Conesus New York (1963-65) under the direction of
New York Theological Seminary, and in 2011 he was
John Musinsky, SVD, who would become superior
appointed Senior Fellow in the Andrew F Walls
general of the Society in 1967. Bill took first vows in
Center for the Study of Christianity in Africa and Asia
1965 at Conesus and finished his final year of College
at Liverpool Hope University.
in the SVD’s seminary in Epworth, Iowa (1965-66).
Bill is the author of New Ministries: The Global
He taught brother candidates for a year (1966-67) in
Context, and he edited Redemption and Dialogue:
Conesus, after which he began theological studies at
Reading Redemptoris Missio and Dialogue and
Techy in 1967. In 1969 he and Steve Bevans were
Proclamation as well as Understanding World
assigned to studies at the Gregorian University in
Christianity: The Vision and Work of Andrew F.
Rome and were ordained together on 5 September
Walls. His most recent book is Jacques Dupuis Faces
1971 at the Divine Word Renewal Center in Nemi by
the Inquisition. He is the author of numerous articles
Bishop Leo Arkfeld, SVD. He received his licentiate
and lectures widely on questions of Christian mission
in theology in 1972.
and interreligious dialogue. He is currently working
From 1972 to 1977, Bill worked as a theology teacher
on a book the working title of which is Mission,
and rural pastor in Papua New Guinea. In 1977 he
Church, Cultures.
began doctoral studies at the Divinity School of the
Bill Burrows
University of Chicago, which he completed in 1987,
two years after he left his order and married Linda W
Fyfe. His thesis was entitled “The Roman Catholic
Magisterium on “Other” Religious Ways: Analysis
President’s Message
enthusiasm and many contributions. We are gratified
that John Eddy has agreed to be our official Secretary.
We are already planning for next year’s Annual
Reunion, on October 9,10. Bill Burrows, former
editor of Orbis Books-Maryknoll, has been
confirmed as one of our guest speakers. We will have
several other interesting presenters as well as a
Women’s Forum.
Why don’t more wives attend the Reunions? There
are many answers but the one we often hear is: “There
are no special sessions that address our specific
interests.” So, we are planning to schedule a special
session for our wives. I welcome any suggestions from
the wives of our Alumni. We really want to make our
Reunions attractive to all.
John Flanagan
We wish each other a Happy New Year at this time of
year and we certainly wish all our members the utmost
happiness during this year of 2014. But much more
importantly, we pray that all of you will experience a
joy-filled year. The difference?
It is quite common to confuse joy with happiness.
Experiencing happiness frequently depends on events
or circumstances beyond our control. We might enjoy
degrees of happiness from great vacations, delightful
meals, job promotions, financial rewards, nice homes
and other material acquisitions.
Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which we
received at our Confirmation. It manifests itself in an
attitude of love, cheerfulness, serenity and a balanced
approach to life. Deep-down genuine joy arises from
God’s special grace and flows from a personal
relationship with Christ. Happiness is transient
whereas joy is permanent. Our Constitution promises
us “the pursuit of happiness,” but God guarantees us
the gift of joy.
“Joy is a sure sign of the Holy Spirit and a
foretaste of Heaven. No one can live without joy.”
-St. Thomas Aquinas
Judging by the comments of the attendees, our
October 10-11 Alumni Reunion was both extremely
entertaining and educational. We owe a good part of
the success to our guest speakers Fr. Stephan
Bevans, S.V.D., Professor of Mission and Culture at
Catholic Theological Union in Chicago as well as
George Irish, former President of Hearst Newspapers
and current V.P. of the Hearst Foundations of New
York and California. We also honored Fr. Joseph
Bisson, S.V.D. on his fifty years as a priest and fortyeight years as a missionary in Papua, New Guinea.
