My vocation

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Childhood (1952-1966)

Ellicottville, NY

  • Second child of ten in a Catholic family.
  • Taught by seminarians in summer school.
  • Father (later Msgr.) McCarthy would come to visit Mom and Dad.
  • I was given a St. Joseph's missal at my First Communion and used it regularly at Mass.
  • I put poor old Greg W. to sleep one night while trying to explain the parts of the Mass to him.

Orchard Park, NY

  • Entered Nativity of Our Lord grammar school half-way through sixth grade.
  • Cried when asked to "diagram a sentence." In retrospect, I was very fortunate to have had a taste of the good old days of Catholic schools!
  • Became an altar boy and was the first Grand Knight of the Altar when Fr. Wetter or Fr. Wopperer organized a chapter; got to wear a gold cross.
  • An elderly woman whom I did not know said to me once, "I'm praying that you will become a priest." She liked the way I looked in my cassock, surplice, and gold cross, I guess.
  • Sr. Margaretta tricked me into becoming interested in Canisius High School, first through the spelling-bee, then through the hope that I might win a scholarship on the entrance exam.

Canisius High School (1966-1970)

  • First few weeks: "I'm talking!"
  • Joined Berchman's Debating Society
  • Sophomore year, talking with Fr. Fred Reisert, SJ: "Can I have RC airplanes if I join the Jesuits?"
  • Played guitar at Mass.
  • The scholastics looked happy as they returned to their residence at the end of the day.
  • I fell in love with the Society: "If I was ever so crazy as to want to be a priest, I would want to be a Jesuit." Phil Pfaff, Gerry Aman, Paul Nochelski, Gerry McIntyre, Paul Naumann, Rico Raulli. I saw Naumann or Raulli take final vows.

Boston College (1970-1973)

First year (1970-71)

Converting to Catholicism (Fall, 1970)

  • Mary-Ellen.
  • The guru & The Void.
  • Learning to pray, however badly (!).
  • Daily Mass, Burke House Mass--lots of new friends.
  • Jim's challenge: God or pleasure (sex, drugs, music).
  • Questioned three times in December: "Do you want to be a priest?" Peggy: "If God wants you to be a priest, He will make you happy."

Baptized in the Holy Spirit (Spring, 1971)

  • The stupid book.
  • Dr. Kreeft's class. Met Peggy as we left the building. 13 hours of nonstop talking about GOD! It was a Monday--ended up at Burke House with Nick Covino and Dave Gill.
  • Life in the Spirit Seminar at the Cenacle. Russ Kirk, Russ Surveyor, Judy Thibault, Mal Billa; Tommy Dilorenzo.
  • Pam helped me to find 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: "My grace is at its best in your weakness. ... When I am weak, then I am strong."

The Lost and Found (Summer, 1971)

  • Sunshine and the Jesus Freaks in Orchard Park.
  • Documents of Vatican II.
  • "He is starting his own church. I could do the same thing myself!"
  • Arguments with Dad: "Do you want to be a professional?"
  • August 20, 1971: First letter to the provincial. "Three weeks or three years."

Second Year (1971-1972)

  • Cleveland Circle Christian Community.
  • Completed application process; delayed entrance until after graduation.
  • Learned (slowly) how to talk about sports and weather instead of Pentecostalism.

Third Year (1972-1973)

  • Marian House: Dan, Tony, Dave; our daily recitation of our covenant, morning prayer.
  • October 13, 1972: I thought the end of the world was going to begin that night. My fallback date was November 13. I guess I was wrong.

Novitiate (1973-1975)

First year (1973-1974)

  • August 27, 1973, St. Andrew's Hall, LeMoyne College, Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Fall: courses at LeMoyne and in the house. Don Hinfey: synoptic gospels (!).
  • Spring: two courses at S.U. Andy Brady's course on Ignatian spirituality.
  • John Fernan, soup kitchen, Catholic Workers.
  • United Farm Workers all year and in the summer time.

Second year (1974-1975)

  • Calvary Hospital.
  • Long Retreat. Cornwall on Hudson.
  • Summer: Puerto Rico with Pete McKilligan (RIP) and George Simon.

Philosophy (1975-1976)

Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y.

  • "Love necessity."

Regency (1976-1978)

Regis High School, Manhattan, N.Y.

Seminary Theology (1978-1982)

Regis College, Toronto, Ontario

Ph.D. Studies (1982-1991)

The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

LeMoyne College (1988-1990)

  • Rejection hurts.

Canisius College (1990-present)

  • Mission: to preach Jesus and love my neighbor for the greater glory of God.

Praying to persevere for my whole life

  • Definitely not a given in today's society!