Both his homily at the Anniversary Mass and his
formal presentation proved to inspire both his family
members and alumni. Fr. Bisson exemplified the traits
of the model missionary: man of humility, deep
spirituality and a tireless commitment to Christ’s
mandate to preach the Gospel. We were honored to
have Fr.Bisson, Fr. Bevans and George Irish share
their wisdom and spirituality with us.
We are delighted with Rich Daigle’s acceptance of
the Vice President’s position in our Alumni
Association. Rich has contributed his energy and
talent to our group in years past and we eagerly await
his efforts to continue making the Alumni Association
interesting to and supportive of all our members.
We thank Joe Skerry, our past Vice President, for his
Message from Treasurer
Since this newsletter will be going out after the New
Year, we wish all had a Merry Christmas and enjoy a
Blessed and Happy 2014
This past year we were able because of your
donations, to give Father Bisson $1000 in honor of
his jubilee of ordination of 50 years. Also the
members during the yearly meeting in October asked
that a donation of $750 be given to both Bhopal
diocese in India and to St. Martin’s
Pastoral Centre in Ghana.
Finally, we have had a new checking account open so
that your donations may be accepted for tax purposes.
Our former treasurer, Jim Callanan, died this past
We acknowledge his past services for all the years that
he served this post.
Our dues just about cover the cost of this newsletter,
but your donations will help the missions. Thus, we
are begging somewhat for a little something extra
when you return your notices to us. We do receive
notices with a note that one cannot give. We see no
problem with that, but we do ask your prayers. Prayers
make things happen.
Again we hope and pray that all had a Merry
Christmas and Happy New Year.
Henry Pinson.
Jim Cal
there were the Christmas parties with all the trimmings
including Santa Claus.
Then came the years when Miramar served a number of
purposes, none of which were a seminary. We didn’t see
quite so much of one another in those days. Miramar’s
identity was lost and the complex of land and buildings
became what it is today: an upscale condominium complex
in a very upscale town.
Then, in 1986, the retreat center was significantly
expanded, remodeled, and Miramar’s identity just moved
across the street.
In 1997, the first “fiftieth” class reunion was held at the
retreat center. That single event, to me, was the catalyst for
reorganizing the alumni. Jim’s class was the following year
and from that period on, he remained a part of the nucleus
that kept the alumni together.
We lost one of our best when we lost Jim. He was a charter
member. Thank you, Jim, for your dedication and devotion
to Miramar.
Jim Welch
Down to earth, businesslike and reliable…three qualities
that best describe Jim Callanan.
Dedication and devotion, too...all five qualities describe
this rock solid guy. Jim loved and was very devoted to his
family; his wife, Marie, and their seven children were the
priority and love of his life. He was very dedicated to his
profession and a very successful accountant, banker and
manager of money. His years and experience as an
Accounting Department Manager for New England
Telephone, and a bank president he put to good use
managing the position of Miramar Alumni Treasurer for
six years.
Greetings from VP
Fellow alumni and families: It is, I think, unusual for the
VP to include a statement in an Alumni-East newsletter, but
things change, right? First, I want to mention our great loss
in the passing of Jim Callanan. Jim and I were classmates
at Miramar, graduating in 1948, and for a short time in
novitiate at Techny. I remember Jim as calm and steady, a
very good student and athlete, always to be depended upon,
a good friend of Miramar as well as a good friend of mine.
Peace, Jim. Now we will be praying to you to lend us
some of your steadiness.
I am not at all certain why I accepted the call to be the VP.
I know where that call came from and I have already cut
that source out of my will. But all seriousness aside, I’ve
watched with wonder and admiration how recent alumnipresidents have accomplished great things, bringing more
of us together in the fall and letting us meet with and listen
to people of wonderful experience in the missions and
elsewhere. It is therefore with some fear and proverbial
trepidation that I have agreed to assume the vice-presidency
this year with all that entails (entrails?) for next fall when I
will become president—unless, of course, the membership
gets wise and decides to look elsewhere for a successor to
John Flanagan.
Whatever, I am at your service. Be well. Be happy.
Richard Daigle
Painting of Jim by Caitlin Callanan
In spite of his many priorities, Jim always made time for
Miramar. He was a Miramarian for close to 70 years.
Before he was a student at Miramar, Jim spent a few
summer weeks in 1944 at Miramar’s camp. What a great
place for young men that camp was! Swimming in the
camp’s freshwater pond or in the ocean a few miles away;
acres of fields for sports, archery, crafts, etc., it was a great
Later the same year Jim entered Miramar as a high school
seminarian. Four years later, Jim graduated; but he never
really left. A handful of alumni, a mere fraction of the
hundreds who attended Miramar, stayed close. A few
names that come to mind include John I. Kelly, Jerry
Goulding, John Dineen, the Glynn brothers, Joe and
Marty, Joe Skerry, Jim Welch, and especially Joe
Walsh. Jim was always a part of the group. We organized
and ran an annual field day for several years on the grounds
and raised a handsome amount in the five figures.
It wasn’t, however, all fund raising. One year, in the early
sixties, the alumni challenged the students to a basketball
game. The students at the time were first and second year
of college. What a mistake! Jim tried his best, as I guess
we all did, but he actually scored a few points. And, oh yes,
The class that started with forty-five in our freshman
year and ended with the “twelve apostles”.
Four members of the class were ordained. They were
John Donaghey, Ed McGuinn, Jim Skerry and Ed
Fitzgerald, who became a secular priest.
Instead of going home for the summer of 1945, those
Miramar students who were eighteen years old had to
spend thirty days at the Girard, Pennsylvania
Mission House in order to avoid being drafted into the
armed forces. While there we worked on the farm
baling hay. It was pretty hot out there that summer,
but we did get to go home for the month of August.
Before we left Girard we all posed for a picture,
which includes Girardians and Miramarians. Some
of us had to get ready to spend the next month in
Techny for the Novitiate.
Girard-First Light
Show us Yourself, O Lord of love,
Too much this world shows empty, lost.
We many fellows gathered here,
With You our lot we early tossed.
Share glimpses past of varied hues
Of biting pain or simple joy,
With friends and wives, our woven lives;
Girard spirit holds we do employ.
Intense, those days have made us one.
It took from none yet gave to all
For though we left, didn't turn away;
See more complete to heed your call.
You set life up to reach through us,
A willing heart gives endless play.
We access grace, help fill it up;
We witness Spirit have His say.
See gentleness in aging days,
Transforming love still strips our souls,
Share inner pause, our slate's quite full,
Still, Girard's first light refined our goals.
You've showed Yourself oft’, Lord of Love.
Rosie - John J. Rosenbaum
Girard, 1961, Miramar, 1963.
Girardians and Miramarians after haying
I recall traveling to Boston on the elevated train with
my mother to buy clothes for going away and I could
almost feel the stares of women looking at me
probably asking themselves” why isn’t he in the
service?” It had been a trying time to keep focused on
God’s calling.
Ray Fell, Miramar, Class of 1945
The War Years at Miramar
During my freshman year at Miramar Pearl
Harbor was attacked. As World War II began I
must say we were in a very safe haven compared
to the thousands of young men who went off to
unfamiliar parts of the world to fight in a war not
knowing if they would come back alive.
Civilians had to endure all kinds of shortages
during the war years. Gasoline was rationed so we
students at Miramar had few visitors on the
monthly visiting Sunday. The only time I saw my
mother my senior year was graduation day.
Due to the shortage of gas, it was very difficult
for outside teams to travel to Miramar to play
baseball, football and basketball against us. I
remember one football game my freshman year
when Everett High was our opponent and most of
the last quarter was played in darkness. That
particular game took place even before Pearl
It was not unusual to have servicemen on the few
visiting teams that were able to make it. During
baseball season we had a locally based army team
come over in their jeeps.
Fr Matt Jacoby, SVD, testing an army jeep.
Since we weren’t allowed newspapers or radios,
we were completely unaware of what was going
on while the war was taking place. From the
distance we could often hear gunfire from ships at
sea. As far as we knew the ships were practicing
and not shooting at the enemy. There was one
incident that occurred when the entire student
body had to assemble in a hallway on the second
floor and we had to anxiously wait for the all clear
signal before we could leave the area. A report had
come to us that German submarines were near our
As a vivid reminder of the war, Father Robert Hunter,
SVD, would visit Miramar in his Army chaplain
uniform, bringing home the reality of war. It was only
when we went home for the summer that we had access
to news about the war. I can still recall listening to the
radio and hearing Gabriel Heatter beginning his news
report every night with the words “There is good news
tonight” when, in fact, there was little good news until
the end of the war.
I can’t remember the number of prayers I would say for
my brothers and friends in the armed forces, but it might
very well be the reason my brother Dick, who was only
eighteen months older than me, survived after his ship
was cut in half by a torpedo from a German submarine
far off in the North Atlantic.
A few members of our class along with Father Jacoby
were the first Miramarians to step foot in the buildings
that were purchased by the SVDs and named the
“Mission Manor.”
During the war years, everyone experienced food
shortages and Miramar was no exception. A visiting
priest observed one of our meals and hastily pointed out
to those in charge that growing young men needed more
to eat. Whomever he talked to, it did make a noticeable
impact on our menu offerings after that.
It has been sixty-eight years since our class
graduated and time has a way of helping us forget
many things that happened so long ago. I do
remember our long walks to Plymouth and enjoying
those thirty five cent banana splits, drinking
unpasteurized milk from our own cows, playing
basketball in a converted cow barn which had a very
low ceiling, hearing the announcement that my new
job would be as a barber although I had absolutely
no experience, having an enormous moose land next
to me in the woods close to where route 3 now is,
opening the door to the lavatory one night and seeing
a huge water rat staring back at me and going back
to bed, being asked to play the church organ when
my last piano lesson had been in the sixth grade and
grateful beyond words when an experienced organist
enrolled at Miramar.
Going home for the summer during the war made it
difficult for some of us who were older to keep our
focus on our vocations. We would see our friends all
dressed up in their snappy military uniforms, which
made us feel we were missing out on something,
especially the way society admired those who served
their country.
Tribute to John Donaghey
I never felt more validated than when he
asked me a number of times to come back
to the Northern Province. And I know I was
not alone in feeling that sort of validation.
Nor, was it only the guys in academics.
When I lived at Our Lady of the Gardens
I put John Donaghey right alongside John
McHenry, Spike Dudink, John Musinsky,
Paul Jacobi, and in PNG, Arnold Steffen as
influences in my life. I suspect John was
the same in each of your lives. We were
lucky to have had him and so many others
as a living cloud of witnesses. All of them
but Arnie Steffen are now gone before us.
while Mulrenan was provincial, time and
again, I heard John speak” of the guys in
those tough parish ministries” with deep
At the time of the last East Troy Retreat in
March, 2013, I had made my flight
arrangements to spend ten days after the
retreat at Techny in the archives looking at
materials on Fr Musinsky’s life and time as
superior general and talking with John to
get the story behind the story. I’d been
asked by Paul Steffen, a German SVD
teaching in Rome, to do a five to ten
thousand word biography of Fr Musinsky
for a dictionary of biography that Paul was
putting together. Probably more than
anyone else, John Donaghey spearheaded
the movement at the 1967 general chapter
that elected John Musinsky superior
general. I was warned that John now had
good days and bad days, but also told that
if I stayed as long as ten days, I would
certainly get him in a mood to talk. I
looked forward to that time. I know that
the time I spend in the archives to
complete Paul Steffen’s assignment will
not be nearly as rich with insights as if
John were there to ask about this and that.
Alas, I had to change my plans for reasons
that now seem insignificant, and I missed a
chance for one last visit with a great man.
R equiescant in pace et intercedant pro
nobis peccatoribus .
John was clearly one of the most important
men in the whole process of updating both
the SVD in the US and at the generalate
level in Rome after Vatican II. His manuals
of procedures for both the generalate and
the provinces made the SVD one of the best
run orders in the world, and I’m able to say
that because for twenty years I constantly
ran into members and superiors of other
orders from around the world. Even after
he was no longer provincial, he was the
memory of the US SVD. I don’t think I am
wrong in remembering every one of his
successors (Mulrenan, Lennon, Bergin,
Uroda, Krosnicki, Weber, and Ascheman)
telling me at one time or another that it
was to Donaghey they turned when they
needed to understand an issue in its
breadth and length.
Among his many convictions was of the
need for more SVDs with higher degrees.
In pursuit of that idea, he encouraged and
in some cases pushed me and a number of
others into doctoral studies (Ed Vargo, Paul
Knitter, Tom Krosnicki, Jim Bergin, Gene
Ahner, Jack Boberg, Steve Bevans, Bede
Smith, Jim Heisig, John Morgan, and
probably others whose names I’ve
forgotten). Some he helped directly. Others
he helped, by getting the province to
nurture graduate study
Bill Burrows
Annual Meeting Minutes
can conceive of the Church’s mission as largely
proclamation through inter-religious dialogue
His next book, Theology in Global Perspective, was
Father Bevans’ favorite, written across only four
summers, in part pondering the question, “Who can
talk about God?” Ultimately unfathomable by the
human mind, God has taken the first steps to meet us
throughout history in Scripture, tradition, and,
importantly, one’s own individual life. In other words,
God has communicated Himself. Importantly, though
we need the magisterium, the tradition of the Church
calls for community with all peoples.
The next speaker, George Irish, a classmate of
Father Bevans and former President of Hearst
Publications (the Hearst newspapers), now the Eastern
Director of Hearst Foundations in New York, spoke of
the book he helped to birth: The Pope and I (Orbis
Books, 2012). A Polish Jew, Jerzy Kluger, who was
Pope John Paul II’s childhood friend, wrote this
engaging book. Written with the collaboration
Gianfranco Di Simone, the book sheds light on what
many of us had only heard, that the astonishing
lifelong friendship between the Supreme Pontiff and a
Jew played an important role in advancing the cause
of Jewish-Christian relations. These relations became
one of the hallmarks of John Paul’s papacy.
Mr. Irish wrote the book’s preface. He described to the
group orally how “Jurek” had wanted to write the
book for some time, thinking it useful, for example, to
describe the many private luncheons he had enjoyed in
private with Pope John Paul II in the papal apartments
when Jurek lived in Rome as an engineer. For a long
time, Mr. Kluger was stymied by the loss of his notes
until one day he found them and renewed his
acquaintance with George from a previous encounter
in Rome. They began a lengthy exchange of visits and
telephone calls between New York and Rome with a
view to seeing how the book might be published.
Translation was a key problem. Polish into Italian had
been relatively easy, not so Polish or Italian into
English. Mr. Irish finally cut the knot by finding an
American, Matthew Sherry, who produced the
translation successfully published by Orbis.
One of the largest annual gatherings of the SVD
Alumni East Association ever to take place got
underway at one o’clock on Thursday, October 10.
The venue was the Miramar Retreat Center across
the road from the former SVD minor seminary,
Miramar. Members arrived from around the east,
and a good number of spouses attended.
Father Tom Umbras, SVD, director of the retreat
center, delivered a warm welcome anticipating a
festive event. Father Umbras outlined the need for a
new vision at Miramar to attract younger retreatants
and spoke of the aggravating quandary of a fall-off in
attendance generally, probably occasioned by the
economic recession.
He said that the retreat house had never been fully
able to recover its costs, since the retreats were offered
at concessional rates. Concessions were required
nonetheless, especially for deserving elderly nuns who
often seem the most appreciative of a brief spiritual
respite. Father Umbras submitted a written proposal
outlining the financial problem. President Flanagan
voted thanks on behalf of all to Father Umbras for the
association’s many years of use of the facility and
added that the Alumni Association hoped to respond
soon to this need.
Treasurer Henry Pinson followed with a
straightforward annual financial report. He stated that
the organization’s only truly fixed outlay (other than
the annual meeting, some of which members
underwrote individually) was $1400 for its January
newsletter. Revenue versus outlay was therefore in
pretty good shape. He urged members to consider
further donations to the missions or other SVD
Father Stephen Bevans, SVD, the first of the two
featured speakers, now spoke about two of his own
books, the first written with Roger Schroeder,SVD
(Maryknoll: Orbis, 2004), Constants in Context
and the second entitled Theology in Global
Perspective (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2009).
He said that nine years went into the making of
Constants in Context as the book evolved toward
greater depth and scope under the suggestions of
Orbis editor Bill Burrows.. The work is now
acclaimed as “the best book on Catholic mission out
today.” Father Bevans believes that the Church first
became the “Church” at Antioch when reaching out to
the Gentiles and “to the ends of the earth.” Today we
Vice President Joe Skerry surprised and saddened
the group by saying that he felt obliged to resign the
office of Vice President to attend to some health
issues. His announcement met a wave of gratitude for
his long years of service. But Joe pressed on to
describe his current concern that he and others felt
over the decline of vocations to the priesthood.
A critical datum is that the average child not in a Catholic school is fortunate to get two hours of religious study a
week, a situation not ideal for the discernment of a vocation. Joe outlined several imaginative programs already
operating to increase the stream of priestly vocations; for example, the “Traveling Chalice” program and other
methods for encouraging a consideration of the priesthood within families. Similarly, the SVD’s vocations office is
at work arranging speakers and literature for parishes. President Flanagan urged member support for such initiatives
and pledged the encouragement of further exploration by the members.
In the final presentation of the day, SVD Alumni Director Mike Cousins announced his pleasure in stating that the
SVD Alumni Associations were thriving. The attendance at annual meetings has been the strongest in years.
Individual alumni units are coming up with imaginative “draws,” such as “taste fests,” a native costume celebration,
and special features for the enjoyment of alumni at the Techny ordinations, where accommodations can often be
arranged inexpensively. Mike said that the West Virginia project, in which volunteers repair and rebuild homes, is
moving decisively ahead. .
As always, members looked forward to the day’s grand finale traditionally called “Cheese, Libation, and
Conversation.” Liquid refreshments stimulated satisfying exchanges that increased in volume and profundity as the
evening wore on.
Friday was Fr Joe Bisson Day
Father Joe Bisson, 48 years a missionary in Papua New Guinea and 50 years an SVD priest, was the man of the
hour at this year’s event. Unlike most film stars, Father Bisson proved modest to a moving fault. His homily at his
50th anniversary Mass, attended by a large contingent of his family, reminisced about 5 iconic moments in his
career. as well as on the life and training of an SVD priest. The depth of the typical SVD education might surprise
secular journalists of today. For example, in the major seminary all theology texts, lectures, and conversations were
in Latin.
Following the Mass, a sound track and video delivered the majestic music and memorable ritual of Father Joe’s
Techny ordination. Then the Miramar audience found itself spellbound by a progression of video shots from Father
Joe’s long tenure in Papua New Guinea. Under his leadership, a school and a hospital sprang up as the only such
resources in a very large area where no such institution had existed before. Members found this homage to Father
Joe Bisson, including the obvious love and pride of Father Joe’s family, poignant and inspiring. In a word, they
found in it the clear evidence of a rare human being.
John Eddy
SVD Alumni East Annual Meeting is on
Thursday, October 9, and Friday, October 10, 2014
Columbus Day Weekend follows;
Enjoy the foliage, the varied area attractions